School-Safe Puzzle Games

“Dust to Dust” Hard Riddle Poem

These Riddle Poems can be difficult, so figured it’s a good time to try something a little different. Instead of keeping answers masked for a couple days, submitted comments will appear live immediately (no moderation). This way, the puzzle can be worked out in real-time.

 

The troop arranged for battle

Without my first would fly;

And whether good or bad,

Without it you would die.

 

 

 

Go seek the earth and ocean,

For smallest things you guess;

Yes, bring the atom from the air,

And still my second’s less.

 

 

 

The traitor, when condemn’d to die,

May calm his cares and pray;

Yet when the axe sounds "dust to dust,"

My whole he’s borne away.

17 Comments to ““Dust to Dust” Hard Riddle Poem”


  1. Lath | Profile

    Here are some of my thoughts, maybe they will help someone.


    “My first”, “My second”, “My whole”
    – My first thought is that the answer is two words, the first word is described in the first stanza, the second word in the second stanza, and the whole phrase in the third. Other interpretations?


    “The troop arranged for battle Without my first would fly;”
    – The first word is something that an army would not to be willing to fight without. Courage? Weapons? A motivating cause?


    “And whether good or bad, Without it you would die.”
    – The first word is also something necessary for life. Food? Water? Air? Breath? Perhaps the “good or bad” phrase implies that it is something that is often described as good or described as bad. Luck?


    So for the first word, what is necessary for life, needed for the will to fight, and can be good or bad? A mind? A future?



    “Go seek the earth and ocean, For smallest things you guess;”
    – Find something very small. Not sure that I see any more help in this phrase.


    “Yes, bring the atom from the air, And still my second’s less”
    – The second word is something extremely small. Literally smaller, like a subatomic particle? What are all those odd names of quarks? (Were subatomic particles even known about when this riddle was created?) Perhaps it’s something figuratively small, a mote? a speck?
    Or perhaps it’s kindergarten answer of “nothing” is smaller than an atom.


    “The traitor, when condemn’d to die, May calm his cares and pray; Yet when the axe sounds ‘dust to dust,’ My whole he’s borne away.”
    – The whole answer is borne away when a traitor is executed. The last phrase “he’s borne away” seems a little funny to me. I’m guessing that the contraction is from “he has borne away” which makes it sound like traitor is the cause/actor of bearing away, as opposed to the executioner. Perhaps it’s just an effect of how the riddle was set to verse. Life? Hope?
    It should be two words, I believe.


  2. Shawn | PUZZLE GRANDMASTER | Profile

    I agree with Lath – 2 words, described individually by the first 2 stanzas, combining to be a phrase described by the 3rd stanza.


    My thoughts:


    1st word – LIFE – “whether good or bad, without it you would die.”
    I’m not satisfied with the “without my first would fly” part of the stanza


    2nd word – FORCE – it’s an ethereal word, not a physical element, so it can be considered smaller than an atom?


    Phrase – LIFE FORCE – the beheaded traitor loses his life force with his head


    It’s not very elegant, and is probably not strong enough to stand on its own, but it’s all I’ve got so far.


  3. Shawn | PUZZLE GRANDMASTER | Profile

    Another possible solution


    1st word – DESIRE – fly from battle without it


    2nd word – REVENGE – lowest form of emotion


    Phrase – DESIRE for REVENGE – goes away once the traitor is beheaded


    Problem – 3 words


    I suggest the following stanza be inserted between the first and second:


    Horsemen of the Apocalypse
    Are heard to match my second.
    A small word to connect the two,
    Needs a clue like this, I reckon.


  4. RK. | Profile

    “Horsemen of the Apocalypse
    Are heard to match my second.
    A small word to connect the two,
    Needs a clue like this, I reckon.”


    Shawn: I’m going to have to recruit you to write some of our puzzles! :)


    Lath & Shawn’s thoughts about this riddle are both excellent.
    a
    b
    ab


    Lifeforce is good, but I suspect(hope?!)you’ll find the official answer a bit more appealing


  5. jason | Profile

    i feel like the second word is time, but the first one is throwing me some loops. I am leaning towards airtime, since we can have good and bad air, and need it to survive. I would prefer to say lifetime, but that line, ‘without it you would die’ has me confused. Unless it refers to all other life, then I guess that would work. Thats what I’ve got for now…..


  6. Shawn | PUZZLE GRANDMASTER | Profile

    What if the second word, is something that has to be less than the whole, so that no matter how small a thing you think of, the value of the second word is less.


    half
    quarter
    fraction
    splinter
    part
    bit
    piece


  7. Shawn | PUZZLE GRANDMASTER | Profile

    1st word HEAD?


  8. Shawn | PUZZLE GRANDMASTER | Profile

    the troops would flee if they “lost their heads,” and die with no heads at all.


    might also tie into the final solution, where the whole word is “borne away” by the excecutioner’s axe – makes sense that “head” would be a part of that.


    eg headpiece


  9. Shawn | PUZZLE GRANDMASTER | Profile

    HEADLESS


    the second stanza says “and still my second’s less” – the second word IS less!


    the traitor is borne away HEADLESS, thanks to the guy in the black hood


  10. suineg | PUZZLE MASTER | Profile

    i think th second is something that is intangible, that not even in the smallest matter can be found:(Glory, Revenge prevoiusly mentioned is very good), the first I think it can be air,
    maybe the phrase can be:


    1) Air of Glory


    but maybe the second can be FEAR, if the verse is refelexive, like the verse is written by the traitor, the FEAR of the traitor vanished in the last second of life


    2) Air of Fear


  11. jason | Profile

    i would tend to agree with shawn…..i like headless….because when you lose your head, it can be the same as flying off the handle…..’without my first would fly’


  12. Gray-T | Profile

    What if, the “whole” is more than the sum of it´s parts ?


  13. Lath | Profile

    Bravo, Shawn. I think headless is correct.
    Some (mostly) confirming observations:


    As Jason noted, if you lose your head you might flee a battle. It’s not terribly satisfying for “whether good or bad”, but sometimes people speak of having a good head for something.


    The wordplay for ‘less’ in the second stanza works nicely.


    And it fits terribly well with the final stanza, both fitting the actual form of execution, as well as reconciling the problems with the final phrase “My whole he’s borne away”. The contraction is not “he has” but “he is”, meaning that after being killed, he is borne away headless, and the actor/ the one bearing are those responsible for the body after it is decapitated.


    Finally, RK might have inadvertently (or intentionally?) given a clue, by listing, “a, “b”, “ab”, showing that the answer is not a two word phrase, but a single compound word, which again headless fits well.


  14. RK | Profile

    Very good, “Headless” is correct :D


  15. Trevor | Profile

    Horsemen of the Apocalypse
    Are heard to match my second.
    A small word to connect the two,
    Needs a clue like this, I reckon.


    I think the answer is “of”. “The two” it refers to might be Horsemen and the Apocalypse, and “of” connects the two. It is after all a small word.


    I made an account for the sole purpose of this one post, so tell me what you think.


  16. Trevor | Profile

    I also forgot to mention, “of” is the second word in the riddle.


  17. raymoth324 | Profile

    headless kinda makes sense, but it doesnt sound right to me. trying to figure out something else that might fit.


    Maybe when it says “and still my second’s less” it isnt saying that it IS less, maybe it said “my second’s” in place of the word.


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