Hannah More

A Riddle

I'm a strange contradiction; I'm new and I'm old,

I'm often in tatters, and oft decked with gold.

Though I never could read, yet lettered I'm found;

Though blind, I enlighten; though loose, I am bound.

I'm always black, and I'm always in white;

I'm grave and I'm gay, I am heavy and light—

In form, too, I differ,—I'm thick and I'm thin,

I've no flesh and no bones, yet I'm covered with skin;

I've more points than the compass, more stops than the flute;

I sing without voice, without speaking confute.

I'm English, I'm German, I'm French, and I'm Dutch;

Some love me too fondly, some slight me too much;

I often die soon, though I sometimes live ages,

And no monarch alive has so many pages.