1833-1913 Eiríkr Magnússon.

Völsunga saga : the story of the Volsungs & Niblungs, with certain songs from the Elder Edda. online

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That none should deem me
His queen's darling.''

Weary sighed Gudrun,
As the king gat ending,
And so sore her hands
She smote together,
That the cups arow
Rang out therewith.
And the geese cried on high
That were in the homefield.

Then laughed Brynhild,
Budli's daughter,
Once, once only.
From out her heart ;


When to her bed
Was borne the sound
Of the sore greeting
Of Giuki's daughter.

Then, quoth Gunnar,
The king, the hawkbearer,
" Whereas, thou laughest,
O hateful woman.
Glad on thy bed.
No good it betokeneth :
Why lackest thou else
Thy lovely hue ?
Feeder of foul deeds.
Fey do I deem thee,

" Well worthy art thou

Before all women,

That thine eyes should see

Atli slain of us ;

That thy brother's wounds

Thou shouldst see a-bleeding,

That his bloody hurts

Thine hands should bind."

" No man blameth thee, Gunnar,
Thou hast fulfilled death's measure,
But naught Atli feareth
All thine ill will ;
Life shall he lay down


Later than ye,

And still bear more might

Aloft than thy might.

" I shall tell thee, Gunnar,

Though well the tale thou knowest

In what early days

Ye dealt abroad your wrong :

Young was I then,

Worn with no woe.

Good wealth I had

In the house of my brother !

" No mind had I
That a man should have me.
Or ever ye Giukings,
Rode into our garth ;
There ye sat on your steeds
Three kings of the people —
— All ! that that faring
Had never befallen !

" Then spake Atli

To me apart.

And said that no wealth

He would give unto me,

Neither gold nor lands

If I would not be wedded ;

Nay, and no part

Of the wealth apportioned,

Wliich in my first days


He gave me duly ;
Which in my first days
He counted down.

" Wavered the mind

Within me then,

If to fight I should fall

And the felling of folk,

Bold in b3Tmy

Because of my brother ;

A deed of fame

Had that been to all folk,

But to many a man

Sorrow of mind.

" So I let all sink
Into peace at the last :
More grew I minded
For the mighty treasure.
The red-shining rings
Of Sigmund's son ;
For no man's wealth else
Would I take unto me.

" For myself had I given
To that great king
Who sat amid gold
On the back of Grani ;
Nought were his eyen
Like to your eyen.
Nor in any wise


Went his visage with yours ;
Though ye might deem you
Due kings of men.

" One I loved,
One, and none other.
The gold-decked may
Had no doubtful mind ;
Thereof shall Ath
Wot full surely.
When he getteth to know
I am gone to the dead.

" Far be it from me
Feeble and wavering.
Ever to love
Another's love —
— Yet shall my woe
Be well avenged."

Up rose Gunnar,
The great men's leader.
And cast his arras
About the queen's neck ;
And all went nigh
One after other,
With their whole hearts
Her heart to turn.

But then all these

From her neck she thrust,


Of her long journey-
No man should let her.

Then called he Hogni

To have talk with him ;

" Let all folk go

Forth into the hall,

Thine with mine —

— need sore and mighty ! —

To wot if we yet

My wife's parting may stay.

Till with time's wearing

Some hindrance wax."

One answer Hogni

Had for all ;

" Nay, let hard need

Have rule thereover.

And no man let her

Of her long journey !

Never bom again.

May she come back thence !

" Luckless she came

To the lap of her mother,

Bom into the world

For utter woe,

To many a man

For heart-whole mourning."


Unpraised he turned
From the talk and the trouble,
To where the gem-field
Dealt out goodly treasure ;
As she looked and beheld
All the wealth that she had,
And the hungry bondmaids.
And maids of the hall.

With no good in her heart
She donned her gold byrny.
Ere she trust the sword-point
Through the midst of her body :
On the bolster's far side
Sank she adown,
And, smitten with sword,
Still bethought her of redes.

" Let all come forth

Who are fain the red gold,

Or things less worthy

To win from my hands :

To each one I give

A necklace gilt over.

Wrought hangings and bed-gear.

And bright woven weed."

All they kept silence.
And thought what to speak.
Then all at once
Answer gave :


" Full enow are death-doomed,
Fain are we to live yet,
Maids of the hall
All meet work winning."

From her wise heart at last
The linen-clad damsel,
The one of few years
Gave forth the word ;
■" I will that none driven
By hand or by word.
For our salce should lose
WeU-loved life.

" Though on the bones -of you

Surely shall bum,

Less dear treasure

At your departing

Nor with Menia's Meal *

Shall ye come to see me.

"Sit thee down, Gunnar,
A word must I say to thee
Of the life's ruin
Of thy lightsome bride —
■ — Nor shall thy ship
Swim soft and sweetly
For all that I
Lay life adown.

'Menia's Meal,' periphrasis for gold.


" Sooner than ye might deem
Shall ye make peace with Gudrun,
For the wise woman
Shall lull in the young wife
The hard memory
Of her dead husband.

" There is a may born
Reared by her mother,
Whiter and brighter
Than is the bright day ;
She shall be Swanhild,
She shall be Sunbeam.

" Thou shalt give Gudrun

Unto a great one,

Noble, well praised

Of the world's folk ;

Not with her goodwill.

Or love shalt thou give her ;

Yet will Atli

Come to win her.

My very brother

Bom of Budli.

— " Ah ! many a memory
Of how ye dealt with me.
How sorely, how evilly
Ye ever beguiled me,
How all pleasure left me
The while my life lasted ! —


" Fain wilt thou be
Oddrun to win,
But thy good Hking
Shall Atli let ;
But in secret wise
Shall ye win together,
And she shall love thee
As I had loved thee,
If in such wise
Fate had willed it.

" But with all ill
Shall Atli sting thee
Into the strait worm-close
Shall he cast thee.

" But no long space

Shall slip away

Ere Atli too

All life shall lose.

Yea, all his weal

With the life of his sons.

For a dreadful bed

Dights Gudrun for him,

From a heart sore laden,

With the sword's sharp edge.

" More seemly for Gudrun
Your very sister,
In death to wend after
Her love first wed ;


Had but good rede

To her been given,

Or if her heart

Had been like to my heart.

— " Faint my speech groweth—
But for our sake
Ne'er shall she lose
Her life beloved ;
The sea shall have her,
High billows bear her
Forth unto Jonakr's
Fair land of his fathers.

" There shall she bear sons,
Stays of a heritage,
Stays of a heritage,
Jonakr's sons ;
And Swanhild shall she
Send from the land,
That may born of her,
The may born of Sigurd.

" Her shall bite
The rede of Bikki,
Whereas for no good
Wins Jormunrek life ;
And so is clean perished
All the kin of Sigurd,
Yea, and more greeting.
And more for Gudrun.


" And now one prayer
Yet pray I of thee —
The last word of mine
Here in the world —
So broad on the field
Be the burg of the dead
That fair space may be left
For us aU to lie down,
All those that died
At Sigurd's death !

" Hang round that burg
Fair hangings and shields,
Web by Gauls woven,
And folk of the Gauls :
There burn the Hun King
Lying beside me.

" But on the other side
Burn by the Hun King
Those who served me
Strewn with treasure ;
Two at the head,
And two at the feet.
Two hounds therewith.
And two hawks moreover :
Then is all dealt
With even dealing.

" Lay there amidst us
The ring-dight metal.


The sharp-edged steel,

That so lay erst ;

When we both together

Into one bed went,

And were called by the name

Of man and wife.

" Never, then belike
Shall clash behind him
Valhall's bright door
With rings bedight :
And if my fellowship
FoUoweth after.
In no wretched wise
Then shall we wend.

" For him shall follow
My five bondmaids,
My eight bondsmen.
No borel folk :
Yea, and my fosterer,
And my father's dower
That Budli of old days
Gave to his dear child.

" Much have I spoken.

More would I speak,

If the sword would give me

Space for speech ;

But my words are waning.

My wounds are swelling —

Naught but truth have I told-

— And now make I ending."


AFTER the death of Biynhild were made two bales,
one for Sigurd, and that was first burned; but
Brynhild was burned on the other, and she was in a
chariot hung about with goodly hangings.

And so folk say that Brynhild drave in her chariot
down along the way to Hell, and passed by an abode
where dwelt a certain giantess, and the giantess spake : —

" Nay, with my goodwill
Never goest thou
Through this stone-pillared
Stead of mine !
More seemly for thee
To sit sewing the cloth.
Than to go look on
The love of another.

" What dost thou, going
From the land of the Gauls,


O restless head,
To this mine house ?
Golden girl, hast thou not.
If thou listest to hearken,
In sweet wise from thy hands
The blood of men washen ? "


" Nay, blame me naught,
Bride of the rock-hall.
Though I roved a warring
In the days that were ;
The higher of us twain
Shall I ever be holden
When of our kind
Men make account."

The Giant-woman.

" Thou, O Brynhild,
Budli's daughter,
Wert the worst ever born
Into the world :
For Giuki's children
Death hast thou gotten.
And turned to destruction
Their goodly dwelling."


" I shall tell thee

True tale from my chariot.


O thou who naught wottest,

If thou listest to wot ;

How for me they have gotten

Those heirs of Giuki,

A loveless life,

A life of lies.

" Hild under helm,
The Hlymdale people.
E'en those who knew me,
Ever would call me.

" The changeful shapes

Of us eight sisters,

The wise king bade

Under oak-tree to bear :

Of twelve winters was I,

If thou listest to wot,

When I sware to the young lord

Oaths of love.

" Thereafter gat I
Mid the folk of the Goths,
For Helmgunnar the old,
STOft journey to Hell,
And gave to Aud's brother
The young, gain and glory ;
Whereof overwrath
Waxed Odin with me.

" So he shut me in shield-wall
In Skata grove.


Red shields and white
Close set around me ;
And bade him alone
My slmnber to break
Who in no land
Knew how to fear.

" He set round my hall,
Toward the south quarter,
The Bane of all trees
Burning aloft ;
And ruled that he only
Thereover should ride
Who should bring me the gold
O'er which Fafnir brooded.

" Then upon Grani rode
The goodly gold-strewer
To where my fosterer
Ruled his fair dwelling.
He who alone there
Was deemed best of all,
The War-lord of the Danes,
Well worthy of men.

" In peace did we sleep

Soft in one bed,

As though he had been

Naught but my brother :

There as we lay

Through eight nights wearing,


No hand in love

On each other we laid.

" Yet thence blamed me Gudrun,

Giuki's daughter,

That I had slept

In the arms of Sigurd ;

And then I wotted

As I fain had not wotted,

That they had bewrayed me

In my betrothals.

" Ah ! for unrest

All too long

Are men and women

Made alive !

Yet we twain together

Shall wear through the ages,

Sigurd and I. —

— Sink adown, O giant-wife ! "


Hogni said.

What hath wrought Sigurd
Of any wrong-doing
That the Hfe of the famed one
Thou art fain of taking ?

Gutmar said.

To me has Sigurd
Sworn many oaths,
Sworn many oaths,
And sworn them lying,
And he bewrayed me
When it behoved him
Of all folk to his troth
To be the most trusty.


Hogni said.

Thee hath Brynhild
Unto all bale,
And all hate whetted,
And a work of sorrow ;
For she grudges to Gudrun
All goodly life ;
And to thee the bKss
Of her very body.

Some the wolf roasted,
Some minced the worm.
Some unto Guttorm
Gave the wolf-meat.
Or ever they might
In their lust for murder
On the high king
Lay deadly hand.

Sigurd lay slain
On the south of the Rhine,
High from the fair tree
Croaked forth the raven,
"Ah, yet shall Ath
On you redden edges,
The old oaths shall weigh
On your souls, O warriors.''


Without stood GudruH,

Giuki's daughter,

And the first word she said

Was even this word:

"Where then is Sigurd,

Lord of the Warfolk,

Since my kin

Come riding the foremost?"

One word Hogni

Had for an answer :

" Our swords have smitten

Sigurd asunder,

And the grey horse hangs drooping

O'er his lord lying dead."

Then quoth Brynhild,
Budli's daughter;
" Good weal shall ye have
Of weapons and lands,
That Sigurd alone
Would surely have ruled
If he had lived
But a little longer.

" Ah, nothing seemly
For Sigurd to rule
Giuki's house
And the folk of the Goths,
When of him five sons
For the slaying of men.


Eager for battle

Should have been begotten !"

Then laughed Biynhild —
Loud rang the whole house —
One laugh only
From out her heart :
" Long shall your bliss be
Of lands and people,
Whereas the famed lord
Ye have felled to the earth !"

Then spake Gudrun,
Giuki's daughter ;
" Much thou speakest,
Many things fearful,
All grame be on Gunnar
The bane of Sigurd !
From a heart full of hate
Shall come heavy vengeance.''

Forth sped the even
Enow there was drunken,
Full enow was there
Of all soft speech ;
And all men got sleep
When to bed they were gotten ;
Gunnar only lay waking
Long after all men.

His feet fell he to moving,
Fell to speak to himself


The waster of men

Still turned in his mind,

What on the bough

Those twain would be sapng,

The raven and erne,

As they rode their ways homeward.

But Brynhild awoke,

Budli's daughter,

May of the shield-folk,

A little ere morning :

" Thrust ye on, hold ye back,

— Now all harm is wrought, —

To tell of my sorrow,

Or to let all slip by me?"

All kept silence
After her speaking,
None might know
That woman's mind.
Or why she must weep
To tell of the work
That laughing once
Of men she prayed,

Brynhild spake.

In dreams, O Gunnar,
Grim things fell on me ;
Dead-cold the hall was.
And my bed was a-cold.


And thou, lord, wert riding

Reft of all bliss.

Laden with fetters

'Mid the host of thy foemen.

So now all ye,
O House of the Niblungs,
Shall be brought to naught,
ye oath-breakers 1

Think'st thou not, Gunnar,
How that betid,
When ye let the blood run
Both in one footstep ?
With ill reward
Hast thou rewarded
His heart so fain
To be the foremost !

As well was seen
When he rode his ways,
That king of all worth,
Unto my wooing;
How the host-destroyer
Held to the vows
Sworn aforetime.
Sworn to the young king.

For his wounding-wand
All wrought with gold,
The king beloved
Laid between us j


Without were its edges
Wrought with fire,
But with venom-drops
Deep dyed within.

Thus this song telleth of the death of Sigurd, and
setteth forth how that they slew him without doors ; but
some say that they slew him within doors, sleeping in
his bed. But the Dutch Folk say that they slew him
out in the wood : and so sayeth the ancient song of
Gudrun, that Sigurd and the sons of Giuki were riding
to the Thing whenas he was slain. But all with one
accord say that they bewrayed him in their troth with
him, and fell on him as he lay unarrayed and unawares.



THIODREK the King was in Atli's house, and had
lost there the more part of his men : so there
Thiodrek and Gudrun bewailed their troubles one to
the other, and she spake and said :

A may of all mays
My mother reared me
Bright in bower ;
Well loved I my brethren.
Until that Giuki
With gold arrayed me.
With gold arrayed me,
And gave me to Sigurd.

Such was my Sigurd
Among the sons of Giuki
As is the green leek
O'er the low grass waxen.


Or a hart liigh-limbed
Over hurrying deer,
Or gleed-red gold
Over grey silver.

Till me they begrudged,
Those my brethren,
The fate to have him.
Who was first of all men ;
Nor might they sleep
Nor sit a-dooming
Ere they let slay
My well-loved Sigurd.

Grani ran to the Thing,
There was clatter to hear,
But never came Sigurd
Himself thereunto ;
All the saddle-girt beasts
With blood were besprinkled,
As faint with the way
Neath the slayers they went.

Then greeting I went

With Grani to talk,

And with tear-furrowed cheeks

I bade him tell all ;

But drooping laid Grani,

His head in the grass.

For the steed well wotted

Of his master's slaying.


A long while I wandered,
Long my mind wavered,
Ere the kings I might ask
Concerning my king.

Then Gunnar hung head,
But Hogni told
Of the cruel slaying
Of my Sigurd :
" On the water's far side
Lies, smitten to death,
The bane of Guttorm
To the wolves given over.

" Go, look on Sigurd,

On the ways that go southward,

There shalt thou hear

The ernes high screaming

The ravens a-croaking

As their meat they crave for ;

Thou shalt hear the wolves howling

Over thine husband."

" How hast thou, Hogni,

The heart to tell me,

Me of joy made empty.

Of such misery ?

Thy wretched heart

May the ravens tear

Wide over the world.

With no men mayst thou wend ! "


One thing Hogni

Had for answer,

Fallen from his high heart,

Full of all trouble :

" More greeting yet,

Gudrun, for thee.
If my heart the ravens
Should rend asunder !"

Thence I turned

From the talk and the trouble

To go a leasing*

What the wolves had left me ;

No sigh I made

Nor smote hands together,

Nor did I wail

As other women

When I sat over

My Sigurd slain.

Night methought it,
And the moonless dark,
When I sat in sorrow
Over Sigurd :
Better than all things

1 deemed it would be
If they would let me
Cast my life by,

* The original has 'a viS lesa;' 'leasing' is the word still
used for gleaning in many country sides in England.


Or bum me up

As they bum the birch-wood.

From the fell I wandered
Five days together,
Until the high hall
Of Half lay before me ;
Seven seasons there
I sat with Thora,
The daughter of Hacon,
Up in Denmark.

My heart to gladden
With gold she wrought
Southland halls
And swans of the Dane-folk :
There had we painted
The chiefs a-playing ;
Fair our hands wrought
Folk of the kings.

Red shields we did,

Doughty knights of the Huns,

Hosts spear-dight, hosts helm-dight.

All a high king's fellows ;

And the ships of Sigmund

From the land swift sailing ;

Heads gilt over

And prows fair graven. •

On the cloth we broidered
That tide of their battling.


Siggeir and Siggar,
South in Fion.

Then heard Grimhild,
The Queen of Gothland,
How I was abiding,
Weighed down with woe ;
And she thrust the cloth from her
And called to her sons,
And oft and eagerly-
Asked them thereof,
Who for her son
Would their sister atone,
Who for her lord slain
Would lay down weregild.

Fain was Gunnar

Gold to lay down

All wrongs to atone for.

And Hogni in likewise ;

Then she asked who was fain

Of faring straightly,

The steed to saddle

To set forth the wain.

The horse to back.

And the hawk to fly,

To shoot forth the arrow

From out the yew-bow.

Valdarr the Dane-king
Came with Jarisleif


Eymod the third went

Then went Jarizskar ;

In kingly wise

In they wended,

The host of the Longbeards ;

Red cloaks had they,

Bymies short-cut

Helms strong hammered.

Girt with glaives,

And hair red-gleaming.

Each would give me

Gifts desired,

Gifts desired

Speech dear to my heart,

If they might yet

Despite my sorrow

Win back my trust,

But in them nought I trusted.

Then brought me Grimhild

A beaker to drink of.

Cold and bitter

Wrong's memory to quench ;

Made great was that drink

With the might of the eartli.

With the death-cold sea

And the blood that Son* holdeth.

* Son was the vessd into which was poured the blood of Quasir,
the God of poetry.


On that horn's face were there

All the kin of letters

Cut aright and reddened,

How should I rede them rightly ?

The ling-fish long

Of the land of Hadding

Wheat-ears unshorn,

And wild things' inwards.

In that mead were mingled

Many ills together.

Blood of all the wood,

And brown-burnt acorns ;

The black dew of the hearth,*

And god-doomed dead beasts' inwards,

And the swine's liver sodden,

For wrongs late done that deadens.

Then waned my memory
When that was within me,
Of my lord 'mid the hall
By the iron laid low.
Three kings came
Before my knees
Ere she herself
Fell to speech with me.

" I will give to thee, Gudrun,
Gold to be glad with,

* This means soot.


All the great wealth

Of thy father gone from us,

Rings of red gold

And the great hall of Lodver,

And all fair hangings left

By the king late fallen.

" Maids of tlie Huns
Woven pictures to make,
And work fair in gold
Till thou deem'st thyself glad,
Alone shalt thou rule
O'er the riches of Budli,
Shalt be made great with gold.
And be given to Atli."

" Never will I
Wend to a husband,
Or wed the brother
Of Queen Brynhild ;
Naught it beseems me
With the son of Budli
Kin to bring forth,
Or to live and be merry."

" Nay, the high chiefs
Reward not with hatred,
For take heed that I
Was the first in this tale !
To thy heart shall it be
As if both these had life,


Sigurd and Sigmund,

When thou hast borne sons."

" Naught may I, Grimhild,

Seek after gladness,

Nor deem aught hopeful

Of any high warrior,

Since wolf and raven

Were friends together.

The greedy, the cruel

O'er great Sigurd's heart-blood."

" Of all men that can be

For the noblest of kin

This king have I found,

And the foremost of all ;

Him shalt thou have

Till with eld thou art heavy —

Be thou ever unwed.

If thou wilt naught of him ! "

" Nay, nay, bid me not
With thy words long abiding
To take unto me
That balefullest kin ;
This king shall bid Gunnar
Be stung to his bane,
And shall cut the heart
From out of Hogni.

" Nor shall I leave life
Ere the keen lord.


The eager in sword-play
My hand shall make end of."

Grimhild a-weeping

Took up the word then,

When the sore bale she wotted

Awaiting her sons,

And the bane hanging over

Her offspring beloved.

" I will give thee, moreover,

Great lands, many men,

Wineberg and Valberg,

If thou wilt but have them ;

Hold them lifelong,

And live happy, O daughter ! "

" Then him must I take
From among kingly men,
'Gainst my heart's desire.
From the hands of my kinsfolk ;
But no joy I look
To have from that lord :
Scarce may my brother's bane
Be a shield to my sons."

Soon was each warrior
Seen on his horse.
But the Gaulish women
Into wains were gotten;
Then seven days long
O'er a cold land we rode,


And for seven other
Clove we the sea-waves.
But with the third seven
O'er dry land we wended.

There the gate-wardens

Of the burg high and wide,

Unlocked the barriers

Ere the burg-garth we rode to-

Atli woke me

When meseemed I was

Full evil of heart

For my kin dead slain.

" In such wise did the Noms

Wake me or now'' —

Fain was he to know

Of this ill foreshowing —

" That methought, O Gudrun,

Giuki's daughter,

That thou setst in my heart

A sword wrought for guile."

" For fires tokening I deem it
That dreaming of iron,
But for pride and for lust
The wrath of fair women.
Against some bale
Belike, I shall burn thee


For thy solace and healing
Though hateful thou art."

" In the fair garth methought
Had saplings fallen
E'en such as I would
Should have waxen ever ;
Uprooted were these,
And reddened with blood,
And borne to the bench,
And folk bade me eat of them.

" Methought from my hand then
Went hawks a-flying
Lacking their meat
To the land of all ill;
Methought that their hearts
Mingled with honey.
Swollen with blood
I ate amid sorrow.

" Lo, next two whelps
From my hands I loosened,
Joyless were both,
And both a-howling ;
And now their flesh
Became naught but corpses.
Whereof must I eat

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Online Library1833-1913 Eiríkr MagnússonVölsunga saga : the story of the Volsungs & Niblungs, with certain songs from the Elder Edda. → online text (page 10 of 12)