George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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Bidden then was Kriemhild forth unto the king to go.

With her full beauteous maidens unto the Hall she passed.
Then sprang the youthful Giselher adown the steps in haste
"Bid now these many maidens wend their way again;
None but my sister only tmto the king shall enter in."


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Then led they Eriemhild thither where the king was found.
With him were knights full noble from many a land around.
Within that Hall so spacious she waited the king's behest,
What time the Lady Brunhild betook her likewise to the feast.

Then spake the royal Gimther: "Sister mine full fair,
Redeem the word I've given, an hold'st thou virtue dear.
Thee to a knight I plighted: An tak'st thou him to man,
Thereby my wish full truly unto the warrior hast thou done.'*

Then spake the noble maiden: "Brother full dear to me,
Not long shalt thou entreat me. In truth I'll ever be
Obedient to thy bidding; that shall now be done.
And him I'll take full gladly, my Lord, whom thou giv'st me for

Before those fair eyes' glances grew Siegfried's color red.
The knight to Lady Kriemhild his service offered.
Wthin a ring together then were led the twain.
And they asked the maiden, if she to take the knight were fain.


Upon her face not little was the modest glow;
Nathless to joy of Siegfried did fortime will it so.
That the maiden would not refuse the knight her hand.
Eke swore his wife to make her the noble king of Netherland.

When he to her had plighted, and eke to him the maid,
Siegfried to embrace her nothing more delayed,
But clasped in arms full fondly and oft the lady fair.
And stately knights were witness how that he kissed the princess

When that the maids attendant from thence had ta'en their leave,
In place of honor seated Siegfried might ye perceive
And by him fairest Kriemhild; and many a knight at hand
Was seen of the Nibelungen at Siegfried's service ready stand.


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There too was Gimther seated and with him Queen Brunhild.
At sight of Kriemhild sitting by Siegfried was she filled
With anger such as never before her heart did swell:
She wept, and tears in plenty adown her shining face there fell.

Then spake who ruled the coimtry: "What aileth, lady mine,
That so thou let'st be dimmed thine eyes that brightly shine?
Be straight of joyous spirit, for now at thy conunand
My land and my good castles and host of stately warriors stand."

"Good cause to me for weeping," spake the lady fair.
"For sake of this thy sister sorrow now I bear.
Whom here behold I seated by one that serveth thee.
That must forever grieve me, shall she thus dishonored be."

Then answered her King Gunther: "But for the nonce be still.
At other time more fitting the thing to thee I'll tell.
Wherefore thus my sister to Siegfried I did give.
And truly with the hero may she ever joyous live."

She spake: "Her name and beauty thus lost it grieveth me.
An knew I only whither, from hence I'd surely flee.
This night nor e'er hereafter to share thy royal bed,
Say'st thou not truly wherefore Kriemhild thus hath Siegfried wed."

Then ^pake the noble monarch: "Then irnto thee be known
That he as stately castles, lands wide as I, doth own.
And know thou that full surely a mighty monarch he;
Wherefore the fairest maiden I grant him thus his wife to be."

Whatever the king did tell her, sad was she yet of mood.
Then hastened from the tables full many a warrior good,
And jousted that the castle walls gave back the din.
Amid his guests the monarch waiting longingly was seen.


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He deemed 'twere better lying beside his fair lady.
Of thinking on that plaisance his mind he could not free,
And what her love would bring him before the night be past;
He many a glance full tender upon the Lfady Brunhild cast

The guests they bade give over in joust who combated,
For that with spouse new-wedded the monarch would to bed.
Leaving then the banquet, there together met
Kriemhild and Brunhild: their bitter hate was silent yet

At hand were their attendants; they longer tarried not.
And chamberlains full lordly lights for them had brought
Then parted eke the followers of the monarchs twain.
And bearing Siegfried company went full many a worthy thane.

The lords were both come thither where that they should lie.
As each one bethought him of loving victory
To win o'er winsome lady, merry he grew of mood.
The noble Siegfried's pastime it was beyond all measure good.

As there Sir Siegfried by fair Kriemhild lay
And to the maid devoted himself in such fond way
As noble knight beseemeth, they twain to him were one,
And not a thousand others had he then ta'en for her alone.

I'll tell you now no further how he the lady plied,
But list ye first the story what Gunther did betide
By Lady Brunhild lying. Jn sooth the noble thane
By side of other ladies a deal more happily had lain.

\nthdrawn were now attendants, man and also maid;
Not long to lock the chamber within the king delayed.
He weened to hare good pleasure of that fair lady.
Yet was the time still distant when that sjie bis wife should be.


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In gown of whitest linen unto the bed she passed.
Then thought the knight full noble: "Now have I here at last
All that I e'er desired as long as I can tell."
Perforce her stately beauty did please the monarch passing well.

That they shotild shine more dimly he placed the lights aside.
Then where did lie the lady the thane full eager hied.
He placed himself a-nigh her, his joy right great it was,
As in his arms the monarch the winsome maid did there embrace.

A loving plaisance had he with vigor there begun
If that the noble lady had let the same be done.
She then did rage so sorely that grieved was he thereat;
He weened to find who loved him, — ^instead he foimd him naught
but hate.

Spake she: "Good knight and noble, from this thing give o'er.
That which thou here hast hope of, it may be nevermore.
A maid I still will keep me — ^well mayest thou know that —
Until I learn that story." Gunther wrathy grew thereat

Her gown he wrought to ruin to win her maidenhead.
Whereat did seize a girdle the full stately maid,
A strong and silken girdle that roimd her sides she wore.
And with the same the monarch she soon had brought to pains full

His feet and his hands also, together bound she all,
Unto a nail she bore him and hung him on the wall.
Him who disturbed her sleeping in his love she sorely let,
And from her mighty prowess he full nigh his death had met

Then gan he to entreat her, who master late had been.
"From these my bonds now loose me, my full noble queen.
Nor trow I e'er, fair lady, victor o'er thee to be.
And henceforth will I seldom seek to lie thus nigh to thee."


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She recked not how 'twere with him, as she full softly lay.
There hung he, will he nill he, the night through unto day,
Until the light of morning through the windows shone.
Could he e'er boast of prowess, small now the measure he did own.

"Now tell me, lordly Gunther, wert thou thereat so sad,
If that in bonds should find thee" — spake the fairest maid —
"Thy royal men-in-waiting, bound by lady's hand?"
Then spake the knight full noble: "Thou should'st in case most
evil stand.

"Eke had I little honor therefrom," continued he.
"For all thy royal honor let me then go to thee.
Since that my fond embracements do anger thee so sore,
With these my hands I pledge thee to touch thy garment never-

Then she loosed him straightway and he once more stood free.
To the bed he went as erstwhile where rested his lady.
But far from her he laid him and well he now forebore
To stir the lady's anger by touching e'en the gown she wore.

At length came their attendants who garments fresh did bring,
Whereof was ready for them good store on that morning.
Yet merry as his folk were, a visage sad did own
The lord of that proud country, for all he wore that day a crown,

As was the country's custom, a thing folk do of right,
Gunther and Brunhild presently were dight
To go unto the minster where the mass was sung.
Thither eke came Siegfried, and in their trains a mighty throng.

As fitted royal honor for them was thither brought
The crown that each should carry and garments richly wrought
There were they consecrated; and when the same was done.
Saw ye the four together happy stand and wearing crown.


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There was knighted many a squire, — six hundred or beyond —
In honor of the crowning, that shall ye understand.
Arose full great rejoicing in the land of Burgundy
As hand of youthful warrior did shatter shaft right valiantly.

Then sat in casde casement maidens fair to see,
And many a shield beneath them gleamed full brilliantly.
Yet himself had simdered from all his men the king;
Though joyous every other, sad-visaged stood he sorrowing.

He and the doughty Siegfried, how all unlike their mood!
Well wist the thing did grieve him that noble knight and good.
He went imto the monarch and straight addressed him so:
"This night how hast thou farfed? In friendship give thou me to

To his guest the king gave answer: "Than shame and scathe I've

The devil's dam I surely into my house have brought.
When as I thought to have her che boimd me like a thrall;
Unto a nail she bore me and hung me high upon the wall.

"There hung I sore in anguish the night through until day
Ere that she would imbind me, the while she softiy lay!
And hast thou friendly pity know then the grief I bear."
Then spake the doughty Siegfried: "Such grieves me verily to hear.


"The which I'll show thee truly, wilt thou me not deny.
I'll bring it that to-night she so near to thee shall lie
That she to meet thy wishes shall tarry nevermore."
Thereat rejoice did Gunther to think perchance his trials o'er.

Then further spake Sir Siegfried: "With thee 'twill yet be ri^t
I ween that all imequal we twain have fared this night.
To me thy sister Kriemhild dearer is than life;
Eke shall the Lady Brunhild be yet this coming night thy wife."


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"I'll come unto thy chamber this night all secretly/'
Spake he, "and wrapped in mantle invisible I'll be,
That of this my cunning naught shall any know;
And thy attendants shalt thou bid to their apartments go.

"The lights I'll all extinguish held by each page in hand,
By the which same token shalt thou understand
I present am to serve thee. I'll tame thy shrewish wife
That thou this night enjoy her, else forfeit be my caitiff life.*'

"An thou wUt truly leave me" — answered him the king —
*My lady yet a maiden, I joy o'er this same thing.
So do thou as thou wiliest; and takest thou her life,
E'en that I'll let pass o'er me, — ^to lose so terrible a wife.'*

"Thereto," spake then Siegfried, "plight I word of mine,
To leave her yet a maiden. A sister fair of thine
Is to me before all women I ever yet have seen."
Gimther believed right gladly what had by Siegfried plighted been.

Meanwhile the merry pastime with joy and zest went on.
But all the din and bustle bade they soon be done,
When band of fairest ladies would pass unto the hall
'Fore whom did royal chamberlains bid backward stand the people

The chargers soon and riders from castle court were sped.
Each of the noble ladies by bishop high was led,
When that before the monarchs they passed to banquet board.
And in their train did follow to table many a stately lord.

There sat the king all hopeful and full of merriment;

What him did promise Siegfried, thereon his mind was bent

To him as long as thirty did seem that single day;

To plaisance with his lady, thither turned his tfiought alway.


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And scarce the time he bided while that the feast did last
Now unto her chamber the stately Brunhild passed,
And for her couch did Kriemhild likewise the table leave.
Before those ro)ral ladies what host ye saw of warriors brave I

Full soon thereafter Siegfried sat right lovingly
With his fair wife beside him, and naught but joy had he.
His hand she clasped full fondly within her hand so white,
Until — and how she knew not — he did vanish from her sight

When she the knight did fondle, and straightway saw him not,
Unto her maids attendant spake the queen distraught:
"Meseemeth a mickle wonder where now the king hath gone.
His hands in such weird fashion who now from out mine own hath

Yet further not she questioned. Soon had he hither gone
Where with lights were standing attendants many a one.
The same he did extinguish in every page's hand;
That Siegfried then was present Gunther thereby did understand.

Well wist he what he would there; so bade he thence be gone
Ladies and maids-in-waiting. And when that was done,
Himself the mighty monarch fast did lock the door:
Two bolts all wrought securely he quickly shoved the same before.

The lights behind the curtains hid he presently.
Soon a play was started (for thus it had to be),
Betwixt the doughty Siegfried and the stately maid:
Thereat was royal Gunther joyous alike and sad.

Si^fried there laid him by the maid full near.
Spake she: "Let be, now, Gimther, an hast thou cause to fear
Those troubles now repeated which befell thee yesternight."
And soon the valiant Siegfried through the lady fell in sorry plight.


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His voice did he keep under and ne'er a word spake he.
Intently listened Gimther, and though he naught could see.
Yet knew he that in secret nothing 'twixt them passed.
In sooth nor knight nor lady upon the bed had mickle rest

He did there as if Gunther the mighty king he were,
And in his arms he pressed her, the maiden debonair.
Forth from the bed ^e hurled him where a bench there stood.
And head of valiant warrior against a stool went ringing loud.

Up sprang again undaunted the full doughty man.
To try for fortune better. When he anew began
Perforce to curb her fury, fell he in trouble sore.
I ween that ne'er a lady did so defend herself before.

When he would not give over, up the maid arose:
"My gown so white thou never thus shalt discompose.
And this thy villain's manner shall sore by thee be paid,
The same I'll teach thee truly," further spake the buxom maid.

Within her arms she clasped him, the full stately thane,
And thought likewise to bind him, as the king yestreen.
That she the night in quiet upon her couch might lie.
That her dress he thus did rumple, avenged the lady grievously.

What booted now his prowess and eke his mickle might?
Her sovereignty of body she proved upon the knight;
By force of arm she bore him, — 'twixt wall and mighty chest
(For so it e'en must happen) Jbim she all ungently pressed.

"Ah me!" — so thought the hero — "shall I now my life
Lose at hand of woman, then will every wife
Evermore hereafter a shrewish temper show
Against her lord's good wishes, who now such thing ne'er thinks
to do."


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All heard the monarch meanwhile and trembled for the man.
Sore ashamed was Siegfried, and a-raging he began.
With might and main he struggled again to make him free,
Ere which to sorest trouble 'neath Lady Brunhild's hand fell he.

Long space to him it seemed ere Siegfried tamed her mood.
She grasped his hand so tightly that 'neath the nails the blood
Ooz^ from the pressure, which made the hero wince.
Yet the stately maiden subdued he to obedience since.

Her unrestrained temper that she so late displayed.
All overheard the monarch, though ne'er a word he said.
'Gainst the bed did press her Siegfried that aloud she cried,
Ungentle was the treatment that he meted to the bride.

Then grasped she for a girdle that round her sides she wore,
And thought therewith to bind him; but her limbs and body o'er
Strained beneath the vigor that his strong arm displayed.
So was the struggle ended — Gimther's wife was vanquish&l.

She spake: "O noble monarch, take not my life away.
The harm that I have done thee full well wiOl I repay.
No more thy royal embraces by me shall be withstood,
For now I well have seen it, thou canst be lord o'er woman's mood."

From the couch rose Siegfried, lying he left the maid,
As if that he would from him lay his clothes aside.
He drew from off her finger a ring of golden sheen
Without that e'er perceived his practice the full noble queen.

Thereto he took her girdle that was all richly wrought:
If from wanton spirit he did it, know I not.
The same ^e gave to Kiiemhild: the which did sorrow bear.
Then lay by one another Gunther and the maiden fair.


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Hearty were his embraces as such king became :
Perforce must she relinquish her anger and her shame.
In sooth not little pallid within his arms she grew,
And in that love-surrender how waned her mighty prowess tool

Then was e'en she not stronger than e'er another bride;
He lay with fond embraces the beauteous dame beside.
And had she struggled further, avail how could it aught?
Gunther, when thus he clasped her, such change upon her strength
had wrought

And with right inward pleasure she too beside him lay
In warmest love embradngs until the dawn of day!
Meantime now had Siegfried departure ta'en from there.
And was full well receive by a lady debonair.

Her questioning he avoided and all whereon she thought,
And long time kept he secret what he for her had brought,
Until in his own country she wore a royal crown;
Yet what for her he destined, how sure at last it was her own.

Upon the mom was Gimther by far of better mood
Than he had been before it; joy thus did spread abroad
'Mid host of knights full noble that from his lands around
To his court had been invited, and there most willing service found.

The merry time there lasted until two weeks were spent.
Nor all the while did flag there the din of merriment
And every kind of joyance that knight could e'er devise;
With lavish hand expended the king thereto in fitting wise.

The noble monarch's kinsmen upon his high command
By gifts of gold and raiment told forth his generous hand,
By steed and thereto silver on minstrel oft bestowed.
Who there did gift desire departed thence in merry mood.


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All the store of raiment afar from Netherland,
The which had Siegfried's thousand warriors brought to hand
Unto the Rhine there with them, complete 'twas dealt away,
And eke the steeds well saddled: in sooth a lordly life led they.

Ere all the gifts so bounteous were dealt the guests among,
They who would straightway homeward did deem the waiting long.
Ne'er had guests of monarch such goodly gifts before;
And so as Gunther willed it the merry feast at last was o'er.


1)ow SicgMc^ came borne witb bi0 Wife

When that now the strangers all from thence were gone,
Spake tmto his followers noble Siegmimd's son:
"We shall eke make ready home to my land to fare."
Unto his spouse was welcome such news when she the same did hear.

She spake imto her husband: "When shall we hence depart?
Not hastily on the journey I pray thee yet to start.
With me first my brothers their wide lands shall share."
Siegfried yet it pleased not such words from Kriemhild to hear.

The princes went imto him and spake they there all three:
** Now know thou well, Sir Siegfried, for thee shall ever be
In faithfulness our service ready while yet we live."
The royal thanes then thanked he who thus did proof of friendship

"With thee further share we," spake young Giselher,
"The lands and eke the castles by us that ownM are.
In wide lands whatsoever we rule o'er'Hiarriors brave,
Of the same with Kriemhild a goodly portion shalt thou have.


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Then spake unto the princes the son of Si^mund
When he their lofty purpose did rightly imderstand:
"God grant your goodly heritage at peace may ever be,
And eke therein your people. The spouse in sooth so dear to me

"May well forego the portion that ye to her would give.
For she a crown shall carry, if to such day I live,
And queen more rich than any that lives she then must be.
What else to her ye offer, therein I'll meet you faithfully."

Then spake (he Lady Kriemhild: "If wealth thou wilt not choose,
Yet gallant thanes of Burgundy shalt thou not light refuse.
They're such as monarch gladly would lead to his own land.
Of these shall make division with me my loving brothers* hand."

Thereto spake noble Gemot: "Now take to please thy mind.
Who gladly will go with thee full many here thou'lt find.
Of thirty hundred warriors we give thee thousand men
To be ihy royal escort." Elriemhild did summon then

Hagen of Tronje to her and Ortwein instantly:
And would they and their kinsmen make her good company?
To hear the same did Hagen begin to rage full sore.
Quoth he: "E'en royal Gunther may thus bestow us nevermore.

"Other men that serve thee, let them follow thee;
Thou know'st the men of Tronje and what their pledges be:
Here must we by the monarchs in service true abide;
Hereto as them we followed, so shall we henceforth keep their side."

And so the thing was ended: to part they ready make.
A high and noble escort did Kriemhild to her take,
Maidens two and thirty and five hundred men also.
In Lady Kriemhild's company the Margrave Eckewart did go.




Leave took they all together, squire and also knight,
Maidens and fair ladies, as was their wont aright.
There parted they with kisses and eke with clasp of hand:
Right merrily they journeyed forth from royal Gimther's land.

Their friends did give them escort upon the way full far.
Night-quarters at every station they bade for them prepare,
Where they might wi^ to tarry as on their way they went.
Then straightway was a messenger imto royal Siegmimd sent,

To him and Siegelind bearing thereof the joyful sign
That his son was coming from Worms upon the Rhine
And with him Ute's daughter, Kriemhild the fair lady.
As this could other message nevermore so welcome be.

"Well is meP' quoth Siegmund, "that I the day have known,
When the fair Lady Kriemhild here shall wear a crown.
Thus higher shall my kingdom stand in majesty.
My son the noble Siegfried here himself the khig shall be."

Then dealt the Lady Siegelind velvet red in store,
Silver and gold full heavy to them the news that bore:
She joyed to hear the story that there her ear did greet
Then decked themselves her ladies all in rich attire meet

'Twas told, with Siegfried coming whom they did expect
Then bade they sitting-places straightway to erect,
Where he before his kinsmen a crown in state should wear.
Then men of royal Siegmimd forward rode to meet him there.

Was e'er more royal greeting, news have I not to hand,
As came the knights full noble into Siegmund's land.
There the royal Siegelind to Elriemhild forth did ride
With ladies fair a many, and followed gallant knights beside




Out a full day's journey to welcome each high guest.
And little with the strangers did they ever rest
Until into a castle wide they came once more,
The same was called Xanten, where anon a crown they wore.

With smiling lips Dame Siegelind — ^and Siegmimd eke did this—
To show the love they bore her full oft did Kriemhild kiss,
And eke the royal Siegfried: far was their sorrow gone.
And all the merry company, good welcome had they every one.

The train of strangers bade they 'fore Siegmund's Hall to lead,
And maidens fair a many down from gallant steed
Helped they there dismounting. Full many a man was there
To do them willing service as was meet for ladies fair.

How great soe'er the splendor erstwhile beside the Rhine,
Here none the less was given raiment yet more fine.
Nor were they e'er attired in all their days so well.

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 10 of 27)