George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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There stood before the moimtain ready Kriemhild's men,
And her kinsmen with them. The treasure bore they then
Down unto the water where the ships they sought:
To where the Rhine flowed downward across the waves the hoard
they brought.

Now of the treasmre further may ye a wonder hear:
Heavy wains a dozen scarce the same might bear
In four days and nights together from the mountain all away,
E'en did each one of them thrice the journey make each day.

In it was nothing other than gold and jewels rare.
And if to every mortal on earth were dealt a share.
Ne'er 'twould make the treasure by one mark the less.
Not without good reason forsooth would Hagen it possess.

The wish-rod lay among them, of gold a httle wand.
Whosoe'er its powers full might imderstand,
The same might make him master o'er all the race of men.
Of Alberich's kin full many with Gemot returned again.


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When they did store the treasure in King Gimther's land.
And to royal Kriemhild 'twas given 'neath her hand,
Storing-rooms and towers could scarce the measure hold.
Nevermore such wonder might of wealth again be told.

And had it e'en been greater, yea a thousandfold,
If but again might Kriemhild safe her Siegfried hold,
Fain were she empty-handed of all the boimdless store.
Spouse than she more faithful won a hero nevermore.

When now she had the treasure, she brought into that land
Knights many from far distance. Yea, dealt the lady's hand
So freely that such bounty ne'er before was seen.
High in honor held they for her goodly heart the queen.

Unto both rich and needy began she so to give
That fearful soon grew Hagen, if that she would live
Long time in such high power, lest she of warriors true
Such host might win to serve her, that cause would be her strength

Spake Gunther then: "The treasure is hers and freedom too.
Wherefore shall I prevent her, whate'er therewith she do?
Yea, nigh she did her friendship from me evermore withhold.
Now reck we not who shareth or her silver or her gold."

Unto the king spake Hagen: "No man that boasteth wit
Should to any woman such hoard to hold permit.
By gifts she yet will bring it that will come the day
When valiant men of Burgimdy rue it with good reason may."

Then spake the monarch Gunther: "To her an oath I swore,
That I would cause of evil to her be nevermore,
Whereof henceforth I'll mind me: sister she is to me."
Then spake further Hagen: "Let me bear the guilt for thee."


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Many they were that kept not there their plighted word:
From the widow took they all that mighty hoard:
Every key had Hagen known to get in hand.
Rage filled her brother Gemot when he the thing did imderstand.

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Then spake the knight Giselher: "Hagen here hath wrought
Sore evil to my sister: permit this thing I'll not.
And were he not my kinsman, he'd pay it with his life."
Anew did fall aweeping then the doughty Siegfried's wife.

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Then spake the knight Gemot: "Ere that forever we
Be troubled with this treasure, let first commanded be
Deep in the Rhine to sink it, that no man have it more."
In sad manner plaining Elriemhild stood Giselher before.

She spake: "Beloved brother, be mindful thou of me:
What life and treasure toucheth shalt thou my protector be."
Then spake he to the lady: "That shall sure betide,
When we again come hither: now called we are away to ride.*'

The monarch and his kinsmen rode from out the land,
And in his train the bravest ye saw on any hand:
Went all save Hagen only, and there he stayed for hate,
That he did bear to Kriemhild, and full gladly did he that

Ere that the mighty monarch was thither come again.
In that while had Hagen all that treasure ta'en.
Where Loch is by the river all in the Rhine sank he.
He weened thereof to profit, yet such thing might never be.

The royal knights came thither again with many a man.
Kriemhild with her maidens and ladies then began
To mourn the wrong they suffered, that pity was to hear.
Fain had the faithful Giselher been tmto her a comforter.


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Then spake they all together: " Done hath he grievoiis wrong."
But he the princes' anger avoided yet so long
At last to win their favor. They let him Hve sans scathe.
Then filled thereat was Kriemhild as ne'er before with mickle wrath.

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Ere that of Tronje Hagen had hidden thus the hoard,
Had they unto each other given firm plighted word,
That it should lie conceal^ while one of them might live.
Thereof anon nor could they to themselves nor imto other give.

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With renew^ sorrows heavy she was of heart
That so her dear-loved husband perforce from life must part,
And that of wealth they reft her. Therefor she mourned alway,
Nor ever ceased her plaining \mtil was come her latest day.

1 142

After the death of Siegfried dwelt she in sorrow then,

— Saith the tale all truly — fuU three years and ten,#

Nor in that time did ever for the knight mourn aught the less.

To him she was right faithful, must all the folk of her confess.

f)ow ftittd £t3el 0ent to JSutdundi? tot ltdembU2>

In that same time when ended was Lady Helke's life.
And that the monarch Etzel did seek another wife,
To take a highborn widow of the land of Burgundy
Him his friends did coimsel: Lady Kriemhild hight was she.

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Since that was ended the fair Helke's life.
Spake they: "Wilt thou ever win for thee noble wife,
TTie highest and the fairest that ever king did win,
Take to thee this same lady that doughty Siegfried's spouse hath


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1 145

Then spake the mighty monarch: "How might that come to pass
Since that I am a heathen, nor named with sign of cross?
The lady is a Christian, thereto she'll ne'er agree.
Wrought must be a wonder, if the thing may ever be."

1 146

Then spake again his warriors: "She yet may do the same.
For sake of thy great power and thy full lofty name
Shalt thou yet endeavor such noble wife to gain.
To woo the stately lady might each monarch high be fain."

1 147

Then spake the noble monarch: "Who is 'mong men of mine,
That knoweth land and people dwelling far by Rhine?"
Spake then of Bechelaren the trusty Ruediger:
" I have known from childhood the noble queen that dwelleth there.

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"And Gimther and Gemot, the noble knights and good,
And hight the third is Giselher: whatever any should
That standeth high in honor and virtue, doth each one:
Eke from eld their fathers have in like noble manner done."

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Then spake again Etzel: "Friend, now shalt thou tell,
If she within my coimtry crown might wear full well —
For be she fair of body as hath been told to me,
My friends for this their counsel shall ever fvdl requited be."

"She likeneth in beauty well my high lady,
Helke that was so stately. Nor forsooth might be
In all this world a fairer spouse of king soe'er.
Whom taketh she for wooer, glad of heart and mind he were."

He spake: "Make trial, Ruediger, as thou hold'st me dear.
And if by Lady Kriemhild e'er I lie full near.
Therefor will I requite thee as in best mode I may:
So hast thou then fulfill^ all my wish in fullest way.


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"Stores from out my treasure I'll bid to thee to give,
That thou with thy companions merry long shalt live,
Of steeds and rich apparel what thou wilt have to share.
Thereof unto thy journey I'll bid in measure full prepare."

Thereto did give him answer the margrave Ruediger:
"Did I thy treasure covet imworthy thing it were.
Gladly will I thy messenger be unto the Rhine,
From my own store provided: all have I e'en from hand of thine."

Then spake the mighty monarch: "When now wilt thou fare
To seek the lovely lady? God of thee have care
To keep thee on thy journey and eke a wife to me.
Therdn good fortune help me, that she to us shall gracious be."

Then again spake Ruediger: "Ere that this land we quit,

Must we first prepare us arms and apparel fit,

That we may thus in honor in royal presence stand.

To the Rhine I'll lead five hundred warriors, a doughty band*

"Wherever they in Burgundy me and my men may see,
Shall they all and single then confess of thee
That ne'er from any monarch so many warriors went
As now to bear thy message thou far imto the Rhine hast sent

"May it not, O mighty monarch, thee from thy purpose move:
Erstwhile unto Siegfried she gave her noble love.
Who sdon is of Siegmund: him thou here hast seen.
Worthy highest honor verily the knight had been."

Then answered him King Etzel: "Was she the warrior's wife,
So worthy was of honor the noble prince in life,
That I the royal lady therefor no whit despise.
Tis her surpassing beauty that shall be joy unto mine eyes.**


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Then further spake the margrave: "Hear then what I do say:
After days four-and-twenty shall we from hence away.
Tidings to Gotelinde I'll send, my spouse full dear,
That I to Lady Kriemhild myself will be thy messenger."

Away to Bechelaren sent then Ruediger.
Both sad his spouse and joyous was the news to hear.
He told how for the monarch a wife he was to woo:
With love she well remembered the fair Lady Helke too.

When that the margravine did the message hear.
In part 'twas sorrow to her, and weep she must in fear
At having other mistress than hers had been before.
To think on Lady Helke did grieve her inmost heart fuD sore.

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Ruediger from Himland in seven days did part,
Whereat the monarch Etzel merry was of heart
When at Vienna city all was ready for the way,
To begin the journey might he longer not delay.

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At Bechelaren waited Gotelinde there.
And eke the yoimg margravine, daughter of Ruediger,
Was glad at thought her father and all his men to see.
And many a lovely maiden looked to the coming joyfully.

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Ere that to Bechelaren rode noble Ruediger

From out Vienna city, was rich equipment there

For them in fullest measure on carrying-horses brought.

That went in such wise guarded that robber hand disturbed them not

When they at Bechelaren within the town did stand,
His fellows on the journey did the host command
To lead to fitting quarters and tend carefully.
The stately Gotelinde, glad she was her spouse to see.




1 166
Eke his lovely daughter the youthful margravine, —
To her had notiiing dearer tlian his coming been.
The warriors too from Himland, what joy for her they make!
With a laughing spirit to all the noble maiden spake:

" Be now to us right welcome, my father and all his men."
Fairest thanks on all sides saw ye offered then
Unto tHe youthful margravine by many a valiant knight.
How Ruediger was minded knew Gotelinde aright.

When then that night she by Ruediger lay,
Questioned him the margravine in full loving way,
Wherefore had sent him thither the king of Hunland.
He spake : " My Lady Gotelinde, that shalt thou gladly imderstand.

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" My master now hath sent me to woo him other wife,
Since that by death was ended the fair Helke's life.
Now will I to Kriemhild ride imto the Rhine:
She shall here in Hunland be spouse to him and stately queen."

" God will it," spake Gotelinde, " and well the same might be,
Since that so high in honor ever standeth she.
The death of my good mistress we then may better bear;
Eke might we grant her gladly among the Huns a crown to wear."

Then spake to her the margrave: "Thou shalt, dear lady mine,
To them that shall ride with me thither unto the Rhine,
In right boimteous manner deal out a goodly share.
Good knights go lighter-hearted when they well provided fare."

She spake: "None is among them, an he would take from me,
But I will give whatever to him may pleasing be.
Ere that ye part thither, thou and thy good men."
Thereto spake the margrave: "So dost thou all my wishes then."


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Silken stuffs in plenty they from her chamber bore,
And to the knights full noble dealt out in goodly store,
Mantles lined all richly from collar down to spur.
What for the journey pleased him did choose therefrom Sir Rue-

Upon the seventh morning from Bechelaren went
The knight with train of warriors. Attire and armament
Bore they in fullest measure through the Bavarian land,
And ne'er upon the journey dared assail them robber band.

Unto the Rhine then came they ere twelve days were flown,
And there were soon the tidings of their coming known.
'Twas told unto the monarch and with him many a man,
How strangers came imto him. To question then the king b^an,

If any was did know them, for he would gladly hear.
They saw their carrying-horses right heavy biu-dens bear:
That they were knights of power knew they well thereby.
Lodgings they made them ready in the wide dty speedily.

When that the strangers had passed within the gate
Every eye did gaze on the knights that came in state.
And mickle was the wonder whence to the Rhine they came.
Then sent the king for Hagen, if he perchance might know the same.

1 178
Then spake he of Tronje: "These knights I ne'er have seen,
Yet when we now behold them I'll tell thee well, I ween,
From whence they now ride hither unto this coimtry.
An I not straightway know them, from distant land in sooth they be."

Eor the guests fit lodgings now provided were.
Clad in rich apparel came the messenger,
And to the court his fellows did bear him company.
Sumptuous attire wore they, wrought full cunningly.


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1 180

Then spake the doughty Hagen: "As far as goes my ken,

For that long time the noble knight I not have seen,

Come they in such manner as were it Ruediger,

The valiant thane from Himland, that leads the stately riders here."

1 181

Then straightway spake the monarch: "How shall I vmderstand
That he of Bechelaren should come imto this land?"
Scarce had King Gunther his mind full spoken there,
When saw full surely Hagen that 'twas the noble Ruediger.

He and his friends then hastened with warmest welcoming.
Then saw ye knights five hundred adown from saddle spring,
And were those knights of Himland received in fitting way.
Messengers ne'er beheld ye attired in so fine array.

Hagen of Tronje, with voice full loud spake he:
"Unto these thanes full noble a hearty welcome be.
To the lord of Bechelaren and his men every one."
Thereat was fitting honor done to every valiant Him.

1 184
The monarch's nearest kinsmen went forth the guests to meet.
Of Metz the knight Sir Ortwein Ruediger thus did greet:
"The while our life hath lasted, never yet hath guest
Here been seen so gladly: be that in very truth confessed."

For that greeting thanked they the brave knights one and all.
With train of high attendants they passed imto the hall,
Where valiant men a many stood roimd the monarch's seat.
The king arose from settle in courteous way the guests to greet.

Right courteously he greeted then the messenger.
Gunther and Gemot, full busy both they were
For stranger and companions a welcome fit to make.
The noble knight Sir Ruediger by the hand the king did take.


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He led him to the settle where himself he sat:
He bade pour for the strangers (a welcome work was that)
Mead the very choicest and the best of wine,
That e'er ye might discover in all the lands about the Rhine.

1 188
Giselher and Gere joined the company too,

Eke Dankwart and Volker, when that they knew

The coming of the strangers: glad they were of mood.

And greeted 'fore the monarch fair the noble knights and good.

1 189

Then spake imto his master of Tronje the knight:

"Let our thanes seek ever fully to requite

What erstwhile the margrave in love to us hath done:

Fair Gotelinde's husband our gratitude full well hath won."

1 190

Thereto spake King Gunther: "Withhold it not I may.
How they both do bear them, tell me now, I pray,
Etzel and Helke afar in Hunland."

Then answered him the margrave: "Fain would I have thee

Then rose he from the settle and his men every one.
He spake unto the monarch: " An may the thing be done,
And is't thy royal pleasure, so will I naught withhold.
But the message that I bring thee shall full willingly be toW."

He spake: "What tale soever, doth this thy message make,
I grant thee leave to tell it, nor further counsel take.
Now shalt thou let us hear it, me and my warriors too,
For fullest leave I grant thee thy high purpose to pursue."

Then spake the upright messenger: "Hither to thee at Rhine
Doth faithful service tender master high of mine;
To all thy kinsmen likewise, as many as may be:
Eke is this my message borne in all good will to thee.


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"To thee the noble monarch bids tell his tale of need.
His folk 's forlorn and joyless; my mistress high is dead,
Helke the full stately my good master's wife,
Whereby now is orphaned full many a fair maiden's life,

" Children of ro3ral parents for whom hath cared her hand:
Thereby doth the coimtry in plight full sorry stand.
Alack, nor is there other that them with love may tend.
I ween the time long distant eke when the monarch's grief shall

1 196
" God give him meed," spake Gimther, " that he so willingly
Doth offer thus good service to my kinsmen and to me —
I joy that I his greeting here have heard this day —
The which with glad endeavor my kinsmen and my men shall pay."

Thereto the knight of Burgundy, the valiant Gemot, said:
"The world may ever rue it that Helke fair lies dead.
So manifold the virtues that did her life adorn."
A willing testimony by Hagen to the words was borne.

Thereto again spake Ruediger the noble messenger:
" Since thou, O king, dost grant it, shalt thou now further hear
What message 'tis my master beloved hath hither sent.
For that since death of Helke his days he hath in sorrow spent.

1 199
"'Tis told my lord that Kriemhild doth widowed live alone.
And dead is doughty Siegfried. May now such thing be done,
And wilt thou grant that favor, a crown she then shall wear
Before the knights of Etzel: this message from my lord I bear."

Then spake the mighty monarch — a king he was of grace —
" My will in this same matter she'll hear, an so she please.
Thereof will I instruct thee ere three days are passed by —
Ere I her mind have soimded, wherefore to Etzel this deny?"


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Meanwhile for the strangers bade they make cheer the best
In sooth so were they tended that Ruediger confessed
He had 'mong men of Gimther of friends a goodly store.
Hagen full glad did serve him, as he had Hagen served of yore.

1 202
Thus there did tarry Ruediger until the third day.
The king did coimsel summon — ^he moved in wisest way —
If that unto his kinsmen seemed it fitting thing,
That Kriemhild take imto her for spouse Etzel the king.

Together all save Hagen did the thing advise.
And unto King Gunther spake he in this wise:
"An hast thou still thy senses, of that same thing beware,
That, be she ne'er so willing, thou lend'st thyself her will to share."

"Wherefore," spake then Gunther, "shoidd I allow it not?
Whene'er doth fortime favor Kriemhild in aught,
That shall I gladly grant her, for sister dear is she.
Yea, ought ourselves to seek it, might it but her honor be."

Thereto gave answer Hagen: "Now such words give o'er.
Were Etzel known unto thee as unto me of yore,
And did'st thou grant her to him, as 'tis thy will I hear,
Then woiddst thou first have reason for thy later weal to fear."

"Wherefore?" spake then Gunther. "Well may I care for that,
E'er to thwart his temper that so I aught of hate
At his hands should merit, an if his wife she be."
Thereto gave answer Hagen: " Such counsel hast thou ne'er of me."

Then did they bid for Gemot and Giselher to go,
For wished they of the royal twain their mind to know,
If that the mighty monarch Kriemhild for spouse should take.
Yet Hagen and none other thereto did opposition make.


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Then spake of Burgundy Giselher the thane:
"Well may'st thou now, friend Hagen, show upright mind again:
For sorrows wrought upon her may'st thou her well requite.
Howe'er she findeth fortune, ne'er should it be in thy despite."

"Yea, hast thou to my sister so many sorrows done,"
So spake further Giselher, the full noble thane,
"That fullest reason hath she to mete thee naught but hate.
In sooth was never lady than she bereft of joy more great"

"What I do know full certain, that known to all I make:
If e'er shall come the hour that she do Etzel take.
She'll work us yet sore evil, howe'er the same she plan.
Then in sooth will serve her full many a keen and doughty man."

In answer then to Hagen the brave Gemot said:
"With us doth lie to leave it imtil they both be dead,
Ere that we ride ever unto Etzel's land.
That we be faithful to her doth honor meantime sure command."

Thereto again spake Hagen: "Gainsay me here may none.
And shall the noble Kriemhild e'er sit 'neath Helke's crown,
Howe'er she that accomplish, she'll do us grievous hurt.
Good knights, therefrom to keep you doth better with your weal

In anger spake then Giselher the son of Ute the fair:
"None shall yet among us himself like traitor bear.
What honor e'er befall her, rejoice thereat should we.
Whate'er thou sayest, Hagen, true helper shall she find in me."

When that heard it Hagen straightway waxed he wroth.
Gemot and Giselher the knights high-minded both,
And Gunther, mighty monarch, did counsel finally,
If that did wish it Kriemhild, by them 'twould imoppos&l be.


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Then spake the margrave Gere: "That lady will I tell

How that of royal Etzel she may think full well.

In fear are subject to him brave warriors many a one:

Well may he recompense her for wrong that e'er to her was done."


Then went the knight full valiant where he did Kriemhild find.
And straightway spake unto her upon her greeting kind:
"Me may'st thou gladly welcome with messengers high meed.
Fortune hath come to part thee now from all thy bitter need.

"For sake of love he bears thee, lady, doth seek thy hand
One of all the highest that e'er o'er monarch's land
Did rule in fullest honor, or ever crown might wear:
High knights do bring the message, which same thy brother bids
thee hear."

Then spake she rich in sorrow: "Now God forbid to thee
And all I have of kinsmen that aught of mockery
They do on me, poor woman. What were I unto one.
Who e'er at heart the joyance of a noble wife hath known ? "

Much did she speak against it. Anon as well came there
Gemot her brother and the yoimg Giselher.
In loving wise they begged her her mourning heart to cheer:
An would she take the monarch, verily her weal it were.

Yet might not then by any the lady's mind be bent,
That any man soever to love she would consent.
Thereon the thanes besought her: "Now grant the thing to be,
An dost thou nothing further, that the messenger thou deign'st to

"That will I not deny you," spake the high lady, .
"That the noble Ruediger I full gladly see,
Such knightly grace adorns him. Were he not messenger.
And came there other hither by him I all imspoken were,"


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She spake: "Upon the morrow bid him hither fare
Unto this my chamber. Then shall he fully hear
How that do stand my wishes, the which I'll tell him true."
Of her full grievous sorrow was she minded thus anew.

Eke not else desired the noble Ruediger
Than that by the lady leave thus granted were:
He knew himself so skilful, might he such favor earn.
So should he her full certain from her spoken purpose turn.

Upon the morrow early when that the mass was sxmg
Came the noble messengers, whereof a mickle throng.
They that should Sir Ruediger to court bear company.
Many a man full stately in rich apparel might ye see.

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