George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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The knight did take tiieir clothing, yet wrought none other injury.

Then spake the one mermaiden, Hadburg that hight:
" Hagen, knight full noble, tell will we thee aright.
An wilt thou, valiant warrior, our garments but give o'er,
What fortime may this journey to Himland have for thee in store."

They hovered there before him like birds above the flood.
Wherefore did think the warrior that tell strange things they could.
And all the more believed he what they did feign to say,
As to his eager question in ready manner answered they.

Spake one: "Well may ye jotuney to EtzePs country.
Thereto my troth I give thee in full security
That ne'er in any kingdom might high guests receive
Such honors as there wait you, — this may ye in sooth believe."


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To hear such speech was Hagen in sooth right glad of heart;
He gave to them their garments, and straightway would depart
But when in strange attire they once more were dight,
Told they of the journey into EtzePs land aright.

Spake then the other mermaid, Siegelind that hight:
''I warn thee, son of Aldrian, Hagen valiant knight,
'Twas but to gain her clothing my cousin falsely said.
For, comest thou to Himland, sorely shalt thou be betrayed.

"Yea, that thou tumest backward is fitter far, I ween;
For but your death to compass have all ye warriors keen
Receive now the bidding irnto Etzel's land.
Whoso doth thither journey, death leadeth surely by the hand."

Thereto gave answer Hagen: "False speech hath here no gain.
How might it ever happen that we all were slain
Afar in EtzePs coimtry through hate of any man?"
To tell the tale more fully imto him she then began.

Spake again the other: "The thing must surely be,
That of you never any his home again shall see.
Save only the king's chaplain; well do we imderstand
That he unscathed retumeth imto royal Gunther's land."

Then spake the valiant Hagen again in angry way:
"Unto my royal masters 'twere little joy to say
That we our lives must forfeit all in Himland.
Now show us, wisest woman, how pass we safe to yonder strand."

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She spake: "Sincefrom thy purposed journey thou wilt not turn,
Where upward by the water a cabin stands, there learn
Within doth dwell a boatman, nor other find thou mayst."
No more did Hagen question, but strode away from there in haste.


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As went he angry-minded one from afar did say:
"Now tarry still, Sir Hagen; why so dost haste away?
Give ear yet while we tell thee how thou readiest yonder strand.
Master here is Else, who doth rule this borderland.

"Hight is his brother Gelfrat, and is a thane full rare,
Lord o'er Bavarian country. Full ill with you 'twiU fare,
Will ye pass his border. Watchful must ye be,
And eke with the ferryman 'twere well to walk right modestly.

"He is so angry-minded that sure thy bane 'twill be,
Wilt thou not ^ow the warrior all civility.
Wilt thou that he transport thee, give all the boatman's due.
He guardeth well the border and imto Gelfrat is full true.

"K he be slow to answer, then call across the flood
That thy name is Amelrich. That was a knight full good.
Who for a feud did sometime go forth from out this land.
The ferryman will answer, when he the name doth understand."

Hagen high of spirit before those women bent,
Nor aught did say, but silent upon his way he went.
Along the shore he wandered till higher by the tide
On yonder side the river a cabin standing he espied.

He straight began a calling across the flood amain.
" Now fetch me over, boatman," cried the doughty thane.
"A golden armband ruddy I'll give to thee for meed. *
Know that to make this crossing I in sooth have very need."

Not fiittng 'twas high ferryman his service thus should give,
And recompense from any seldom might he receive;
Eke were they that served him full haughty men of mood.
Still alone stood Hagen on the hither side the flood.


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Then cried he with such power the wave gave back the sound.
For in strength far-reaching did the knight abound:
"Fetch me now, for Amehrich, Else's man, am I,
That for feud outbroken erstwhile from this land did fly."

Full high upon his sword-point an armband did he hold.
Fair and shining was it made of ruddy gold.
The which he offered to him for fare to Gelfrat's land.
The ferryman high-hearted himself did take the oar in hand.

To do with that same boatman was ne'er a pleasant thing;
The yearning after lucre yet evil end doth bring.
Here where thought he Hagen's gold so red to gain,
Must he by the doughty warrior's fierce sword be slain.

With might across the river his oar the boatman plied.
But he who there was nam&i might nowhere be espied.
His rage was all unbounded when he did Hagen find.
And loud his voice resounded as thus he spake his angry mind:

"Thou ma)rst forsooth be called Amelrich by name:
Whom I here did look for, no whit art thou the same.
By father and by mother brother he was to me.
Since me thou thus hast cozened, so yet this side the river be."

"Nay, by highest Heaven," Hagen did declare.
" Here am I a stranger that have good knights in care.
Now take in friendly manner here my offered pay,
And guide me o'er the ferry; my favor hast tiiou thus alway."

Whereat replied the boatman: "The thing may never be.
There are that to my masters do bear hostility;
Wherefore I never stranger do lead into this land.
As now thy life thou prizest, step straightway out upon the strand."


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"Deny me not," quoth Hagen, "for sad in sooth my mood.
Take now for remembrance this my gold so good.
And carry men a thousand and horses to yonder shore."
Quoth in rage the boatman: " Such thing will happen nevermore."

Aloft he raised an oar that mickle was and strong.
And dealt such blow on Hagen, (but rued he that ere long,)
That in the boat did stumble that warrior to his knee.
In sooth so savage boatman ne'er did the knight of Tronje see.

With thought the stranger's anger the more to rouse anew.
He swimg a mighty boat-pole that it in pieces flew
Upon the crown of Hagen; — he was a man of might.
Thereby did Else*s boatman come anon to sorry plight.

Full sore enraged was Hagen, as quick his hand he laid
Upon his sword where hanging he foimd the trusty blade.
His head he struck from off him and flung into the tide.
Known was soon the story to the knights of Biirgimdy beside.

While the time was passing that he the boatman slew.
The waters bore him downward, whereat he anxious grew.
Ere he the boat had righted began his strength to wane,
So mightily was pulling royal Gunther's doughty thane.

Soon he yet had turned it, so rapid was his stroke,
Until the mighty oar beneath his vigor broke.
As strove he his companions upon the bank to gain.
No second oar he found him. Yet soon the same made fast again,

With quickly snatched shield-strap, a fine and narrow band.
Downward where stood a forest he sought again the land,
And there his master found he standing upon the shore.
In haste came forth to meet him many a stately warrior more.


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The gallant knight they greeted with right hearty mood.
When in the boat perceived they reeking still the blood
That from the wound had issued where Hagen's sword did swing,
Scarce could his companions bring to an end their questiom'ng.

When that roysl Gunther the streaming blood did see
Within the boat there running, straightway then spake he:
"Where is now the ferryman, tell me, Hagen, pray?
By thy mighty prowess his life, I ween, is ta'en away."

Thereto replied he falsely: "When the boat I found
Where slopeth a wild meadow, I the same \mbound.
Hereabout no ferryman I to-day have seen,
Nor ever cause of sorrow unto any have I been."

The good knight then of Biirgundy, the gallant Gemot, spake:
" Dear friends full many, fear I, the flood this day will take,
Since we of the boatmen none ready here may find
To guide us o'er the current. 'Tis mickle sorrow to my mind."

Full loudly cried then Hagen. "Lay down upon the grass.
Ye squires, the horse equipments. I ween a time there was,
Myself was best of boatmen that dwelt the Rhine beside.
To Gelfrat's country trow I to bring you safely o'er the tide."

That they might come the sooner across the running flood.
Drove they in the horses. Their swinmiing, it was good,
For of them never any beneath the waves did sink.
Though many farther downward must struggle sore to gain the

Their treasure and apparel imto the boat they bore,
Since by no means the journey thought they to give o'er.
Hagen was director, and safely reached the strand
With many a stalwart warrior bound unto the \mknown land.


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Gallant knights a thousand first he ferried o'er,
Whereafter came his own men. Of others still were more,
For squires full nine thousand he led unto that land.
That day no whit was idle that valiant knight of Tronje's hand.

When he them all in safety o*er the flood had brought,
Of that strange story the valiant warrior thought,
Which erstwhile had told him those women of the sea.
Lost thereby the chaplain's life well-nigh was doomed to be.

Beside his priestly baggage he saw the chaplain stand,
Upon the holy vestments resting with his hand.
No whit was that his safety; when Hagen him did see,
Must the priest full wretched suffer sorest injury.

From out the boat he flimg him ere might the thing be told.
Whereat they cried together: "Hold, O Master, hold!"
Soon had the youthful Giselher to rage thereat begun.
And mickle was his sorrow that Hagen yet the thing had done.

Then outspake Sir Gemot, knight of Burgundy:
"What boots it thee, Sir Hagen, that thus the chaplain die?
Dared any else to do it, thy wrath 'twould sorely stir.
Wherein the priest's offending, thus thy malice to incur?"

To swim the chaplain struggled. He thought him yet to free,
If any but would help him. Yet such might never be.
For that the doughty Hagen full wrathful was of mood.
He sunk him to the bottom, whereat aghast each warrior stood.

When that no help forthcoming the wretched priest might see.
He sought the hither shore, and fared full grievously.
Though failed his strength in swinmaing, yet helped him God's own

That he came securely back again imto the land.


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Safe yonder stood the chaplain and shook his dripping dress.
Thereby perceiv^ Hagen how true was none the less
The story that did tell him the strange women of the sea.
Thought he: '*0f these good warriors soon the days must ended

When that the boat was emptied, and complete their store
All the monarch's followers had borne upon the shore,
Hagen smote it to pieces and cast it on the flood,
Whereat in mickle wonder the valiant knights around him stood.

"Wherefore dost this, brother," then Sir Dankwart spake;
" How 'shall we cross the river when again we make
Our journey back from Hunland, riding to the Rhine?**
Behold how Hagen bade him all such purpose to resign.

Quoth the knight of Tronje: "This thing is done by me,
That if e'er coward rideth in all our company,
Who for lack of courage from us away would fly.
He beneath these billows yet a shameful death must die."

One there journeyed with them from the land of Burgundy,
That was a knight of valor, Volker by name was he.
He spake in cunning manner whatever might fill his mind,
And aught was done by Hagen did the Fiddler fitting find.

Ready stood their chargers, the carriers laden well;
At passage of the river was there naught to tell
Of scathe to any happened, save but the king's chaplain.
Afoot must he now journey back unto the Rhine again.


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1>ow (Belttat wne Slaf n trs S>anftwart.

When now they all were gathered upon the farther strand,
To wonder gan the monarch: ''Who shall through this land
On routes aright direct us, that not astray we fare?"
Then spake the doughty Volker: " Thereof will I alone have care."

"Now hark ye all," quoth Hagen, "knight and squire too.
And list to friendly counsel, as fitting is to do.
Full strange and dark the tidings now ye shall hear from me:
Home nevermore return we unto the land of Burgundy.

"Thus mermaids twain did tell me, who spake to me this mom.
That back we come not hither. You would I therefore warn
That arm^ weH ye journey and of all ills beware.
To meet with doughty foemen well behooveth us prepare.

"I weened to turn to falsehood what those wise mermaids spake.
Who said that safe this joiumey none again should make
Home unto our coimtry save the chaplain alone:
Him therefore was I minded to-day beneath the flood to drown."

From company to company quickly flew the tale,
Whereon grew many a doughty warrior's visage pale.
As gan he think in sorrow how death should snatch away
All ere the journey ended; and very need for grief had they.

By Moeringen was it they had the river crossed.
Where also Else's boatman thus his life had lost
There again spake Hagen: "Since in such wise by me
Wrath hath been incurr^ assailed full surely shall we be.

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"Myself that same ferryman did this morning slay.
Far bruited are the tidings. Now arm ye for the fray,
That if Gelfrat and Else be minded to beset
Our train to-day, they siirely with sore discomfiture be met.

" So keen they are, well know I the thing they'll not forego.
Your horses therefore shall ye make to pace more slow,
That never man imagine we flee away in fear."
"That counsel will I follow," spake the young knight Giselher.

"Who will guide our vanguard through this hostile land?"
"Volker shall do it," spake they, "well doth he imderstand
Where leadeth path and highway, a minstrel brave and keen."
Ere full the wish was spoken, in armor well equipped was seen

Standing the doughty Fiddler. His helmet fast he boimd,
And from his stately armor shot dazzling light aroimd.
Eke to a staff he fastened a banner, red of hue.
Anon with royal masters came he to sorest sorrow too.

Unto Gelfrat meanwhile had sure tidings flown.
How that was dead his boatman; the story eke was known
Unto the doughty Else, and both did moimi his fate.
Their warriors they summoned, nor must long time for answer wait

But little space it lasted — that would I have you know —
Ere that to them hasted who oft a mickle woe
Had wrought in stress of battle and injury full sore;
To Gelfrat now came riding seven himdred knights or more.

When they their foes to follow so bitterly began,
Led them both their masters. Yet all too fast they ran
After the valiant strangers vengeance straight to wreak.
Ere long from those same leaders did death full many a warrior


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Hagen then of Tronje the thing had ordered there,
— ^How of his friends might ever knight have better care? —
That he did keep the rearguard with warriors many a one,
And Dankwart dte, his brother; full wisely the thing was done.

When now the day was over and light they had no more,
Injury to his followers gan he to dread full sore.
They shield in hand rode onward through Bavarian land.
And ere they long had waited beset they were by hostile band.

On either side the highway and close upon their rear
Of hoofs was heard the clatter; too keen the chasers were.
Then spake the valiant Dankwart: The foe is close at hand.
Now bind we on the helmet, — ^wisdom doth the same command."

Upon the way they halted, nor else they safe had been.
Through the gloom perceived they of gleaming shields the sheen.
Thereupon would Hagen longer not delay:
"Who rideth on the highway?"— That must Gelfrat tell straight-

Of Bavaria the margrave thereupon replied:
" Oiu: enemies now seek we, and swift upon them ride.
Fain would I discover who hath my boatman slain.
A knight he was of valor, whose death doth cause me grievous pain."

Then spake of Tronje Hagen: "And was the boatman thine
That would not take us over? The guilt herein is mine.
Myself did slay the warrior, and had, in sooth, good need.
For that beneath his valor I m3rself full nigh lay dead.

" For pay I rich attire did bid, and gold a store.
Good knight, that to thy country he should us ferry o'er.
Thereat he raged full sorely and on me swimg a blow
With a mi^ty boat-pole, whereat I eke did angry grow.


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"For my sword then reached I and made his rage to close
With a wound all gaping: so thou thy knight didst lose.
I'll give thee satisfaction as to thee seemeth good."
Straightway began the combat, for high the twain in valor stood.

"Well know I," spake Gelfrat, "when Gunther with his train
Rode through this my country that we should suffer bane
From Hagen, knight of Tronje. No more shall he go free,
But for my boatman's slaying here a hostage must he be."

Against their shields then lowered for the charge the spear
Gelfrat and Hagen; eager to close they were.
Else and Dankwart spurred eke in stately way,
Scanning each the other; then both did valorous arm display.

How might ever heroes show doughty arm so well?
Backward from off his charger from mighty tilt there fell
Hagen the valiant, by Gelfrat's hand borne down.
In twain was rent the breast-piece : to Hagen thus a fall was known.

Where met in charge their followers, did crash of shafts resoimd.
Risen eke was Hagen, who erst unto the ground
Was borne by mighty lance-thrust, prone upon the grass.
I ween that \mto Gelfrat nowise of gentle mood he was.

Who held their horses' bridles can I not recoimt,
But soon from out their saddles did they all dismoimt.
Hagen and Gelfrat straightway did fierce engage.
And all their men aroimd them did eke a furious combat wage.

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Though with fierce onslaught Hagen upon Gelfrat sprung,
On his shield the noble margrave a sword so deftly swung
That a piece from off the border 'mid flying sparks it clave.
Well-nigh beneath its fury fell dead King Gunther's warrior brave.


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Unto Dankwaxt loudly thereat he gan to cry:
"Help! hoi my good brother! Encountered here have I
A knight of arm full doughty, from whom I come not free."
Then spake the valiant Dankwart: "Myself thereof the judge will

Nearer sprang the hero and smote him such a blow
With a keen-edged weapon that he in death lay low.
For his slain brother Else vengeance thought to take,
But soon with all his followers 'mid havoc swift retreat must make.

Slain was now his brother, wound himself did bear,
And of his followers eighty eke had fallen there.
By grim death snatched sudden. Then must the doughty knight,
From Gunther's men to save him, turn away in hasty flight.

When that they of Bavaria did from the carnage flee,
The blows that followed after resounded frightfully;
For close the knights of Tronje upon their enemies chased,
WTio to escape the fury did quit the field in mickle haste.

Then spake upon their fleeing Dankwart the doughty thane:
"Upon oiu: way now let us backward txun again,
And leave them hence to hasten all wet with oozing blood.
Unto our friends return we, this verily meseemeth good."

WTien back they were return^ where did the scathe befall,
Outspake of Tronje Hagen: "Now look ye, warriors all,
Who of our tale is lacking, or who from us hath been
Here in battle riven through the doughty Gelfrat's spleen."

Lament they must for warriors four from them were ta'en.
But paid for were they dearly, for roimdabout lay slain
Of their Bavarian foemen a hundred or more.
The men of Tronje's bucklers with blood were wet and tarnished


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From out the clouds of heaven a space the bright moon shone.
Then again spake Hagen: "Bear report let none
To my beloved masters how we here did fare.
Let them until the morrow still be free from aught of care."

When they were back retum&l who bore the battle's stress,
Sore troubled was their company from very weariness.
"How long shall we keep saddle?" was many a warrior's quest.
Then spake the valiant Dankwart: "Not yet may we find place of

" But on ye all must journey till day come back again."
Volker, knight of prowess, who led the foremost train,
Bade to ask the marshal: "This night where shall we be.
That rest them may our chargers, and eke my royal masters three ?"

Thereto spake valiant Dankwart: "The same I ne'er can say,
Yet may we never rest us before the break of day.
Where then we find it fitting we'll lay us on the grass."
When they did hear his answer, what source of grief to all it wasl

StiD were they unbetray^ by reeking blood and red.
Until the sun in heaven its shining beams down shed
At mom across the hill-tops, that then the king might see
How they had been in battle. Spake he then full angrily:

"How may this be, friend Hagen? Scorned ye have, I ween,
That I should be beside you, where coats of mail have been
Thus wet with blood upon you. Who this thing hath done?"
Quoth he: "The same did Else, who hath this night us set upon.

"To avenge his boatman did they attack our train.
By hand of my brother hath Gelfrat been slain.
Then fled Else before us, and mickle was his need.
Ours four, and theirs a thousand, remained behind in battle dead,"


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Now can we not inform you where resting-place they found
But cause to know their passing had the country-folk around.
When there the sons of Ute to court did fare in state.
At Passau fit reception did presently the knights await

The noble monarchs' uncle, Bishop Pilgrim that was,
Full joyous-hearted was he that through the land did pass
With train of lusty warriors his royal nephews three.
That willing was his service, waited they not long to see.

To greet them on their journey did friends lack no device,
Yet not to lodge them fully might Passau's bounds suffice.
They must across the water where spreading sward they foimd,
And lodge and tent erected soon were stretching o'er the ground.

Nor from that spot they onward might journey all that day,
And eke till night was over, for pleasant was their stay.
Next to the land of Ruediger must they in sooth ride on,
To whom full soon the story of their coming eke was known.

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When fitting rest had taken the knights with travel worn,
And^ of EtzePs country they had reached the boiun,
A knight they found there sleeping that ne'er should aught but wake,
From whom of Tronje Hagen in stealth a mighty sword did take.

Hight in sooth was Eckewart that same valiant knight.
For what was there befallen was he in sorry plight,
That by those heroes' passing he had lost his sword.
At Ruediger's marches foimd they meagre was the guard.

"O, woe is me dishonored," Eckewart then cried;
"Yea, rueth me fully sorely, this Burgundian ride.
What time was taken Siegfried, did joy depart from me.
Alack, O Master Ruediger, how ill my service \mto thee!'*


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Hagen, Ml well perceiving the noble warrior's plight,
Gave him again his weapon and armbands six full bright.
" These take, good knight, in token that thou art still my friend.
A valiant warrior art thou, though dost thou lone this border tend."

"May God thy gifts repay thee," Eckewart replied,
"Yet rueth me full sorely that to the Hims ye ride.
Erstwhile slew ye Siegfried and vengeance have to fear;
My rede to you is truly: "Beware ye well of danger here."

"Now must God preserve us," answered Hagen there.
"In sooth for nothing fiurther have these thanes a care
Than for place of shelter, the kings and all their band.
And where this night a refuge we may find within this land

"Done to death oiu: horses with the long journey are.

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 19 of 27)