George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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That I unto this country Ukewise to thee my gift had brought.'

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"Now shall ye eke the story to me more fully say:
The Nibelungen treasure, where put ye that away?
My own possession was it, as well ye understand.
That same ye should have brought me hither unto EtzePs land."

"In sooth, my Lady Kriemhild, fuU many a day hath flown
Since of the Nibelungen hoard I aught have known.
Into the Rhine to sink it my lords commanded me:
Verily there must it imtil the day of judgment be."

Thereto the queen gave answer: "Such was e'en my thou^t.
Thereof right little have ye unto me hither brought,
Although myself did own it and once o'er it held sway.
'Tis cause that I for ever have full many a mournful day."


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"The devil have I brought thee," Hagen did declare.
"My shield it is so heavy that I have to bear,
And my plaited armor; my shining helmet see.
And sword in hand I cany, — so might I nothing bring for thee."

Then spake the royal lady imto the warriors all:
"Weapon shall not any bear into the hall.
To me now for safe keeping, ye thanes shall give them o'er."
"In sooth," gave answer Hagen, "such thing shall happen never-

"Such honor ne'er I covet, royal lady mild.
That to its place of keeping thou shouldst bear my shield
With all my other armor, — for thou art a queen.
Such taught me ne'er my sire: mj^elf will be my chamberlain."

"Alack of these my sorrows!" the Lady Kriemhild cried;
"Wherefore will now my brother and Hagen not confide
To me their shields for keeping? Some one did warning give.
Elnew I by whom 'twas given, brief were the space that he might

Thereto the mighty Dietrich in wrath his answer gave: ^

" 'Tis I who now these noble lords forewarned have,
And Hagen, knight full valiant of the land of Burgimdy.
Now on! thou devil's mistress, let not the deed my profit be."

Great shame thereat did Kriemhild's bosom quickly fill;
She feared lest Dietrich's anger should work her grievous ilL
Naught she spake unto them as thence she swiftly passed.
But fierce the lightning glances that on her enemies she cast.

By hand then grasped each other doughty warriors twain:
Hight the one was Dietrich, with Hagen, noble thane.
Then spake in courteous manner that knight of high degree:
"That ye are come to Hunland, 'tis very sorrow unto me.


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"For what hath here been spoken by the lofty queen."
Then spake of Tronje Hagen: ** Small cause to grieve, I ween."
Held converse thus together those brave warriors twain,
King Etzel vfMch. perceiving thus a questioning began:

*'I would learn full gladly," — ^in such wise spake he —
**Who were yonder warrior, to whom so cordially
Doth greeting give Sir Dietrich. Meseemeth high his mood.
Whosoe'er his sire, a thane he is of mettle good."

Unto the king gave answer of Kriemhild's train a knight:
"Bom he was of Tronje, Aldrian his sire hight.
How merry here his bearing, a thane full grim is he.
That I have spoken truly, shalt thou anon have cause to see."

"How may I then perceive it that fierce his wrath doth glow?'*
Naught of basest treachery yet the king did know.
That anon Queen Kriemhild 'gainst her kinsmen did contrive,
Whereby returned from Hunland not one of all their train alive.

"Well knew I Aldrian, he once to me was thane:
Praise and mickle honor he here by me did gain.
Myself a knight did make him, and gave him of my gold.
Helke, noble lady, did him in highest favor hold.

"Thereby know I fully what Hagen since befell.
Two stately youths as hostage at my court did dweU,
He and Spanish Walter, from youth to manhood led.
Hagen sent I homeward; Walter with Hildegunde fled."

He thought on ancient story that long ago befell.
His doughty friend of Tronje knew he then right well.
Whose youthful valor erstwhile did such assistance lend.
Through him in age he must be bereft of many a dearest friend.


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f)ovp f)c aro0e not IkIoxc 1)cx

Then parted from each other the noble warriors twain,
Hagen of Tronje and Dietridi, lofty thane.
Then did King Giinther's warrior cast a glance around,
Seeking a companion the same he eke full quickly found.

As standing there by Giselher he did Volker see,
He prayed the nimble Fiddler to bear him company,
For that full well he knew it how grim he was of mood.
And that in all things was he a knight of mettle keen and good.

While yet their lords were standing there in castle yard
Saw ye the two knights only walking thitherward
Across the court far distant before the palace wide.
The chosen thanes recked little what might through any's hate

They sate them down on settle over against a hall,
Wherein dwelt Lady Kriemhild, beside the palace wall.
Full stately their attire on stalwart bodies shone.
All that did look upon them right gladly had the warriors known.

Like unto beasts full savage were they gaped upon.
The two haughty heroes, by full many a Hun.
Eke from a casement EtzePs wife did them perceive:
Once more to behold them must fair Lady Kriemhild grieve.

It called to mind her sorrow, and she to weep began.
Whereat did mickle wonder many an Etzel's man.
What grief had thus so sudden made her sad of mood.
Spake she: "That hath Hagen, ye knights of mettle keen and good.**


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They to their mistress answered: "Such thing, how hath it been?
For that thee right joyous we but now have seen.
Ne'er Kved he so daring that, having wrought thee ill,
His life he must not forfeit, if but to vengeance point thy wilL"

** I live but to requite him that shall avenge my wrong;
Whatever be his desire shall unto him belong.
Prostrate I beseech you," — so spake the monarch's wife —
" Avenge me upon Hagen, and forfeit surely be his life."

Three score of valiant warriors made ready then straightway
To work the will of Kriemhild and her best obey
By slaying of Sir Hagen, the full valiant thane,
And eke the doughty Fiddler; by shameful deed thus sought they

When the queen beheld there so small their company,
In full angry humor to the warriors spake she:
**What there ye think to compass, forego such purpose yet:
So small in numbers never dare ye Hagen to beset

" How doughty e'er be Hagen, and known his valor wide,
A man by far more doughty that sitteth him beside,
Volker the Fiddler: a warrior grim is he.
In sooth may not so lightly the heroes twain conibx)nted be.''

When that she thus had spoken, ready soon were seen
Four hundred stalwart warriors; for was the lofty queen
Full intent upon it to work them evil sore.
Therefrom for all the strangers was mickle sorrow yet in store.

When that complete attired were here retainers seen.
Unto the knights impatient in such wise spake the queen:
" Now bide ye yet a moment and stand ye ready so,
While I with crown upon me unto my enemies shall go.


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'' And list while I accuse him how he hath wrought me bane,
Hagen of Tronje, Gunther's doughty thane.
I know his mood so haughty, naught he'll deny of all.
Nor reck I what of evil therefrom may imto him befalL"

Then saw the doughty Fiddler — he was a minstrel keen —
Adown the steps descending the high and stately queen
Who issued from the castle. When he the queen espied,
Spake the valiant Volker to him was seated by his side:

"Look yonder now, friend Hagen, how that she hither hies
Who to this land hath called us in such treacherous wise.
No monarch's wife I ever saw followed by such band
Of warriors armed for battle, that carry each a sword in hand

" Elnow'st thou, perchance, friend Hagen, if hate to thee they bear ?
Then would I well advise thee of them full well beware
And guard both life and honor. That methinks were good.
For if I much mistake not, full wrathfid is the warriors' mood.

" Of many eke among them so broad the breasts do swell.
That who would guard him 'gainst them betimes would do it welL
I ween that 'neath their tunics they shining mail-coats wear:
Yet might I never tell thee, 'gainst whom such evil mind they bear."

Then spake all wrathful-minded Hagen the warrior keen:
"On me to vent their fiuy is their sole thought, I ween.
That thus with brandished weapons their onward press we see.
Despite them all yet trow I to come safe home to Burgundy.

"Now tell me, friend Volker, wilt thou beside me stand.
It seek to work me evil here Kriemhild's band?
That let me hear right truly, as I am dear to thee.
By thy side forever shall my service faithful be."


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**Full surdy will I hdp thee," the minstrel straight repUed;
"And saw I e'en a monarch with all his men beside
Hither come against us, the while a sword I wield
Not fear shall ever prompt me from thy side one pace to yield."

"Now God in heaven, O Volker, give thy high heart its meed.
Will they forsooth assail me, whereof else have I need?
Wilt thou thus stand beside me as here is thy intent.
Let come all armed these warriors, on whatsoever purpose bent"

"Now rise we from this settle," the minstrel spake once more,
"While that the royal lady passeth here before.
To her be done this honor as imto lady high.
Ourselves in equal manner shall we honor eke thereby."

"Nay, nay! as me thou lovest," Hagen spake again,
"For so would sure imagine here each hostile thane
That 'twere from fear I did it, should I bear me so.
For sake of never any will I from this settle go.

"Undone we both might leave it in sooth more fittingly.
Wherefore should I honor who bears ill-will to me?
Such thing will I do never, the while I yet have life.
Nor reck I aught how hateth me the royal Etzel's wife."

Thereat defiant Hagen across his knee did lay
A sword that shone full brightly, from whose knob did play
The light of glancing jasper greener than blade of grass.
Well perceived Kriemhild that it erstwhile Siegfried's was.

When she the sword espied, to weep was sore her need.
The hilt was shining golden, the sheath a band of red.
As it recalled her sorrow, her tears had soon begun;
I ween for that same purpose 'twas thus by daimtless Hagen done.


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Eke the valiant Volker a fiddle-bow full strong
Unto himself drew nearer; mickle it was and long,
Like unto a broad-sword full sharp that was and wide.
So sat they all undaunted the stately warriors side by side.

There sat the thanes together in such defiant wise
That would never either from the settle rise
Through fear of whomsoever. Then strode before their feet
The lofty queen, and wrathful did thus the doughty warriors greet.

Quoth she: "Now tell me, Hagen, upon whose command
Barest thou thus to journey hither to this land.
And knowest well what sorrow through thee my heart must bear.
Wert thou not reft of reason, then hadst thou kept thee far from

"By none have I been summoned," Hagen gave reply,
"Three lofty thanes invited were to this country:
The same I own as masters and service with them find.
Whene'er they make court journey 'twere strange should I remain

Quoth she: "Now tell me further, wherefore didst thou that
WTiereby thou hast deserved my everlasting hate?
'Twas diou that slewest Siegfried, spouse so dear to me.
The which, till Ufe hath ended, must ever cause for weeping be."

Spake he: "Why parley further, since further word were vain?
E'en I am that same Hagen by whom was Siegfried slain,
That deft knight of valor. How sore by him 'twas paid
That the Lady Kriemhild dared the fair Brunhild upbraid I

** Beyond all cavil is it, high and royal dame,
Of all the grievous havoc I do bear the blame.
Avenge it now who wisheth, woman or man tho't be.
An I imto thee lie not, I've wrought thee sorest injury."


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She spake: "Now hear, ye warriors, how denies he not at all
The cause of all my sorrow. Whatever may him befall
Reck I not soever, that know ye, EtzePs men."
The overweening warriors blank gazed upon each other then.

Had any dared the onset, seen it were full plain
The palm must be awarded to the companions twain,
Who had in storm of battle full oft their prowess shown.
What that proud band design^ through fear must now be left ua

Outspake one of their number: " Wherefore look thus to me?
What now I thought to venture left undone shall be,
Nor for reward of any think I my life to lose;
To our destruction lures us here the royal EtzePs spouse."

Then spake thereby another: "Like mind therein have L
Though ruddy gold were offered like towers pil6d high,
Yet would I never venture to stir this Fiddler's spleen.
Such are the rapid glances that darting from his eyes I've seen.

"Likewise know I Hagen from youthful days full well.
Nor more about his valor to me need any tell.
In two and twenty battles I the knight have seen.
Whereby sorest sorrow to many a lady's heart hath been.

" When here they were with Etzel, he and the knight of Spain
Bore storm of many a battle in many a warlike train
For sake of royal honor, so oft thereof was need.
Wherefore of right are honors high the valiant Hagen's meed.

"Then was yet the hero but a child in years;
Now how hoary-headed who were his youthful feres i
To wisdom now attaint, a warrior grim and strong.
Eke bears he with him Balmung, the which he gained by mickle


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Therewith the matter ended, and none the fight dared start,
Whereat the Lady Kriemhild full heavy was of heart.
Her warriors thence did vanish, for feared they death indeed
At hands of the Fiddler, whereof right surely was there need.

Outspake then the Fiddler: "Well we now have seen,
That enemies here do greet us, as we forewarned have been.
Back unto the monarchs let us straight repair.
That none against our masters to raise a hostile hand may dare.

" How oft from impious purpose doth fear hold back the hand,
Where friend by friend doth only firm in friendship stand,
Until right sense give warning to leave the thing vmdone.
Thus wisdom hath prevented the harm of mortals many a one.''

" Heed I will thy counsel," Hagen gave reply.
Then passed they where the monarchs found they presently
In high state receive within the palace court.
Loud the valiant Volker straight began after this sort

Unto his royal masters: "How long will ye stand so.
That foes may press upon you? To the king ye now shall go,
And from his lips hear spoken how is his mind to you."
The valiant lords and noble consorted then by two and two.

Of Bern the lofty Dietrich took by the hand
Gxmther the lordly monarch of Burgundian land;
Imfried escorted Gemot, a knight of valor keen,
And Ruediger with Giselher going imto the court was seen*

Howe'er with fere consorted there any thane might be,
Volker and Hagen ne'er parted company.
Save in storm of battle when they did r^ich life's bourne.
Twas cause that highborn ladies anon in grievous way must mourn.




Unto the court then passing with the kings were seen.
Of their lofty retinue a thousand warriors keen,
And threescore thanes full valiant that followed in their train;
The same from his own country had doughty Hagen with him ta'en.

Hawart and eke Iring, chosen warriors twain,
Saw ye walk together in the royal train.
By Dankwart and Wolfhart, a thane of high renown,
Was high courtly bearing there before the others shown.

When the lord of Rhineland passed into the hall,
Etzel mighty monarch waited not at all,
But sprang from off his settle when he beheld him nigh.
By monarch ne'er was given greeting so right heartily.

"Welcome be, Lord Gunther, and eke Sir Gemot too,
And your brother Giselher. My greetings unto you
I sent with honest purpose to Worms across the Rhine;
And welcome all your followers shall be unto this land of mine.

"Right welcome be ye likewise, doughty warriors twain,
Volker the full valiant, and Hagen daimtless thane.
To me and to my lady here in my country.
Unto the Rhine to greet you many a messenger sent she."

Then spake of Tronje Hagen: "Thereof I'm well aware.
And did I with my masters not thus to Hunland fare.
To do thee honor had I ridden vmto thy land."
Then took the lofty monarch the honored strangers by the hand.

He led them to the settle whereon himself he sat,
Then poured they for the strangers — with care they tended that —
In goblets wide and golden mead and mulberry wine,
And bade right hearty welcome unto the knights afar from Rhine.


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Then spake the monardi Etzel: "This will I freely say:
Naught in this world might happen to bring my heart more joy,
Than that ye lofty heroes thus are come to me.
The queen from mickle sadness thereby make ye likewise free.

" To me 'twas mickle wonder wherein had I transgressed,
That I for friends had won me so many a noble guest,
Yet ye had never deigned to come to my country.
'Tis now turned cause of gladness that you as guests I here may see."

Thereto gave answer Ruediger, a knight of lofty mind:
" Well mayst thou joy to see them; right honor shalt thou find
And naught but noble bearing in my high mistress' kin.
With them for guest thou likewise many a stately thane dost win.*'

At turn of sim in summer were the knights arrived
At mighty Etzel's palace. Ne'er hath monarch lived
That lordly guests did welcome with higher compliment.
When come was time of eating, the king with them to table went.

Amid his guests more stately a host was seated ne'er.
They had in fullest measure of drink and goodly fare;
Whate'er they might desire, they ready found the same.
Tales of mickle wonder had spread abroad the heroes' fame.


f)ovp tbeis ftept 0uar^

And now the day was ended and nearing was the ni^t
Came then the tiiought with longing unto each way-worn knight,
When that they might rest them and to their beds be shown.
'Twas mooted first by Hagen and straight was answer then made


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To Etzel spake then Gunther: ''Fair days may God thee give!
To bed we'll now betake us, an be it by thy leave;
We'll come betimes at morning, if so thy pleasure be."
From his guests the monarch parted then full courteously.

Upon the guests on all sides the Huns yet rudely pressed,
Wiereat the valiant Volker these words to them addressed:
"How dare ye 'fore these warriors thus beset the way?
If that ye desist not, rue such rashness soon ye may.

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''Let fall will I on some one such stroke of fiddle-bow,
That eyes shall fill with weeping if he hath friend to show.
Why make not way before us, as fitting were to do!
ELnights by name ye all are, but knighthood's ways unknown to

When outspake the Fiddler thus so wrathfully
Backward glanced bold Hagen to see what this might be.
Quoth he: "He redes you rightly, this keen minstrel knight.
Ye followers of Kriemhild, now pass to rest you for the night.

"The thing whereof ye're minded will none dare do, I ween.
If aught ye purpose 'gainst us, on the morrow be that seen,
And let us weary strangers the night in quiet pass;
I ween, with knights of honor such evermore the custom was."

Then were led the strangers into a spacious hall
Where they found prepar&i for the warriors one and all
Beds adorned full richly, that were both wide and long.
Yet planned the Lady Kriemhild to work on them the direst wrong.

Ridi quilted mattress covers of Arras saw ye there
Lustrous all and silken, and spreading sheets there were
Wrought of silk of Araby, the best might e'er be seen.
O'er them lay rich embroidered stuffs that cast a brilliant sheen.


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Coverlets of ennine full many might ye see,
With sullen sable mingled, whereunder peacefully
They should rest the night through till came the shining day.
A king with all retinue ne*er, I ween, so stately lay.

"Alack for these night-quarters 1" quoth young Giselher,
"Alack for my companions who this our journey share!
How kind so e'er my sister's hospitality.
Dead by her devising, I fear me, are we doomed to be."

"Let now no fears disturb you," Hagen gave reply;
"Through the hours of sleeping keep the watch will I.
I trust full well to guard you until return the day.
Thereof be never fearful; let then preserve him well who may."

Inclined they all before him thereat to give him grace.
Then sought they straight their couches; in sooth 'twas little space
Until was softly resting every stately man.
But Hagen, vahant hero, the while to don his armor gan.

Spake then to him the Fiddler, Volker a doughty thane:
"I'll be thy fellow, Hagen, an wilt thou not disdain.
While watch this night thou keepest, until do come the morn."
Right heartily the hero to Volker then did thanks retiun.

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"God in heaven requite thee, Volker, trusty fere.
In all my time of trouble wished I none other near,
None other but thee only, when dangers round me throng.
I'll well repay that favor, if death withhold its hand so long."

Arrayed in glittering armor both soon did ready stand;
Each did take unto him a mighty shield in hand.
And passed without the portal there to keep the way.
Thus were the strangers guarded, and trusty watchers eke had they.


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Volker the valiant, as he sat before the hall,
Leaned his trusty buckler meanwhile against the wall,
Then took in hand his fiddle as he was wont to do:
All times the thane would render imto his friends a service true.

Beneath the hall's wide portal he sat on bench of stone;
Than he a bolder fiddler was there never none.
As from his chords sweet echoes resounded through the hall,
Thanks for glad refreshment had Volker from the warriors all.

Then from the strings an echo the wide hall did fill,
For in his fiddle-plajdng the knight had strength and skill.
Softer then and sweeter to fiddle he began
And wiled to peaceful slumber many an anxious brooding man.

When they were wrapped in slumber and he did understand,
Then took again the warrior his trusty shield in hand
And passed without the portal to guard the entrance tower,
And safe to keep his fellows where Kriemhild's crafty men did

About the hour of midnight, or earlier perchance.
The eye of valiant Volker did catch a helmet's glance
Afar from out the darkness: the men of Kriemhild sought
How that upon the strangers might grievous scathe in stealth be

Quoth thereat the Fiddler: "Friend Hagen, 'tis full dear
That we do well together here this watch to share.
I see before us yonder men arm^ for the fight;
I ween they will attack us, if I their purpose judge aright"

"Be silent, then," spake Hagen, "and let them come more ni^.
Ere that they perceive us shall helmets sit awry,
By good swords disjointed that in our hands do swing.
Tale of vigorous greeting shall they back to Kriemhild bring."


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Amid the Hunnish warriors one full soon did see,
That well the door was guarded; straightway then cried he:
"The thing we here did purpose 'tis need we now give o'er,
For I behold the Fiddler standing guard before the door.

"Upon his head a helmet of glancing light is seen,
Welded strong and skilful, dintless, of clearest sheen.
The mail-rings of his armor do sparkle like the fire.
Beside him stands eke Hagen; safe are the strangers from our ire."

Straightway they back returned. When Volker that did see,
Unto his companion wrathfully spake he:
"Now let me to those caitiffs across the court-yard go;
What mean they by such business, from Kriemhild's men I fain
would know."

"No, as thou dost love me," Hagen straight replied;
"K from this hall thou partest, such ill may thee'betide
At hands of these bold warriors and from the swords they bear.
That I must haste to help thee, though here our kinsmen's bane it

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 21 of 27)