George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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"Soon as we two together have joined with them in fight,
A pair or two among them will surely hasten straight
Hither to this hall here, and work such havoc sore
Upon our sleeping brethren, as must be moum^ evermore."

Thereto gave answer Volker: "So much natheless must be,
That they do learn full certain how I the knaves did see.
That the men of Kriemhild hereafter not deny
What they had wrought full gladly here with foulest treachery."

Straightway then unto them aloud did Volker call:
"How go ye thus in armor, ye valiant warriors all?
Or forth, perchance, a-robbing, Kriemhild's men, go ye?
Myself and my companion shall ye then have for company,**


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Thereto no man gave answer. Wrathful grew his mood:
"Fie, ye caitifiF villains," spake the hero good,
"Would ye us so foully have murdered while we slept?
With knights so high in honor full seldom thus halii faith been


Then unto Queen Kriemhild were the tidings borne,
How her men did fail their purpose: 'twas cause for her to mourn.
Yet otherwise she wrought it, for grim she was of mood:
Anon through her must perish full many a valorous knight and



f>ovp tbei^ went to Aa00

"So cool doth grow my armor," Volker made remark,
"I ween but little longer will endure the dark.
By the air do I perceive it, that soon will break the day."
Then waked they many a warrior who still in deepest slumber lay.

When brake the light of morning athwart the spadous hall,
Hagen gan awaken the stranger warriors all,
If that they to the minster would go to holy mass.
After the Christian custom, of bells a mickle ringing was.

There sang they all uneven, that plainly might ye see
How Christian men and heathen did not full well agree.
Each one of Gunther's warriors would hear the service sung,
So were they all together up from their night-couches sprung.

Then did the warriors lace them in so goodly dress,
That never heroes any, that king did e'er possess.
More richly stood attired; that Hagen grieved to see.
Quoth he: "Ye knights, far other here must your attire be.


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"Yea, know among you many how here the case doth stand.
Bear ye instead of roses your good swords in hand,
For chaplets all bejewelled your glancing helmets good.
Since we have well perceived how is the angry Kriemhild's mood.

"To-day must we do battle, that will I now declare.
Instead of silken tunic shall ye good hauberks wear,
And for embroidered mantle a trusty shield and wide,
That ye may well defend you, if ye must others* anger bide.

"My masters well belov^, knights and kinsmen true,
*Tis meet that ye betake you imto the minster too,
That God do not forsake you in peril and in need.
For certain now I make you that death is nigh to us indeed.

"Forget ye not whatever wrong ye e'er have done,
But there 'fore God right meekly all your errors own;
Thereto would I advise you, ye knights of high degree,
For God alone in heaven may will that other mass ye see."

Thus went they to the minster, the princes and their men.
Within the holy churchyard bade them Hagen then
Stand all still together that they part not at all.
Quoth he: "Knows not any what may at hands of Hims befall.

"Let stand, good friends, all ready, your shields before your feet.
That if ever any would you in malice greet,
With deep-cut woimd ye pay him; that is Hagen's rede.
That from men may never aught but praises be your meed."

Volker and Hagen, the twain thence did pass
Before the broad minster. Therein their purpose was
That the royal Kriemhild must meet them where they stood
There athwart her pathway. In sooth full grim she was of mood.


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Then came the royal Etzel and eke his spouse full fair.
Attired were the warriors all in raiment rare
That following full stately with her ye might see;
The dust arose all densely round Kriemhild*s mickle company.

When the lofty monarch thus all armed did see
The kings and their followers, straightway then cried he:
"How see I in this fashion my friends with helm on head?
By my troth I sorrow if ill to them have happened.

"I'll gladly make atonement as doth to them belong.
Hath any them affronted or done them aught of wrong,
To me 'tis mickle sorrow, well may they imderstand.
To serve them am I ready, in whatsoever they command."

Thereto gave answer Hagen: " Here hath wronged us none.
'Tis custom of my masters to keep their armor on
Till full three days be over, when high festival they hold.
Did any here molest us, to Etzel would the thing be told."

FuU well heard Kriemhild likewise how Hagen gave reply.
Upon him what fierce glances flashed furtively her eye!
Yet betray she would not the custom of her country.
Though well she long had known it in the land of Burgundy.

How grim soe'er and mighty the hate to them she bore,
Had any told to Etzel how stood the thing before,
Wei? had he prevented what there anon befell.
So haughty were they minded that none to him the same would telL

With the queen came forward there a mighty train,
But no two handbreadths 3delded yet those warriors twain
To make way before her. The Huns did wrathful grow,
That their mistress passing should by them be jostled so.


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Etzel's highborn pages were sore displeased thereat,
And had upon the strangers straightway spent their hate.
But that they durst not do it their high lord before.
There was a mickle pressing, yet naught of anger happened more.

When they thence were parting from holy service done,
On horse came quickly prancing full many a nimble Hun.
With the Lady Kriemhild went many a maiden fair,
And eke to make her escort seven thousand knights rode there.

Kriemhild with her ladies within the casement sat
By Etzel, mighty monarch, — full pleased he was thereat.
They wished to view the tourney of knights beyond compare.
What host of strangers ridincr thronged the court before them therel

The marshal with the squires not in vain ye sought,
Dankwart the full valiant: with him had he brought
His royal master's followers of the land of Burgundy.
For the valiant Nibelungen the steeds well saddled might ye see.

When their steeds they moimted, the kings and all their men,
Volker thane full doughty, gave his counsel then.
That after their country's fashion they ride a mass mellay.
His rede the heroes followed and tourneyed in full stately way.

The knight had counsel given in sooth that pleased them well;
The clash of arms in mellay soon full loud did swell.
Many a valiant warrior did thereto resort,
As Etzel and Kriemhild looked down upon the spacious court

Came there unto the mellay six himdred knights of those
That followed Dietrich's bidding, the strangers to oppose.
Pastime would they make them with the men of Burgundy,
And if he leave had granted, had done the same right willingly.


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In their company rode there how many a warrior bold!
When unto Sir Dietrich then the thing was told,
Forbade he that 'gainst Gimther's men they join the play.
He feared lest harm befall them, and well bis coimsel did he Wei{^

When of Bern the warriors thence departed were,
Came they of Bechelaren, the men of Ruediger,
Bearing shield five hundred, and rode before the hall;
Rather had the margrave that they came there not at alL

Prudently then rode he amid their company
And told \m|o his warriors how they might plainly see,
That the men of Gimther were in evil mood:
Did they forego the mellay, please him better far it would.

When they were thence departed, the stately kni^ts and bold.
Came they of Thiiringia, as hath to us been told,
And of them of Denmark a thousand warriors keen.
From crash of spear up-flying full frequent were the splinters seen.

Imfried and Hawart rode into the mellay.
Whom the gallant men of Rhineland received in knightly play:
Full oft the men of Thuringia they met in tournament,
Whereby the piercing lance-point through many a stately shield was

Eke with three thousand warriors came Sir Bloedel there.
Etzel and Kriemhild Were of his coming ware,
As this play of chivaky before them they did see.
Now hoped the queen that evil befall the men of Burgundy.

Schrutan and Gibecke rode into the mellay,
Eke Ramung and Hombog after the Hunnish way;
Yet must they come to standstill 'fore the thanes of Burgundy.
High against the palace wall the splintered shafts did fly.


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How keen soe'er the contest, 'twas naught but knightly sport
With shock of shields and lances heard ye the palace court
Loud give back the echo where Gunther's men rode on.
His followers in the jousting on every side high honor won.

So long they held such pastime and with so mickle heat
That through the broidered trappings oozed clear drops of sweat
From the prancing chargers whereon the knights did ride.
In full gaUant manner their skill against the Huns they tried.

Then outspake the Fiddler, Volker deft of hand:
"These knights, I ween, too timid are 'gainst us to stand.
Oft did I hear the story what hate to us they bore;
Than this a fairer season to vent it, find they nevermore."

**Lead back \mto the stables," once more spake Volker then,
"Now our weary chargers; we'll ride perchance again
When comes the cool of evening, if fitting time there be.
Mayhap the queen will honor award to men of Burgimdy."

Beheld they then prick hither one dressed in state so rare
That of the Huns none other might with him compare.
Belike from castle tower did watch his fair lady;
So gay was his apparel as it some knight's bride might be.

Then again quoth Volker: "How may I stay my hand?
Yonder ladies' darling a knock shall understand.
Let no man here deter me, I'll give him sudden check.
How spouse of royal Etzel thereat may rage, I little reck.'*

"Nay, as thou dost love me," straight Eling Gxmther spake;
"All men will but reproach us if such affront we make.
The Huns be first offenders, for such would more befit."
Still did the royal Etzel in casement by Queen Kriemhild sit.


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"1*11 add unto the mellay," Hagen did declare;
"Let now all these ladies and knights be made aware
How we can ride a charger; 'twere well we make it known,
For, come what may, small honor shall here to Gunther's men be

Once more the nimble Volker into the mellay spurred.
Whereat full many a lady soon to weep was heard.
His lance right through the body of that gay Hun he sent:
Twas cause that many a woman and maiden fair must sore lament

Straight dashed into the mellay Hagen and his men.
With three score of his warriors spurred he quickly then
Forward where the Fiddler played so lustily.
Etzel and Elriemhild full plainly might the passage see.

Then would the kings their minsfarel — that may ye fairly know —
Leave not all defenceless there amid the foe.
With them a thousand heroes rode forth full dexterously,
And soon had gained their purpose with show of proudest chivalry.

When in such rude fashion the stately Him was slain.
Might ye hear his kinsmen weeping loud complain.
Then all aroimd did clamor: "Who hath the slayer been?"
"None but the Fiddler was it, Volker the minstrel keen."

For swords and for shields then called full speedily
That slain margrave's kinsmen of the Hun's country.
To avenge him sought they Volker in twcn to slay.
In haste down from the casement royal Etzel made his way.

Arose a mighty clamor from the people all;
The kings and men of Burgundy dismounted 'fore the hall,
And likewise their chargers to the rear did send.
Came then the mighty Etzel and sought to bring the strife to end.


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From one of that Hiin's kinsmen who near by him did stand
Snatched he a mighty weapon quick from out his hand,
And therewith backward smote them, for fierce his anger wrought.
''Shall thus my hospitality unto these knights be brought to

"If ye the valiant minstrel here 'fore me should slay,"
Spake the royal Etzel, "it were an evil day.
When he the Him impaled I did observe full well,
That not through evil purpose but by mishap it so befell.

"These my guests now must ye ne'er disturb in aught."
Himself became their escort. Away their steeds were brought
Unto the stables by many a waiting squire,
Who ready at their bidding stood to meet their least desire.

The host with the strangers into the palace went,
Nor would he suffer any fiurther his wrath to vent.
Soon were the tables ready and water for them did wait
Many then had gladly on them of Rhineland spent their hate.

Not yet the lords were seated till some time was o'er.
For Kriemhild o'er her sorrow meantime did trouble sore.
She spake: "Of Bern, O Master, thy counsel grant to me,
Thy help and eke thy mercy, for here in sorry plight I be."

To her gave answer Hildebrand, a thane right praiseworthy:
"Who harms the Nibelungen shall ne'er have help of me,
How great soe'er the guerdon. Such deed he well may rue,
For never yet did any these gallant doughty knights subdue."

Eke in courteous manner Sir Dietrich her addressed:
"Vain, O lofty mistress, unto me thy quest.
In sooth thy lofty kinsmen have wronged me not at all.
That I on thanes so valorous should thus with murderous purpose


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"Thy prayer doth thee small honor, O hi^ and royal dame,
That upon thy kinsmen thou so dost counsel shame.
Thy grace to have they deemed when came they to this land.
Nevermore shall Siegfried avengW be by Dietrich's hand."

When she no guile discovered in the knight of Bern,
Unto Bloedel straightway did she hopeful turn
With promise of wide marches that Nudung erst did own.
Slew him later Dankwart that he forgot the gift full soon.

Spake she: " Do thou help me, Sir Bloedel, I pray.
Yea, within the palace are foes of mine this day,
Who erstwhile slew Siegfried, spouse full dear to me.
Who helps me to avenge it, to him 1*11 e'er beholden be.*'

Thereto.gave answer Bloedel: "Lady, be well aware,
Ne'er to do them evil 'fore Etzel may I dare,
For to thy kinsmen, lady, beareth he good will.
Ne'er might the king me pardon, wrought I upon them au^t of ilL^

" But nay, Sir Bloedel, my favor shalt thou have ev^morc
Yea, give I thee for guerdon silver and gold in store,
And eke a fairest lady, that Nudimg erst should wed:
By her fond embraces may'st thou well be comforted.

"The land and eke the castles, all to thee I'll give;
Yea, may'st thou, knight full noble, in joyance ever live,
Call'st thou thine the marches, wherein did Nudung dwelL
Whate'er this day I promise, fulfil it all I will full well."

When understood Sir Bloedel what gain should be his share.
And pleased him well the lady for that she was so fair,
By force of arms then thought he to win her for his wife.
Thereby the knight aspirant was doomed anon to lose his life.


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" Unto the hall betake thee," quoth he unto the queen,
" Alarum I will make thee ere any know, I ween.
Atone shall surely Hagen where he hath done thee wrong:
To thee I'll soon give over King Gunther's man in fetters strong/*^

"To arms, to arms!" quoth Bloedel, "my good warriors all:
In their followers' quarters upon the foe we'll falL
Herefrom will not release me royal Etzel's wife.
To win this venture therefore fear not each one to lose his life."

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When at length Queen Kriemhild found Bloedel well content
To fulfil her bidding, she to table went
With the monarch Etzel and eke a goodly band.
Dire was the treason she against the guests had planned.

Since in none other manner she knew the strife to start,
(Kriemhild's ancient sorrow still rankled in her heart),
Bade she bring to table EtzePs youthful son:
By woman bent on vengeance how might more awful deed be done ?

Went upon the instant foiu: of EtzePs men,

And soon came bearing Ortlieb, the royal scion, then

Unto the princes' table, where eke grim Hagen sate.

The child was doomed to perish by reason of his deadly hate*

When the mighty monarch then his child did see.
Unto his lady's kinsmen in manner kind spake he :
" Now, my good friends, behold ye here my only son.
And child of your high sister: may it bring you profit every one.

** Grow he but like his kindred, a valiant man he'll be,
A mighty king and noble, doughty and fair to see.
Live I but yet a little, twelve lands shall he command;
May ye have faithful service from the youthful Ortlieb's hand.


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"Therefore grant me favor, ye good friends of mine;
When to your coimtry ride ye again imto the Rhine,
Shall ye then take with you this your sister's son,
And at your hands may ever by tiie child full fair be done.

"Bring him up in honor imtil to manhood grown.
K then in any coimtry hath wrong to you been done,
He'll help you by his valor vengeance swift to wreak."
Eke heard the Lady Kriemhild royal Etzel thus to speak.

" Well might these my masters on his faith rely.
Grew he e'er to manhood," Hagen made reply:
"Yet is the prince, I fear me, more early doomed of fate.
*Twere strange did any see me ever at court on Ortlieb wait."

The monarch glanced at Hagen, sore grieved at what he heard;
Although the king full gallant thereto spake ne'er a word,
Natheless his heart was saddened and heavy was his mind.
Nowise the mood of Hagen was to merriment inclined.

It grieved all the princes and the royal host
That of his child did Hagen make such idle boast.
That they must likewise leave it imanswered, liked they not:
They little weaned what havoc should by the thane anon be wrought


t>ow JSloedel waa Slain

The knights by Bloedel smnmoned soon armed and ready were,
A thousand wearing hauberks straightway did repair
Where Dankwart sat at table with many a goodly squire.
Soon knight on knight was seeking in fiercest way to vent his ire.


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When there Sir Bloedd strode unto the board,
Dankwart the marshal thus spoke courteous word:
"Unto this hall right welcome good Sir Bloedel be.
What business hast thou hither is cause of wonder yet to me.*'

"No greeting here befits thee," spake Bloedel presentiy,
"For that this my coming now thy end must be,
Through Hagen's fault, thy brother, who Siegfried erstwhile slew.
To the Huns thou mak'st atonement, and many another warrior

"But nay, but nay, Sir Bloedel," Dankwart spake thereto,
"For so should we have reason our coming here to rue.
A child I was and little when Siegfried lost his life.
Nor know I why reproacheth me the royal EtzePs wife."

"In sooth I may the story never fully tell.
Gunther and Hagen was it by whom the deed befell.
Now guard you well, ye strangers, for doomed in sooth are ye,
Unto Lady Klriemhild must yoiu: lives now forfeit be."

"An so thou wilt desist not," Dankwart declared,
"Regret I my entreaty, my toil were better spared."
The nimble thane and valiant up from the table sprung.
And drew a keen-edged weapon, great in sooth that was and long.

Then smote he with it Bloedel such a sudden blow
That his head full sudden before his feet lay low.
"Be that thy wedding-dower," the doughty Dankwart spake,
"Along with bride of Nudung whom thou would*st to thy bosom

"To-morrow may she marry, but some other one:
Will he have bridal portion, e'en so to him be done."
A Hun that liked not treason had given him to know
How that the queen upon him thought to work so grievous woe.


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When the men of Bloedel saw thus their master slain,
To fall upon the strangers would they longer not refrain.
With swords swung high above them upon the squires they flew
In a grimmest himior. Soon many must that rashness rue.

Full loudly cried then Dankwart to all his company:
"Behold ye, noble sqiiires, the fate that ours must be.
Now quit yourselves with valor, for evil is our pass,
Though fair to us the summons hither from Lady Kriemhild was!"

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They, too, reached down before them, who no weapons bore,
And each a massive footstool snatched from off the floor,
For the Burgundian squires no whit were they dismayed;
And by the selfsame weapons was many a dint in helmet made.

How fierce they fought to shield them the strangers one and alll
E'en their arm^d foemen drove they from the hall.
Or smote dead within it hundreds five or more;
All the valiant fighters saw ye drenched with ruddy gore.

Ere long the wondrous tidings some messenger did tell
Unto EtzePs chieftain — ^fierce did their anger swell —
How that slain was Bloedel and knights full many a one;
The which had Hagen's brother with his lusty squires done.

The Huns, by anger driven, ere Etzel was aware.
Two thousand men or over, did quick themselves prepare.
They fell upon diose squires —e'en so it had to be-—
And never any living they left of all that company.

A mickle host they faithless unto those quarters brought,
But lustily the strangers 'gainst their assailants fought.
What booted swiftest valor? Soon must all lie dead.
A dire woe thereafter on many a man was visited.


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Now may ye hear a wondrous tale of honor told:
Of squires full nine thousand soon in death lay cold,
And eke good knights a dozen there of Dankwart's band.
Forlorn ye saw him only the last amid his foemen stand.

The din at last was ended and lulled the battle-soimd,
When the vaUant Dankwart did cast a glance around.
"Alack for my companions," cried he, "now from me reft
Alack that I now only forlorn amid my foes am left."

The swords upon his body fell full thick and fast,
Which rashness many a warrior's widow mourned at last.
His shield he higher lifted and drew the strap more low:
Down coats of ring-made armor made he the ebbing blood to flow.

"O woe is me!" spake Dankwart, the son of Aldrian.
**Now back, ye Himnish fighters, let me the open gain,
That the air give cooling to me storm-weary wight."
In splendid valor moving strode forward then anew the knight.

As thus he battle-weary through the hall's portal sprang.
What swords of new-come fighters upon his helmet rang!
They who not yet had witnessed what wonders wrought his hand,
Rashly rushed they forward to thwart him of Burgundian land.

"Now would to God," quoth Dankwart, "I foimd a messenger
Who to my brother Hagen might the tidings bear.
That 'fore host of foemen in such sad case am I!
From hence he'd surely help me, or by my side he slain would lie."

Then Hunnish knights gave answer: "Thyself the messenger
Shalt be, when to thy brother thee a corse we bear.
So shall that thane of Gunther first true sorrow know.
Upon the royal Etzel here hast thou wrought so grievous woe."


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Quoth he: "Now leave such boasting and peld me passage free.
Else shall mail-rings a many with blood bespattered be.
M)rself will tell the tidings soon at Etzel*s court,
And eke imto my masters of this my travail make report."

EtzePs men around him belabored he so sore
That they at sword-point durst not withstand him more.
Spears shot into his shield he so many there did stop
That he the weight unwieldy must from out his hand let drop.

Then thought they to subdue him thus of his shield bereft,
But lol the mighty gashes wherewith he helmets cleft!
Must there keen knights full many before him stagger down.
High praise the valiant Dankwart thereby for his valor won.

On right side and on left side they still beset his way,
Yet many a one too rashly did mingle in the fray.
Thus strode he 'mid the foemen as doth in wood the boar
By yelping hounds beleaguered ; more stoutly fought he ne'er before.

As there he went, his pathway with reeking blood was wet.
Yea, never any hero more bravely batUed yet

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 22 of 27)