George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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When by foes surroimded, than he did might display. ^
To court did Hagen's brother with splendid valor make his way.

When stewards and cup-bearers heard how sword-blades rung,
Many a brimming goblet from their hands they flung
And eke the viands ready that they to table bore;
Thus many doughty foemen withstood him where he sou^t the

" How now, ye stewards ? " cried the weary knight;
" 'Twere better that ye tended rather yoiu: guests aright.
Bearing to lords at table choice food that fitteth well.
And suffered me these tidings unto my masters dear to tell,"


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Whoe'er before him rashly athwart the stairway sprung,
On him with blow so heavy his mighty sword he swung,
That soon faint heart gave warning before his path to yield.
Mickle wonder wrought he where sword his doughty arm did wield.

f)ow tbe JSutgunDfan0 toudbt witb tbe tnrtB

Soon as the valiant Dankwart stood beneath the door,
Bade he EtzePs followers all make way before.
With blood from armor streaming did there the hero stand;
A sharp and mighty weapon bore he naked in his hand.

Into the hall then Dankwart cried with voice full strong:
" At table, brother Hagen, thou sittest all too long.
To thee and God in heaven must I sore complain:
ELnights and squires also lie within their lodging slain."

Straight he cried in answer: "Who hath done such deed?"
" That hath done Sir Bloedel and knights that he did lead.
Eke made he meet atonement, that may'st thou understand:
His head from off his body have I struck with mine own hand."

" 'Tis little cause for sorrow," Hagen spake again,
** When they tell the story of a valiant thane,
That he to death was smitten by knight of high degree.
The less a cause for weeping to winsome women shall it be.

** Now tell me, brother Dankwart, how thou so red may'st be;
From thy wounds thou sufferest, I ween, full grievoudy.
Lives he within this country who serves thee in such way.
Him must the devil shelter, or for the deed his life shall pay."


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" Behold me here all scatheless. My gear is wet with blood,
From wounds of others, natheless, now hath flowed that flood,
Of whom this day so many beneath my broadsword fell:
Must I make solemn witness, ne'er knew I full the tale to telL"

He answered: "Brother Dankwart, now take thy stand before,
And Huns let never any make passage by the door.
I'll speak unto these warriors, as needs must spoken be:
Dead lie all our followers, slain by foulest treachery."

"Must I here be chamberlain," replied the warrior keen,
" Well know I such high monarchs aright to serve, I ween.
So will I guard the stairway as sorts with honor well."
Ne'er to the thanes of Kriemhild so sorry case before befelL

"To me 'tis mickle wonder," Hagen spake again,
" What thing imto his neighbor whispers each Hunnish thane.
I ween they'd forego the service of him who keeps the door.
And who such high court tidings to his friends of Burgundy bore,

"Long since of Lady Kriemhild the story I did hear.
How unavenged her sorrow she might no longer bear.
A memory-cup now quaff we and pay for royal cheer I
The youthful lord of Hunland shall make the first instalment here."

Thereat the child Ortlieb doughty Hagen slew,
That from the sword downward the blood to hand-grip flew,
And into lap of Kriemhild the severed head down rolled.
Then might ye see 'mid warriors a slaughter great and grim unfold.

1962 ^ ^

By both hands swiftly wielded, his blade then cut the air
And smote upon the tutor who had the child in care.
That down before the table his head that instant lay:
It was a sorry payment wherewith he did the tutor pay.


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His eye 'fore EtzePs table a minstrel espied:
To whom in hasty manner did wrathful Hagen stride,
Where moved it on the fiddle his right hand oflf smote he;
"Have that for thy message unto the land of Burgundy."

" Alack my hand ! " did Werbel that same minstrel moan*
" What, Sir Hagen of Tronje, have I to thee done ?
I bore a faithful message imto thy master's land.
How may I more make music thus by thee bereft of hand?"

Little in sooth recked Hagen, fiddled he nevermore.
Then in the hall all wrathful wrought he havoc sore
Upon the thanes of Etzel whereof he many slew;
Ere they might find exit, to death then smote he not a few.

Volker the full valiant up sprang from board also:
In his hand full clearly rang out his fiddle-bow.
For mightily did fiddle Gimther's minstrel thane.
What host of foes he made him because of Hunnish warriors slain!

Eke sprang &om the table the lofty monarchs three,
Who glad had stilled the combat ere greater scathe might be.
Yet all their art availed not their anger to assuage,
When Volker and Hagen so mightily began to rage.

When the lord of Rhineland saw how his toil was vain,
Gapii^ wounds full many himself did smite amain
Through rings of shining mail-coats there upon the foe.
He was a valiant hero, as he full gallantly did show.

Strode eke into the combat Gemot a doughty thane;
By whom of Hunnish warriors full many a one was slain
With a sword sharp-edg^d he had of Ruediger;
Oft sent to dire ruin by him the knights of Etzel were.




The youthful son of Ute eke to the combat sprang,
And merrily his broadsword upon the helmets rang
Of many a Hunnish warrior there in Etzel's land;
Feasts of mickle wonder wrought Giselher with dauntless hand.

How bold soe'er was any, of kings and warrior band.
Saw ye yet the foremost Giselher to stand
There against the foemen, a knight of valor good;
Woimded deep full many made he to fall in oozing blood.

Eke full well defend them did Etzel's warriors too.
There might ye see the strangers their gory way to hew
With swords all brightly gleaming adown that royal hall;
Heard ye there on all sides loudly ring the battle-call.

Join friends within beleaguered would they without full fain.
Yet might they at the portal but little vantage gain.
Eke they within had gladly gained the outer air;
Nor up nor down did Dankwart suffer one to pass the stair.

There before the portal surged a mighty throng,
And with a mickle clangor on helm the broadsword rung.
Thus on the valiant Dankwart his foes did sorely press,
And soon his trusty brother was anxious grown o'er his distress.

Full loudly cried then Hagen unto Volker:
"Trusty fere, behold'st thou my brother standing there,
Where on him Hunnish warriors their mighty blows do rain?
Good friend, save thou my brother ere we do lose the valiant

"That will I do full surely," thereat the minstrel spake.
Adown the hall he fiddling gan his way to make;
In his hand full often a trusty sword rang out.
While grateful knights of Rhineland acclaimed him with a mickle


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Soon did the valiant Volker Dankwart thus address:
"Hard this day upon thee hath weighed the battle's stress.
That I should come to help thee thy brother gave command;
Keep thou without the portal, I inward guarding here will stand."

Dankwart, thane right vaHant, stood without the door
And guarded so the stairway that none might pass before.
There heard ye broadswords ringing, swung by warrior's hand,
While inward in like manner wrought Volker of Burgundian land.

There the valiant Fiddler above the press did call;
"Securely now, friend Hagen, dosed is the hall.
Yea, so firmly bolted is King Etzel's door
By hands of two good warriors, as thousand bars were set before.''

When Hagen thus of Tronje the door did guarded find,
The warrior far renowned swung his shield behind;
He first for harm received revenge began to take,
Whereat all hope of living did soon his enemies forsake.

When of Bern Su: Dietrich rightly did perceive
How the doughty Hagen did many a helmet cleave,
The king of Amelimgen upon a bench leaped up;
Quoth he: "Here poureth Hagen for us exceeding bitter cup."

Great fear fell eke on Etzel, as well might be the case,
(What trusty followers snatched they to death before his face!)
For well nigh did his enemies on him destruction bring.
There sat he all confounded. What booted him to be a king?

Cried then aloud to Dietrich Kriemhild, the high lady:
"Now help me, knight so noble, that hence with life I flee,
By princely worth, I pray thee, thou lord of Amelung's land;
If here do reach me Hagen, straight find I death beneath his hand."


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"How may my help avail thee, noble queen and high?"
Answered her Sir Dietrich, "Fear for myself have I.
Too sorely is enraged each knight in Gimther's band.
To no one at this season may I lend assisting hand."

"But nay, but nay, Sir Dietrich, full noble knight and keen.
What maketh thy bright chivalry, let it this day be seen.
And bring me hence to safety, else am I death's sure prey."
Good cause was that on Kriemhild's bosom fear so heavy lay.

"So will I here endeavor to help thee as I may;
Yet shalt thou well beUeve me, hath passed full many a day I

Since saw I goodly warriors of so bitter mood. |

'Neath swords behold I flowing through helmets plenteously the 1
blood." :

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Lustily then cried he, the warrior nobly bom,
That his voice rang loudly like blast from bison's horn,
That all aroimd the palace gave back the lusty sound;
Unto the might of Dietrich never limit yet was found.

When did hear King Gimther how called the doughty man
Above the storm of combat, to hearken he began.
Quoth he: "The voice of Dietrich hath fallen upon mine ear;
I ween some of his followers before our thanes have fallen here.

"High on the board I see him; he beckons with the hand.
Now my good friends and kinsmen of Burgtmdian land.
Stay ye your hands from conflict, let us hear and see
If done upon the chieftain aught by my men of scathe there be."

When thus King Gunther did beg and eke conunand.
With swords in stress of battle stayed they all the hand.
'Twas token of his power that straight the strife did pause.
Then him of Bern he questioned what of his outcry were the cause.


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He spake: '*Full noble Dietrich, what here on thee is wrought
By any of my warriors? For truly is my thought
To make a full atonement and amends to thee.
If here hath wronged thee any, 'twere cause of mickle grief to me."

Then answered him Sir Dietrich : " Myself do nothing grieve.
Grant me with thy protection but this hall to leave
And quit the dire conflict, with them that me obey.
Then surely will I ever seek thy favor to repay."

"How plead'st thou thus so early?" Wolfhart was heard;
" The Fiddler so securely the door not yet hath barred,
But it so wide we'll open to pass it through, I trow."
" Now hold thy peace," quoth Dietrich, " wrought but little here hast

Then spake the royal Gimther: "That grant I thee to do,
Forth from the haU lead many or lead with thee few.
An if my foes it be not; here stay they every one.
Upon me here in Himland hath grievous wrong by them been done."

When heard he Gimther's answer he took beneath his arm
The noble Queen Kriemhild, who dreaded mickle harm.
On the other side too led he Etzel with him away;
Eke went thence with Dietrich six himdred knights in fair array.

Then outspake the margrave, the noble Ruediger:
" If leave to any others be granted forth to fare,
Of those who glad would serve you, give us the same to see.
Yea, p>eace that's never broken 'twixt friends 'tis meet should ever

Thereto gave answer Giselher of the land of Burgundy:
** Peace and unbroken friendship wish we e'er with thee,
With thee and all thy kinsmen, as true thou ever art.
We grant thee all untroubled with thy friends from hence to part."


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When thus Sir Ruediger from the hall did pass,
A train of knights five hundred or more with him there was,
Of them of Bechelaren, kinsmen and warriors true,
Whose parting gave King Gunther anon full mickle cause to rue.

When did a Hunnish warrior Etzel's passing see
'Neath the arm of Dietrich, to profit him thought he.
Smote him yet the Fiddler such a mighty blow.
That 'fore the feet of Etzel sheer on the floor his head fell low.

When the country's monarch had gained the outer air,
Turned he looking backward and gazed on Volker.
''Alack such guests to harbor! Ah me discomfited!
That all the knights that serve me shall before their might lie dead.


"Alack their coming hither!" spake the king once more.
" Within, a warrior fighteth like to wild forest boar;
Hight the same is Volker, and a minstrel is also;
To pass the demon scatheless I to fortune's favor owe.

" Evil sound his melodies, his strokes of bow are red.
Yea, beneath his music full many a knight lies dead.
I know not what against us hath stirred that player's ire,
For guests ne'er had I any whereby to suffer woe so dire."

None other would they suffer to pass the door than those.
Then 'neath the hall's high roof-tree a mighty din arose.
For evil wrought upon them those guests sore vengeance take.
Volker the doughty Fiddler, what shining helmets there he brake!

Gunther, lofty monarch, thither turned his ear.
"Hear'st thou the music, Hagen, that yonder Volker
Doth fiddle for the Hun-men, when near the door they go?
The stroke b red of color, where he doth draw the fiddle-bow."


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*'Mickle doth it rue me," Hagen spake again,
** That in the hall far severed I am from that bold thane.
I was his boon companion and he sworn friend to me :
Come we hence ever scatheless, trusty feres we yet shall be.

** Behold now, lofty sire, the faith of Volker bold!
With will he seeks to win him thy silver and thy gold.
With fiddle-bow he cleaveth e'en the steel so hard.
Bright-gleaming crests of helmets are scattered by his mighty sword.

** Never saw I fiddler so daxmtless heart display,
As the doughty Volker here hath done this day.
Through shield and shining helmet his melodies ring clear;
Give him to ride good charger and eke full stately raiment wear."

Of all the Hunnish kindred that in the hall had been.
None now of all their number therein to fight was seen.
Hushed was the din of battle and strife no more was made:
From out their hands aweary their swords the dauntless warriors

l)ow tbec cadt out tbe 2>ea2)

From toil of battle weary rested the warriors all.
Volker and Hagen passed out before the hall.
And on their shields did lean them, those knights whom naught

could daunt.
Then with full merry converse gan the twain their foes to taimt.

Spake meanwhile of Burgimdy Giselher the thane:
"Not yet, good friends, may ye think to rest again.
Forth from the hall the corses shall ye rather bear.
Again we'll be assailed, that would I now in sooth declare.


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"Beneath our feet no longer here the dead must lie.
But ere in stonn of battle at hand of Huns to die,
We'll deal such wounds around us as 'tis my joy to see.
Thereon," spake Giselher, "my heart is fixed right steadfastly."


"I joy in such a master," Hagen spake again:
"Such counsel well befitteth alone so valiant thane
As my youthful master hath shown himself this day.
Therefor, O men of Burgundy, every one rejoice ye may."

Then followed they his counsel and from the hall they bore
Seven thousand bodies and cast them from the door.
Adown the mounting stairway all together fell.
Whereat a sound of wailing did from mourning kinsmen swelL

Many a man among them so slight wound did bear
That he were yet recovered had he but gentle care.
Who yet falling headlong now surely must be dead.
Thereat did grieve their kinsmen as verily was sorest need.

Then outspake the Fiddler, Volker a hero bold:
"Now do I find how truly hath to me been told
That cowards are the Hun-men who do like women weep.
Rather should be their effort their wounded kin alive to keep."

These words deemed a margrave spoken in kindly mood.
He saw one of his kinsmen weltering in his blood.
In his arms he clasped him and thought him thence to bear,
But as he bent above him pierced him the valiant minstrel's spear.

When that beheld the others all in haste they fled.
Crying each one curses on that same minstrel's head.
From the groimd then snatched he a spear with point full keen,
That 'gainst him up the stairway by a Hun had hurled been.


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Across the court he flung it with his ann of might
Far above the people. Then did each Hxumish knight
Seek him safer quarters more distant from the hall.
To see his mighty prowess did fill with fear his foemen all.

As knights full many thousand far 'fore the palace stood,
Volker and Hagen gan speak in wanton mood
Unto King Etzel, nor did they aught withhold;
Wherefrom anon did sorrow overtake those doughty warriors bold.

" 'Twould well beseem," quoth Hagen, "the people's lofty lord
Foremost in storm of battle to swing the cutting sword,
As do my royal masters each fair example show.
Where hew they through the helmets their swords do make Ac
blood to flow."

To hear such words brave Etzel snatched in haste his shield.
'*Now well beware of rashness," cried Lady Kiiemhild,
"And offer to thy warriors gold heaped on shield full high:
If yonder Hagen reach thee, straightway shalt thou surely die."

So high was the king's mettle that he would not give o'er.
Which case is now full seldom seen in high princes more;
They must by shield-strap tugging him perforce restrain.
Grim of mood then Hagen began him to revile again.

"It was a distant kinship," spake Hagen, dauntless knight,
"That Etzel unto Siegfried ever did unite.
And husband he to Kriemhild was ere thee she knew.
Wherefore, O king faint-hearted, seek'st thou such thing 'gainst
me to do?"

Thereto eke miist listen the noble monarch's spouse.
And grievously to hear it did ELriemhild's wradi arouse.
That he 'fore men of Etzel durst herself upbraid;
To urge them 'gainst the strangers she once more her arts essayed


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Cried she: '*Of Tronje Hagen whoso for me will slay,
And his head from body severed here before me lay,
For him the shield of Etzel I'll fill with ruddy gold,
Eke lands and lordly castles I'll give him for his own to hold.''

"I wot not why they tarry," — thus the minstrel cried;
"Ne'er saw I heroes any so their courage hide,
When to them was offered, like this, reward so high,
'Tis cause henceforth that Etzel for aye to them goodwill deny."

"Who in such craven manner do eat their master's bread.
And like caitiffs fail him in time of greatest need.
Here see I standing many of courage all forlorn.
Yet would be men of valor; all time be they upheld to scorn.'*


l)ow f tiitd wa0 Slain

Cried then he of Denmark, Iring the margrave:
"Fixed on things of honor my purpose long I have.
And oft in storm of battle, where heroes wrought, was I.
Bring hither now my armor, with Hagen I'll the combat try."

" I counsel thee against it," Hagen then replied,
" Or bring a goodly company of Hun-men by thy side.
If peradventure any find entrance to the hall,
I'll cause that nowise scatheless down the steps again they fall."

"Such words may not dissuade me," Iring spake once more;
" A thing of equal peril oft have I tried before.
Yea, will I with my broadsword confront thee all alone.
Nor aught may here avail thee thus to speak in haughty tone."


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Soon the valiant Iring armed and ready stood,
And Imfried of Thuringia a youth of mettle good,
And eke the doughty Hawart, with thousand warriors tried.
Whatever his piUT)ose, Iring should find them faithful by his side.

Advancing then with Iring did the Fiddler see
All clad in shining armor a mighty company,
And each a well-made helmet securely fastened wore.
Thereat the gallant Volker began to rail in anger sore.

"Seest thou, friend Hagen, yonder Iring go,
Who all alone to front thee with his sword did vow ?
Doth lying sort with honor? Scorned the thing must be.
A thousand knights or over here bear him arm^ company."

" Now make me not a liar," cried Hawart's man aloud,
" For firm is still my purpose to do what now I vowed,
Nor will I turn me from it through any cause of fear.
Alone I'll stand 'fore Hagen, awful howsoever he were."

203 s
On ground did throw him Iring before his warriors' feet,
That they leave might grant him alone the knight to meet.
Loath they were to do it; well known to them might be
The haughty Hagen's prowess of the land of Burgundy,

Yet so long besought he that granted was their leave;
When they that followed with him did his firm mind perceive,
And how 'twas bent on honor, they not restrained him.
Then closed the two chieftains together in a combat grim.

Iring of Denmark raised his spear on high.
And with the shield he covered himself full skilfully;
He upward rushed on Hagen unto the hall right close,
When round the clashing fighters soon a mighty din arose.


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Each hurled upon the other the spear with arm of might.
That the firm shields were pierc^ e'en to their mail-coats bright,
And outward still projecting the long spear-shafts were seen.
In haste then snatched their broadswords both the fighters grim and

In might the doughty Hagen and prowess did abound,
As Iring smote upon him the hall gave back the sound.
The palace all and towers re-echoed from their blows.
Yet might that bold assailant with victory ne'er the combat dose.

On Hagen might not Iring wreak aught of injury.
Unto the doughty Fiddler in haste then tum^ he.
Him by his mighty sword-strokes thought he to subdue,
But well the thane full gallant to keep him safe in combat knew.

Then smote the doughty Fiddler so lustily his shield
That from it flew its ornaments where he the sword did wield.
Iring must leave imconquered there the dauntless man;
Next upon King Gimther of Burgundy in wrath he ran.

There did each in combat show him man of might;
Howe'er did Gunther and Iring yet each the other smite,
From wounds might never either make the blood to flow.
So sheltered each his armor, well wrought that was and strong enow.

Gunther left he standing, upon Gemot to dash,
And when he smote ring-armor the fire forth did flash.
But soon had he of Burgundy, Gemot the doughty thane,
Well nigh his keen assailant Iring of Denmark slain.

Yet from the prince he freed him, for nimble was he too.
Foiu" of the men of Burgundy the knight full sudden slew
Of those that followed with them from Worms across the Rhine.
Thereupon might nothing the wrath of Giselher confine.


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" God wot well, Sir Iring," young Giselher then cried,
" Now must thou make requital for them that here have died
'Neath thy hand so sudden." He rushed upon him so
And smote the knight of Denmark that he might not withstand the

Into the blood down fell he staggering 'neath its might,
That all who there beheld it might deem the noble knight
Sword again would never wield amid the fray.
Yet 'neath the stroke of Giselher Iring all unwounded lay.

Bedazed by helmet*s sounding where ringing sword swung down,
Full suddenly his senses so from the knight were flown.
That of his life no longer harbored he a thought.
That the doughty Giselher by his mighty arm had wrought.

When somewhat was subsided the din within his head
From mighty blow so sudden on him was visited.
Thought he: "I still am living and bear no mortal wound.
How great the might of Giselher, till now unwitting, have I found."

He hearkened how on all sides his foes around did stand;
Knew they what he did purpose, they had not stayed their hand.
He heard the voice of Giselher eke in that company.

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 23 of 27)