George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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As cunnmg he bethought him how yet he from his foes might flee.

Up from the blood he started with fierce and sudden bound;
By grace alone of swiftness he his freedom foimd.
With speed he passed the portal where Hagen yet did stand.
And swift his sword he flourished and smote him with his doughty

To see such sight quoth Hagen: " To death thou fall'st a prey;
If not the Devil shield thee, now is thy latest day."
Yet Iring wounded Hagen e*en through his helmet*s crown.
That did the knight with Waske, a sword that was of far renown.


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When thus Sir Hagen the smart of wound did feel,
Wrathfully he brandished on high his blade of steel.
Full soon must yield before him Hawart's daring man,
Adown the steps pursuing Hagen swiftly after ran.

O'er his head bold Iring his shield to guard him swung,
And e'en had that same stairway been full three times as long,
Yet had he found no respite from warding Hagen's blows.
How plenteously the ruddy sparks above his helm arose!

Unscathed at last came Iring where waited him his own.
Soon as was the story unto Kriemhild known,
How that in fight on Hagen he had wrought injury,
Therefor the Lady Kriemhild him gan to thank full graciously.

"Now God requite thee, Iring, thou valiant knight and good.
For thou my heart hast comforted and merry made my mood.
Red with blood his armor, see I yonder Hagen stand."
For joy herself did Kriemhild take his shield from out his hand.

"Small cause hast thou to thank him," thus wrathful Hagen

" For gallant knight 'twere fitting trial once more to make.
If then retvimed he scatheless, a valiant man he were.
The wound doth boot thee littie that now from his hand I bear.

"That here from wound upon me my mail-coat see*st thou red,
Shall bring woful reprisal on many a warrior's head.
Now is my wrath aroused in full 'gainst Hawart's thane.
As yet in sooth hath Iring wrought on me but little bane."

Iring then of Denmark stood where fanned the wind.
He cooled him in his armor and did his helm unbind.
Then praised him all the peopple and spoke him man of might.
Whereat the margrave's bosom swelled full high with proud


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"Now hearken friends unto me," Iring once more spake;
"Make me straightway ready, new trial now to make
If I this knight so haughty may yet perchance subdue."
New shield they brought, for Hagen did his erstwhile asimder hew.

Soon stood again the warrior in armor all bedight.
In hand a spear full massy took the wrathful knight,
Wherewith on yonder Hagen he thought to vent his hate.
With grim and fearful visage on him the vengeful thane did wait.

Yet not abide his coming might Hagen longer now.
Adown he rushed upon him with many a thrust and blow,
Down where the stairway ended for fierce did burn his ire.
Soon the might of Iring must 'neath his furious onset tire.

Their shields they smote asunder that the sparks began
To fly in ruddy showers. Hawart's gallant man
Was by sword of Hagen woimded all so sore
Through shield and shining cuirass, that whole he found him
never more.

When how great the wound was Iring fully knew,
Better to guard his helm-band his shield he higher drew.
The scathe he first received he deemed sufl&dent quite.
Yet injiuy far greater soon had he from King Gunther*s knight.

From where it lay before him Hagen a spear did lift
And hiu^led it upon Iring with aim so sure and swift.
It pierced his head, and firmly fixed the shaft did stand;
Full grim the end that met him 'neath the doughty Hagen's hand.

Backward Iring pelded unto his Danish men.
Ere for the knight his helmet they undid again.
From his head they drew the spear-point; to death he was anigh.
Wept thereat his kinsmen, and sore need had verily.


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Came thereto Queen Kriemhild and o'er the warrior bent,
And for the doughty Iring gan she there lament.
She wept to see him wounded, and sorely grieved the queen.
Then spake unto his kinsmen the warrior full brave and keen.

"I pray thee leave thy moaning, royal high lady.
What avails thy weeping? Yea, soon must ended be
My life from wounds outflowing that here I did receive.
To serve thyself and Etzel will death not longer grant me leave."

Eke spake he to them of Thuringia and to them of Danish land:
"Of you shall never any receive the gift in hand
From yoiu: royal mistress of shining gold full red.
Whoe'er withstandeth Hagen death calleth down upon his head."

From cheek the color faded, death's sure token wore
Iring the gallant warrior: thereat they grieved full sore.
Nor more in life might tarry Hawart's vahant kni^t:
Enraged the men of Denmark again did arm them for the fight.

Imfried and Hawart before the hall then sprang
Leading thousand warriors. Full furious a clang
Of weapons then on all sides loud and great ye hear.
Against the men of Burgundy how hiurled they many a mighty spear!

Straight the valiant* Imfried the minstrel rushed upon,
But naught but grievous injury 'neath his hand he won:
For the noble Fiddler did the landgrave smite
E'en through the well-wrought helmet; yea, grim and savage was
the knight.

Sir Imfried then in answer the valiant minstrel smote,
That must fly asimder the rings of his mailed coat
Which showered o'er his cuirass like sparks of fire red.
Soon must yet the landgrave fall before the Fiddler dead.


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Eke were come together Hawart and Hagen bold,
And saw he deeds of wonder who did the sight behold.
Swift flew the sword and fiercely swung by each hero's hand.
But soon lay Hawart prostrate before him of Burgundian land.

When Danish men and Thuringians beheld their masters fall.
Fearful was the turmoil that rose before the hall
As to the door they struggled, on dire vengeance bent.
Full many a shield and helmet was there 'neath sword asunder rent.

"Now backward )deld," cried Volker "and let them pass within;
Thus only are they thwarted of what they think to win.
When but they pass the portals are they full quickly slain.
With death shall they the bounty of their royal mistress gain."

When thus with pride o'erweening they did entrance find.
The head of many a warrior was so to earth incUned,
That he must life surrender 'neath blows that thickly fell.
Well bore him valiant (Jemot and eke Sir Giselher as well.

Four knights beyond a thousand were come into the house;
The light from sword-blades gUnted, swift swung with mighty souse.
Not one of all their number soon might ye living see;
Tell might ye mickle wonders of the men of Burgundy.

Thereafter came a stillness, and ceased the tumult loud.
The blood in every quarter through the leak-holes flowed,
And out along the corbels from men in death laid low.
That had the men of Rhineland wrought with many a doughty blow.

Then sat again to rest them they of Burgundian land,
Shield and mighty broadsword they laid from out the hand.
But yet the valiant Fiddler stood waiting 'fore the door,
If peradventure any would seek to offer combat more.


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Sorely did King Etzel and eke his spouse lament,
Maidens and fair ladies did sorrow sore torment.
Death long since upon them, I ween, such ending swore.
To fall before the strangers was doomed full many a warrior more.


1)ow tbe dlueen bade set Utc to tbe DaU

"Now lay ye off the helmets," the words from Hagen fell:
"I with a boon companion will be yoiu: sentinel.
And seek the men of Etzel to work us further harm,
For my royal masters full qxxickly will I ay alarm."

Then freed his head of armor many a warrior good.
They sate them on the corses, that round them in the blood
Of wounds themselves had dealt them, prostrate weltering lay.
Now to his guests so lofty scant courtesy did Etzd pay.

Ere yet was come the even. King Etzel did persuade.
And eke the Lady Kriemhild, that once more essayed
The Hunnish knights to storm them. Before them might ye see
Good twenty thousand warriors, who soon for fight must ready be.

Then with a furious onset the strangers they attacked.
Dankwart, Hagen's brother, who naught of courage lacked.
Sprang out 'mid the besiegers to ward them from the door.
*Twas deemed a deadly peril, yet scatheless stood he there before.

Fierce the struggle lasted till darkness brought an end.
Themselves like goodly heroes the strangers did defend
Against the men of Etzel all the long summer day.
What host of valiant warriors before them fell to death a preyl


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At turn of sun in summer that havoc sore was wrought,
When the Lady Kriemhild revenge so dire sought
Upon her nearest kinsmen and many a knight beside,
Wherefore with royal Etzel never more might joy abide.

As day at last was ending sad they were of heart.
They deemed from life 'twere better in sudden death to part
Than be thus long tormented by great overhanging dread.
That respite now be granted, the knights so proud and gallant

They prayed to lead the monarch hither to them there.
As heroes blood-bespotted, and stained from battle-gear,
Forth from the hall emerg^ the lofty monarchs three.
They wist not to whom complaint might their full grievous sor-
rows be.

Etzel and Kriemhild they soon before them found,
And great was now their company from all their lands aroimd.
Spake Etzel to the strangers: "What will ye now of me?
Ye hope for end of conflict, but hardly may such favor be.

"This so mighty ruin that ye on me have wrought.
If death thwart not my purpose, shall profit you in naught
For child that here ye slew me and kinsmen dear to me,
Shall peace and reconcilement from you withheld forever be."

Thereto gave answer Gunther: "To that drove sorest need.
Lay all my train of squires before thy warriors dead
Where they for night assembled. How bore I so great blame?
Of friendly mind I deemed thee, as trusting in thy faith I came.**

Then spake eke of Biu^ndy the youthful Giselher:
"Ye knights that still are living of Etzel, now declare
Whereof ye may reproach me! How hath you harmed my hand?
For in right friendly manner came I riding to this land,**


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Cried they: "Well is thy friendship in burgh and country known
By sorrow of thy making. Gladly had we foregone
The pleasure of thy coming from Wonns across the Rhine.
Our country hast thou orphaned, thou and brother eke of thine."

In angry mood King Gunther imto them replied:
"An ye this mighty hatred appeased woidd lay aside,
Borne 'gainst us knights here homeless, to both a gain it werc-
For Etzel's wrath against us we in sooth no guilt do bear."

The host then to the strangers: "Yoiu: sorrow here and mine

Are things all unequal. For now must I repine

With honor all bespotted and 'neath distress of woe.

Of you shall never any hence from my coimtry living go."

Then did the doughty Gemot unto King Etzel say:
"God then in mercy move thee to act in friendly way.
Slay us knights here homeless, yet grant us down to go
To meet thee in the open: thine honor biddeth thus to do.

"Whatever shall be our portion, let that straightway appear.
Men hast thou yet so many that, should they banish fear.
Not one of us storm-weary might keep his life secure.
How long shall we here friendless this woeful travail yet endure?"

By the warriors of Etzel their wish nigh granted was.
And leave well nigh was given that from the hall they pass.
When Kriemhild knew their purpose, high her anger swelled.
And straightway such a respite was from the stranger knights

"But nay, ye Hunnish warriors! what ye have mind to do,
Therefrom now desist ye, — such is my counsel true;
Nor let foes so vengeful pass without die hall,
Else must in death before them full many of your kinsmen fall.


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**If of them lived none other but Ute's sons alone.
My three noble brothers, and they the air had won
Where breeze might cool their armor, to death ye were a prey.
In all this world were never bom more valiant thanes than they."

Then spake the youthful Giselher: "Full beauteous sister mine,
When to this land thou bad*st me from far beside the Rhine,
I little deemed such trouble did here upon me wait.
Whereby have I deservW from the Huns such mortal hate?

"To thee I ever faithful was, nor wronged thee e'er.
In such faith confiding did I hither fare.
That thou to me wert gracious, O noble sister mine.
Show mercy now unto us, we must to thee our lives resign."

"No mercy may I show you, — ^unmerciful I'll be.
By Hagen, knight of Tronje, was wrought such woe to me,
That ne'er is reconcilement the while that I have life.
That must ye all atone for," — quoth the royal Etzel's wife.

"Will ye but Hagen only to me as hostage give.
Then will I not deny you to let you longer live.
Bom are ye of one mother and brothers unto me.
So wish I that compoimded here with these warriors peace may be.*'

"God in heaven forfend it," Gemot straightway said;
"E'en though we were a thousand, lay we all rather dead,
We who are thy kinsmen, ere that warrior one
Here we gave for hostage. Never may such thing be done."

"Die must we all," quoth Giselher, "for such is mortal's end.
Till then despite of any, our knighthood we'll defend.
Would any test our mettle, here may he trial make.
For ne'er, when help he needed, did I a faithful friend forsake."


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Then spake the valiant Dankwart, a knight that knew no fear:
"In sooth stands not unaided my brother Hagen here.
Who here have peace denied us may yet have cause to rue.
I would that this ye doubt not, for verily I tell you true."

The queen to those around her: "Ye gallant warriors, go
Now nigher to the stairway and straight avenge my woe,
1*11 ever make requital therefor, as well I may.
For his haughty humor will I Hagen full repay.

"To pass without the portal let not one at all,
For at its four comers I'll bid ignite the hall.
So will I fullest vengeance take for all my woe."
Straightway the thanes of Etzel ready stood her hest to do.

Who still without were standing were driven soon within
By sword and spear upon them, that made a mighty din.
Yet naught might those good warriors from their masters take.
By their faith would never each the other's side forsake.

To bum the hall commanded Etzel's wife in ire,
And tortured they those warriors there with flaming fire;
Full soon with wind upon it the house in flames was seen.
To any folk did never sadder plight befall, I ween.

Their cries within resounded: "Alack for sorest need!
How mickle rather lay we in storm of battle dead.
'Fore God 'tis cause for pity, for here we all must die!
Now doth the queen upon us vengeance wreak full grievously."

Among them spake another: "Our lives we here must end.
What now avails the greeting the king to us did send?
So sore this heat oppresseth and parched with thirst my tongue,
My life from very anguish I ween I must resign ere long."


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Then quoth of Tronje Hagen: "Ye noble knights and good.
Whoe'er by thirst is troubled, here let him drink the blood.
Than wine more potent is it where such high heat doth rage,
Nor may we at this season find us a better beverage."

Where fallen knight was lying, thither a warrior went.
Aside he laid his helmet, to gaping wound he bent.
And soon was seen a-quaflEmg therefrom the flowing blood.
To him though all unwonted, yet seemed he there such drinking

**Now God reward thee, Hagen," the weaiy warrior said,
"That I so well have drunken, thus by thy teaching led.
Better wine full seldom hath been poured for me.
And live I yet a season I'll ever faithful prove to thee."

When there did hear the others how to him it seem6d good.
Many more beheld ye eke that drank the blood.
Each thereby new vigor for his body won.
And eke fw lover fallen wept many a buxom dame anon.

The flaming brands fell thickly upon them in the haU,
With upraised shields they kept them yet scatheless from their fall.
Though smoke and heat together wrought them anguish sore.
Beset were heroes never, I ween, by so great woe before,

Then spake of Tronje Hagen: "Stand nigh imto the wall.
Let not the brands all flaming upon your helmets fall.
Into the blood beneath you tread them with your feet.
In sooth in evil fashion us doth our royal hostess greet"

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In trials thus endured ebbed the night away.
Still without the portal did the keen Fiddler stay
And Hagen his good fellow, o'er shield their bodies leant;
They deemed the men of Etzel still on further mischief bentt


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Then was heard the Fiddler: "Pass we into the hall,

For so the Huns shall fondly deem we are perished all

Amid the mickle torture we suffer at their hand.

Natheless shall they behold us boun for fight before them stand."


Spake then of Burgundy the young Sir Giselher:

" I ween 'twill soon be dawning, for blows a cooler air.

To live in fuller joyance now grant us God in heaven.

To us dire entertainment my sister Kriemhild here hath given.'*

Spake again another: "Lo! how I feel the day.
For that no better fortune here await us may,
So don, ye knights, yoiu: armor, and guard ye well your life.
Full soon, in sooth, we suffer again at hands of Etzel's wife."

Fondly Etzel fancied the strangers all were dead,
From sore stress of battle and from the fire dread;
Yet within were living six hundred men so brave,
That never thanes more worthy a monarch for liegemen might have.


The watchers set to watch them soon full well had seen
How still lived the strangers, spite what wrought had been
Of harm and grievous evil, on the monarchs and their band.
Within the hall they saw them still unscathed and dauntless stand.

Told *twas then to Kriemhild how they from harm were free.
Whereat the royal lady quoth, such thing ne*er might be
That any still were living from that fire dread.
" Nay, believe I rather that within they all lie dead.*'

Gladly yet the strangers would a truce compound,
Might any grace to offer amid their foes be found.
But such appeared not any in them of Hunnish land.
Well to avenge their dying prepared they then with willing hand.




About the dawn of mormng greeted they were again
With a vicious onslaught, that paid full many a thane.
There was flung upon them many a mighty spear,
While gallantly did guard them the lofty thanes that knew not fear.

The warriors of Etzel were all of eager mood,
And Kriemhild's promised boimty win for himself each would;
To do the king's high bidding did likewise urge their mind.
'Twas cause full soon that many were doomed swift death in fight to

Of store of boimty promised might wonders great be told,
She bade on shields to carry forth the ruddy gold,
And gave to him that wished it or would but take her store;
In sooth a greater hire ne'er tempted 'gainst the foe before.

A mickle host of warriors went forth in battle-gear.
Then quoth the valiant Volker: "Still may ye find us here.
Ne'er saw I move to battle warriors more fain,
That to work us evil the bounty of the king have ta'en."

Then cried among them many: " Hither, ye knights, more nighl
Since all at last must perish, 'twere better instantly;
And here no warrior falleth but who fore-doomed hath been."
With well-flung spears all bristling full quickly then their shields
were seen.

What need of fxuAer story? Twelve hundred stalwart men,
Repuked in onset gory, still returned again;
But dealing wounds around them the strangers cooled their mood,
And there stood all unvanquished. Flowing might ye see the blood

From deep wounds and mortal, whereof were many slain.
For friends in battle fallen heard ye loud complain;
Slain were all those warriors that served the mighty king,
Whereat from loving kinsmen arose a mickle sorrowing.


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1)0w tbe itatgiwoc IRncbiQci was Slain

At morning light the strangers had wrought high deed of fame.
When the sjx)use of Gotelinde unto the courtyard came.
To behold on both sides such woe befallen there,
Might not refrain from weeping sorely the faithful Ruediger.

"O woe is me!" exclaimed he, "that ever I was bom.
Alack that this great sorrow no hand from us may turn!
Though I be ne*er so willing, the king no peace will know,
For he beholds his sorrow ever great and greater grow."

Then did the kindly Ruediger unto Dietrich send,
If to the lofty monarchs they yet might truce extend.
The knight of Bern gave message: "How might such thing be?
For ne'er the royal Etzel granteth to end it peacefully."

When a Hunnish warrior saw standing Ruediger
As from eyes sore weeping fell full many a tear.
To his royal mistress spake he: " Behold how stands he there
With whom here by Etzel none other may in might compare,

"And who conunandeth service of lands and people all.
How many lordly casdes Ruediger his own doth call.
That unto him hath given the bounty of the king!
Not yet in valorous conflict saw'st thou here his sword to swing.

"Methinks, but little recks he, what may here betide,
Since now in fullest measure his heart is satisfied.
*Tis told he is, surpassing all men, forsooth, so keen.
But in this time of trials his valor ill-displayed hath been,"


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Stood there full of sorrow the brave and faithful man,
Yet whom he thus heard speaking he cast his eyes upon.
Thought he: "Thou mak'st atonement, who deem'st my mettle

Thy thought here all too loudly hast thou unto the people told,"

His fist thereat he doubled and upon him ran,
And smote with blow so mighty there King EtzePs man
That prone before him straightway fell that mocker dead.
So came but greater sorrow on the royal Etzel*s head.

"Hence thou basest caitiff," cried then Ruediger;
"Here of pain and sorrow enough I have to bear.
Wherefore wilt thou taunt me that I the combat shun?
In sooth had I the utmost of harm upon the strangers done,

"For that good reason have I to bear them hate indeed,
But that myself the warriors as friends did hither lead.
Yea, was I their safe escort into my master's land;
So may I, man most wretched, ne'er raise against them hostile

Then spake the lofty Etzel unto the margrave:
"What aid, O noble Ruediger, here at thy hands we havel
Our country hath so many already doomed to die.
We need not any other: now hast thou wrought full wrongfully."

Returned the knight so noble: "My heart he sore hath grieved,
And reproached me for high honors at thy hand received
And eke for gifts unto me by thee so freely made;
Dearly for his slander hath the base traducer paid."

When had the queen come hither and had Hkewise seen
How on the Himnish warrior his wrath had vented been.
Incontinent she mourned it, and tears bedimmed her sight
Spake she imto Ruediger: "How dost thou now our love requite,


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"That for me and thy master thou bring'st increase of woe?
Now hast thou, noble Ruediger, ever told us so,
How that thou life and honor for our sake wouldst dare.
Eke heard I thanes full many proclaim thee knight beyond compare.

"Of the oath I now remind thee that thou to me didst swear,
When counsel first thou gavest to EtzePs land to fare,
That thou wouldst truly serve me till one of us were dead:
Of that I wretched woman never stood so sore in need."

"Nor do I, royal mistress, deny that so I sware
That I for thy well-being would life and honor dare:
But eke my soul to forfeit, — that sware I not indeed.
'Tis I thy royal brothers hither to this land did lead."

Quoth she: "Bethink thee, Ruediger, of thy fidelity

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 24 of 27)