George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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And oath once firmly pHghted that aught of harm to me
Should ever be avenged, and righted every ill."
Replied thereto the margrave: "Ne'er have I failed to work thy

Etzel the mighty monarch to implore him then began.
And king and queen together down knelt before their man,
Whereat the good margrave was seen in sorest plight,
And gan to mourn his station in piteous words the faithful knight.

"O woe is me most wretched," he sorrow-stricken cried,
"That forced I am my honor thus to set aside.
And bonds of faith and friendship God hath imposed on me.

Thou that rul'st in heaven! come death, I cannot yet be free.

"Whatever it be my effort to do or leave undone,

1 break both faith and honor in doing either one;
But leave I both, all people will cry me worthy scorn.

May He look down in mercy who bade me wretched man be bom !"


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Wiih many a prayer besought him the king and eke his spouse,
Wherefore was many a warrior soon doomed his life to lose
At hand of noble Ruediger, when eke did die the thane.
Now hear ye how he bore him, though filled his heart with sorest

He knew how scathe did wait him and boundless sorrowing.
And gladly had refus^ to obey the king
And eke his royal mistress. Full sorely did he fear,
That if one stranger slew he, the scorn of all the world he'd bear.

Then spake unto the monarch the full gallant thane:
**0 royal sire, whatever thou gavest, take again.
The land and every castle, that naught remain to me.
On foot a lonely pilgrim I'll wander to a far country."

Thereto replied King Etzel: "Who then gave help to me?
My land and lordly castles give I all to thee,
If on my foes, O Ruediger, revenge thou wilt provide.
A mighty monarch seated, shalt thou be by EtzePs side."

Again gave answer Ruediger: **How may that ever be?
At my own home shared they my hospitality.
Meat and drink I offered to them in friendly way.
And gave them of my bounty: how shall I seek them here to slay?

"The folk belike will fancy that I a coward be.
Ne'er hath faithful service been refused by me
Unto the noble princes and their warriors too;
That e'er I gained their friendship, now 'tis cause for me to rue.

"For spouse unto Sir Giselher gave I a daughter mine.
Nor into fairer keeping might I her resign,
Where truth were sought and honor and gentle comtesy:
Ne'er saw I thane so youthful virtuous in mind as he."


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Again gave answer Kriemhild: "O noble Ruediger,
To me and royal Etzel in mercy now give ear
For sorrows that overwhelm us. Bethink thee, I imploi^.
That monarch never any harbored so evil guests before."

Spake in tiun the margrave unto the monarch's wife:
"Ruediger requital must make to-day with life
For that thou and my master did me so true befriend.
Therefore must I perish; now must my service find an end.

**E'en this day, well know I, my castles and my land
Must surely lose their master beneath a stranger's hand.
To thee my wife and children commend I for thy care,
And with all the lorn ones that wait by Bechelaren's towers fair,*'

" Now God reward thee, Ruediger," thereat King Etzel quoth.
He and the queen together, right joyful were they both.
"To us shall all thy people full commended be;
Eke trow I by my fortune no harm shall here befall to thee.*'

For their sake he ventured soul and life to lose.
Thereat fell sore to weeping the royal EtzePs spouse.
He spake: "I must unto you my plighted word fulfil.
Alack I beloved strangers, whom to assail forbids my will."

From the king there parting ye saw him, sad of mood,
And passed unto his warriors who at small distance stood.
" Don straightway now your armor, my warriors all," quoth he.
"Alas I must I to battle with the vaHant knights of Burgundy."

Then straightway for their armor did the warriors calL
A shining helm for this one, for that a shield full tall
Soon did the nimble squires before them ready hold.
Anon came saddest tidings unto the stranger warriors bold.


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With Ruediger there saw ye five hundred men arrayed,
And noble thanes a dozen that came unto his aid,
Thinking in storm of battle to win them honor high.
In sooth but little knew they how death awaited them so nigh.

With helm on head advancing saw ye Sir Ruediger.
Swords that cut full keenly the margrave*s men did bear,
And eke in hand each carried a broad shield shining bright.
Boundless was the Fiddler's sorrow to behold the sight.

When saw the youthful Giselher his bride's sire go
Thus with fastened helmet, how might he ever know
What he therewith did piurpose if 'twere not only good?
Thereat the noble monarchs right joyous might ye see of mood.

" I joy for friends so faithful," spake Giselher the thane,
"As on our joiuney hither we for ourselves did gain.
Full great shall be our vantage that I found spouse so dear,
And high my heart rejoiceth that plighted thus to wed we were."

"Small cause I see for comfort," thereto the minstrel spake.
" When saw ye thanes so many come a truce to make
With helmet firmly fastened and bearing sword in hand?
By scathe to us will Ruediger service do for tower and laAd."

The while that thus the Fiddler had spoken to the end.
His way the noble Ruediger imto the hall did wend.
His trusty shield he rested on the ground before his feet.
Yet might he never offer his friends in kindly way to greet.

Loudly the noble margrave cried into the hall:

"Now guard you well, ye valiant Nibelungen alk

From me ye should have profit: now have ye harm from me.

But late we plighted friendship: broken now these vows must be,**


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Then quailed to hear such tidings those knights in sore distress,
For none there was among them but did joy the less
That he would batde with them for whom great love they bore.
At hand of foes ahready had they suffered travail sore.

"Now God in heaven forfend it," there Eling Gimther cried,
"That from mercy to us thou so wilt turn aside,
And the faithful friendship whereof hope had we.
I trow in sooth that never may such thing be done by thee."

" Desist therefrom I may not," the keen knight made reply,
"But now must batde with you, for vow thereto gave I.
"Now guard you, gallant warriors, as fear ye life to lose:
From plighted vow release me will nevermore King EtzePs spouse."

"Too late thou tumst against us," spake King Gimther there.
"Now might (rod requite thee, O noble Ruediger,
For the faith and friendship thou didst on us bestow.
If thou a heart more kindly even to the end woxildst show.

"We'd ever make requital for all that thou didst give, —
I and all my kinsmen, wouldst thou but let us live, —
For thy gifts full stately, as faithfully thou here
To EtzePs land didst lead us: know that, O noble Ruediger."

"To me what pleasure were it," Ruediger did say,
"With full hand of my treasure unto you to weigh
And with a mind right willing as was my hope to dol
Thus might no man reproach me with lack of courtesy to you."

"Turn yet, O noble Ruediger " Gemot spake again,
"For in so gradous manner did never entertain
Any host the stranger, as we were served by thee;
And live we yet a little, shalt thou well requited be."


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"O would to God, full noble Gemot," spake Ruediger,
"That ye were at Rhine river and that dead I were
With somewhat saved of honor, since I must be your foe!
Upon good knights was never wrought by friends more bitter woe."

"Now God requite thee, Ruediger," Gemot gave reply,
"For gifts so fair bestowed. I me to see thee die.
For that in thee shall perish knight of so gentle mind.
Here thy sword I carry, that gav'st thou me in friendship kind.

"It never yet hath failed me in this our sorest need.
And 'neath its cutting edges many a knight lies dead.
'Tis strong and bright of lustre, amning wrought and well.
I ween, whatever was given by knight it doth in worth excel.

"An wilt thou not give over upon us here to fall.
And if one friend thou slayest here yet within this hall.
With this same sword thou gavest, I'll take from thee thy life.
I sorrow for thee Ruediger, and eke thy fair and stately wife."

"Would God but give. Sir Gemot, that such thing might be,
That thou thy will completely here fulfilled mightst see.
And of thy friends not any here his life should lose!
Yea, shalt thou live to comfort both my daughter and my spouse."

Then out spake of Burgundy the son of Ute fair:
"How dost thou so. Sir Ruediger? AH that with me are
To thee are well dispose. Thou dost an evil thing.
And wilt thine own fair daughter to widowhood too early bring.

"If thou with arm6d warriors wilt thus assail me here,
In what unfirieiKlly manner thou makest to appear
How that in thee I trusted beyond all men beside,
When thy fairest daughter erstwhile I won to be my bride."




"Thy good faith remember, O Prince of virtue rare,
K Grod from hence do bring thee," — so spake Ruediger:
"Forsake thou not the maiden when bereft of me,
But rather grant thy goodness be dealt to her more graciously."

"That would I do full fairly," spake Giselher again.
" But if my lofty kinsmen, who yet do here remain.
Beneath thy hand shall perish, severed then must be
The friendship true I cherish eke for thy daughter and for thee."

"Then God to us give mercy," the knight full valiant spake.
Their shields in hand then took Ihey, as who perforce would make
Their passage to the strangers into Kriemhild*s hall.
Adown the stair full loudly did Hagen, knight of Tronje, call:

"Tarry yet a litde, O noble Ruediger,

For further would we parley," — thus might ye Hagen hear —
"I and my royal masters, as presseth sorest need.
What might it boot to Etzel that we strangers all lay dead.

** Great is here my trouble," Hagen did declare;
"The shield that Lady Gotelinde gave to me to bear
Hath now been hewn asunder by Him-men in my hand.
With friendly thought I bore it hither into Etzel*s land.

"Would that God in heaven might grant in kindliness.
That I a shield so trusty did for my own possess
As in thy hand thou bearest, O noble Ruwiiger!
In battle-storm then need I never hauberk more to wear.'*

"Full glad I'd prove my friendship to thee with mine own shidd.
Dared I the same to offer before Lady Kriemhild.
But take it, natheless, Hagen, and bear it in thy hand.
Would that thou mightst take it again unto Burgundian land I "


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When with mind so willing he offered him his shieldi
Saw ye how eyes full many with scalding tears were filled;
For the last gift was it that was offered e*er
Unto any warrior by Bechelaren's margrave, Ruediger.

How grim soe'er was Hagen and stem soe'er of mind,
That gift to pity moved him that there the chieftain kind,
So near his latest moment, did on him bestow.
From eyes of many another began likewise the tears to flow.

"Now God in heaven requite thee, O noble Ruediger!
Like unto thee none other warrior was there e'er,
Unto knights all friendless so bounteously to give.
God grant in his mercy thy virtue evermore to live.

"Woe's me to hear such tiding," Hagen did declare.
"Such load of grief abiding already do we bear.
If we with friends must struggle, to God our plaint must be."
Thereto replied the margrave: "'Tis cause of sorrow sore to me."

"To pay thee for thy favor, O noble Ruediger,
Howe'er these lofty warriors themselves against thee bear,
Yet never thee in combat here shall touch my hand,
E'en though complete thou slayest them &om out Burgundian land."

Thereat the lofty Ruediger 'fore him did courteous bend.
On all sides was lamenting that no man might end
These so great heart-sorrows that sorely they must bear.
The father of all virtue feU with noble Ruediger.

Then eke the minstrel Volker from hall down glancing said:
"Since Hagen thus, my comrade, peace with thee hatji made.
Lasting truce thou likewise receivest from my hand.
Well hast thou deserved it as fared we hither to this land.


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"Thou, O noble margrave, my messenger shalt be.
These arm-bands ruddy golden thy lady gave to me,
That here at this high festival I the same should wear.
Now mayst thyself behold them and of my faith a witness bear."

"Would God but grant," spake Ruedlger, "who ruleth high in

That to thee by my lady might further gift be given!
I'll gladly tell thy tidings to spouse full dear to me.
An I but live to see her: from doubt thereof thou mayst be free."

When thus his word was given, his shield raised Ruediger.
Nigh to madness driven bode he no longer there,
But ran upon the strangers like to a valiant knight.
Many a blow full rapid smote the margrave in his might

Volker and Hagen made way before the thane,
As before had promised to him the warriors twain.
Yet found he by the portal so many a valiant man
That Ruediger the combat with mickle boding sore began*

Gunther and Gremot with murderous intent
Let him pass the portal, as knights on victory bent
Backward yielded Giselher, with sorrow all imdone;
He hoped to live yet longer, and therefore Ruediger would shun.

Straight upon their enemies the margrave's warriors sprung,
And following their master was seen a valiant throng.
Swords with cutting edges did they in strong arm wield,
'Neath which full many a helmet was deft, and many a fair*
wrought shield.

The weary strangers likewise smote many a whirring slash,
Wherefrom the men of Bechelaren felt deep and long the gash
Through the shining ring-mail e'en to their life's core.
In storm of battle wrought they glorious deeds a many more.


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All his trusty followers now eke had gained the hall,
On whom Volker and Hagen did soon in fury fall,
And mercy unto no man save Ruediger they showed.
The blood adown through helmets, where smote their swords, full
plenteous flowed.

How right furiously were swords 'gainst armor driven 1
On shields the well-wrought moimtings from their wards were

And fell their jewelled facings all scattered in the blood.
Ne'er again might warriors show in flght so grim a mood.

The lord of Bechelaren through foemen cut his way.
As doth each doughty warrior in fight his might display.
On that day did Ruediger show full plain that he
A hero was imdaunted, full bold and eke full praiseworthy.

Stood there two knights right gallant, Gimther and Gemot,
And in the storm of batde to death full many smote.
Eke Giselher and Dankwart, never aught redced they
How many a lusty fighter saw 'neath their hand his latest day.

Full well did show him Ruediger a knight of mettle true,
Doughty in goodly armor. What warriors there he slew!
Beheld it a Burgundian, and cause for wrath was there.
Not longer now was distant the death of noble Ruediger.

Gemot, knight full doughty, addressed the margrave then.
Thus speaking to the hero: "Wilt thou of all my men
Living leave not any, O noble Ruediger?
That gives me grief immeasured; the sight I may not longer bear.

"Now must thy gift unto me prove thy sorest bane.
Since of my friends so many thou from me hast ta'en.
Now hither tum to front me, thou bold and noble knight:
As far as might may bear me I trust to pay thy gift aright.'*


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Ere that full the margrave might make his way to him,
Must rings of glancing mail-coats with flowing blood grow dim.
Then sprang upon each other those knights on honor bent,
And each from woimds deep cutting sought to keep him all unshent

Their swords cut so keenly that might withstand them nau^t
Wth mighty arm Sir Ruediger Gemot then smote
Through the flint-hard helmet, that downward flowed the blood.
Therefor repaid him quickly the knight of keen and valiant mood.

The gift he had of Ruediger high in hand he swung,
And thovigh to death was woimded he smote with blow so strong
That the good shield was cloven and welded helmet through.
The spouse of fair Gotelinde, then his latest breath he drew.

In sooth so sad requital found rich bounty ne'er.
Slain fell they both together, Gemot and Ruediger,
Alike in storm of battle, each by the other's hand.
Sore was the wrath of Hagen when he the harm did understand.

Cried there the lord of Tronje: "Great is here our loss.
In death of these two heroes such scathe befalleth us,
Wherefor land and people shall repine for aye.
The warriors of Ruediger must now to us the forfeit pay."

"Alack for this my brother, snatched by death this day!
What host of woes imbidden encompass me alway!
Eke must I moan it ever that noble Ruediger fell.
Great is the scathe to both sides and great the sorrowing as well"

When then beheld Sir Giselher his lover's sire dead,
Must all that with him followed suffer direst need.
There Death was busy seeking to gather in his train,
And of the men of Bechelaren came forth not one alive agam.


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GuQther and Giselher and with them Hagen too,
Dankwart and Volker, doughty thanes and true,
Went where found they lying the two warriors slain,
Nor at the sight the heroes might their grief and tears restrain.

"Death robbeth us right sorely," spake young Sir Giselher:
"Yet now give o'er yom: weeping and let us seek the air,
That the ringed mail grow cooler on us storm-weary men.
God in sooth will grant us not longer here to live, I ween."

Here sitting, and there leaning was seen full many a thane,
Resting once more from combat, the while that all lay slain
The followers of Ruediger. Hushed was the battle's din.
At length grew angry Etzel, that stillness was so long within.

** Alack for such a service!" spake the monarch's wife;
"For never 'tis so faithful that o\ir foes with life
Must to us make payment at Ruediger's hand.
He thinks in sooth to lead them again imto Burgundian land.

"What boots it, royal Etzel, that we did ever share
With him what he desired? The knight doth evil there.
He that should avenge us, the same a truce doth make."
Thereto the stately warrior Volker in answer spake:

"Alas 'tis no such case here, O high and royal dame.
Dared I but give the lie to one of thy lofty name,
Thou hast in fiendish manner Ruediger belied.
He and aU his warriors have laid all thoughts of truce aside.

"Wth so good heart obeyed he his royal master's will
That he and all his followers here in death lie still.
Look now about thee, ELriemhild, who may thy bests attend.
Ruediger the hero hath served thee faithfxil to the end.


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"Wilt thou my words believe not, to thee shall clear be shown."
To cause her heart a sorrow, there the thing was done.
Wound-gashed they bore the hero where him the king might see.
Unto the thanes of Etzel ne'er might so great sorrow be.

When did they the margrave a corse on bier behold,
By chronicler might never written be nor told
All the wild lamenting of women and of men.
As with grief all stricken out-poured they their hearts' sorrow then.

Royal EtzePs sorrow there did know no boimd.
Like to the voice of lion echoing rang the soimd
Of the king's loud weeping, wherein the queen had share.
Unmeasured they lamented the death of noble Ruediger.

1)0W all Sir Dietricb'a l^nidbta were Slain

On all sides so great sorrow heard ye there around,
That palace and high tower did from the wail resotmd.
Of Bern a man of Dietrich eke the same did hear.
And speedily he hastened the tidings to his lord to bear.

Spake he unto his master: "Sir Dietrich give me ear.
What yet hath been my fortune, never did I hear
Lamenting past all measure, as at this hour hath been.
Scathe unto King Etzel himself hath happen^, I ween.

"Eke how might they ever all show such dire need?
The king himself or Kriemhild, one of them Heth dead.
By the doughty strangers for sake of vengeance slain.
Unmeasured is the weeping of full many a stately thane."


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Then spake of Bern Sir Dietrich: "Ye men to me full dear,
Now haste ye not unduly. The deeds perform^ here
By the stranger warriors show sore necessity,
liiat peace with them I blighted, let it now their profit be."

Then spake the valiant Wolfhart: "Thither will I run
To make question of it what they now have done,
And straight will tidings bring thee, master full dear to me,
When yonder I inform me, whence may so great lamenting be."

Answer gave Sir Dietrich: "Fear they hostility,
The while uncivil questioning of their deed there be.
Lightly are stirred to anger good warriors o'er the thing.
Yea, 'tis my pleasure, Wolfhart, thou sparest them all such question-

Helfrich he then commanded thither with speed to go
That from men of Etzel he might truly know.
Or from the strangers straightway, what thing there had been.
As that, so sore lamenting of people ne'er before was seen.

Questioned then the messenger : " What hath here been wrought ? "
Answered one among them: "Complete is come to naught
What of joy we cherished here in Hunnish land.
Slain here lieth Ruediger, fallen 'neath Burgundian hand

"Of them that entered with him not one doth longer live."
Naught might ever happen Helfrich more to grieve.
Nor ever told he tidings so ruefully before.
Weeping sore the message unto Dietrich then he bore.

"What the news thou bringst us?" Dietrich spake once more;
"Yet, O doughty Helfrich, wherefore dost weep so sore?"
Answered the noble warrior: "With right may I complain:
Yonder faithful Ruediger lieth by the Burgundians slain."


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The lord of Bern gave answer: " God let not such thing bet
That were a mighty vengeance, and eke the Devil's glee.
Whereby had ever Ruediger from them deserved such ill?
Well know I to the strang^^ was ever well disposed his wilL"

Thereto gave answer Wolfhart: "In sooth have they this done.
Therefor their lives shall forfeit surely, every one.
And make we not requital, our shame for aye it were;
Full manifold our service from hand of noble Ruediger."

Then bade the lord of Amelungen the case more full to leanu
He sat within a casement and did full sadly mourn.
He prayed then that Hildebrand unto the strangers go,
That he from their own telling of the case complete might know.

The warrior keen in battle. Master Hildebrand,
Neither shield nor weapon bore he in his hand,
But would in chivalrous manner unto the strangers go.
His sister's son reviled him that he would ventiure thxis to do.

Spake in anger Wolfhart: "Goest thou all weaponless.
Must I of such action free my thought confess:
Thou shalt in shameful fashion hither come again;
Goest thou aim6d thither, will all from harm to Uiee refrain.'*

So armed himself the old man at counsel of the young.
Ere he was ware of it, into their armor sprung
All of Dietrich's warriors and stood with sword in hand.
Grieved he was, and gladly had turned them Master Hildebrand.

He asked them whither would they. "Thee company we'll bear.
So may, perchance, less willing Hagen of Tronje dare,
As so oft his custom, to give thee mocking word."
The thane his leave did grant them at last when he their speech had


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Keen Volker saw approaching, in armor all arrayed,
Of Bern the gallant warriors that Dietrich's word obeyed,
With sword at girdle hanging and bearing shield in hand.
Straight he told the tidings to his masters of Burgundian land.

Spake the doughty Fiddler: "Yonder see I come near
The warriors of Dietrich all dad in battle gear
And decked their heads with helmets, as if our harm they mean.
For us knights here homeless approacheth evil end, I ween."

Meanwhile was come anigh them Master Hildebrand.

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Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 25 of 27)