George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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"Nor could prevail against him the Dwarf, howe'er he tried.
E'en as two wild lions they coursed the mountainside.
Where he the sightless mantle* from Alberich soon won.
Then Siegfried, knight undaimted, held the treasure for his own.


"Who then dared join the struggle, all slain aroimd they lay.
Then he bade the treasure to draw and bear away
Thither whence 'twas taken by the Nibelungen men.
Alberich for his valor was then appointed Chamberlain.

"An oath he had to swear him, he'd serve him as his slave;
To do aU kinds of service his willing pledge he gave" —
Thus spake of Tronje Hagen — "That has the hero done;
Might as great before him was never in a warrior known.

"Still know I more about him, that has to me been told.
A dragon, wormlike monster, slew once the hero bold.
Then in its blood he bathed him, since when his skin hath been
So hom-hard, ne'er a weapon can pierce it, as hath oft been seen.


**Let us the brave knight-errant receive so courteously

That we in nought shall merit his hate, for strong is he.

He is so keen of spirjt he must be treated fair:

He has by his own valor done many a deed of prowess rare."

♦ This is the tarnkappe, a cloak that made the wearer invisible,
and also gave him the strength of twelve men.


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The monarch spake in wonder: "In sooth thou tellest right.
Now see how proudly yonder he stands prepared for fight,
He and his thanes together, the hero wondrous keen!
To greet him we'll go thither, and let our fair intent be seen."

"That canst thou," out spake Hagen, "well in honor do.
He is of noble kindred, a high king's son thereto.
'Tis seen in all his bearing; meseems in truth, God wot.
The tale is worth the hearing that this bold knight has hither

Then spake the mighty monarch: "Be he right welcome here.
Keen is he and noble, of fame known far and near.
So shall he be fair treated in the land of Burgundy."
Down then went King Gunther, and Siegfried with his men f oimd he.

The king and his knights with him received so well the guest.
That the hearty greeting did their good will attest.
Thereat in turn the stranger in reverence bowed low,
That in their welcome to him they did such coiurtesy bestow.

"To me it is a wonder," straightway spake the host,
"From whence, O noble Siegfried, come to our land thou dost.
Or what here thou seekest at Worms upon the Rhine."
Him the stranger answered: "Put thou away all doubts of thine.

"I oft have heard the tiding within my sire's domain.
How at thy court resided — and know this would I fain —
Knights, of all the keenest, — 'tis often told me so —
That e'er a monarch boasted: now come I hither this to know.

"Thyself have I heard also high praised for knightly worth;
*Tis said a nobler monarch ne'er lived in all the earth.
Thus speak of thee the people in all the lands around.
Nor will I e'er give over imtil in this the truth I've found.


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"I too am warrior noble and bom to wear a crown;

So would I right gladly that thou of me shouldst own

That I of right am master o'er people and o'er land.

Of this shall now my honor and eke my head as pledges stand.

''And art thou then so valiant as hath to me been told,
I reck not, will he nill he thy best warrior bold,
111 wrest from thee in combat whatever thou may'st have;
Thy lands and all thy castles shall naught from change of masters

The king was seized with wonder and all his men beside,
To see the manner haughty in which the knight replied
That he was fully minded to take from him his land.
It chafed his thanes to hear it, who soon in raging mood did stand.

"How could it be my fortune," Gtmther the king outspoke,
"What my sire long ruled over in honor for his folk.
Now to lose so basely through any vaimter^s might?
In sooth 'twere nobly showing that we too merit name of knight! "

"Nowise will I give over," was the keen reply.
"If peace through thine own valor thy land cannot enjoy.
To me shall all be subject: if heritage of mine
Through thy arm's might thou winnest, of right shall all hence-
forth be thine.

"Thy land and all that mine is, at stake shall equal lie.
Whiche'er of us be victor when now our strength we try.
To him shall all be subject, the folk and eke the land."
But Hagen spake against it, and Gemot too was quick at hand.

**Such purpose have we never," Gemot then said,

''For lands to combat ever, that any warrior dead

Should lie in bloody battle. We've mighty lands and strong;

Of right they call us master, and better they to none belong."


by Google


There stood full grim and moody Gemotes friends arotrnd.
And there as well amongst them was Ortwein to be found.
He spake: "This mild peace-making doth grieve me sore at heart,
For by the doughty Siegfried attacked all undeserved thou art.

"If thou and thy two brothers yourselves to help had naught,
And if a mighty army he too had hither brought,
I trow I'd soon be able to make this man so keen
His manner now so haughty of need replace by meeker mien."

Thereat did rage full sorely the hero of Netherland:
"Never shall be measured 'gainst me in fight thy hand.
I am a mighty monarch, thou a king's serving-knight;
Of such as thou a dozen dare not withstand me in the fight."

For swords then called in anger of Metz Sir Ortwein:
Son of Hagen's sister he was, of Tronje's line.
That Hagen so long was silent did grieve the king to see.
G^mot made peace between them : a gallant knight and keen was he.

Spake he thus to Ortwein: "Curb now thy wrathful tongue.
For here the noble Siegfried hath done us no such wrong;
We yet can end the quarrel in peace, — such is my rede —
And Uve with him in friendship; that were for us a worthier deed."

Then spake the mighty Hagen: "Sad things do I forebode
For all thy train of warriors, that this knight ever rode
Unto the Rhine thus arm^d. *Twere best he stayed at home;
For from my masters never to him such wrong as this had come.**

But outspake Siegfried proudly, whose heart was ne'er dismayed:
"An't please thee not, Sir Hagen, what I now have said,
This arm shall give example whereby thou plain shalt see
How stem anon its power here in Burgundy will be."


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"Yet that myself will hinder," said then Gemot.
All his men forbade he henceforth to say aught
With such unbridled spirit to stir the stranger's ire.
Then Siegfried eke was mindful of one most stately maid and fair.

"Such strife would ill befit us," G^mot spake again;
"For though should die in battle a host of valiant men
'Twould bring us little honor and ye could profit none."
Thereto gave Siegfried answer, good King Siegmimd's noble son:

"Wherefore bides thus grim Hagen, and Ortwein tardy is

To begin the combat with all those friends of his,

Of whom he hath so many here in Burgundy?"

Answer him they durst not, for such was Gemotes stem decree.

"Thou shalt to us be welcome," outspake yoimg Giselher,
"And all thy brave companions that hither with thee fare.
Full gladly we'll attend thee, I and all friends of mine."
For the guests then bade they pour out in store of Gimther's wine.

Then spake the stately monarch: "But ask thou courteously,
And all that we call ours stands at thy service free;
So with thee our fortune we'll share in ill and good."
Thereat the noble Siegfried a little milder was of mood.

Then carefully was tended all their knightly gear.
And housed in goodly manner in sooth the strangers were,
All that followed Siegfried; they foimd a welcome rest.
In Burgundy full gladly anon was seen the noble guest.

They showed him mickle honor thereafter many a day,
And more by times a thousand than I to you could say.
His might respect did merit, ye may full well know that
Scarce a man e'er saw him who bore him longer any hate.


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And when they held their pastime, the kings with many a man.
Then was he ever foremost; whatever they began,
None there that was his equal, — so mickle was his might —
K they the stone were putting, or hurling shaft with rival knight

As is the knightly custom, before the ladies fair

To games they turned for pastime, these knights of mettle rare;

Then ever saw they gladly the hero of Netherland.

But he had fixed his fancy to win one fairest maiden's hand.

In all that they were doing he'd take a ready part.
A winsome loving maiden he bore within his heart;
Him only loved that lady, whose face he ne'er had seen.
But she full oft in secret of him spake fairest words, I ween.

And when before the castle they sped in toumameL.,
The good knights and squires, oft-times the maiden went
And gazed adown from casement, Kriemhild the princess rare.
Pastime there was none other for her that could witii this compare.

And knew he she was gazing whom in his heart he bore,
He joy enough had found him in jousting evermore.
And might he only see her, — that can I well believe —
On earth through sight none other his eyes could such delight re-

Whene'er with his companions to castle court he went,
E'en as do now the people whene'er on pleasure bent,
There stood 'fore all so graceful Siegelind's noble son,
For whom in love did languish the hearts of ladies many a one.

Eke thought he full often: "How shall it ever be.
That I the noble maiden with my own eyes may see.
Whom I do love so dearly and have for many a day?
To me is she a stranger, which sorely grieves my heart to say."


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Whene'er the kings so mighty rode o'er their broad domain,
Then of valiant warriors they took a stately train.
With them abroad rode Siegfried, which grieved those ladies sorer
— ^He too for one fair inaiden at heart a mickle burden bore.


Thus with his hosts he lingered — 'tis every tittle true —
In King Gunther's country a year completely through,
And never once the meanwhile the lovely maid did see,
Through whom such joy thereafter for him, and eke such grief,
should be.

f)ow SicQtxict> touQbt vQitb tbe Snions

Now come wondrous tidings to King Gunther's land.
By messengers brought hither from far upon command
Of knights unknown who harbored against him secret hate.
When there was heard the story, at heart in sooth the grief was

Of these I now will tell you: There was King Luedeger
From out the land of Saxons, a mighty warrior.
And eke from land of Denmark Luedegast the king:
Whene'er they rode to battle went they with mighty following.

Come were now their messengers to the land of Burgundy,
Sent forth by these foemen in proud hostility.
Then asked they of the strangers what tidings they did bring:
And when they heard it, straightway led them to coiut before the

Then spake to them King Gunther: "A welcome, on my word.
Who 'tis that send you hither, that have I not yet heard:
Now shall ye let me know it," spake the monarch keen.
Then dreaded they full sorely to see King Gunther's angry mien.


by Google


"Wilt thou, O king, permit us the tidings straight to tell
That we now have brought thee, no whit will we conceal,
But name thee both our masters who us have hither sent:
Luedegast and Luedeger, — ^to waste thy land is their intent.

"Their hate hast thou incurr^, and thou shalt know in sooth
That high enraged against thee are the monarchs both.
Their hosts they will lead hither to Worms upon the Rhine;
They^re helped by thanes full many — of this put off all doubts of

"Within weeks a dozen their march will they begin;
And if thy friends be valiant, let that full quick be seen,
To help thee keep in safety thy castles and thy land:
Full many a shield and helmet shall here be cleft by warrior's hand

"Or wilt thou with them parley, so let it quick be known,
Before their hosts so mighty of warlike men come down
To Worms upon Rhine river sad havoc here to make.
Whereby must death most certain many a gallant knight overtake."

"Bide ye now the meanwhile," the king did answer kind,
"Till I take better counsel; then shall ye know my mind.
Have I yet warriors faithful, from these 1*11 naught conceal,
But to my friends 1*11 straightway these warlike tidings strange re-

The lordly Gunther wondered thereat and troubled sore,
As he the message pondered in heart and brooded o'er.
He sent to fetch grim Hagen and others of his men.
And bade likewise in hurry to court bring hither G^mot then,

Thus at his word his -trusted advisers straight attend.
He spake: "Our land to harry foes all unknown will send
Of men a mighty army; a grievous wrong is this.
Small cause have we e'er given that they should wish us aught


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"Our swords ward such things from us," Gemot then said;
"Since but the fated dieth, so let all such lie dead.
Wherefore I'll e'er remember what honor asks of me:
Whoe'er hath hate against us shall ever here right welcome be."

Then spake the doughty Hagen : * * Methinks 'twould scarce be good ;
Luede^t and Luedeger are men of wrathful mood.
Help can we never summon, the days are now so few."
So spake the keen old warrior, " 'Twere well Siegfried the tidings
knew." ,.,^^

The messengers in the borough were harbored well the while.
And though their sight was hateful, in hospitable style
As his own guests to tend them King Gunther gave command.
Till 'mongst his friends he leamdd who by him in his need would

The king was filled with sorrow and his heart was sad.
Then saw his mournful visage a knight to help full glad.
Who could not well imagine what 'twas that grieved him so.
Then begged he of King Gunther the tale of this his grief to know.

**To me it is great wonder," said Siegfried to the king,
"How thou of late hast changed to silent sorrowing
The joyous ways that ever with us thy wont have been."
Then imto him gave answer Gunther the full stately thane:

" *Tis not to every person I can the burden say
That ever now in secret upon my heart doth weigh:
To well-tried friends and steady are told our inmost woes."
— Siegfried at first was pallid, but soon his blood like fire up-rose.


He spake unto the monarch: "To thee I've naught denied.
AU ills that now do threaten I'll help to turn aside.
And if but friends thou seekest, of them the first I'll be.
And trow I well with honor till death to serve thee faithfully."




"God speed thee well, Sir Siegfiried, for this thy purpose fair:
And though such help in earnest thy arm should render ne'er,
Yet do I joy at hearing thou art so true to me.
And hve I yet a season, right heartily repaid 'twill be.

"Know will I also let thee wherefore I sorrowing stand.
Through messengers from my foemen have tidings reached my land
That they with hosts of warriors will ride my country o'er;
Such thing to us did never thanes of any land before."

"Small cause is that for grieving," said then Siegfried;
"But calm thy troubled spirit and hearken to my rede:
Let me for thee acquire honor and vantage too.
And bid thou now assemble for service eke thy warriors true.

"And had thy mighty enemies to help them now at hand
Good thanes full thirty thousand, against them all I'd stand,
Had I but one good thousand: put all thy trust in me."
Then answered him King Gunther: "Thy help shall full requited

"Then bid for me to simmion a thousand of thy men,
Since I now have with me of all my knightly train
None but twelve knights only; then will I guard thy land.
For thee shall service faithful be done alway by Siegfried's hand.

"Herein shall help us Hagen and eke Ortwein,
Dankwart and Sindold, those trusted knights of thine;
And with us too shall journey Volker, the valiant man;
The banner he shall carry: bestow it better ne'er I can.

"Back to their native country the messengers may go;
They'll see us there right quickly, let them full surely know,
So tJiat all our casties peace imdisturbed shall have."
Then bade the king to summon his friends with all their warriors


by Google


To court returned the heralds King Luedeger had sent,
And on their journey homeward full joyfully they went.
King Gunther gave them presents that costly were and good,
And granted them safe convoy; whereat they were of merry mood.

"Tell ye my foes," spake Gunther, "when to your land ye come,
Than making journeys hither they better were at home;
But if they still be eager to make such visit here.
Unless my tiiends forsake me, cold in sooth shall be their cheer."

Then for the messengers rich presents forth they bore,
Whereof in sooth to give them Gunther had goodly store:
And they durst not refuse them whom Luedeger had sent.
Leave then they took immediate, and homeward joyfully they went

When to their native Denmark the messengers returned,
And the king Luedegast the answer too had learned.
They at the Rhine had sent him, — ^when that to him was told,
His wrath was all unboimded to have reply in words so bold.

*Twas said their warriors nimibered many a man full keen:
"There likewise among them with Gunther have we seen
Of Netherland a hero, the same that Siegfried hight."
King Luedegast was griev^, when he their words had heard aright

When throughout all Denmark the tidings quick spread o'er.
Then in hot haste they summoned helpers all the more.
So that King Luedegast, 'twixt friends from far and near.
Had knights full twenty thousand all furnished well with shield and

Then too his men did summon of Saxony Luedeger,
Till they good forty thousand, and more, had gathered there,
With whom to make the joiuney 'gainst the land of Burgundy.
— ^At home likewise the meanwhile King Gunther had sent forth


by Google


Mighty men to summon of his own and brothers twain,
Who against the foemen would join the armed train-
In haste they made them ready, for right good cause they had.
Amongst them must thereafter full many a noble thane lie dead.

To march they quick made ready. And when they thence would fare,
The banner to the valiant Volker was given to bear,
As they began the journey from Worms across the Rhine;
Strong of arm grim Hagen was chosen leader of the line.

With them there rode Sindold and eke the keen Himold
Who oft at hands of Gunther had won rewards of gold;
Dankwart, Hagen's brother, and Ortwein beside.
Who all could well with honor in train of noble warriors ride.

"King Gunther," spake then Siegfried, "stay thou here at home;
Since now thy knights so gallant with me will gladly come.
Rest thou here with fair ladies, and be of merry mood:
I trow we'll keep in safety thy land and honor as we should.

"And well will I see to it that they at home remain.
Who fain would ride against thee to Worms upon the Rhine.
Against them straight we'll journey into their land so far
That they'll be meeker minded who now such haughty vaunters

Then from the Rhine through Hesse the hosts of knights rode on
Toward the land of Saxons, where battle was anon.
With fire and sword they harried and laid the coimtry waste,
So that both the monarchs full well the woes of war did taste.

When came they to the border the train-men onward pressed.
With thought of battle-order Siegfried the thanes addressed:
"Who now shall guard our followers from danger in the rear?"
In sooth like this the Saxons in battle worsted never were.


by Google


Then said they: "On the journey the men shall guarded be
By the valiant Dankwart, — a warrior swift is he;
So shall we lose the fewer by men of Luedeger.
Let him and Ortwein with him be chosen now to guard the rear."

Spake then the valiant Siegfried: "Myself will now ride on,
And against our enemies will keep watch in the van,
Till I aright discover where they perchance may be."
The son of fair Queen Siegelind did arm him then immediately.

The folk he left to Hagen when ready to depart,
And as well to Gemot, a man of daundess heart.
Into the land of Saxons alone he rode away.
And by his hand was severed many a helmet's band that day.

He foimd a mighty army that lay athwart the plain,
Small part of which outnumbered all those in his own train:
Full forty thousand were they or more good men of might.
The hero high in spirit saw right joyfully the sight,

Then had eke a warrior from out the enemy
To guard the van gone forward, all arm^ cap-a-pie.
Him saw the noble Siegfried, and he the valiant man;
Each one straight the other to view with angiy mien began.


Who he was I'll tell you that rode his men before,

— A shield of gold all shining upon his arm he bore —

In sooth it was King Luedegast who there the van did guard.

Straightway the noble Siegfried full eagerly against him spurred.

Now singled out for combat him, too, had Luedegast.
Then full upon each other they spurred their chargers fast,
As on their shields they lowered their lances firm and tight,
Whereat the lordly monarch soon found himself in sorry plight.


by Google


After the shock their chargers bore the knights so fast

Onward past each other as flew they on the blast.

Then turned they deftly backward obedient to the rein,

As with their swords contested the grim and doughty fighters twain.

When Siegfried struck in anger far off was heard the blow,
And flew from off the helmet, as if 'twere all aglow,
The fiery sparks all crackling beneath his hand aroimd.
Each warrior in the other a foeman worth his mettle foimd.

Full many a stroke with vigor dealt eke King Luedegast,
And on each other's buckler the blows fell thick and fast.
Then thirty men discovered their master's sorry phght:
But ere they came to help him had doughty Siegifried won the fight

With three mighty gashes which he had dealt the king
Through his shining breastplate made fast with many a ring.
The sword with sharpest edges from woimds brought forth the

Whereat King Luedegast apace fell into gloomy mood.

To spare his life he begged him, his land he pledged the knight.
And told him straight moreover, that Luedegast he hight.
Then came his knights to help him, they who there had seen
How that upon the vanguard fierce fight betwixt the twain had been.

After duel ended, did thirty yet withstand
Of knights that him attended; but there the hero's hand
Kept safe his noble captive with blows of wondrous might.
And soon wrought greater ruin Siegfried the full gallant knight.

Beneath his arm of valor the thirty soon lay dead.
But one the knight left living, who thence full quickly sped
To teU abroad the story how he the others slew;
In sooth the blood-red helmet spake all the hapless tidings true.


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Then bad the men of Denmark for all their grief good cause,
When it was told them truly their king a captive was.
They told it to King Luedeger, when he to rage began
In anger all unbounded: for him had grievous harm been done.

The noble King Luedegast was led a prisoner then
By hand of mighty Siegfried back to King Gimther's men,
And placed in hands of Hagen: and when they did hear
That 'twas the king of Denmark they not a little joyful were.

He bade the men of Burgundy then bind the banners on.
"Now forward!*' Siegfried shouted, "here shall yet more be done,
An I but hve to see it; ere this day's sun depart,
Shall mourn in land of Saxons full many a goodly matron's heart

"Ye warriors from Rhineland, to follow me take heed.
And I imto the army of Luedeger will lead.
Ere we again turn backward to the land of Burgundy
Helms many hewn asimder by hand of good knights there shall be."

To horse then hastened Gemot and with him mighty men.
Volker keen in batde took up the banner then;
He was a doughty Fiddler and rode the host before.
There, too, every follower a stately suit of armor wore.

More than a thousand warriors they there had not a man.

Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 5 of 27)