George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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— ^My heart in secret warns me — through Siegfried's doughty hand.
God give that he may never again be seen within my land."

On all sides then 'twas ordered 'fore BLriemhild and her train
Of women make free passage. Full many a valiant thane
With her unto the minster in courtly way went on.
But from her side was parted the full stately knight anon.

Then went she to the minster, and with her many a maid.
In such rich apparel Kriemhild was arrayed,
That hearty wishes many there were made in vain:
Her comely form delighted the eye of many a noble thane.

Scarce could tarry Siegfried till mass was sung the while.
And surely did Dame Fortune upon him kindly smile,
To him she was so gracious whom in his heart he bore.
Eke did he the maiden, as she full well deserved, adore.

As after mass then BLriemhild came to the minster door,
The knight his homage offered, as he had done before.
Then began to thank him the full beauteous maid.
That he her royal brothers did 'gainst their foes so nobly aid.


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"God speed thee, Sir Siegfried," spake the maiden fair,
"For thou hast well deserved that all these warriors are,
As it hath now been told me, right grateful unto thee."
Then gan he cast his glances on the Lady Kriemhild lovingly.

"True will I ever serve them," — so spake the noble thane —
"And my head shall never be laid to rest again,
Till I, if life remainpth, have their good favor won.
In sooth, my Lady Kriemhild, for thy fair grace it all is done."

Ne'er a day passed over for a twelve of happy days.
But saw they there beside him the maiden all did praise,
As she before her kinsmen to court would daily go:
It pleased the thane full highly that they did him such honor show.

Delight and great rejoicing, a mighty jubilee,
Before King Gunther's castle daily might ye see,
Without and eke within it, 'mongst keen men many a one.
By Ortwein and by Hagen great deeds and wondrous there were

Whatever was done by any, in all they ready were
To join in way right lusty, both the warriors rare:
Whereby 'mongst all the strangers they won an honored name.
And through their deeds so wondrous of Gunther's land spread far
the fame.

Who erstwhile lay sore wounded now were whole again,
And fain would share the pastime, with all the king's good men;
With shields join in the combat, and try the shaft so long.
Wherein did join them many of the merry-making throng.

To aU who joined the feasting the host in plenty bade
Supply the choicest viands: so guarded well he had
'Gainst whatever reproaches could rise from spite or spleen.
Unto his guests right friendly to go the monarch now was seen«


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He spake: "Ye thanes high-hearted, ere now ye part from me,
Accept of these my presents; for I would willingly
Repay your noble service. Despise ye not, I pray.
What now I will share with you: 'tis offered in right grateful way."

Straightway they of Denmark thus to the king replied:
"Ere now upon our journey home again we ride.
We long for lasting friendship. Thereof we knights have need,
For many a well-loved kinsman at hands of thy good thanes lies

Luedegast was recovered from all his wounds so sore,
And eke the lord of Saxons from fight was whole once more.
Some amongst their warriors left they dead behind.
Then went forth King Gunther where he Siegfried might find.

Unto the thane then spake he: "Thy counsel give, I pray.
The foes whom we hold captive fain would leave straightway,
And long for lasting friendship with all my men and me.
Now tell me, good Sir Siegfried, what here seemeth good to thee.

"What the lords bid as ransom, shall now to thee be told
Whatever five hundred horses might bear of ruddy gold.
They'd give to me right gladly, would I but let them free."
Then spake the noble Siegfried: "That were to do right foolishly.

"Thou shalt let them freely journey hence again;
And that they both hereafter shall evermore refrain
From leading hostile army against thee and thy land.
Therefor in pledge of friendship let each now give to thee the hand."

"Thy rede I'll gladly follow." Straightway forth they went.
To tiiose who offered ransom the answer then was sent,
Their gold no one desired which they would give before.
The warriors battle-weary dear friends did yearn to see once mory.


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Full many a shield all laden with treasure forth they bore:
He dealt it round unmeasured to friends in goodly store;
Each one had marks five hundred and some had more, I ween.
Therein King Gimther followed the rede of (jemot, knight full keen.


Then was a great leave-taking, as they departed thence.
The warriors all 'fore Kriemhild appeared in reverence,
And eke there where her mother Queen Ute sat near by.
Gallant thanes were never dismissed as these so graciously.

Bare were the lodging-places, when away the strangers rode.
Yet in right lordly manner there at home abode
The king with friends around him, full noble men who were.
And them now saw they daily at court before Kriemhild appear.

Eke would the gallant hero Siegfried thence depart.
The thing to gain despairing whereon was set his heart
The king was told the tidings how that he would away.
Giselher his brother did win the knight with them to stay.

"Whither, O noble Siegfried, wilt thou now from us ride?
Do as I earnest pray thee, and with these thanes abide,
As guest here witfi ELing Gunther, and live right merrily.
Here dwell fair ladies many: them will he gladly let thee see.*'

Then spake the doughty Siegfried: "Our steeds leave yet at rest,
The while from this my purpose to part will I desist.
Our shields once more take from us. Though gladly home I

Naught 'gainst the fond entreaties of Giselher avail me could."

So stayed the knight full gallant for sake of friendship there.
In sooth in ne'er another country anywhere
Had he so gladly lingered: iwis it was that he.
Now whensoe'er he wished it, Kriemhild the maiden fair could see.


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'Twas her surpassing beauty that made the knight to stay.
With many a merry pastime they whiled the time away;
But love for her oppressed him, oft-times grievously.
Whereby anon the hero a mournful death was doomed to die.

Dow Ountbet tateD to f eenlanD to JSntnbUD

Tidings unknown to any from over Rhine now come,
How winsome maids a many far yonder had their home.
Whereof the royal Gimther bethought him one to win,
And o'er the thought the monarch of full joyous mood was seen.

There was a queenly maiden seated over sea.
Like her nowhere another was ever known to be.
She was in beauty matchless, fuU mickle was her might;
Her love the prize of contest, she hurled the shaft with valiant

The stone she threw far distant, wide sprang thereafter too.
Who turned to her his fancy with intent to woo.
Three times perforce must vanquish the lady of high degree;
Failed he in but one trial, forfeited his head had he.

This same the lusty princess times untold had done.
When to a warrior gallant beside the Rhine 'twas known.
He thought to take unto him the noble maid for wife:
Thereby must heroes many since that moment lose their life.

Then spake of Rhine the master: ''I'll down imto the sea
Unto Brunhild journey, fare as 'twill with me.
For her unmeasured beauty I'll gladly risk my life,
Ready eke to lose it, if she may not be my wife."


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"I counsel thee against it," spake then Siegfried.
" So terrible in contest the queen is indeed,
Who for her love is suitor his zeal must dearly pay.
So shalt thou from the journey truly be content to stay.**

"So wiU I give thee coimsel," outspake Hagen there,
"That thou beg of Siegfried with Aee to bear
The perils that await thee: that is now my rede.
To him is known so fully what with Bruidiild will be thy need."

He ^)ake: "And wilt thou help me, noble Siegfried,
To win the lovely maiden? Do what now I plead;
And if in all her beauty she be my wedded wife.
To meet thy fullest wi^es honor will I pledge and life."

Thereto answered Siegfried, the royal Siegmund's son:
"Giv^st thou me thy sister, so shall thy will be done,
— ELriemhild the noble princess, in beauty all before.
For toils that I encounter none other meed I ask thee more."

'*That pledge I," spake then Gunther, "Siegfried, in thy hand.
And comes the lovely Brunhild thither to this land.
Thereunto thee my sister for wife I'll truly give.
That with the lovely maiden thou may'st ever jojrful live."

Oathsthe knight full noble upon th e^com pact swore, - —

WnereByTK^them came froubles and dangers alTlihe more.
Ere they the royal lady brought unto the Rhine.
Still should the warriors valiant in sorest need and sorrow pine.

^th him carried Siegfried that same mantle then,
The which with mickle trouble had won the hero keen
From a dwarf in struggle, Alberich by name.
They dressed them for the journey, the valiant thanes of lofty fame.


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And when the doughty Siegfried the sightless mantle wore,
Had he within it of strength as good a store
As other men a dozen in himself alone.
The full stately princess anon by cunning art he won.

Eke had that same mantle such wondrous properties
That any man whatever might work whatever he please
When once he had it on him, yet none could see or tell.
'Twas so that he won Brunhild; whereby him evil since befell.

"Ere we begin our journey, Siegfried, tell to me,
That we with fullest honor come unto the sea.
Shall we lead warriors with us down to Brunhild's land?
Thanes a thirty thousand straightway shall be called to hand."

"Men bring we ne'er so many," answered Siegfried then.
"So terrible in custom ever is the queen,
That all would death encounter from her angry mood.
I'll give thee better counsel, thane in valor keen and good.

"Like as knights-errant journey down the Rhine shall we.
Those now will I name liiee who with us shall be;
But four in all the company seaward shall we fare:
Thus shall we woo the lady, what fortune later be our share.

"Myself one of the company, a second thou shalt be,
Hagen be the third one — so fare we happily;
The fourth let it be Dankwart, warrior full keen.
Never thousand others dare in fight withstand us then."

"The tale I would know gladly," the king then further said,
"Ere we have parted thither — of that were I full glad —
What should we of apparel, that would befit us well,
Wear in Brunhild's presence: that shalt thou now to Gunther tell."


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** Weeds the very finest that ever might be found
They wear in every season in Brunhild's land:
So shall we rich apparel before the lady wear,
That we have not dishonor where men the tale hereafter hear."

Then spake he to the other: "Myself will go unto
My own loving mother, if I from her may sue
That her fair tendant maidens help that we be arrayed
As we may go in honor before the high majestic maid."

Then spake of Tronje Hagen with noble courtliness:
"Why wilt thou of thy mother beg such services?
Only let thy sister hear our mind and mood:
So shall for this our journey her good service be bestowed."

Then sent he to his sister that he her would see,
And with him also Siegfried. Ere that such might be.
Herself had there the fair one in rich apparel dad.
Sooth to tell, the visit but little did displease the maid.

Then also were her women decked as for them was meet
The princes both were coming: she rose from off her seat,
As doth a high-bom lady when that she did perceive.
And went the guest full noble and eke her brother to receive.

"Welcome be my brother and his companion too.
I'd know the story gladly," spake the maiden so,
"What ye now are seeking that ye are come to me:
I pray you straightway tell me how 't with you valiants twain may

Then spake the royal Gunther: "Lady, thou shalt hear:
Spite of lofty spirits have we yet a care.
To woo a maid we travel afar to lands unknown;
We should against the journey have rich apparel for our own."


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"Seat thee now, dear brother," spake the princess fair;
"Let me hear the story, who the ladies are
That ye will seek as suitors in stranger princes* land."
Both good knights the lady took in greeting by the hand.

With the twain then went she where she herself had sat,
To couches rich and costly, in sooth believe ye that.
Wrought in design full cunning of gold embroidery.
And with these fair ladies did pass the time right pleasantly.

Many tender glances and looks full many a one
Fondly knight and lady each other cast upon.
Within his heart he bore her, she was as his own life.
Anon the fairest Kriemhild was the doughty Siegfried's wife.

Then spake the mighty monarch: "Full loving sister mine,
This may we ne'er accomplish without help of thine.
Unto Brunhild's country as suitor now we fare:
'Tis fitting that 'fore ladies we dd rich apparel wear."

Then spake the royal maiden: "Brother dear to me,
In whatsoever manner my help may given be.
Of that I well assure you, ready thereto am I.
To Kriemhild 'twere a sorrow if any should the same deny.

"Of me, O noble brother, thou shalt not ask in vain:
Command in courteous manner and I will serve thee fain.
Whatever be thy pleasure, for that I'll lend my aid
And willingly I'll do it," spake the fair and winsome maid.

"It is our wish, dear sister, apparel good to wear;
That shall now directing the royal hand prepare;
And let thy maids see to it that all is done aright, .
For we from this same journey turn not aside for word of wight."


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Spake thereupon the maiden: "Now mark ye what I say:
M)rself have silks in plenty; now send us rich supply
Of stones borne on bucklers, so vesture we'll prepare."
To do it royal Gunther and Siegfried both right ready were.

**And who are your companions," further questioned she,
"Who with you apparelled now for coiut shall be?"
"I it is and Siegfried, and of my men are two,
Dankwart and Hagen, who with us to court shall go.

"Now rightly what we tell thee, mark, O sister dear:
'Tis that we four companions for four days may wear
Thrice daily change of raiment so wrought with skilful hand
That we without dishonor may take oiu: leave of Brunhild's land."

After fair leave-taking the knights departed so.
Then of her attendants thirty maids to go
Forth from her apartments Kriemhild the princess bade,
Of those that greatest cunning in such ^dlful working had.

The silks that were of Araby white as the snow in sheen.
And from the land of Zazamank like unto grass so green,
With stones of price they broidered; that made apparel rare.
Herself she cut them, Kriemhild the royal maiden debonair.

Fur linings fashioned fairly from dwellers in the sea
Beheld by people rarely, the best that e'er might be,
With silken stiiffs they covered for the knights to wear.
Now shall ye of the shining weeds full many a wonder hear.

From land of far Morocco and eke from Libya
Of silks the very finest that ever mortal saw
With any monarch's kindred, they had a goodly store.
Well showed the Lady Kriemhild that unto them good will she bore.


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Since they unto the journey had wished that so it be,
Skins of costly ermine used they lavishly,
Whereon were silken pieces black as coal inlaid.
To-day were any nobles in robes so fashioned well arrayed.

From the gold of Araby many a stone there shone.
The women long were busy before the work was done;
But all the robes were finished ere seven weeks did pass,
When also trusty armor for the warriors ready was.

When they at length were ready adown the Rhine to fare,
A ship lay waiting for them strong built with mickle care,
Which should bear them safely far down unto the sea.
The maidens rich in beauty plied their work laboriously.

Then 'twas told the warriors for them was ready there
The finely wrought apparel that they were to wear;
Just as they had wished it, so it had been made;
After that the heroes there by the Rhine no longer stayed.

To the knights departing went soon a messenger:
Would they come in person to view their new attire,
If it had been fitted short and long aright.
'Twas foimd of proper measure, and thanked those ladies fair each

And all who there beheld them they must needs confess
That in the world they never had gazed on fairer dress:
At court to wear th* apparel did therefore please them wdL
Of warriors better fiumished never could a mortal tell.

Thanks oft-times repeated were there not forgot.
Leave of parting from them the noble knights then sought:
Like thanes of noble bearing they went in courteous wise.
Then dim and wet with weeping grew thereat two shining eyes.


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She spake: *'0 dearest brother, still here thou mightest stay,
And woo another woman — that were the better way —
Where so sore endangered stood not thus thy life.
Here nearer canst thou find thee equally a high-bom wife/'

I ween their hearts did tell them what later came to pass.
They wept there all together, whatever spoken was.
The gold upon their bosoms was sullied 'neath the tears
That from their eyes in plenty fell adown amid their fears.

She spake: "O noble Siegfried, to thee commended be
Upon thy truth and goodness the brother dear to me,
That he come imscathed home from Brunhild's land.*'
That plighted the full valiant knight in Lady Kriemhild's hand.

The mighty thane gave answer: "K I my life retain.
Then shall thy cares, good Lady, all have been in vain.
All safe I'll bring him hither again unto the Rhine,
Be that to thee full sicker." To him did the fair maid incline.

Their shields of golden color were borne tmto the strand.
And all their trusty armor was ready brought to hand.
They bade their horses bring them: they would at last depart.
— ^Thereat did fairest women weep with sad foreboding heart.

Down from lofty casement looked many a winsome maid.
As ship and sail together by stirring breeze were swayed.
Upon the Rhine they foimd them, the warriors full of pride.
Then outspake ELing Gunther: "Who now is here the ship to

"That will I," spake Siegfried; "I can upon the flood
Lead you on in safety, that know ye, heroes good;
For all the water highways are known right well to me.'*
Wth joy they then departed from the land of Burgundy.


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A mighty pole then grasped he, Siegfried the doughty man,
And the ship from shore forth to shove began.
Gunther the fearless also himself took oar in hand.
The knights thus brave and worthy took departure from the land.

They carried rich provisions, thereto the best of wine
That might in any quarter be found about the Rhine.
Their chargers stood in comfort and rested by the way:
The ship it moved so lightly that naught of injury had they.

Stretched before the breezes were the great sail-ropes tight,
And twenty miles they journeyed ere did come the night,
By fair breezes favored down toward the sea.
Their toil repaid thereafter the dauntless knights full grievously.

Upon the twelfth morning, as we in story hear,
Had they by the breezes thence been carried far,
Unto Castle Isenstein and Brunhild's coimtry:
That to Siegfried only was known of all the company.

As soon as saw King Gunther so many towers rise
And eke the boundless marches stretch before his eyes,
He spake: "Tell me, friend Siegfried, is it known to thee
Whose thjey are, the castles and the majestic broad country? '*

Thereto gave answer Siegfried: "That well to me is known:
Brunhild for their mistress do land and people own
And Isenstein's firm towers, as ye have heard me say.
Ladies fair a many shall ye here behold to-day.


"And I will give you counsel: be it well imderstood
That all your words must tally — so methinks 'twere good.
K ere to-day is over our presence she command.
Must we leave pride behind us, as before Brunhild we stand*


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**When we the lovely lady 'mid her retainers see,
Then shall ye, good companions, in all your speech agree
That Gunther is my master and I his serving-man:
' *Tis thus that all he hopeth shall we in the end attain."


To do as he had bidden consented straight each one,
And spite of proudest spirit they left it not undone.
All that he wished they promised, and good it proved to be
When anon King Gunther the fair Brunhild came to see.

*'Not all to meet thy wishes do I such service swear.
But most 'tis for thy sister, Kriemhild the maiden fair;
Just as my soul imto me she is my very life,
And iain would I deserve it that she in truth become my wife."

1>ow Ountbet won JSntnbfU)

The while they thus did parley their ship did forward glide
So near unto the castle that soon the king espied
Aloft within the casements many a maiden fair to see.
That all to him were strangers thought King Gimther mournfully.

He asked then of Siegfried, who bare him company:
''Know'st thou aught of the maidens, who the same may be,
Gazing yonder downward upon us on the tide?
Howe'er is named their master, minded are they high in pride."

Then spake the valiant Siegfried: "Now thither shalt thou spy
Unseen among the ladies, then not to me deny
Which, wert thou free in choosing, thou'dst take to be thy queen."
"That will I do," then answered Gunther the valiant kni^t and


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"I see there one among them by yonder casement stand,
Clad in snow-white raiment: 'tis she my eyes demand,
So buxom she in stature, so fair she is to see.
An I were free in choosing, she it is my wife must be."

"Full well now in choosing thine eyes have guided thee:
It is the stately Brunhild the maiden fair to see.
That doth now unto her thy heart and soul compel."
All the maiden's bearing pleased the royal Gimther well.

But soon the queen commanded from casement all to go
Of those her beauteous maidens: they should not stand there so
To be gazed at by the strangers. They must obey her word.
What were the ladies doing, of that moreover have we heard.

Unto the noble strangers their beauty they would show,
A thing which lovely women are ever wont to do.
Unto the narrow casements came they crowding on.
When they spied the strangers : that they might also see, 'twas done.

But four the strangers numbered, who came unto that land.
Siegfried the doughty the king's steed led in hand:
They saw it from the casements, many a lovely maid,
And saw the willing service unto royal Gunther paid.

Then held he by the bridle for him his gallant steed,
A good and fair-formed charger, strong and of noble breed.
Until the royal Gunther into the saddle sprung.
Thus did serve him Siegfried: a service all forgot ere long.

Then his own steed he also led forth upon the shore.
Such menial service had he full seldom done before.
That he should hold the stirrup for monarch whomsoe'er.
Down gazing from the casements beheld it ladies high and fair.


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At every point according, the heroes well bedight
— ^Their dress and eke their chargers of color snowy white —
Were like unto each other, and well-wrought shield each one
Of the good knights bore with him, that brightly glimmered in the

Jewelled well was saddle and narrow martingale
As they rode so stately in front of Brunhild's Hall,
And thereon beUs were hanging of red gold shining bright.
So came they to that coimtry, as fitting was for men of might,

Vfith spears all newly polished, with swords, well-made that were
And by the stately heroes hung down unto the spur:
Such bore the valiant riders of broad and cutting blade.
The noble show did witness Brunhild the full stately maid.

With him came then Dankwart and Hagen, doughty thane.

Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 7 of 27)