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George Henry Needler.

The Nibelungenlied online

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The story further telleth how that the heroes twain
Of color black as raven rich attire wore.
And each a broad and mighty shield of rich adornment bore.

403
Rich stones from India's country every eye could see,
Impending on their tunics, sparkle full brilliantly.
Their vessel by the river they left without a guard.
As thus the valiant heroes rode undaunted castleward.

404
Six and fourscore towers without they saw rise tall,
Three spacious palaces and moulded well a hall
All wrought of precious marble green as blade of grass.
Wherein the royal Brunhild with company of fair ladies was.

40s
The castle doors imbolted were flung open wide
As out toward them the men of Brunhild hied
And received the strangers into their Lady's land.
Their steeds they bade take over, and also shield from out the hand.



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62 SEVENTH ADVENTURE

406
Then spake a man-in-waiting: "Give o'er the sword each thane,
And eke the shining armor." — " Good friend, thou ask'st in vain,"
Spake of Tronje Hagen; "the same we'd rather wear."
Then gan straightway Siegfried the country's custom to declare.

407
" 'Tis wont within this castle, — of that be now aware —
That never any stranger weapons here shall bear.
Now let them hence be carried: well dost thou as I say."
In this did full unwilling Hagen, Gunther's man, obey.

408
They bade the strangers welcome with drink and fitting rest
Soon might you see on all sides full many knights the best
In princely weeds apparelled to their reception go:
Yet did they mickle gazing who would the keen new-comers know.

409
Then unto Lady Brunhild the tidings strange were brought
How that imknown warriors now her land had sought,
In stately apparel come sailing o'er the sea.
The maiden fair and stately gave question how the same might be.

410
"Now shall ye straight inform me," spake she presently,
"Who so unfamiliar these warrior knights may be.
That within my castle thus so lordly stand,
And for whose sake the heroes have hither journeyed to my land.''

411
Then spake to her a servant: "Lady, I well can say
Of them I've ne'er seen any before this present day:
Be it not that one among them is Kke unto Siegfried.
Him give a goodly welcome: so is to thee my loyal rede.

412
"The next of the companions he is a worthy knight:
If that were in his power he well were king of might
O'er wide domains of princes, the which might reach his hand.
Now see him by the others so right majestically stand.



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HOW GUNTHER WON BRUNHILD 63

413
**The third of the companions, that he's a man of spleen,
— ^Withal of fair-formed body, know thou, stately Queen, —
Do tell his rapid glances that dart so free from him.
He is in all his thinking a man, I ween, of mood full grim.

414
"The youngest one among them he is a worthy knight:
As modest as a maiden, I see the thane of might
Goodly in his bearing standing so fair to see,
We all might fear if any affront to him should offered be.

415
"How blithe soe'er his manner, how fair soe'er is he,
Well could he cause of sorrow to stately woman be.
If he gan show his anger. In him may well be seen
He is in knightly virtues a thane of valor bold and keen."

416
Then spake the queen in answer: "Bring now my robes to hand.
And is the mighty Siegfried come unto this land.
For love of me brought thither, he pays it with his life.
I fear him not so sorely that I e'er become his wife."

417
So was fair Brunhild straightway well arrayed.
Then went with her thither full many a beauteous maid,
A hundred good or over, bedight right merrily.
The full beauteous maidens would those stranger warriors see.

418
And with them went the warriors there of Isenland,
The knights attending Brunhild, who bore sword in hand.
Five himdred men or over. Scarce heart the strangers kept
As those knights brave and seemly down from out the saddle leapt.

419
When the royal lady Siegfried espied,
Now mote ye willing listen what there the maiden said.
"Welcome be thou, Siegfried, hither unto this land.
WTiat meaneth this thy journey, gladly might I imderstand."



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64 SEVENTH ADVENTURE

420
"Full mickle do I thank thee, my Lady, high Brunhild,
That thou art pleased to greet me, noble Princess mild,
Before this knight so noble, who stands before me here:
For he is my master, whom first to honor fitting were.

421
"Bom is he of Rhineland: what need I say more?
For thee 'tis highest favor that we do hither fare.
Thee will he gladly marry, an bring that whatsoe'er.
Betimes shalt thou bethink thee: my master will thee never spare.

422
"For his name is Gunther and he a mighty king.
If he thy love hath won him, more wants he not a thing.
In sooth the king so noble hath bade me hither fare:
And gladly had I left it, might I to thwart his wishes dare."

423
She spake: "Is he thy master and thou his vassal art,
Some games to him I offer, and dare he there take part,
And comes he forth the victor, so am I then his wife:
And be it I that conquer, then shall ye forfeit each his life."

424
Then spake of Tronje Hagen: "Lady, let us see
Thy games so fraught with peril. Before should yield to thee
Gunther my master, that well were something rare.
He trows he yet is able to win a maid so passing fair."

425
"Then shall ye try stone-putting and follow up the cast,
And the spear hurl with me. Do ye naught here in haste.
For well may ye pay forfeit with honor eke and Ufe:
Bethink ye thus full caJmly," spake she whom Gimther would for
wife.

426
Siegfried the valiant stepped unto the king.
And bade him speak out freely his thoughts upon this thing
Unto the queen so wayward, he might have fearless heart
"For to well protect thee from her do I know an art."



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HOW GUNTHER WON BRUNHILD 65

427
Then spake the royal Gimther: "Now offer, stately Queen,
What play soe'er thou mayest. And harder had it been,
Yet would I all have ventured for all thy beauty's sake.
My head Til willing forfeit or thyself my wife 1*11 make."

428
When therefore the Queen Brunhild heard how the matter stood
The play she begged to hasten, as indeed she should.
She bade her servants fetch her therefor apparel trim,
A mail-coat ruddy golden and shield well wrought from boss to rim.

429
A battle-tunic silken the maid upon her drew,
That in ne'er a contest weapon pierced through.
Of skins from land of Libya, and structure rare and fine;
And brilliant bands embroidered might you see upon it shine.

430
Meanwhile were the strangers jibed with many a threat;
Dankwart and Hagen, their hearts began to beat.
How here the king should prosper were they of doubtful mood,
Thinking, "This our joximey shall bring us wanderers naught of
good."

431
The while did also Siegfried the thane beyond compare,
Before 'twas marked by any, imto the ship repair,
Where he found his sightless mantle * that did hidden he.
And slipped into 't full deftly: so was he veiled from every eye.

432
Thither back he hied him and found great company
About the queen who ordered what the high play should be.
There went he all in secret; so cunningly 'twas done.
Of all around were standing perceived him never any one.

433
The ring it was appointed wherein the play should be
'Fore many a keen warrior who the same should see.
More than seven himdred were seen their weapons bear,
That whoso were the victor they might sure the same declare.

♦ See strophe 97, note. 'S]



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66 SEVENTH ADVENTURE

434
Thither was come Brunhild; all arm^ she did stand
Like as she were to combat for many a royal land;
Upon her silken tunic were gold bars many a one,
And glowing 'mid the armor her flesh of winsome color shone.

435
Then followed her attendants and with them thither brought
At once a shield full stately, of pure red gold 'twas wrought.
With steel-hard bands for facings, full mickle 'twas and broad,
Wherewith in the contest would guard herself the lovely maid.

436
To hold the shield securely a well-wrought band there was,
Whereon lay precious jewels green as blade of grass.
Full many a ray their lustre shot roimd against the gold.
He were a man full valiant whom this high dame should worthy hold.

437
The shield was 'neath the boss-point, as to us is said.
Good three spans in thickness, which should bear the maid.
Of steel 'twas wrought so richly and had of gold such share,
That chamberlain and fellows three the same scarce could bear.

438
When the doughty Hagen the shield saw thither brought.
Spake the knight of Tronje, and savage was his thought:
"Where art thou now. King Gunther? Shall we thus lose our lifel
Whom here thou seekst for lover, she is the very Devil's wife.'*

439
List more of her apparel; she had a goodly store.
Of silk of Azagang a tunic made she wore.
All bedight full richly; amid its color shone
Forth from the queen it covered, full many a sparkling predous
stone.

440
Then brought they for the lady, large and heavy there.
As she was wont to hurl it, a sharply-pointed spear;
Strong and massive was it, huge and broad as well.
And at both its edges it cut with devastation fell.



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HOW GUNTHER WON BRUNHILD 67

441
To know the spear was heavy list ye wonders more:
Three spears of common measure 'twould make, and somethmg o*er.
Of Brunhild's attendants three scarce the same could bear.
The heart of noble Gunther thereat began to fill with fear.

442
Wthin his soul he thought him: "What pickle am I in?
Of hell the very Devil, how might he save his skin?
Might I at home in Burgundy safe and living be,
Should she for many a season from proffered love of mine be free."

443
Then spake Hagen's brother the valiant Dankwart:
"In truth this royal journey doth sorely grieve my heart.
We passed for good knights one time: what caitiff's death, if we
Here in far-off coimtry a woman's game are doomed to bel

444
"It rueth me full sorely that I came to this land.
And had my brother Hagen his good sword in hand,
And had I mine to help him, a bit more gently then,
A little tame of spirit, might show themselves all Brunhild's mea

445
"And know it of a certain to lord it thus they'd cease;
E'en though oaths a thousand I'd sworn to keep the peace,
Before that I'd see perish my dear lord shamefully.
Amid the souls departed this fair maid herself should be."

446
"Well should we unhampered quit at last this land,"
Spake his brother Hagen, "did we in armor stand.
Such as we need for battle, and bore we broadswords good:
'Twould be a little softened, this doughty lady's haughty mood."

447
Well heard the noble maiden what the warriors spoke.
Back athwart her shoulder she sent a smiling look:
"Now thinks he him so valiant, so let them arm^d stand;
Their full keen-edged broadswords give the warriors each in hand."



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68 SEVENTH ADVENTURE

448
When they their swords received, as the maiden said,
The full valiant Dankwart with joy his face grew red.
"Now play they what them pleaseth," cried the warrior brave;
"Gunther is yet a freeman, since now in hand good swords we
have."

J449
The royal Brunhild's prowess with terror was it shown.
Into the ring they bore her in sooth a ponderous stone.
Great and all unwieldy, huge it was and round:
And scarce good knights a dozen together raised it from the ground.

450
To put this was her custom after trial with the spear.
Thereat the men of Burgundy began to quake with fear.
"Alack! Alack!" quoth Hagen, "what seeks the king for bride?
Beneath in hell 'twere better the Devil had her by his sidel"

451
On her white arms the flowing sleeves she backward flung,
Then with grasp of power the shield in hand she swung,
And spear poised high above her. So did the contest start.
Gunther and Siegfried saw Brunhild's ire with falling heart

452
And were it not that Siegfried a ready help did bring,
Surely then had perished beneath her hand the king.
There went he imperceiv^d and the king's hand did touch.
Gunther at his cunning artifice was troubled much.

453
"What is that hath touched me?" thought the monarch keen.
Then gazed he all around him: none was there to be seen.
A voice spake: "Siegfried is it, a friend that holds thee dear.
Before this royal maiden shall thy heart be free from fear.

454
"Thy shield in hand now give me and leave it me to bear,
And do thou rightly mark thee what thou now shalt hear.
Now make thyself the motions, — the power leave to me."
When he did know him rightly, the monarch's heart was filled with



glee.



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HOW GUNTHER WON BRUNHILD 69

455
"Now secret keep my cunning, let none e'er know the same:
Then shall the royal maiden here find but little game
Of glory to win from thee, as most to her is dear.
Behold now how the lady stands before thee void of fear."

456
The spear the stately maiden with might and main did wield,
And huge and broad she hurled it upon the new-made shield,
That on his arm did carry the son of Siegelind;
From the steel the sparks flew hissing as if were blowing fierce the
wind.

457
The mighty spear sharp-pointed full through the shield did crash,
That ye from off the mail-rings might see the lightning flash.
Beneath its force they stumbled, did both those men of might;
But for the sightless mantle they both were killed there outright

458
From mouth of the full doughty Siegfried burst the blood.
Full soon he yet recovered; then seized the warrior good
The spear that from her strong arm thus his shield had rent,
And back with force as came it the hand of doughty Siegfried sent.

459
He thought: "To pierce the maiden were but small glory earned,"
And so the spear's sharp edges backward pointing tiuned;
Against her mail-clad body he made the shaft to bound.
And with such might he sent it full loud her armor did resound.

460
The sparks as if in stormwind from mail-rings flew aroimd.
So mightily did hurl it the son of Siegmund
That she with all her power could not the shaft withstand.
In sooth it ne'er was speeded so swiftly by King Gimther's hand.

461
But to her feet full sudden had sprung Brunhild fair.
"A shot, O noble Gimther, befitting hero rare."
She weened himself had done it, and all unaided he,
Nor wot she one far mightier was thither come so secretly.



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70 SEVENTH ADVENTURE

462
Then did she go full sudden, wrathful was her mood,
A stone full high she heaved the noble maiden good, ^ ^
And the same far from her with might and main she swung:
Her armor's mail-rings jingled as she herself thereafter sprung.

463
The stone, when it had fallen, lay fathoms twelve from there,
And yet did spring beyond it herself the maiden fair.
Then where the stone was lying thither Siegfried went:
Gunther feigned to move it, but by another arm 'twas sent.

464
A valiant man was Siegfried full powerful and tall.
The stone then cast he farther, and farther sprang withal.
From those his arts so cunning had he of strength such store
That as he leaped he likewise the weight of royal Gunther bore.

465
And when the leap was ended and fallen was the stone,
Then saw they ne'er another but Gunther alone.
Brunhild the fair maiden, red grew she in wrath:
Siegfried yet had warded from royal Gunther surest death.

466
Unto her attendants she spake in loud command,
When she saw 'cross the circle the king unvanquished stand.
"Come hither quick, my kinsmen, and ye that wait on me;
Henceforth unto Gimther shall all be pledged faithfully."

467
Then laid the knights full valiant their swords from out the hand;
At fedt 'fore mighty Gunther from Burgundian land
Offered himself in service full many a valiant knight.
They weened that he had conquered in trial by his proper might.

468
He gave her loving greeting, right courteous was he.
Then by the hand she took him, the maiden praiseworthy,
In pledge that all around him was his to have and hold.
Whereat rejoiced Hagen the warrior valorous and bold.



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HOW GUNTHER WON BRUNHILD 71

469
Into the spacious palace with her thence to go
Bade she the noble monarch. When they had done so,
Then still greater honors unto the knight were shown.
Dankwart and Hagen, right willingly they saw it done.

470
Siegfried the valiant, by no means was he slow,
His sightless mantle did he away in safety stow.
Then went he again thither where many a lady sat.
He spake unto the monarch — full cimningly was done all that:

471
"Why bidest thus, my master? Wilt not the play begin.
To which so oft hath challenged thee the noble queen?
Let us soon have example what may the trial be."
As knew he naught about it, did the knight thus cimningly.

472
Then spake the queen imto him: "How hath this ever been.
That of the play, Sir Siegfried, nothing thou hast seen,
Wherein hath been the victor Gunther with mighty hand?"
Thereto gave answer Hagen a grim knight of Burgundian land.

473
Spake he: "There dost thou, Lady, think ill without a cause:
By the ship down yonder the noble Siegfried was,
The while the lord of Rhineland in play did vanquish thee:
Thus knows he nothing of it," spake Gunther's warrior courteously.

474
"A joy to me these tidings," the doughty Siegfried spoke,
"That so thy haughty spirit is brought beneath the yoke,
And that yet one there liveth master to be of thine.
Now shalt thou, noble maiden, us follow thither to the Rhine."

475
Then ^ake the maiden shapely: "It may not yet be so.
All my men and kindred first the same must know.
In sooth not all so lightly can I quit my home.
First must I bid my trusty warriors that they hither come."



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72 SEVENTH ADVENTURE

476
Then bade she messengers quickly forth to ride,
And summoned in her kindred and men from every side.
Without delay she prayed them to come to Isenstein,
And bade them all be given fit apparel rare and fine.

477
Then might ye see daily 'twixt mom and eventide
Unto Brunhild's castle many a knight to ride.
"God wot, God wot," quoth Hagen, "we do an evil thing,
To tarry here while Brunhild doth thus her men together bring.

478
"If now into this coimtry their good men they've brought
— ^What thing the queen intendeth thereof know we naught:
Behke her wrath ariseth, and we are men forlorn —
Then to be our ruin were the noble maiden bom."

479
Then spake the doughty Siegfried: " That matter leave to me.
Whereof thou now art fearful, I'll never let it be.
Ready help I'll bring thee hither imto this land,
ELnights of whom thou wotst not till now I'll bring, a chosen band.

480
"Of me shalt thou ask not: from hence will I fare.
May God of thy good honor meanwhile have a care.
I come again right quickly with a thousand men for thee,
The very best of warriors hitherto are known to me."

481
"Then tarry not unduly," thus the monarch said.
"Glad we are full fairly of this thy timely aid."
He spake: "Till I come to thee full short shall be my stay.
That thou thyself hast sent me shalt thou unto Brunhild say.^



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HOW SIEGFRIED FARED TO HIS KNIGHTS 73

EIGHTH ADVENTURE
Dow Sicetticb tarc^ to bid fcnf0bt0» tbe flibelunflett

482
Thence went then Siegfried out through the castle door
In his sightless mantle to a boat upon the shore.
As Siegmund's son doth board it him no mortal sees;
And quickly off he steers it as were it wafted by the breeze.

483
No one saw the boatman, yet rapid was the flight
Of the boat forth speeding driven by Siegfried's might.
They weened that did speed it a swiftly blowing wind:
No, 'twas Siegfried sped it, the son of fairest Siegelind.

484
In that one day-time and the following night
Came he to a country by dint of mickle might,
Long miles a hundred distant, and something more than this:
The ^nbellmgen were its people where the mighty hoard was his.

48s
Alone did fare the hero unto an island vast
Whereon the boat full quickly the gallant knight made fast
Of a castle then bethought him high upon a hill,
And there a lodging sought him, as wa>'wom men are wont to stilL

486
Then came he to the portals that locked before him stood.
They guarded well their honor as people ever should.
At the door he gan a-knocking, for all unknown was he.
But full well 'twas guarded, and within it he did see

487
A giant who the castle did guard with watchful eye,
And near him did at aU times his good weapons lie.
Quoth he: "Who now that knocketh at the door in such strange

wise?"
Without the valiant Siegfried did cunningly his voice disguise.



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74 EIGHTH ADVENTURE

4S8
He spake: "A bold knight-errant ami; tinlock the gate.
Else will I from without here disturbance rare create
For all who'd fain lie quiet and their rest would take."
Wrathful grew the Porter as in this wise Siegfried spake.

489
Now did the giant valorous his good armor don,
And placed on head his helmet; then the full doughty man
His shield up-snatched quickly and gate wide open swung.
How sore was he enraged as himself upon Siegfried he flung 1

490
*How dared he thus awaken brave knights within the hall? *
The blows in rapid showers from his hand did fall.
Thereat the noble stranger began himself to shield.
For so a club of iron the Porter's mighty arm did wield,

491
That splinters flew from buckler, and Siegfried stood aghast
From fear that this same hour was doomed to be his last.
So mightily the Porter's blows about him fell.
To find such faithful warder did please his master Siegfried well

492
So fiercely did they struggle that castle far within
And hall where slept the Nibdungen echoed back the din.
But Siegfried pressed the Porter and soon he had him bound.
In all the land of Nibdungen the story soon was bruited round.

493
When the grim soimd of fighting afar the place had filled,
Alberich did hear it, a Dwarf full brave and wild.
He donned his armor deftly, and running thither found
This so noble stranger where he the doughty Porter boimd.

494
Alberich was full wrathy, thereto a man of power.
Coat of mail and hehnet he on his body wore,
And in his hand a heavy scourge of gold he swung.
Where was fighting Siegfried, thither in mickle haste he sprung.



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HOW SIEGFRIED FARED TO HIS KNIGHTS 75

495
Seven knobs thick and heavy on the club's end were seen,
Wherewith the shield that guarded the knight that was so keen
He battered with such vigor that pieces from it brake.
Lest he his life should forfeit the noble stranger gan to quake.

496
The shield that all was battered from his hand he flung;
And into sheath, too, thrust he his sword so good and long.
For his trusty chamberlain he did not wish to slay,
And in such case he could not grant his anger fullest sway.

497
With but his hands so mighty at Alberich he ran.
By the beard then seized he the gray and aged man,
And in such manner pulled it that he full loud did roar.
The youthful hero's conduct Alberich did trouble sore.

498
Loud cried the valiant steward: "Have mercy now on me.
And might I other's vassal than one good hero's be,
To whom to be good subject I an oath did take.
Until my death I'd serve thee." Thus the man of cunning spake.

499
Alberich then bound he as the giant before.
The mighty arm of Siegfried did trouble him full sore.
The Dwarf began to question: **Thy name, what may it be?"
Quoth he: "My name is Siegfried; I weened I well were known to
thee."

500
*'I joy to hear such tidings," Dwarf Alberich replied.
"Well now have I found thee in knightly prowess tried,
And with goodly reason lord o'er lands to be.
I'll do whate'er thou biddest, wilt thou only give me free."

SOI
Then spake his master Siegfried: "Quickly shalt thou go,
And bring me knights hither, the best we have to show,
A thousand Nibelimgen, to stand before their lord."
Wherefore thus he wished it, spake he never yet a word.



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76 EIGHTH ADVENTURE

S02

The giant and Alberich straightway he unbound.

Then ran Alberich quickly where the knights he found.

The warriors of Nibelung he wakened full of fear.

Quoth he: "Be up, ye heroes, before Siegfried shall ye appear."

503
From their couches sprang they and ready were full soon,
Clothed well in armor a thousand warriors boon,
And went where they found standing Siegfried their lord.
Then was a mickle greeting coxuteously in act and word.

504
Candles many were lighted, and sparkling wine he drank.
That they came so quickly, therefor he all did thank.
Quoth he: "Now shall ye with me from hence across the flood."
Thereto he foimd full ready the heroes valiant and good.

505
Good thirty himdred warriors soon had hither pressed,



Online LibraryGeorge Henry NeedlerThe Nibelungenlied → online text (page 8 of 27)