Directory:EPIC & SAGA

PART OF THE SECOND LAY OF HELGI HUNDING'S-BANE〖Only that part of the song is given which completes the episode of Helgi Hunding's-bane; the earlier part of the song differs little from the Saga.〗

HELGI wedded Sigrun, and they begat sons together, but Helgi lived not to be old; for Dag,〖Hogni, the father of Dag and Sigrun, had been slain by Helgi in battle and Helgi had given peace to, and taken oaths of Dag.〗 the son of Hogni, sacrificed to Odin, praying that he might avenge his father. So Odin lent Dag his spear, and Dag met Helgi, his brother-in-law, at a place called Fetter-grove, and thrust him through with that spear, and there fell Helgi dead, but Dag rode to Sevafell, and told Sigrun of the news.

Loth am I, sister,

Of sorrow to tell thee,

For by hard need driven

Have I drawn on thee greeting;

This morning fell

In Fetter-grove

The king well deemed

The best in the wide world,

Yea, he who stood

On the necks of the strong.


All oaths once sworn

Shall bite thee sore,

The oaths that to Helgi

Once thou swarest

At the bright white

Water of Lightening,〖One of the rivers of the under-world.〗

And at the cold rock

That the sea runneth over.

May the ship sweep not on

That should sweep at its swiftest,

Though the wind desired

Behind thee driveth!

May the horse never run

That should run at his most might

When from thy foe's face

Thou hast most need to flee!

May the sword never bite

That thou drawest from scabbard.

But if round thine head

In wrath it singeth!

Then should meet price be paid

For Helgi's slaying

When a wolf thou wert

Out in the wild-wood,

Empty of good things,

Empty of gladness,

With no meat for thy mouth

But dead men's corpses!


With mad words thou ravest,

Thy wits are gone from thee,

When thou for thy brother

Such ill fate biddest;

Odin alone

Let all this bale loose,

Casting the strife-runes

'Twixt friends and kindred.

Rings of red gold

Will thy brother give thee,

And the stead of Vandil

And the lands of Vigdale;

Have half of the land

For thy sorrow's healing,

O ring-arrayed sweetling

For thee and thy sons!


No more sit I happy

At Sevafell;

At day-dawn, at night

Naught love I my life

Till broad o'er the people

My lord's light breaketh;

Till his war-horse runneth

Beneath him hither,

Well wont to the gold bit—

Till my king I welcome.

In such wise did Helgi

Deal fear around

To all his foes

And all their friends

As when the goat runneth

Before the wolf's rage

Filled with mad fear

Down from the fell.

As high above all lords

Did Helgi bear him

As the ash-tree's glory

From the thorn ariseth,

Or as the fawn

With the dew-fall sprinkled

Is far above

All other wild things,

As his horns go gleaming

'Gainst the very heavens.

A barrow was raised above Helgi, but when he came to Valhall, then Odin bade him be lord of all things there, even as he; so Helgi sang—

Now shalt thou, Hunding,

For the help of each man

Get ready the foot-bath,

And kindle the fire;

The hounds shalt thou bind

And give heed to the horses,

Give wash to the swine

Ere to sleep thou goest.

A bondmaid of Sigrun went in the evening-tide by Helgi's mound, and there she saw how Helgi rode toward it with a great company; then she sang—

It is vain things' beguiling

That methinks I behold

Or the ending of all things,

As ye ride, O ye dead men,

Smiting with spurs

Your horses' sides?

Or may dead warriors

Wend their ways homeward?


No vain things' beguiling

Is that thou beholdest

Nor the ruin of all things;

Though thou lookest upon us,

Though we smite with spurs

Our horses' sides;

Rather dead warriors

May wend their ways homeward.

Then went the bondmaid home, and told Sigrun, and sang—

Go out, Sigrun

From Sevafell,

If thou listest to look on

The lord of thy people!

For the mound is uncovered

Thither is Helgi come,

And his wounds are bleeding,

But the king thee biddeth

To come and stay

That stream of sorrow.

So Sigrun went into the mound to Helgi, and sang—

Now am I as fain

Of this fair meeting,

As are the hungry

Hawks of Odin,

When they wot of the slaying

Of the yet warm quarry,

Or bright with dew

See the day a-dawning.

Ah, I will kiss

My king laid lifeless,

Ere thou castest by

Thy blood-stained byrny.

O Helgi, thy hair

Is thick with death's rime,

With the dew of the dead

Is my love all dripping;

Dead-cold are the hands

Of the son of Hogni!

How for thee, O my king,

May I win healing?


Thou alone, Sigrun

Of Sevafell,

Hast so done that Helgi

With grief's dew drippeth;

O clad in gold

Cruel tears thou weepest,

Bright May of the Southlands,

Or ever thou sleepest:

Each tear in blood falleth

On the breast of thy lord,

Cold-wet and bitter-sharp

Swollen with sorrow.

Ah, we shall drink

Dear draughts and lovely

Though we have lost

Both life and lands;

Neither shall any

Sing song of sorrow,

Though in my breast

Be wounds wide to behold:

For now are brides

In the mound abiding;

Kings' daughters sit

By us departed.

Now Sigrun arrayed a bed in the mound, and sang:

Here Helgi, for thee

A bed have I dight,

Kind without woe,

O kin of the Ylfings!

To thy bosom, O king,

Will I come and sleep soft,

As I was wont

When my lord was living.


Now will I call

Naught not to be hoped for

Early or late

At Sevafell,

When thou in the arms

Of a dead man art laid,

White maiden of Hogni,

Here in the mound:

And thou yet quick,

O King's daughter!

Now needs must I ride

On the reddening ways;

My pale horse must tread

The highway aloft:

West must I go

To Windhelm's bridge

Ere the war-winning crowd

Hall-crower〖Hall-crower, Salgofnir: lit. Hall-gaper, the cock of Valhall.〗 waketh.

So Helgi rode his ways: and the others gat them gone home to the house. But the next night Sigrun bade the bondwoman have heed of the mound. So at nightfall, whenas Sigrun came to the mound, she sang:

Here now would he come,

If to come he were minded;

Sigmund's offspring

From the halls of Odin.

O me the hope waneth

Of Helgi's coming;

For high on the ash-boughs

Are the ernes abiding,

And all folk drift

Toward the Thing of the dreamland.


Be not foolish of heart,

And fare all alone

To the house of the dead,

O Hero's daughter!

For more strong and dreadful

In the night season

Are all dead warriors

Than in the daylight.

But a little while lived Sigrun, because of her sorrow and trouble. But in old time folk trowed that men should be born again, though their troth be now deemed but an old wife's doting. And so, as folk say, Helgi and Sigrun were born again, and at that tide was he called Helgi the Scathe of Hadding, and she Kara the daughter of Halfdan; and she was a Valkyria, even as is said in the Lay of Kara.

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