Directory:EPIC & SAGA


THIODREK the King was in Atli's house, and had lost there the more part of his men: so there Thiodrek and Gudrun bewailed their troubles one to the other, and she spake and said:—

A may of all mays

My mother reared me

Bright in bower;

Well loved I my brethren,

Until that Giuki

With gold arrayed me,

With gold arrayed me,

And gave me to Sigurd.

Such was my Sigurd,

Among the sons of Giuki

As is the green leek

O'er the low grass waxen,

Or a hart high-limbed

Over hurrying deer,

Or glede-red gold

Over grey silver.

Till me they begrudged,

Those my brethren,

The fate to have him,

Who was first of all men;

Nor might they sleep,

Nor sit a-dooming,

Ere they let slay

My well-loved Sigurd.

Grani ran to the Thing,

There was clatter to hear,

But never came Sigurd

Himself thereunto;

All the saddle-girt beasts

With blood were besprinkled,

As faint with the way

Neath the slayers they went.

Then greeting I went

With Grani to talk,

And with tear-furrowed cheeks

I bade him tell all;

But drooping laid Grani,

His head in the grass,

For the steed well wotted

Of his master's slaying.

A long while I wandered,

Long my mind wavered,

Ere the kings I might ask

Concerning my king.

Then Gunnar hung head,

But Hogni told

Of the cruel slaying

Of my Sigurd:

“On the water's far side

Lies, smitten to death,

The bane of Guttorm

To the wolves given over.

“Go, look on Sigurd,

On the ways that go southward,

There shalt thou hear

The ernes high screaming,

The ravens a-croaking

As their meat they crave for;

Thou shalt hear the wolves howling

Over thine husband.”

“How hast thou, Hogni,

The heart to tell me,

Me of joy made empty,

Of such misery?

Thy wretched heart

May the ravens tear

Wide over the world,

With no men mayst thou wend.”

One thing Hogni

Had for answer,

Fallen from his high heart,

Full of all trouble:

“More greeting yet,

O Gudrun, for thee,

If my heart the ravens

Should rend asunder!”

Thence I turned

From the talk and the trouble

To go a leasing〖Gleaning.〗

What the wolves had left me;

No sigh I made

Nor smote hands together,

Nor did I wail

As other women

When I sat over

My Sigurd slain.

Night methought it,

And the moonless dark,

When I sat in sorrow

Over Sigurd:

Better than all things

I deemed it would be

If they would let me

Cast my life by,

Or burn me up

As they burn the birch-wood.

From the fell I wandered

Five days together,

Until the high hall

Of Half lay before me;

Seven seasons there

I sat with Thora,

The daughter of Hacon,

Up in Denmark.

My heart to gladden

With gold she wrought

Southland halls

And swans of the Dane-folk;

There had we painted

The chiefs a-playing;

Fair our hands wrought

Folk of the kings.

Red shields we did,

Doughty knights of the Huns,

Hosts spear-dight, hosts helm-dight,

All a high king's fellows;

And the ships of Sigmund

From the land swift sailing;

Heads gilt over

And prows fair graven.

On the cloth we broidered

That tide of their battling,

Siggeir and Siggar,

South in Fion.

Then heard Grimhild,

The Queen of Gothland,

How I was abiding,

Weighed down with woe:

And she thrust the cloth from her

And called to her sons,

And oft and eagerly

Asked them thereof,

Who for her son

Would their sister atone,

Who for her lord slain

Would lay down weregild.

Fain was Gunnar

Gold to lay down

All wrongs to atone for,

And Hogni in likewise;

Then she asked who was fain

Of faring straightly,

The steed to saddle

To set forth the wain,

The horse to back,

And the hawk to fly,

To shoot forth the arrow

From out the yew-bow.

Valdarr the Dane-king

Came with Jarisleif

Eymod the third went

Then went Jarizskar;

In kingly wise

In they wended,

The hosts of the Longbeards;

Red cloaks had they,

Byrnies short-cut,

Helms strong hammered,

Girt with glaives,

And hair red-gleaming.

Each would give me

Gifts desired,

Gifts desired,

Speech dear to my heart,

If they might yet,

Despite my sorrow,

Win back my trust,

But in them nought I trusted.

Then brought me Grimhild

A beaker to drink of,

Cold and bitter,

Wrong's memory to quench;

Made great was that drink

With the might of the earth,

With the death-cold sea

And the blood that Son〖Son was the vessel into which was poured the blood of Quasir, the God of Poetry.〗 holdeth.

On that horn's face were there

All the kin of letters

Cut aright and reddened,

How should I rede them rightly?

The ling-fish long

Of the land of Hadding,

Wheat-ears unshorn,

And wild thing's inwards.

In that mead were mingled

Many ills together,

Blood of all the wood,

And brown-burnt acorns;

The black dew of the hearth,〖This means soot.〗

And god-doomed dead beasts' inwards,

And the swine's liver sodden,

For wrongs late done that deadens.

Then waned my memory

When that was within me,

Of my lord 'mid the hall

By the iron laid low.

Three kings came

Before my knees

Ere she herself

Fell to speech with me.

“I will give to thee, Gudrun,

Gold to be glad with,

All the great wealth

Of thy father gone from us,

Rings of red gold

And the great hall of Lodver,

And all fair hangings left

By the king late fallen.

“Maids of the Huns

Woven pictures to make,

And work fair in gold

Till thou deem'st thyself glad.

Alone shalt thou rule

O'er the riches of Budli,

Shalt be made great with gold,

And be given to Atli.”

“Never will I

Wend to a husband,

Or wed the brother

Of Queen Brynhild;

Naught it beseems me

With the son of Budli

Kin to bring forth,

Or to live and be merry.”

“Nay, the high chiefs

Reward not with hatred,

For take heed that I

Was the first in this tale!

To thy heart shall it be

As if both these had life,

Sigurd and Sigmund,

When thou hast borne sons.”

“Naught may I, Grimhild,

Seek after gladness,

Nor deem aught hopeful

Of any high warrior,

Since wolf and raven

Were friends together,

The greedy, the cruel,

O'er great Sigurd's heart-blood.”

“Of all men that can be

For the noblest of kin

This king have I found,

And the foremost of all;

Him shalt thou have

Till with eld thou art heavy—

Be thou ever unwed,

If thou wilt naught of him!”

“Nay, nay, bid me not

With thy words long abiding

To take unto me

That balefullest kin;

This king shall bid Gunnar

Be stung to his bane,

And shall cut the heart

From out of Hogni.

“Nor shall I leave life

Ere the keen lord,

The eager in sword-play,

My hand shall make end of.”

Grimhild a-weeping

Took up the word then,

When the sore bale she wotted

Awaiting her sons,

And the bane hanging over

Her offspring beloved.

“I will give thee, moreover,

Great lands, many men,

Wineberg and Valberg,

If thou wilt but have them;

Hold them lifelong,

And live happy, O daughter!”

“Then him must I take

From among kingly men,

‘Gainst my heart's desire,

From the hands of my kinsfolk;

But no joy I look

To have from that lord:

Scarce may my brother's bane

Be a shield to my sons.”

Soon was each warrior

Seen on his horse,

But the Gaulish women

Into wains were gotten;

Then seven days long

O'er a cold land we rode,

And for seven other

Clove we the sea-waves

But with the third seven

O'er dry land we wended.

There the gate-wardens

Of the burg, high and wide,

Unlocked the barriers

Ere the burg-garth we rode to.—

· · · · · · · · · · ·

· · · · · · · · · · ·

Atli woke me

When meseemed I was

Full evil of heart

For my kin dead slain.

“In such wise did the Norns

Wake me or now.”—

Fain was he to know

Of this ill foreshowing—

“That methought, O Gudrun,

Giuki's daughter,

That thou setst in my heart

A sword wrought for guile.”

“For fires tokening I deem it

That dreaming of iron,

But for pride and for lust

The wrath of fair women

Against some bale

Belike, I shall burn thee

For thy solace and healing

Though hateful thou art.”

“In the fair garth methought

Had saplings fallen

E'en such as I would

Should have waxen ever;

Uprooted were these,

And reddened with blood,

And borne to the bench,

And folk bade me eat of them.

“Methought from my hand then

Went hawks a-flying

Lacking their meat

To the land of all ill;

Methought that their hearts

Mingled with honey,

Swollen with blood

I ate amid sorrow.

“Lo, next two whelps

From my hands I loosened,

Joyless were both,

And both a-howling;

And now their flesh

Became naught but corpses,

Whereof must I eat

But sore against my will.”

“O'er the prey of the fishers

Will folk give doom;

From the bright white fish

The heads will they take;

Within a few nights,

Fey as they are,

A little ere day

Of that draught will they eat.”

Ne'er since lay I down,

Ne'er since would I sleep,

Hard of heart, in my bed:—

That deed have I to do.〖The whole of this latter part is fragmentary and obscure; there seems wanting to two of the dreams some trivial interpretation by Gudrun, like those given by Hogni to Kostbera in the Saga, of which nature, of course, the interpretation contained in the last stanza but one is, as we have rendered it: another rendering, from the different reading of the earlier edition of Edda (Copenhagen, 1818) would make this refer much more directly to the slaying of her sons by Gudrun.〗

All Directories