Directory:EPIC & SAGA


GUDRUN, Giuki's daughter, avenged her brethren, as is told far and wide: first she slew the sons of Atli, and then Atli himself; and she burned the hall thereafter, and all the household with it: and about these matters is this song made:—

In days long gone

Sent Atli to Gunnar

A crafty one riding,

Knefrud men called him;

To Giuki's garth came he,

To the hall of Gunnar,

To the benches gay-dight,

And the gladsome drinking.

There drank the great folk

'Mid the guileful one's silence,

Drank wine in their fair hall:

The Huns' wrath they feared,

When Knefrud cried

In his cold voice,

As he sat on the high seat,

That man of the Southland:

“Atli has sent me

Riding swift on his errands

On the bit-griping steed

Through dark woodways unbeaten,

To bid thee, King Gunnar,

Come to his fair bench

With helm well-adorned,

To the home of King Atli.

“Shields shall ye have there

And spears ashen-shafted,

Helms ruddy with gold,

And hosts of the Huns;

Saddle-gear silver-gilt,

Shirts red as blood,

The hedge of the warwife,

And horses bit-griping.

“And he saith he will give you

Gnitaheath widespread,

And whistling spears

And prows well-gilded,

Mighty wealth

With the stead of Danpi,

And that noble wood

Men name the Murkwood.”

Then Gunnar turned head

And spake unto Hogni:

“What rede from thee, high one,

Since such things we hear?

No gold know I

On Gnitaheath,

That we for our parts

Have not portion as great.

“Seven halls we have

Fulfilled of swords,

And hilts of gold

Each sword there has;

My horse is the best,

My blade is the keenest;

Fair my bow o'er the bench is,

Gleams my byrny with gold;

Brightest helm, brightest shield,

From Kiar's dwelling ere brought—

Better all things I have

Than all things of the Huns.”


“What mind has our sister

That a ring she hath sent us

In weed of wolves clad?

Bids she not to be wary?

For a wolf's hair I found

The fair ring wreathed about;

Wolf beset shall the way be

If we wend on this errand.”

No sons whetted Gunnar,

Nor none of his kin,

Nor learned men nor wise men,

Nor such as were mighty.

Then spake Gunnar

E'en as a king should speak,

Glorious in mead-hall

From great heart and high:

“Rise up now, Fiornir,

Forth down the benches

Let the gold-cups of great ones

Pass in hands of my good-men!

Well shall we drink wine,

Draughts dear to our hearts,

Though the last of all feasts

In our fair house this be!

“For the wolves shall rule

O'er the wealth of the Niblungs,

With the pine-woods' wardens

If Gunnar perish:

And the black-felled bears

With fierce teeth shall bite

For the glee of the dog-kind,

If again comes not Gunnar.”

Then good men never shamed,

Greeting aloud,

Led the great king of men

From the garth of his home;

And cried the fair son

Of Hogni the king:

“Fare happy, O Lords,

Whereso your hearts lead you!”

Then the bold knights

Let their bit-griping steeds

Wend swift o'er the fells,

Tread the murk-wood unknown,

All the Hunwood was shaking

As the hardy ones fared there;

O'er the green meads they urged

Their steeds shy of the goad.

Then Atli's land saw they;

Great towers and strong,

And the bold men of Bikki,

Aloft on the burg:

The Southland folks' hall

Set with benches about,

Dight with bucklers well bounden,

And bright white shining shields.

There drank Atli,

The awful Hun king,

Wine in his fair hall;

Without were the warders,

Gunnar's folk to have heed of,

Lest they had fared thither

With the whistling spear

War to wake 'gainst the king.

But first came their sister

As they came to the hall,

Both her brethren she met,

With beer little gladdened:

“Bewrayed art thou, Gunnar!

What dost thou great king

To deal war to the Huns?

Go thou swift from the hall!

“Better, brother, hadst thou

Fared here in thy byrny

Than with helm gaily dight

Looked on Atli's great house:

Thou hadst sat then in saddle

Through days bright with the sun

Fight to awaken

And fair fields to redden:

“O'er the folk fate makes pale

Should the Norn's tears have fallen,

The shield-mays of the Huns

Should have known of all sorrow;

And King Atli himself

To worm-close should be brought;

But now is the worm-close

Kept but for thee.”

Then spake Gunnar

Great 'mid the people:

“Over-late sister

The Niblungs to summon;

A long way to seek

The helping of warriors,

The high lords unshamed,

From the hills of the Rhine!”

Seven Hogni beat down

With his sword sharp-grinded,

And the eighth man he thrust

Amidst of the fire.

Ever so shall famed warrior

Fight with his foemen,

As Hogni fought

For the hand of Gunnar.

But on Gunnar they fell,

And set him in fetters,

And bound hard and fast

That friend of Burgundians;

Then the warrior they asked

If he would buy life,

Buy life with gold

That king of the Goths.

Nobly spake Gunnar,

Great lord of the Niblungs;

“Hogni's bleeding heart first

Shall lie in mine hand,

Cut from the breast

Of the bold-riding lord,

With bitter-sharp knife

From the son of the king.”

With guile the great one

Would they beguile,

On the wailing thrall

Laid they hand unwares,

And cut the heart

From out of Hjalli,

Laid it bleeding on trencher

And bare it to Gunnar.

“Here have I the heart

Of Hjalli the trembler,

Little like the heart

Of Hogni the hardy,

As much as it trembleth

Laid on the trencher,

By the half more it trembled

In the breast of him hidden.”

Then laughed Hogni

When they cut the heart from him,

From the crest-smith yet quick,

Little thought he to quail

The hard acorn of thought

From the high king they took,

Laid it bleeding on trencher

And bare it Gunnar.

“Here have I the heart

Of Hogni the hardy,

Little like to the heart

Of Hjalli the trembler.

Howso little it quaketh

Laid here on the dish,

Yet far less it quaked

In the breast of him laid.

“So far mayst thou bide

From men's eyen, O Atli,

As from that treasure

Thou shalt abide!

“Behold in my heart

Is hidden for ever

That hoard of the Niblungs,

Now Hogni is dead.

Doubt threw me two ways

While the twain of us lived,

But all that is gone

Now I live on alone.

“The great Rhine shall rule

O'er the hate-raising treasure,

That gold of the Niblungs,

The seed of the gods:

In the weltering water

Shall that wealth lie a-gleaming,

Or it shine on the hands

Of the children of Huns!”

Then cried Atli,

King of the Hun-folk,

“Drive forth your wains now

The slave is fast bounden.”

And straightly thence

The bit-shaking steeds

Drew the hoard-warden,

The war-god to his death.

Atli the great king,

Rode upon Glaum,

With shields set round about,

And sharp thorns of battle:

Gudrun, bound by wedlock

To these, victory made gods of,

Held back her tears

As the hall she ran into.

“Let it fare with thee, Atli,

E'en after thine oaths sworn

To Gunnar full often;

Yea, oaths sworn of old time,

By the sun sloping southward,

By the high burg of Sigty,

By the fair bed of rest,

By the red ring of Ull!”

Now a host of men

Cast the high king alive

Into a close

Crept o'er within

With most foul worms,

Fulfilled of all venom,

Ready grave to dig

In his doughty heart.

Wrathful-hearted he smote

The harp with his hand,

Gunnar laid there alone;

And loud rang the strings—

In such wise ever

Should hardy ring-scatterer

Keep gold from all folk

In the garth of his foemen.

Then Atli would wend

About his wide land,

On his steed brazen-shod,

Back from the murder.

Din there was in the garth,

All thronged with the horses;

High the weapon-song rose

From men come from the heath.

Out then went Gudrun,

'Gainst Atli returning,

With a cup gilded over,

To greet the land's ruler;

“Come, then, and take it,

King glad in thine hall,

From Gudrun's hands,

For the hell-farers groan not!”

Clashed the beakers of Atli,

Wine-laden on bench,

As in hall there a-gathered,

The Huns fell a-talking,

And the long-bearded eager ones

Entered therein,

From a murk den new-come,

From the murder of Gunnar.

Then hastened the sweet-faced

Delight of the shield-folk,

Bright in the fair hall,

Wine to bear to them:

The dreadful woman

Gave dainties withal

To the lords pale with fate,

Laid strange word upon Atli:

“The hearts of thy sons

Hast thou eaten, sword-dealer,

All bloody with death

And drenched with honey:

In most heavy mood

Brood o'er venison of men!

Drink rich draughts therewith,

Down the high benches send it!

“Never callest thou now

From henceforth to thy knee

Fair Erp or fair Eitil,

Bright-faced with the drink;

Never seest thou them now

Amidmost the seat,

Scattering the gold,

Or shafting of spears;

Manes trimming duly,

Or driving steeds forth!”

Din arose from the benches,

Dread song of men was there,

Noise ‘mid the fair hangings,

As all Hun's children wept;

All saving Gudrun,

Who never gat greeting,

For her brethren bear-hardy,

For her sweet sons and bright,

The young ones, the simple

Once gotten with Atli.

The seed of gold

Sowed the swan-bright woman,

Rings of red gold

She gave to the house carls;

Fate let she wax,

Let the bright gold flow forth,

In naught spared that woman

The store-houses' wealth.

Atli unaware

Was a-weary with drink;

No weapon had he,

No heeding of Gudrun—

Ah, the play would be better,

When in soft wise they twain

Would full often embrace

Before the great lords!

To the bed with sword-point

Blood gave she to drink

With a hand fain of death,

And she let the dogs loose:

Then in from the hall-door—

—Up waked the house-carls—

Hot brands she cast,

Gat revenge for her brethren.

To the flame gave she all

Who therein might be found;

Fell adown the old timbers,

Reeked all treasure-houses;

There the shield-mays were burnt,

Their lives' span brought to naught;

In the fierce fire sank down

All the stead of the Budlungs.

Wide told of is this—

Ne'er sithence in the world,

Thus fared bride clad in byrny

For her brothers' avenging;

For behold, this fair woman

To three kings of the people,

Hath brought very death

Or ever she died!

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