Directory:EPIC & SAGA


GUDRUN went down unto the sea whenas she had slain Atli, and she cast herself therein, for she was fain to end her life: but nowise might she drown. She drave over the firths to the land of King Jonakr, and he wedded her, and their sons were Sorli, and Erp, and Hamdir, and there was Swanhild, Sigurd's daughter, nourished: and she was given to Jormunrek the Mighty. Now Bikki was a man of his, and gave such counsel to Randver, the king's son, as that he should take her; and with that counsel were the young folk well content.

Then Bikki told the king, and the king let hang Randver, but bade Swanhild be trodden under horses' feet. But when Gudrun heard thereof, she spake to her sons—

Words of strife heard I,

Huger than any,

Woeful words spoken,

Sprung from all sorrow,

When Gudrun fierce-hearted

With the grimmest of words

Whetted her sons

Unto the slaying.

“Why are ye sitting here?

Why sleep ye life away?

Why doth it grieve you nought?

Glad words to speak,

Now when your sister—

Young of years was she—

Has Jormunrek trodden

With the treading of horses?—

“Black horses and white

In the highway of warriors:

Grey horses that know

The roads of the Goths.—

“Little like are ye grown

To that Gunnar of old days!

Nought are your hearts

As the heart of Hogni!

Well would ye seek

Vengeance to win

If your mood were in aught

As the mood of my brethren,

Or the hardy hearts

Of the Kings of the Huns!”

Then spake Hamdir,

The high-hearted—

“Little didst thou

Praise Hogni's doings,

When Sigurd woke

From out of sleep,

And the blue-white bed-gear

Upon thy bed

Grew red with man's blood—

With the blood of thy mate!

“Too baleful vengeance

Wroughtest thou for thy brethren

Most sore and evil

When thy sons thou slewedst,

Else all we together

On Jormunrek

Had wrought sore vengeance

For that our sister.

“Come, bring forth quickly

The Hun kings' bright gear,

Since thou hast urged us

Unto the sword-Thing!”

Laughing went Gudrun

To the bower of good gear,

Kings' crested helms

From chests she drew,

And wide-wrought byrnies

Bore to her sons:

Then on their horses

Load laid the heroes.

Then spake Hamdir,

The high-hearted—

“Never cometh again

His mother to see

The spear-god laid low

In the land of the Goths.

That one arvel mayst thou

For all of us drink

For sister Swanhild,

And us thy sons.”

Greeted Gudrun,

Giuki's daughter;

Sorrowing she went

In the forecourt to sit,

That she might tell,

With cheeks tear-furrowed,

Her weary wail

In many a wise.

“Three fires I knew,

Three hearths I knew,

To three husbands' houses

Have I been carried;

And better than all

Had been Sigurd alone,

He whom my brethren

Brought to his bane.

“Such sore grief as that

Methought never should be,

Yet more indeed

Was left for my torment

Then, when the great ones

Gave me to Atli.

“My fair bright boys

I bade unto speech,

Nor yet might I win

Weregild for my bale,

Ere I had hewn off

Those Niblungs' heads.

“To the sea-strand I went

With the Norns sorely wroth,

For I would thrust from me

The storm of their torment;

But the high billows

Would not drown, but bore me

Forth, till I stepped a-land

Longer to live.

“Then I went a-bed—

—Ah, better in the old days,

This was the third time!—

To a king of the people;

Offspring I brought forth,

Props of a fair house,

Props of a fair house,

Jonakr's fair sons.

“But around Swanhild

Bond-maidens sat,

Her, that of all mine

Most to my heart was;

Such was my Swanhild,

In my hall's midmost,

As is the sunbeam

Fair to behold.

“In gold I arrayed her,

And goodly raiment,

Or ever I gave her

To the folk of the Goths.

That was the hardest

Of my heavy woes,

When the bright hair,—

O the bright hair of Swanhild!—

In the mire was trodden

By the treading of horses.

“This was the sorest,

When my love, my Sigurd,

Reft of glory

In his bed gat ending:

But this the grimmest

When glittering worms

Tore their way

Through the heart of Gunnar.

“But this the keenest

When they cut to the quick

Of the hardy heart

Of the unfeared Hogni.

Of much of bale I mind me,

Of many griefs I mind me;

Why should I sit abiding

Yet more bale and more?

“Thy coal-black horse,

O Sigurd, bridle,

The swift on the highway!

O let him speed hither!

Here sitteth no longer

Son or daughter,

More good gifts

To give to Gudrun!

“Mindst thou not, Sigurd,

Of the speech betwixt us,

When on one bed

We both sat together,

O my great king—

That thou wouldst come to me

E'en from the hall of Hell,

I to thee from the fair earth?

“Pile high, O earls,

The oaken pile,

Let it be the highest

That ever queen had!

Let the fire burn swift,

My breast with woe laden,

And thaw all my heart,

Hard, heavy with sorrow!”

Now may all earls

Be bettered in mind,

May the grief of all maidens

Ever be minished,

For this tale of sorrow

So told to its ending.

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