Directory:EPIC & SAGA


THERE was a king hight Heidrik, and his daughter was called Borgny, and the name of her lover was Vilmund. Now she might nowise be made lighter of a child she travailed with, before Oddrun, Atli's sister, came to her,—she who had been the love of Gunnar, Giuki's son. But of their speech together has this been sung:

I have heard tell

In ancient tales

How a may there came

To Morna-land,

Because no man

On mould abiding

For Heidrik's daughter

Might win healing.

All that heard Oddrun,

Atli's sister,

How that the damsel

Had heavy sickness,

So she led from stall

Her bridled steed,

And on the swart one

Laid the saddle.

She made her horse wend

O'er smooth ways of earth,

Until to a high-built

Hall she came;

Then the saddle she had

From the hungry horse,

And her ways wended

In along the wide hall,

And this word first

Spake forth therewith:

“What is most famed,

Afield in Hunland,

Or what may be

Blithest in Hunland?”


“Here lieth Borgny,

Borne down by trouble,

Thy sweet friend, O Oddrun,

See to her helping!”


“Who of the lords

Hath laid this grief on her,

Why is the anguish

Of Borgny so weary?”


“He is hight Vilmund,

Friend of hawk-bearers,

He wrapped the damsel

In the warm bed-gear

Five winters long

Without her father's wotting.”

No more than this

They spake methinks;

Kind sat she down

By the damsel's knee;

Mightily sang Oddrun,

Eagerly sang Oddrun,

Sharp piercing songs

By Borgny's side:

Till a maid and a boy

Might tread on the world's ways,

Blithe babes and sweet

Of Hogni's bane:

Then the damsel forewearied

The word took up,

The first word of all

That had won from her:

“So may help thee

All helpful things,

Fey and Freyia,

And all the fair Gods,

As thou hast thrust

This torment from me!”


“Yet no heart had I

For thy helping,

Since never wert thou

Worthy of helping,

But my word I held to,

That of old was spoken

When the high lords

Dealt out the heritage,

That every soul

I would ever help.”


“Right mad art thou, Oddrun,

And reft of thy wits,

Whereas thou speakest

Hard words to me

Thy fellow ever

Upon the earth

As of brothers twain,

We had been born.”


“Well I mind me yet,

What thou saidst that evening,

Whenas I bore forth

Fair drink for Gunnar;

Such a thing, saidst thou,

Should fall out never,

For any may

Save for me alone.”

Mind had the damsel

Of the weary day

Whenas the high lords

Dealt out the heritage,

And she sat her down,

The sorrowful woman,

To tell of the bale,

And the heavy trouble.

“Nourished was I

In the hall of kings—

Most folk were glad—

‘Mid the council of great ones:

In fair life lived I,

And the wealth of my father

For five winters only,

While yet he had life.

“Such were the last words

That ever he spake,

The king forewearied,

Ere his ways he went;

For he bade folk give me

The gold red-gleaming,

And give me in Southlands

To the son of Grimhild.

“But Brynhild he bade

To the helm to betake her,

And said that Death-chooser

She should become;

And that no better

Might ever be born

Into the world,

If fate would not spoil it.

“Brynhild in bower

Sewed at her broidery,

Folk she had

And fair lands about her;

Earth lay a-sleeping,

Slept the heavens aloft

When Fafnir's-bane

The burg first saw.

“Then was war waged

With the Welsh-wrought sword

And the burg all broken

That Brynhild owned;

Nor wore long space,

E'en as well might be,

Ere all those wiles

Full well she knew.

“Hard and dreadful

Was the vengeance she drew down,

So that all we

Have woe enow.

Through all lands of the world

Shall that story fare forth

How she did her to death

For the death of Sigurd.

“But therewithal Gunnar

The gold-scatterer

Did I fall to loving

And she should have loved him.

Rings of red gold

Would they give to Atli,

Would give to my brother

Things goodly and great.

“Yea, fifteen steads

Would they give for me,

And the load of Grani

To have as a gift;

But then spake Atli,

That such was his will,

Never gift to take

From the sons of Giuki.

“But we in nowise

Might love withstand,

And mine head must I lay

On my love, the ring-breaker;

And many there were

Among my kin,

Who said that they

Had seen us together.

“Then Atli said

That I surely never

Would fall to crime

Or shameful folly:

But now let no one

For any other,

That shame deny

Where love has dealing.

“For Atli sent

His serving-folk

Wide through the murkwood

Proof to win of me,

And thither they came

Where they ne'er should have come,

Where one bed we twain

Had dight betwixt us.

“To those men had we given

Rings of red gold,

Naught to tell

Thereof to Atli,

But straight they hastened

Home to the house,

And all the tale

To Atli told.

“Whereas from Gudrun

Well they hid it,

Though better by half

Had she have known it.

“Din was there to hear

Of the hoofs gold-shod,

When into the garth

Rode the sons of Giuki.

“There from Hogni

The heart they cut,

But into the worm-close

Cast the other.

There the king, the wise-hearted,

Swept his harp-strings,

For the mighty king

Had ever mind

That I to his helping

Soon should come.

“But now was I gone

Yet once again

Unto Geirmund,

Good feast to make;

Yet had I hearing,

E'en out from Hlesey,

How of sore trouble

The harp-strings sang.

“So I bade the bondmaids

Be ready swiftly,

For I listed to save

The life of the king,

And we let our ship

Swim over the sound,

Till Atli's dwelling

We saw all clearly.

“Then came the wretch〖Atli's mother took the form of the only adder that was not lulled to sleep by Gunnar's harp-playing, and who slew him.〗

Crawling out,

E'en Atli's mother,

All sorrow upon her!

A grave gat her sting

In the heart of Gunnar,

So that no helping

Was left for my hero.

“O gold-clad woman,

Full oft I wonder

How I my life

Still hold thereafter,

For methought I loved

That light in battle,

The swift with the sword,

As my very self.

“Thou hast sat and hearkened

As I have told thee

Of many an ill-fate,

Mine and theirs—

Each man liveth

E'en as he may live—

Now hath gone forth

The greeting of Oddrun.”

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