dimanche 6 août 2017

The (old) Lay of Sigurd

The (old) Lay of Sigurd

Sigurþarkviða inn forna
The (old) Lay of Sigurd
~a fragment~
from the Appendix: Excerpts from the Poetic Edda
The Story of the Volsungs

Translated by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson

Back to Source Texts Index

(The beginning is lost)


Hogni said:
"What hath wrought Sigurd of any wrong-doing
That the life of the famed one thou art fain of taking?"

Gunnar said:
"To me has Sigurd sworn many oaths,
Sworn many oaths, and sworn them lying,
And he bewrayed me when it behoved him
Of all folk to his troth to be the most trusty."

Hogni said:
"Thee hath Brynhild unto all bale,
And all hate whetted, and a work of sorrow;
For she grudges to Gudrun all goodly life;
And to thee the bliss of her very body."


Some the wolf roasted, some minced the worm,
Some unto Guttorm gave the wolf-meat,
Or ever they might in their lust for murder
On the high king lay deadly hand.

Sigurd lay slain on the south of the Rhine.
High from the fair tree croaked forth the raven,
"Ah, yet shall Atli on you redden edges,
The old oaths shall weigh on your souls, O warriors."

Without stood Gudrun, Giuki's daughter,
And the first word she said was even this word:
"Where then is Sigurd, lord of the warfolk,
Since my kin come riding the foremost?

One word Hogni had for an answer:
"Our swords have smitten Sigurd asunder,
And the grey horse hangs drooping o'er his lord lying dead."

Then quoth Brynhild, Budli's daughter;
"Good weal shall ye have of weapons and lands,
That Sigurd alone would surely have ruled
If he had lived but a little longer.

"Ah, nothing seemly for Sigurd to rule
Giuki's house and the folk of the Goths,
When of him five sons for the slaying of men,
Eager for battle, should have been begotten!"

Then laughed Brynhild - loud rang the whole house -
One laugh only from out her heart:
"Long shall your bliss be of lands and people,
Whereas the famed lord you have felled to the earth!"

Then spake Gudrun, Giuki's daughter;
"Much thou speakest, many things fearful,
All grame be on Gunnar the bane of Sigurd!
From a heart full of hate shall come heavy vengeance."

Forth sped the even, enow there was drunken,
Full enow was there of all soft speech;
And all men got sleep when to bed they were gotten;
Gunnar only lay waking long after all men.

His feet fell he to moving, fell to speak to himself
The waster of men, still turned in his mind
What on the bough those twain would be saying,
The raven and erne, as they rode their ways homeward.

But Brynhild awoke, Budli's daughter,
May of the shield-folk, a little ere morning:
"Thrust ye on, hold ye back, - now all harm is wrought, -
To tell of my sorrow, or to let all slip by me?"

All kept silence after her speaking,
None might know that woman's mind,
Or why she must weep to tell of the work
That laughing once of men she prayed.

Brynhild spake:
"In dreams, O Gunnar, grim things fell on me;
Dead-cold the hall was, and my bed was a-cold,
And thou, lord, wert riding reft of all bliss,
Laden with fetters 'mid the host of thy foemen."

"So now all ye, O House of the Niblungs,
Shall be brought to naught, O ye oath-breakers!

"Think'st thou not, Gunnar, how that betid,
When ye let the blood run both in one footstep?
With ill reward hast thou rewarded
His heart so fain to be the foremost!

"As well was seen when he rode his ways,
That king of all worth, unto my wooing;
How the host-destroyer held to the vows
Sworn beforetime, sworn to the young king.

"For his wounding-wand all wrought with gold,
The king beloved laid between us;
Without were its edges wrought with fire,
But with venom-drops deep dyed within."


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