Fiction > Harvard Classics > The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs
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  The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Certain Songs from the Elder Edda which Deal with the Story of the Volsungs
 
Fragments of the Lay of Brynhild
 
 
        
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.
  1
  Thus this song telleth of the death of Sigurd, and setteth forth how that they slew him without doors; but some say that they slew him within doors, sleeping in his bed. But the Dutch Folk say that they slew him out in the wood: and so sayeth the ancient song of Gudrun, that Sigurd and the sons of Giuki were riding to the Thing whenas he was slain. But all with one accord say that they bewrayed him in their troth with him, and fell on him as he lay unarrayed and unawares.  2
 

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