Poetic Edda/Guðrúnarkviða I

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Poetic Edda
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Guðrúnarkviða I

Gudrun sat over Sigurd dead; she wept not as other women, although ready to burst with sorrow. Both men and women, came to console her, but that was not easy. It is said that Gudrun had eaten of Fáfnir's heart, and therefore understood the talk of birds. This is also sung of Gudrun:

1. Of old it was that Gudrun
prepared to die,
when she sorrowing
over Sigurd sat.
No sigh she uttered,
nor with her hands beat,
nor wailed,
as other women.

2. Earls came forward
of great sagacity,
from her sad state
of mind to divert her.
not could Gudrun
shed a tear,
such was her affliction;
ready she was to burst.

3. Sat there noble
wives of earls,
adorned with gold,
before Gudrun;
each of them
told her sorrows,
the bitterest
she had known.

4. Then said Gjaflaug,
Gjuki's sister:
«I know myself to be
on earth most joyless:
of five consorts
I the loss have suffered;
of two daughters,
sisters three,
and brothers eight;
I alone live.»

5. Not could Gudrun
shed a tear,
such was her affliction
for her dead consort,
and her soul's anguish
for the king's fall.

6. Then said Herborg,
Hunaland's queen:
«I a more cruel grief
have to recount:
my seven sons,
in the south land,
my spouse the eighth,
in conflict fell.

7. My father and my mother,
my brothers four,
on the sea
the wind deluded;
the waves struck
on the ship's timbers.

8. Their last honours
'twas mine to pay,
'twas mine to see them tombed,
their funeral rites
to prepare was mine.
All this I underwent
in one half-year,
and to me no one
consolation offered.

9. Then I became a captive,
taken in war,
at the close
of the same half-year.
Then had I to adorn,
and tie the shoes,
of the hersir's wife,
each morn.

10. From: jealousy
she threatened me,
and with hard blows
drove me:
nowhere master
found I a better,
but mistress
no where a worse.»

11. Not could Gudrun
shed a tear,
such was her afflic tion
for her dead consort,
and her soul's anguish
for the king's fall.

12. Then said Gullrand,
Gjuki's daughter:
«Little canst thou, my fosterer,
wise as thou art,
with a young wife
fittingly talk.»

The king's body she forbade to be longer hidden.

13. She snatched the sheet
from Sigurd's corse,
and turned his cheek
towards his wife's knees:
«Behold thy loved one,
lay thy mouth to his lip,
as if thou wouldst embrace
the living prince.»

14. Gudrun upon him
cast one look:
she saw the prince's locks
dripping with blood,
the chief's sparkling eyes
closed in death,
his kingly breast
cleft by the sword.

15. Then sank down Gudrun
back on her pillow,
her head-gear was loosed,
her cheeks grew red,
and a flood of tears
fell to her knees.

16. Then wept Gudrun,
Gjuki's daughter,
so that the tears
spontaneously flowed,
and at the same time
screamed the geese in the court,
the noble birds,
which the lady owned.

17. Then spake Gullrand,
Gjuki's daughter:
«Your loves I know
were the most ardent
among living beings
upon earth:
thou hadst
delight nowhere,
sister mine!
Save with Sigurd.»

18. Then said Gudrun,
Gjuki's daughter:
«Such was my Sigurd
among Gjuki's sons,
as is the garlick
out from the grass
which grows,
or a bright stone
on a thread drawn,
a precious gem on kings.

19. I also seemed
to the prince's warriors
higher than any
of Herian's women;
now I am as little
as the leaf oft is
in the storm-winds,
after the chieftain's death.

20. Sitting I miss,
and in my bed,
my dearest friend.
Gjuki's sons have caused,
Gjuki's sons have caused
my affliction,
and their sister's
tears of anguish.

21. So ye desolate
the people's land,
as ye have kept
your sworn oaths.
Gunnar! Thou wilt not
the gold enjoy;
those rings
will be thy bane,
for the oaths thou
to Sigurd gavest.

22. Oft in the mansion
was the greater mirth,
when my Sigurd
Grani saddled,
and Brynhild
they went to woo,
that which accursed,
in an evil hour!»

23. Then said Brynhild,
Budle's daughter:
«May the hag lack
spouse and children,
who thee, Gudrun!
Has caused to weep,
and this morning given
thee language-runes of speech!»

24. Then said Gullrand,
Gjuki's daughter:
«Cease, thou loathed of all!
From, those words.
The evil destiny
of princes thou hast ever been;
thee every billow
drives of an evil nature;
thou sore affliction
of seven kings,
the greatest bane
of friendship among women!»

25. Then said Brynhild,
Budle's daughter:
«Atli my brother,
Budle's offspring,
is the sole cause
of all the evil;

26. When in the hall
of the Hundings,
with the king we beheld
the fire of the serpent's bed.
Of that journey,
I have paid the penalty,
that sight
I have ever rued.»

27. She by a column stood,
the wood violently clasped.
From the eyes of Brynhild,
Budle's daughter,
fire gleamed forth;
venom she snorted,
when she beheld the wounds
of Sigurd.

Gudrun then went away to the forest and deserts, and travelled to Denmark, where she stayed seven half-years with Torah, Hokon's daughter. Brynhild would not outlive Sigurd. She caused her eight slaves and five female slaves to be killed, and then slew herself with a sword, as it is related in the Sigurðarkviða en skamma.