Poetic Edda/Helgakviða Hundingsbana I

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Poetic Edda
Helgakviða Hundingsbana I

1. In times of old,
when the eagles screamed,
fell holy water
from heavens hills;
then was Helgi,
the great of soul,
of Borhild born
in Bralundi.

2. Night was in place,
the norns there came,
to the highborn they
destiny pronounced.
They him decreed
the most famed to be
of the Budlungs family,
and of leaders the best.

3. The web they span,
the fatal threads,
while burgs broke
in Bralundi.
They weave and twisted
the treads of gold;
in the moons' hall
they fixed it.

4. East and west
they hid the ends,
between the treads
the highborn dwelt;
the eyelash of Neri
towards the north
cast a tread:
she bade it last forever.

5. Of nothing mangled
the Ylving's offspring,
nor the maiden
in love him brought;
raven to raven said
- sat they hungry
yearning for food -:
«I something know!

6. Stands cased in mail
Sigmund's son,
one day old:
now the day is come;
his eyes are glowing
as a warrior;
the wolf's friend is he:
we shall rejoice!»

7. A noble chief
among men seems to be;
now happy times come
to the cult they said.
The king himself,
from the din of war,
noble gifts bring
to the young warrior.

8. Named him Helgi,
took he Ringstadar,
Sunhill, Snowhill,
and Sigarsvollar,
Ringstod, Hatun,
and Himinvangar,
the bright bloodworm;
Sinfjotle's brother.

9. There he grew up,
in his friends' bosom,
the high-bom youth,
in joyous splendour.
He paid and gave
gold for deserts;
nor spared the chief
the blood-stained sword.

10. A short time only
the leader let warfare cease.
When the prince
was fifteen winters old,
he caused the fierce
Hunding to fall,
who long had ruled
over lands and people.

11. The sons of Hunding
afterwards demanded
from Sigmund's son
treasure and rings;
because they had
on the prince to avenge
their great loss of wealth,
and their father's death.

12. The prince would neither
the blood-fine pay,
nor for the slain
indemnity would give.
They might expect, he said,
a terrific storm
of grey spears
from the grim Odin.

13. The warriors went
to the field appointed
at Logafjelli.
Broken was Froda peace
between the foes:
went Vidres gray
around the isle of war.

14. The leader sat,
after he had slain
Alf and Eyulv,
under the Arastein.
Hjorvard and Havard,
sons of Hunding:
slain was kinsmen
all of Geirmime.

15. Then gleamed a ray
from Logafjelli,
and from that ray
lightning issued.
High, with helms,
from Heavens home:
their corslets were
with blood besprinkled,
and from their spears
shone beams of light.

16. Forthwith inquired
from the wolfs lair
the chieftain bold,
the southern maidens,
whether they would
with the warriors
that night go home?
Then was a clash of arms!

17. Then from her horse,
Hogni's daughter
- stilled the crash of shields -
the leader answer:
«We have, I ween,
other objects
than with warriors
to drink beer.

18. My father
has his daughter
promised to the fierce
son of Granmar;
but I have, Helgi!
Declared Hodbrodd,
the proud prince,
like to a cat's son.

19. That chief will come
in a few days,
unless thou him
call to a hostile meeting;
or the maiden
take from the prince.»

20. HELGI:
«Fear thou not
Isung's slayer;
here sword shall sing
unless I am dead.»

21. Thence sent messengers
the potent prince
through air and water,
succours to demand,
and abundance
of ocean's gleam
to men to offer,
and to their sons.

22. «Bid them speedily
to the ships to go,
and those from Brandeyio
to hold them ready.»
There the king abode,
until thither came
warriors in hundreds
from Hedinseyio.

23. From the strands also,
and from Stamsneset,
a naval force went out,
with gold adorned.
Helgi then
of Hjorleiv asked:
«Hast thou mustered
the valiant people?»

24. But the young king
the other answered:
«Slowly» said he
«are counted from Tranoeyri
the long-beaked ships,
under the seafarers,
which sail without
in the Orvasund.

25. «Twelve hundred
faithful men;
though in Hatun
there is more than half
of the king's host.
We are to war inured.»

26. Then the steersman
threw the ship's tents aside,
that the princes'
people might awake,
and the noble chiefs
the dawn might see;
and the warriors
hauled the sails
up to the mast
in Varinfjord.

27. There was a dash of oars,
and clash of iron,
shield against shield resounded:
the vikings rowed;
roaring went,
under the chieftains
the royal fleet
far from the land.

28. So might be heard,
when together came
the tempest's sister
and the long keels,
as when rock and surge
on each other break.

29. Higher still bade Helgi
the deep sail be hauled.
No port gave shelter
to the crews;
when Æge's
terrific daughter
the chieftains' vessels
would o'erwhelm.

30. But from' above
Sigrun intrepid,
saved them
and their fleet also;
from the hand of Rán
powerfully was wrested
the royal ship
at Gnipalund.

31. At eve they halted
in Unavagom;
the splendid ships
might into port have floated,
but the crews,
from Svarinshaug,
in hostile mood,
espied the host.

32. Then demanded
the godborn Gudmund:
«Who is the chieftain
that commands the fleet,
and that formidable force
brings to our land?»

33. Sinfjotle said,
- slinging up on the yard
a red-hued shield
with golden rim;
He at the strait kept watch,
and able was to answer,
and with nobles
words exchange -:

34. «Tell it at eve,
when you feed your pigs
and the bitches
drag to the trough,
that the Ylving's
from the east are come,
ready to fight
at Gnipalund.

35. Hodbrodd will
Helgi find
in the fleet's midst,
a king hard to make flee,
who has often
the eagles sated,
while thou wast at the mills,
kissing the thrall-wenches.»

«Little dost thou remember
of ancient saws,
when of the noble
thou falsehoods utterest.
Thou hast been eating
wolves' dainties,
and of thy brother
wast the slayer;
wounds hast thou often
sucked with cold mouth;
everywhere loathed,
thou hast crawled in caverns.»

«Thou wast a volva
in Varinseyio,
cunning as a fox,
a spreader of lies.
Thou saidst thou no man
wouldst ever marry,
no corsleted warrior,
save Sinfjotle.

38. A mischievous crone wast thou,
a giantess, a valkyrie,
insolent, monstrous,
in Allfather's hall.
All the onelord's
fought with each other,
deceitful woman!
For thy sake.

39. Together we begat
in Saguneset
wolves nine;
I was the father of them all.»

«Father thou wast not
of Fenres wolfs,
but older
than all are you;
since by Gnipalund,
the women captured you
there and cut you,
at Torsneset.

41. Thou wast Sigar's stepson,
at home under the benches layept,
accustomed to the wolf's
howl out in the forests:
calamity of every kind
came over thee,
when thou didst
lacerate thy brother's breast.
Notorious thou mad'st
thyself by thy atrocious works.»

«Thou wast Grana's bride
at Bravelli,
hadst a golden bit,
ready for the course.
Many a time
have I ridden thee tired,
hungry and saddled,
through the fells, thou hag!»

«A graceless lad
thou wast thought to be,
when Gullnis's goats
thou didst milk,
or do you remember
Imd's daughter,
the tattered wretch.
Wilt thou a longer chat?»

«I rather would
at Frekastein
the ravens cram
with thy carcase,
than thy dogs
lead to their meat,
or thy hogs feed.
May the fiend deal with thee!»

45. HELGI:
«Much more seemly, Sinfjotle!
Would it be for you
both in battle to engage,
and the eagles gladden,
than with useless words
to contend,
even if hate
is in chieftain's hearth.

46. Not good to me
appear Granmar's sons,
but for heroes 'tis seemly
the truth to speak;
yet they have shown,
at Moinsheim,
that they have courage
to draw the sword.»

47. Rapidly they their horses
made to run,
Svipud and Skeggjud,
to Solheim,
over dewy dales,
dark mountain-sides;
trembled the sea of mist,
where the men went.

48. The king they met
at the burgh's gate,
to announce that Helgi
is coming with warshield.
High under helmet
stood Hodbrodd,
he the speed noticed
of his kinsmen.
«Why have ye Niflkin's
such wrathful countenances?»

«Hither to the shore
are come rapid keels,
towering masts,
and long yards,
shields many,
and smoothshaven oars,
a king's noble host,
joyous ylvingar.

50. Fifteen bands
are come to land,
but there are out at Sogn
seven thousand more;
lie here in the bay
before Gnipalund,
blueblack oceanbeasts
with gold adorned;
there is by far
more multitude there,
soon will Helgi
to spear-council go.»

51. HELGI:
«Let a bridled steed
to the chief assembly run,
but Sporvitne
to Sparinsheii;
Melne and Mylne
to Darkwood;
let no man
stay behind
of those who swords
can brandish.

52. Summon to you Hogni,
and the sons of Ring,
Atli and Yngve,
Alf the old;
they will gladly
engage in conflict.
We will let the Volsung
find resistance.»

53. It was a whirlwind,
when together came
the fallow blades
at Frekastein:
ever was Helgi,
Hundings slayer,
foremost in the host,
where men together fought:
ardent for battle,
disdaining flight;
the chieftain
had a valiant heart.

54. Comes from heaven
helmwise from above
– ox geir howls –
kings are lifted;
then spoke Sigrun,
sorewise flying
- the host of heroes
from Hugin's grove -:

55. «Whole shall you victory,
chieftain, enjoy,
and Yngves's family
shalt ever live,
for thou the fearless
foe hast slain,
who to many the dread
of death, killer of Æge.

56. And thee, O king!
Well beseem both rings
and a powerful maid:
unscathed shalt thou,
prince! Both enjoy,
thine shall be,
Hogni's daughter,
and Ringstadar,
victory and lands:
then is conflict ended.»