Poetic Edda/Oddrúnargrátr

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Poetic Edda
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Oddrúnargrátr

There was a king named Heidrek, who had a daughter named Borgny. Her lover was named Vilmund. She could not give birth to a child until Oddrun, Atli's sister, came. She had been the beloved of Gunnar, Gjuki's son. Of this story it is here sung:

1. I have heard tell,
in ancient stories
how a damsel came
to Mornaland:
no one was able,
on the face of earth,
help to afford
to Heidrek's daughter.

2. When Oddrun,
Atli's sister,
heard that the damsel
had great pains,
from the stall she led
her well-bridled steed,
and on the swart
one the saddle laid.

3. She the horse made run
on the smooth, dusty way,
until she came
to where a high hall stood.
She the saddle snatched
from the hungry steed,
and in she went
along the court,
and these words
first of all uttered:

4. «What is most noteworthy
in this country?
Or what most desirable
in Hunaland?»

AMBATT:
«Here lies Borgny
with pains overwhelmed,
thy friend, Oddrun!
See if thou canst help her.»

5. ODDRUN:
«What chieftain has
on thee brought this dishon our?
Why so acute are
Borgny's pains?»

6. AMBATT:
«Vilmund is named
the falcon-bearer's friend:
he the damsel wrapt
in a warm coverlet
five whole winters,
so that from her father she was hidden.»

7. They, I ween,
spoke not more than this:
kindly she went to sit
at the damsel's knee.
Vehemently sang Oddrun,
fervently sang Oddrun
songs of power
over Borgny.

8. A girl and boy
might then tread
the mould-way, gentle babes,
born of Hogni's bane.
Then began to speak
the death-sick damsel,
who before
had no word uttered.

9. BORGNY:
«So may thee help
the benignant genii,
Frigg and Freya,
and other gods besides,
as thou hast
from me peril removed!»

10. ODDRUN:
«I was not inclined
to give thee help,
because thou never wast
of succour worthy:
I vowed, and have performed
what I then said
- when the princes
the heritage divided,
that I would ever
help afford.»

11. BORGNY:
«Mad art thou, Oddrun!
And hast lost thy wits,
when in hostile spirit
most of thy words
thou utterest;
for I have been
as if from brothers
we both were born.»

12. ODDRUN:
«I remember yet
what thou one evening saidst,
when I for Gunnar,
a computation made.
Such a case, saidst thou,
would not thenceforth happen,
to any maiden,
save to me alone.»

13. Then sat down
the sorrowing lady
to tell her woes,
from her great grief:

14. «I was nurtured
in the kingly hall,
I was the joy of many
in the council of men.
Life I enjoyed,
and my father's wealth,
five winters only,
while my father lived.

15. These last words
the noble-hearted king
strove to utter,
ere he departed hence.
He bade me be endowed with,
ruddy gold,
and in the south be given
to Grimhild's son.

16. But he Brynhild bade
a helmet take,
said she a valkyrie
should become.
He said no maiden
could more excellent
in the world be born,
if fate willed it not otherwise.

17. Brynhild in her bower
was occupied in broidery:
she had people
and lands around her.
Earth slumbered,
and the heavens above,
when Fáfnir's bane
her burgh first saw.

18. Then was conflict
waged with sword,
and the burgh taken
which Brynhild owned.
It was not long
- which was not surprising -
ere she discovered
all those frauds.

19. These she caused
cruelly to' be avenged,
so that we all have
great afflictions.
Known it will be
through every land of men,
that she caused herself to die
with Sigurd.

20. But I for Gunnar,
rings' dispenser,
love conceived,
such as Brynhild should.

21. They forthwith offered
ruddy rings to my brother,
and indemnity not small.
He besides offered
for me fifteen vills,
and the load
of Grani's sides,
if he would accept them.

22. But Atli said
he never would
a marriage-gift receive
from Gjuki's son.
Still we could not
our loves withstand,
but I my head must lay
upon the ring-breaker.

23. Many things said
my relations;
declared they had surprised us
both together;
but Atli said,
that I would not
crime commit,
nor scandal perpetrate.

24. But such should no one
for another
ever deny,
when love has part.

25. Atli sent
his emissaries
about the Darkwood,
that he might prove me;
and they came
to where they ought not
to have come,
to where we had
one couch prepared,

26. To the men we offered
red-gold rings,
that they it might not
to Atli tell;
but they forthwith
hastened home,
and it quickly
to Atli told.

27. But they from Gudrun
carefully concealed it,
yet rather by half
she should have known it.

28. A sound was heard
of gold-shod hoofs,
when into the court
rode Gjuki's heirs.
Of Hogni they
the heart cut out,
and into the Snakepit
the other cast.

29. I had gone
yet once again
to Geirmund,
to prepare a banquet.
The brave king
began the harp to sound;
for the noble prince
hoped that I,
the hero wise
to his aid might come.

30. I it heard
from Lesisle,
how of trouble there
the harp-strings sang.
I my slaves
bade all be ready:
I the prince's life
would save.

31. The vessel we let float
past the forest,
until I saw all
Atli's courts.

32. Then came Atli's
miserable mother
crawling forth:
- may she perish! -
She Gunnar pierced
to the heart;
so that the hero
I could not save.

33. Oftentimes I wonder,
woman gold-adorned!
How I after
can life retain;
for I seemed
the formidable
sword-dispenser
as myself to love:

34. Thou sitst
and listenest,
while I recount
to thee many
an evil fate,
my own and theirs.»

Now is ended Oddrun's lament.