Poetic Edda/Sigurðarkviða hin skamma

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Poetic Edda
Sigurðarkviða hin skamma

1. It was of old that Sigurd,
the young Volsung,
Gjuki sought,
after his conflict,
received the pledge
of friendship from the two brothers;
oaths exchanged
the bold of deed.

2. A maid they offered him,
and treasures many,
Gudrun, Gjuki's
youthful daughter.
Drank and conversed,
many days together,
Sigurd the young
and Gjuki's sons.

3. Until they went
to woo Brynhild,
and with them Sigurd,
the youthful Volsung,
rode in company,
who knew the way.
He would have possessed her,
if her possess he might.

4. Sigurd the southern
laid a naked sword,
a glittering falchion,
between them;
nor the damsel
did he kiss,
nor did the Hunaland king
to his arm lift her.
He the blooming maid
to Gjuki's son delivered.

5. She to herself of body
was of no sin conscious,
nor at her death-day,
of any crime,
that could be a stain,
or thought to be:
intervened therein
the grisly fates.

6. Alone she sat without,
at eve of day,
began aloud
with herself to speak:
«I shall Sigurd have,
or I must die,
or that blooming youth
clasp in my arms.

7. Of the words I have uttered
I now repent;
he is Gudrun's consort,
and I am Gunnar's.
The hateful norns
long suffering have decreed us.»

8. Oftentimes she wandered,
filled with evil thoughts,
o'er ice and icebergs,
every eve,
when he and Gudrun
had to their couch withdrawn,
and Sigurd her in
the coverings wrapt,
the Hunaland king
his wife caressed.

9. «Devoid I go
of spouse and pleasure;
I will beguile myself
with vengeful thoughts.»

10. By those fits of fury
she was impelled to murder.
«Thou, Gunnar!
Shalt wholly
lose my land,
and myself also.
Never shall I be happy,
king! With thee.

11. I will return thither
from whence I came,
to my near kindred,
my relations;
there will I remain,
and slumber life away,
unless thou Sigurd
cause to be slain,
and a king become
than the other greater.

12. Let the son go
with the father,
the young wolf
may not longer be fostered.
For whom will
vengeance lighter
to appease,
if the son lives?»

13. Wroth was Gunnar,
and with grief borne down;
in his mind revolved,
sat the whole day;
he knew not well,
nor could devise,
what were most desirable
for him to do,
or were most fitting
to be done,
when he should find himself
of the Volsung bereft,
and in Sigurd
a great loss sustain.

14. Much he thought,
and also long,
that it did not
often happen,
that from their royal state
women withdrew.
Hogni he then
to counsel summoned,
in whom he placed
the fullest trust.

15. «Of all to me Brynhild,
Budle's daughter,
is the dearest;
she is the chief of women:
rather will I
my life lay down
than that fair one's
treasures lose.

16. Wilt thou the hero
for wealth betray?
Good 'tis to command
the ore of Rhine,
and at ease
over riches rule,
and in tranquillity
happiness enjoy.»

17. This alone Hogni
for answer gave:
«It beseems us not
so to doy by the sword
to break
sworn oaths,
oaths sworn,
and plighted faith.

18. We know not on earth
men more fortunate,
while We four
over the people rule,
and the Hunding lives,
that warlike chief;
nor on earth,
a kin more excellent,
if we five sons
long shall foster,
and the good progeny
can increase.

19. I know full well
whence the causes spring:
Brynhild's importunity
is over-great.»

«We will Gudthorm,
our younger brother,
and not over-wise,
for the deed prepare:
he is free from
sworn oaths,
sworn oaths,
and plighted faith.»

21. Easy it was to instigate
the ferocious spirit:
in the heart of Sigurd
stood his sword.

22. On vengeance bent,
the warrior in his chamber
hurled his brand,
after the fierce assassin;
to Gudthorm flew
dartlike Gram's
gleaming steel
from the king's hand.

23. Fell the murderer
in two parts,
arms and head
flew far away,
but his feet's part
fell backwards on the place.

24. Sunk in sleep was Gudrun,
in her bed,
void of cares,
by Sigurd's side:
but she awoke of joys bereft,
when in the blood
of Frey's friend
she swam.

25. So violently struck
she her hands together,
that the stout of heart
rose in his,bed.
«Weep not, Gudrun!
So' cruelly, my blooming bride!
Thy brothers live.

26. An heir I have,
Too young;
he cannot flee
from the hostile house;
among themselves
they recently have
dark and evil
counsels devised.

27. No son will ride,
though seven thou hast,
to the Thing as the son
of their sister rides;
well I see
who the ill has worked,
on Brynhild alone
lies the blame for all.

28. Me the maiden
loved more than any man;
but towards Gunnar
I sinned not;
affinity I held sacred,
and sworn oaths;
thence forward I was
called his consort's friend.»

29. The woman gave forth sighs,
and the king his life.
So violently she struck
her hands together,
that the beakers on the wall
responsive rang,
and in the court
the geese loudly screamed.

30. Laughed then Brynhild,
Budle's daughter,
once only,
from her whole soul,
when in her bed
she listened
to the loud lament
of Gjuki's daughter.

31. Then said Gunnar,
the hawk-bearing prince:
«Laugh not thereat,
thou barbarous woman!
Glad on thy couch,
as if good awaited thee.
Why has thy face
so white a hue,
Mother of ill?
Foredoomed thou art.

32. Well dost thou deserve,
above all women,
that before thy eyes,
we should lay Atli low,
that thou shouldst
see thy brother's
blood-streaming sore,
his gory wounds
shouldst have to bind.»

«No one provokes thee, Gunnar!
Complete is thy work of death.
Little does Atli
thy hatred fear;
his life will outlast thine,
and his might
be ever greater.

34. Gunnar! Will tell thee,
though thou well knowest it,
how early we
resolved on crimes.
I was o'er-young
and unrestrained,
with wealth endowed,
in my brother's house.

35. Nor did I desire
to marry any man,
before ye givekin
rode to our dwelling,
three on horseback,
powerful kings:
would that journey
had never been!

36. And so to me
did Atli say
that share in our wealth
I should not have,
of gold or lands,
if my hand I gave not;
more evil yet,
the wealth I should yield,
the gold that he
in my childhood gave me,
the wealth from him
in my youth I had.

37. Then distracted
was my mind thereon,
whether I should
engage in conflict,
and death dispense,
valiant in arms,
for my brother's quarrel.
That would then
be world-widely known,
and to many a one
bring heartfelt anguish.

38. Our reconciliation
we let follow:
to me it had been more pleasing
the treasures to accept,
the red-gold rings
of Sigmund's son:
nor did I another's gold desire;
him alone I loved, none other.

39. To the hero great
my troth I gave
who gold-decked sat
on Grani's back;
not like to thine
was the light of his eyes,
nor like in form
and face are ye,
though kingly both
ye seemed to be.

40. One-alone
of all I loved,
nor changing heart
I ever had;
all this will Atli
hereafter find,
when he shall hear
of my funeral rites completed;

41. For never shall
the heavy-hearted woman
with another's husband
pass her life.
Then will my wrongs
be all avenged.»

42. Up rose Gunnar,
prince of warriors,
and round his consort's
neck laid his hands;
all drew nigh,
yet each one singly,
through honest feeling,
to dissuade her.

43. She from her neck
those about her cast;
she let no one stay her
from her long journey.

44. He then called Hogni
to consultation.
«I will that all our folk
to the hall be summoned,
thine with mine
- now 'tis most needful -
to see if we can hinder
my consort's fatal course,
till from our speech
a hindrance may come:
then let us leave
necessity to rule.»

45. To him Hogni
answer gave:
«Let no one hinder her
from the long journey,
whence may she
never born again return.
Unblest she came
on her mother's lap,
born in the world
for ceaseless misery
for many a man's
heartfelt sorrow.»

46. Downcast he
from the meeting
turned to where
the lady treasures distributed.

47. She was viewing
all she owned,
dead slaves
and chamber-women.
She put on her golden corslet
- no good meditated -
ere herself she pierced,
with the sword's point.

48. On the pillow she turned
to the other side, and,
wounded with the glave,
on her last counsels thought.

49. «Now let come those
who desire gold,
and aught less precious,
to receive from me.
To every one
I give a gilded necklace,
needle-work and coverlets,
splendid weeds.»

50. All were silent,
thought on what to do,
and all together
answer gave:
«Too many are there dead:
we will yet live,
still be hungry hall-servants,
to do what fitting is.»

51. At length after reflection,
the lady linen-clad,
young in years,
words in answer uttered:
«I desire that none,
dead to entreaty,
should by force,
for our sake,
lose their life.

52. Yet o'er your bones
will burn
fewer ornaments,
Menio's good meal,
when ye go
hence me to seek.

53. Gunnar! Sit down,
I will tell to thee,
that of life now hopeless
is thy bright consort.
Thy vessel will
not be always afloat,
though I shall have
my life resigned.

54. With Gudrun
thou wilt be reconciled,
sooner than thou thinkest:
that wise woman
has by the king sad memorials,
after her consort's death.

55. There is born a maid,
which her mother rears;
brighter far
than the clear day,
than the sun's beam,
will Svanhild be.

56. Gudrun thou wilt give
to an illustrious one,
a warrior,
the bane of many men:
not to her wish
will she be married;
Atli will come
her to espouse,
Budle's son,
my brother.

57. Much have I in memory
how I was treated,
when ye me
so cruelly had deceived:
robbed I was of happiness,
while my life lasted.

58. Thou wilt desire
Oddrun to possess,
but Atli will
permit it not;
in secret ye will
each other meet.
She will love thee,
as I had done,
if us a better fate
had been allotted.

59. Thee will Atli
barbarously treat;
in the Snakepit
wilt thou be cast.

60. It will too come to pass,
not long after,
that Atli will
his soul resign,
his prosperity,
and cease to live;
for Gudrun in her vengeance
him in his bed will slay,
through bitterness of spirit,
with the sword's sharp edge.

61. More seemly would appear
our sister Gudrun,
had she in death
her first consort followed,
had but good counsel
been to her given,
or she a soul possessed
resembling mine.

62. Faintly I now speak
- but for our sake
she will not
lose her life.
She will be borne
on towering billows
to king Ionacr's
paternal soil.

63. Doubts will be
in the resolves
of Ionacr's sons.
She will Svanhild
send from the land,
her daughter,
and Sigurd's.

64. Her will destroy
Bicci's counsel;
for Jormunrek
for evil lives.
Then will
have passed away
all Sigurd's kin,
and Gudrun's tears
will be the more.

65. One prayer I have
to thee yet to make,
in this world 'twill be
my last request:
Let in the plain
be raised a pile so spacious,
that for us all
like room may be,
for those who shall
have died with Sigurd.

66. Bedeck the castle
about with shields and hangings,
a variegated corpse-cloth,
and Vala's men;
let them burn the Hunnish
on the one side of me;

67. Let them with the Hunnish
burn on the other side,
my household slaves,
with collars splendid,
two at our heads,
and two hawks;
then will all be
equally distributed.

68. Let also lie between us both
the sword with rings adorned,
the keen-edged iron,
so again be placed,
as when we both
one couch ascended,
and were then called
by the name of consorts.

69. Then will not clang
against his heel
the hall's bright gates,
with splendid ring,
if my train him
hence shall follow.
Then will our procession
appear not mean.

70. For him will follow
five female thralls,
eight male slaves
of gentle birth,
fostered with me,
and with my patrimony,
which to his,
daughter Budle gave.

71. Much I have said,
and more would say,
if the sword would grant me
power of speech.
My voice fails,
my wounds swell:
truth only I have uttered;
so I will cease.»