The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

38       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

21.
Weeping went Hjørdis
From the place where he lay,
The ladies of her household
Led her away.
22.
The ladies of her household
Succoured her eftsoon,
Whenas she lay witless
In sweven & swoon. (1)
23.
Woe walketh still on Middle Earth,
& seeketh every wight!
The King must dree his death-pangs (2)
All on the self-same night.
24.
Little spared Queen Hjørdis
Of honour to the dead;
She bade them shape for Sigmund
A bier of the gold so red.
25.
Under the howe their henchmen
Heaped all upon the wold,
'Twas there they laid his bright bodye (3)
Down in the darksome mould. (4)
26.
Up spake in sorrow
The swains that stood by:
" Doleful it is on sunbright day (5)
In darksome mould to lie!
27.
Alone in lady's bower
Sat Hjørdis sorrowing;
The first that came to woo her
Was Hjálprek the King.

1. sweven = dream, sleep
2. dree = endure
3. sic.
4. darksome mould = black earth
5. sic. sunbright

THE BALLAD OF REGIN       39

28.
King Sigmund in warfare
Laid down his life;
Hjálprek the King
Took Hjødis to wife.
29.
She went with child, that lady fair,
Till nine long months were run,
& at the hour appointed
She bore a beauteous son.
30.
She wrapped him well in swaddling-bands
When to this earth he came,
A gallant boy, & fair to see,
& Sigurd was his name.
31.
Right well was he fostered
By Hjálprek the King,
The sword could he wield,
The glaive could he fling.
32.
Both swift & strong, nor slow of growth
No feats he left untried;
A heavier blow could he lay on
Than any swain beside.
33.
When he went forth to weapon-field,
A blood-red shield he bare,
& all that hue would favour
Who chose a champion there.
34.
Now so it chanced, in weapon-field
When Sigurd went to play,
That strife fell out among the swains,
& wroth with him were they.

40       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

35.
All from an ancient oaken-tree
A mighty branch he tore,
& lammed those lads so lustily (1)
That some rose up no more.
36.
Then did those swains to Sigurd
Speak up in dule & ire:
" Rather than maul thy comrades,
'Twere best avenge thy sire! "
37.
Now when they named his father's death,
His brow grew mirk as mould; (2)
He cast his blood-red shield adown
All on the darksome wold. (3)
38.
He cast down sword & harness
As from the field he sped,
& entered in his mother's bower,
With cheeks now white, now red.
39.
" Now lithe & listen, my mother dear,
& look thou tell me plain,
By what name do men name him
That was my father's bane? "
40.
" Now sooth, son of Sigmund,
I speak thee so plain;
It was the sons of Hunding
That brought thy father's bane.
41.
" They that slew thy father
Sprang from Hunding's stem:
But never while thou livest
Wilt thou conquer them! "

1. lam = smite with a staff, etc.
2. mirk = dark, gloomy, murky; mould = earth, soil
3. wold = forest or hilly country

THE BALLAD OF REGIN       41

42.
'Twas Sigurd up & answered,
& spake as best he might:
"Oft, oft in mouth of wolf-cub
Wax teeth that well can bit. "
43.
'Twas Hjørdis hied her to the kist (1)
With red, red gold laid o'er:
" Behold the warrior's harness
Which last thy father wore! "
44.
The lock thereof she's loosened
All with a golden key,
& she's cast the blood-stained byrnie
Adown before his knee.
45.
Then she has ta'en the fragment twain
Of Sigmund's sword of pride:
These did thy father give me
All on the day he died!
46.
" Regin the weapon-smith
Dwells by the ford;
From these shall he fashion
As goodly as sword.
47.
" The shards shalt thou bear him
Of Sigmund's bright brand;
As goodly a blade
Shall he forge to thine hand.
48.
" Fávnir hight the Fire-dreake
Of Glitter Heath is lord;
Regin is a cunning smith,
Yet lean not on his word!

1. kist = large chest or wooden box

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