The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

46       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

77.
" A sword have I forged thee
Of wonder & worth!
Never so wight a weapon
Was seen on Middle Earth. "
78.
Now Sigurd smote the anvil
That straight did rock & reel,
But never a dint could mar the glint
Of Regin's tempered steel.
79.
Again he smote the anvil
With such a mighty blow,
The iron was cloven asunder,
& the earth-fast stone below.
80.
Bright & clear the river
Welled upwards from the spring;
& Gramm they name the sword of fame
Of Regin's smithying.
81.
" Go hence, go hence, thou Sigurd,
& woo thee a high-born wife!
For such a mighty warrior
Would I lay down my life. "
82.
Now lithe & listen, weapon-smith,
Thy words are fair & fine,
But a darker thought is hidden
Deep in that heart o' thine! "
83.
" Now Sigurd, doughty Sigurd,
This promise make to me;
When thou dost ride to Glitter Heath,
Thy comrade I may be! "

THE BALLAD OF REGIN       47

84.
" First with the sons of Hunding
I'll meet on foughten field;
Then will I hie to Glitter Heath
This biting brand to wield.
85.
" Yea, first to fight with Hunding 's sons
On battle-field I fare,
& then I ride to Glitter Heath
To raid the Dragon's lair! "
      ·       ·       ·
86.
It was not Sigurd Sigmundarson
Made not that vow in vain;
With his own hand he slew the band
That brought his father bane.
87.
Both one & all, he saw them fall
That did his sire to death,
Or ever he turned him homeward,
& hied him to Glitter Heath.
88.
It was Sigurd Sigmundarson
Rode down by greenwood shaw; (1)
And, sitting apart in secret,
An agèd man he saw.
89.
A silken cap was on his head,
As down the glade he came,
& in his hand a Finnish bow,
& no man knew his name.
90.
With buckled leggings, countrywise,
That ancient man drew near;
One burning eye was in his head,
& at his back a spear.

1. shaw = thicket; akin to Dan. skov, Sw. skog, Icel. skógr

48       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

91.
" And art thou Sigurd Sigmundarson,
A warrior bold, I trow,
Say, whence hast thou come to greenwood glade,
& whither ridest now?"
92.
" Of late I fared to battle-field,
& Hunding's sons I slew;
But now I ride to Glitter Heath
A daring deed to do. "
93.
" Now harken, Sigurd Sigmundarson,
& look thou tell to me,
What name is his, the caitiff carle, (1)
That followeth after thee? "
94.
" Regin the smith men name him;
A cunning smith is he,
& brother in blood to the loathly Worm,
& therefore he followeth me!"
95.
" Now wherefore hath he bidden thee
To delve these ditches twain?
The man that bid thee delve them,
That man desired they bane. "
96.
" 'Twas Regin bid me grave them,
These grofts, by one, by two,
For that in this adventure
He is my comrade true. "
97.
" Did Regin bid thee grave them
With never a third thereby,
Then Regin is a traitor foul
That fain would see thee die.

1. caitiff = wretched

THE BALLAD OF REGIN       49

98.
" Grave thou yet another,
A little space below,
To catch the Dragon's deadly spume
That from his mouth will flow.
99.
" A fourth shalt thou fashion,
Yet closer at hand;
" Then shalt thou, Sigurd,
Therein take thy stand. "
      ·       ·       ·
100.
The Worm slid forth from the red, red gold
All at the eventide,
& Sigurd sprang on Grane's back,
& swiftly did he ride.
101.
Little deeming of danger,
The Dragon crept abroad;
& Sigurd sprang from saddle,
& drew his trusty sword.
102.
The Worm slid forth from the Treasure,
Adown the dyke to creep,
His belly clave to the lower earth
Full thirty fathom deep,
103.
But ever the back of the monster
Was high in the air aboon;
& Sigurd seized his biting brand,
& drew, & stuck eftsoon.
104.
So stern was the sword-stroke,
So mighty the blow,
That all the girth of Middle Earth
Was shaken to & fro.

50       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

105.
Shook every leaf on every tree
& earth the tree-roots under,
When Sigurd drew his trusty sword,
& clave the Worm asunder.
106.
Up & spake the loathly Worm,
All broken where he lay:
" Who is the doughty warrior
Dares deal such blows to-day? "
107.
" Sigurd shalt thou name me,
Of Sigmund the son;
Hjørdis she that bore me
After his days were done. "
108.
" Lithe & listen, Sigurd,
To this I ask of thee;
What man was in thy following
The livelong way to me? "
109.
" With Regin thy brother
I came to the Heath,
Foulest of traitors,
Desiring thy death. "
110.
Up & spake the fierce Fire-drake,
A-floating in his gore:
" Regin the false weapon-smith
Must tread the earth no more.
111.
" Of traitors worst is Regin,
Who fain thy bane would be;
Then deal thou with the weapon-smith
As thou hast dealt by me! "

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