The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       63

54.
" I will not stay my journey,
Nor shall my courser tire,
Until I win to Hildar-howe
Where leaps the living fire.
55.
" I will not stay my journey
By waste & greenwood glade,
Till I have ridden the leaping lowe
& won the fairest maid! "
      ·       ·       ·
56.
To Hildar-howe full often
The willing wooers came,
But each & all turned backward
That saw the leaping flame.
57.
It was the standard-bearer
In all men's hearing cried:
" Now whoso dares the flame to leap
Shall win a beauteous bride! "
58.
Grímur he rode a-down the dale
Bearing so bold a brow,
But he turned again his horse's rein
When he saw the leaping lowe!
      ·       ·       ·
59.
Then up spake Sigurd Sigmundarson:
(So do they tell the tale)
" Because of the sign my shield doth bear
I'll leap the burning bale. "
60.
Was ne'er a one but Sigmund's Son
That entered in Hildar-hall,
For Grane the steed so good at need
He leapt the fiery wall.

64       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

61.
So lightly leapt Grane
The barrier o'er,
That the clash of his fore-feet
Rang hard on the door.
62.
So swiftly sprang Grane
As bird in its flight,
That scarce a spire of burning fire
On Sigurd's loins did bite.
63.
Sigurd alone the fortress won
Where all had turned the rein;
With one blow of his sword-blade
He clave the door in twain.
64.
With one blow of his sword-blade
He lopped the lock away,
& there beheld the maiden
In coat of mail that lay.
65.
She slept, the noble maiden,
In warrior's byrnie blue;
With one blow of his sword-blade
He clave the mail in two.
66.
Up spake Budli's daughter
All betwixt sweven & sleep:
What warrior-hand doth wield the brand
That dares to bite so deep? "
67.
Up spake Budli's daughter
All betwixt sleep & sweven: (1)
" What warrior bold the brand doth hold
My byrnie blue hath riven? "

1. sweven = dream, sleep

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       65

68.
Sigurd shalt thou name me,
Of Sigmund the son;
Hjørdis she that bore me
After his days were done. "
69.
Up sat the lady Brynhild
A-smiling secretly:
" Now welcome, thou that comest
Hither from far countrie!
70.
" But harken, Sigurd Sigmundarson,
Who told thee how to seek
& find my bower thro' the leaping flame,
& thro' the driving reek? "
71.
That tidings I heard from the wildwood bird
Sitting on linden-tree:
So fair is Brynhild Budli's daughter,
Hath laid her love on thee. "
72.
" Now harken, Sigurd Sigmundarson,
& to my words give heed,
Go, get thee forth to my father's garth,
& rule thee by his rede. "
73.
Oh, wise was Sigurd Sigmundarson,
That spake this word straightway;
" But little heed to thy father's rede
Hast thou been wont to pay!
74.
" O'er-long, I trow, hast tarried
Thy fortune to fulfil,
& I will not forth to thy father's garth,
Nor seek to learn his will. "

66       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

75.
Right gladly Sigurd laid his arms
About her neck so white;
Asla, the daughter of Sigurd,
Was gotten that self-same night.
76.
Right gladly Sigurd laid his arms
Her snow-white neck around;
" I swear to thee that ne' er in me
Shall aught of false be found! "
77.
Twelve rings of red, red gold
He laid her arms between,
& set above them all
The great ring of the Queen.
78.
All on her lily hand
He set twelve rings of gold:
" Of our true love the token
Here shalt thou have & hold. "
79.
It was Sigurd Sigmundarson
That would no splendour spare;
Three rings of ruddy gold he twined
All in her braided hair.
      ·       ·       ·
80.
It was Sigurd Sigmundarson
Kept well the oath he swore,
He tarried in the maiden's bower
Till six full months were o'er.
81.
" Now bring to me my selle & shield, (1)
& my byrnie blue withal!
For I will ride the greenwood way,
& see what will befall. "

1. selle [Fr.] = saddle

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