The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       67

82.
" Nay, rather sit my bower within
At play with the golden dice!
Gjúki the King hath a daughter
That is in withcraft wise.
83.
" Tho' young thou art, & blithe of heart,
Yet short thy life will be;
Shalt wed the daughter of Gjúki,
& think no more on me! "
84.
" Strange is thy saying, my Brynhild,
& ne'er can it chance to me
That I lay my love on another,
& think no more on thee. "
85.
Up & answered Brynhild,
That felt her heart grow cold:
" Gjúki the King hath a daughter
Whose wiles are manifold.
86.
" This ring of gold I'll give thee
Wilt thou but bide in bower,
Nor tempt the guile of Queen Grimhild
All in a luckless hour. "
87.
She followed him far along the way
To bid farewell once more:
" May ill-luck ever stay behind,
& good luck go before!
88.
" So hale we are, so free from care,
This hour when we must part!
Forget not, Sigurd, these words o' mine,
& lay them well to heart. "

68       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

89.
Up & spake the warrior
That loved her passing well:
" Ne'er shalt thou cease, mine own true love,
In heart & mind to dwell! "
90.
He louted low from saddle-bow (1) Her rosy mouth to kiss,
& never, I ween, was fonder love,
Nor truer heart than his.
      ·       ·       ·
91.
It was the son of Sigmund
Rode down thro' wild greenwood,
& it was the sire of Brynhild (2)
That at his gateway stood.
92.
" Now welcome, welcome, Sigurd,
Home to this house o' mine!
Come drink what best shall like thee,
The brown mead or the wine. "
93.
" Oh, little reck I of the mead so brown,
& less of the blood-red wine!
I pray thee to give me Brynhild,
Only daughter thine. "
94.
" I may not be thy kinsman
That fain would be thy friend;
Full well I know which way thou'lt go,
& what will be thine end.
95.
" While young thou art, & blithe of heart,
Thou needs must lose thy life;
And thou wilt let my daughter be,
& take Gudrun to wife.

1. lout = stoop, bend
2. sire = father; i.e. Budli

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       69

96.
" Hast won the love of Brynhild,
Fain wouldst thou hold the boon;
But a wizard wine in the wan moonshine
Is poured by the dark Gudrun! "
97.
" Strange is thy saying, King Budli,
But I trow my heart is true,
& ne'er can I turn from Brynhild
Another maid to woo. "
98.
Up & answered Budli
That felt his heart grow chill:
" Gjúki the King hath a daughter
Shall wile thee to her will.
99.
" But wouldst thou' scape the sorrow
& shame that must else befall,
Then turn thee from the nether way,
Nor pass by Gjúki's hall.
100.
" For Grimhild stands by the gateway
With many a man beside,
& she hath sure foreknowledge
Of the way that thou wilt ride.
101.
" Nor canst thou' scape that knowledge,
Albeit thou ride with speed;
Shalt be in her sight the noblest knight
That e'er bestrode a steed. "
102.
Oh, far he followed along the way
To bid farewell once more:
" Where' er thou ride, no ill betide,
& good luck go before! "
      ·       ·       ·

70       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

103.
It was Sigurd Sigmundarson
Rode down by greenwood vale,
And, rearing in man's likeness,
He saw the Beast of Bale.
104.
There he beheld the Baleful Beast
That lurked 'mid shadows dim;
With fire & fume & deadly spume (1)
It perilled life & limb.
105.
Sigurd the warrior spurred his steed
& sought a path in vain,
For Grane foamed & Grane fought,
& still turned back again.
106.
The furious steed must have his will
That brooks no other guide, (2)
& Sigurd needs must choose the way
By Gjúki's garth to ride.
107.
Like morning moon the portent waned
Before the warrior's e'en,
& lo, the fleeting semblance
He saw of Gjúki's Queen!
      ·       ·       ·
108.
All by the garth of Gjúki
Southward did Sigurd fare,
& at the gate stood Grimhild,
& many a man with her.
109.
She saw that stately champion
Ride by the garth again,
& she stretched forth both her lily hands
To seize his bridle-rein.

1. spume = froth
2. brook = tolerate

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