The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       71

110.
" Hold in, hold in, thou Sigurd,
& speak awhile with me!
I have a beauteous daughter
Hath laid her love on thee.
111.
" Fair is many a maiden,
But fairer daughter mine;
The red, red rose & lily-flower
All on her cheeks do shine. "
112.
" And hast thou a beauteous daughter,
The fairer is thy fate;
But winter shall liken summer
Ere she be Brynhild's mate! "
113.
" Yet turn thou in, thou Sigurd,
To rest thy weary steed,
& drink what best shall like thee,
The red wine or the mead. "
      ·       ·       ·
114.
Now donned the lady Gudrun
Her kirtle all of blue,
& twined her raven tresses
With silken bands anew.
115.
It was the queen of Gjúki
Unto her daughter said:
" Get thee hence to the cellar
For mead & wine so red.
116.
" The red, red wine & foaming mead
Shalt mingle sup by sup,
& all so much forgetfulness
Blend thou within the cup. "

72       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

117.
Up & answered Gudrun,
So ready of tongue was she:
" Spare that which is another's
If thou wouldst prosperous be!
118.
" Full many a jarl is in this land,
& knights of high degree,
But spare w hat is another's
Wouldst thou good fortune see! "
119.
'Twas Grimhild raised her hand & smote,
& that in all men's sight,
& the blood from Gudrun's lips ran down,
Upon her bosom white.
120.
" Now hold thy peace, thou scant of wit,
Nor dare my words to scan,
& rather let the woman woo
Than lose a goodly man! "
121.
Gudrun she mixed the mead so brown
With the red wine in the cup
And all so much forgetfulness
Still brimmed the potion up;
122.
All so much forgetfulness
Was mingled in the spell,
& she bore the draught to Sigurd,
& bade him pledge her well.
123.
So deep a draught drank Sigurd
Out of that magic horn,
That kin & kind went from his mind,
& his love was lost & lorn.

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       73

124.
So deep a draught drank Sigurd
That fated eventide, .
That kin & kind went out of mind,
& from his heart his bride.
125.
Upon the horn he stared forlorn
(I tell ye the story true),
For nought of beauteous Brynhild
Nor of himself he knew.
126.
She pledged him, Gjilki's daughter,
When he had drunk his fill,
& he thought on nought but her beauty,
& how to have his will.
      ·       ·       ·
127.
Up spake evil Queen Grimhild,
Of women wiliest:
" Get hence to thy bower, my daughter,
Make ready for thy guest! "
128.
Now tidings came to Brynhild
All in a luckless hour,
That Sigurd, son of Sigmund,
Dwelt ever in Gudrun's bower.
129.
From Hildar-howe went Brynhild
(Ne'er was so fair a wife),
And for that he guested Gudrun
Must Sigurd lose his life.
130.
Up spake Budli's daughter
While fast her tears ran down:
" Not long shall she enjoy him,
That warrior of renown! "

74       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

131.
Up spake Budli's daughter,
Sore was her sorrowing:
" To take what is another's
Can ne'er good fortune bring! "
      ·             ·
132.
Gudrun arose from slumber,
Ere well the night was spent,
For to speak with beauteous Brynhild
Was ever her fixed intent.
133.
When red at early morning
Glimmered the first sunbeam
They went to bathe their bodies
All in the shining stream.
134.
Out where the stream runs strongest
Their wilful way they take,
& one heart, I ween, was merry
The other like to break.
135.
And Brynhild still was silent,
But Gudrun sought for strife:
" Now wherefore may Gunnar, my brother,
Not wholly win his wife? "
136.
" 'Twas Gudrun Gjúki's daughter
A fell despite did dare;
She washed not in the water
That ran from Brynhild's hair.

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       75

137.
And ever she sought the strongest stream
Where fast the foss plunged down, (1)
For that she was wed to Sigmund's son,
That warrior of renown.
138.
And still 'twas Gjúki's daughter
Must first set foot on strand,
For that she was wed to Sigurd,
The noblest in the land.
139.
" Behold, behold this ring of gold
Upon mine arm so white!
That ring I won from Sigmund's son,
& all in thy despite. "
140.
Up spake beauteous Brynhild
In piteous dule & pine: (2)
" Now, if I live, shall Sigurd die,
All for that word o' thine!
141.
" Little deemed I that Sigurd
Should Gudrun's bridegroom be!
My love was given to Sigurd
Or ever he looked on thee. "
142.
" Yea, Sigurd spilled thy maidenhood
On Budli shame to bring;
& yet, forsooth, for all thy love,
I won that mighty King. "

1. foss [Yorkshire dialect] = force (waterfall)
2. dule = sorrow

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