The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

76       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

143.
" Not long, not long, oh leasing tongue, (1)
Shalt thou my fame belie!
So sure as thou that word hast said,
So sure shall Sigurd die. "
144.
" Little reck I of thy words, I ween,
Altho' thou stirrest strife;
There's never a man in Gjúki's garth
Bears rule o'er Sigurd's life! "
      ·       ·       ·
145.
Right woefully went Brynhild
To lie in her bower alone;
Vainly he asked, King Gunnar,
Wherefore she made her moan.
146.
Now when to the son of Sigmund
Those heavy news they bore,
Straightway he sought the fair ladye (2)
He loved so well of yore.
147.
" Oh, never a knight in Hunland
So light o' love would be,
His vows to break for another's sake,
Were sworn to fair ladye! "
148.
" Now lithe & listen, mine own dear love,
" Tis darkness all to me,
How I turned my heart to another,
& thought no more on thee. "
149.
It came to pass when Brynhild
Had Sigurd seen once more,
In bitter woe & weeping
A daughter fair she bore.

1. leasing = loose, false tongue
2. ladye = lady

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       77

150.
And these are the words of Brynhild
To the maidens that minister:
" Now cast the child in the waters wild,
For I will not look on her! "
151.
Asla, daughter of Sigurd,
Had scarce beheld the day,
When the striving stream & foaming flood
Swept her far, far away.
      ·       ·       ·
152.
Oft do men stand in peril
All for a wilful wife;
E' en now doth lower the fatal hour
When Sigurd must lose his life.
153.
He was the noblest champion
That ever couched a spear,
Yet a woman's will his life did spill,
As ye that list shall hear.
      ·       ·       ·
154.
All in her bower sits Brynhild
While heavy the moments go;
She speaketh not, she resteth not,
So weary is her woe.
155.
& now with hand on ready brand,
King Gunnar up & saith:
" Whoso hath done my Queen despite
Shall dree a bitter death!' (1)

1. dree = pay

78       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

156.
" 'Twas Gudrun, thy false sister,
Hath done me this despite,
For that she wedded Sigurd,
Foremost of all in fight. "
157.
All in her bed lies Brynhild,
& Gunnar stands beside;
Full oft the rede of evil deed
Springs from a woman's pride.
158.
" Now lithe & listen, mine own dear love,
Ne'er can I deem it true .
That thou would'st seek young Sigurd
By treason to undo. "
159.
" Ne'er shalt thou come my bower within,
& ne'er my love shalt know,
Till thou riddest the realm of Sigurd,
That wrought medule & woe! "
160.
Up & spake King Gunnar:
" Nay, but this may not be!
Sigurd, my weapon-brother,
Shall ne'er be slain by me. "
161.
" Then ne'er shalt thou win love of me,
Nor to my bower return;
So long as I look on Sigurd,
So long my wrath shall bum. "
162.
Up spake Høgni Gjúkason,
& whitened where he stood:
" 'Tis years fifteen & more, I ween,
Since we swore brotherhood.

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       79

163.
" Now harken, Brynhild Budli's daughter,
" Tis thou canst best devise
How we may take that warrior bold,
By cunning or surprise. "
164.
" Oh, ye shall ride by Sigurd's side
Down into greenwood brake, (1)
& give him to eat of the salted meat,
With nought his thirst to slake.
165.
" Bid ye him boun to saddle, (2)
Bid ye him boun to steed;
&, is there treason in your hearts,
Then do as ye best may speed! "
166.
Queen Brynhild sits in chair of gold,
& plays with her gilded knife:
" Ne' er shalt thou win my bower within
Till Sigurd loseth life! "
167.
Now Brynhild sat in the high-seat
When Sigurd sought the hall;
Stately was he to look on,
And wiser than warriors all.
168.
Stately he stood before her,
His shield with gold a-shine;
But Brynhild daughter of Budli
She turned away her eyne.
169.
Thus did Sigurd the valiant
Brynhild the beauteous greet:
" When I ride home from the wildwood,
Then thou and I will meet. "

1. brake = thicket (of bracken fern or cane)
2. boun = ready

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