The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

80       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

170.
Straightway Brynhild made answer,
So swift of tongue was she:
" Two kings in the self-same dwelling
Shall never be loved by me! "
171.
Straightway Brynhild made answer,
Her heart with sorrow sore:
" Thou, O son of Sigmund,
Shalt know my love no more. "
      ·       ·       ·
172.
In chair of gold sat Brynhild,
While word went to & fro
That now the sons of Gjúki
To greenwood wild should go.
173.
Up & spake King Budli,
& that with pain & pride:
" Let Sigurd have both horn & helm,
& his good sword by his side! "
174.
" None loves so well another
That himself he loves not well;
No more shall Sigurd Sigmundarson
On earth with Brynhild dwell! "
175.
Up & spake King Budli
With the gold ring on his arm:
" Now harken, Brynhild, my daughter,
Why willest thou Sigurd harm?
176.
" Mindest thou not, my daughter,
How once in lover's mood
Didst lure him down from the Northland
All thro' the wild greenwood?

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       81

177.
" & mindest thou not, my daughter,
How in the days langsyne
Thou didst lure him down from the Northland
Into those arms O' thine? "
178.
Forth from the hall went Budli,
King of the wild woodland;
But silent ever sat Brynhild,
Her chin upon her hand.
179.
With stir & shout the train rode out
Under the greenwood tree,
But ever sat Brynhild silent,
& wept right bitterly.
180.
Right merrily those brethren twain
With Sigurd rode away;
Little he knew what treason foul
Was in their hearts that day!
181.
Up rose beauteous Brynhild,
And looked from Budli's hall,
& saw how Sigurd the valiant
Rode foremost of them all.
182.
In chair of gold she sat her down
With bitter dule & pain,
& all along her lily-white arms
Her tears ran down like rain.
183.
Right long & sore wept Brynhild,
That was so fair a wife:
" Farewell, oh Sigurd! Never
I'll see thee more in life. "
      ·       ·       ·

82       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

184.
Oh free & gay they rode away
With Sigurd riding first,
& they gave him to cat of the salted meat,
& nought to slake his thirst.
185.
The brethren drank from hunting-horn
Full many a time & oft,
But the hunting-horn of Sigurd
Was left in Gjúki's loft.
186.
Full oft they drank, those brethren,
Nor liquor did they lack;
But Sigurd loosed his helmet-band,
& sprang from Grane's back.
187.
Little he thought on treason
That sprang from steed of pride,
& gladly laid him down to drink
The woodland well beside.
188.
Sigurd he laid him down to drink
With joyous heart & free-
Oh seldom doth a godly bough
Wax on an evil tree!
189.
Sigurd he laid him down to drink
From water bubbling bright,
& it was Gunnar's sword-blade
That on his neck did bite.

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       83

190.
'Twas Gunnar hewed, & Høgni thrust
With sharp & shining knife;
Such nithing's work they did, those twain, (1)
They twined him of his life.
191.
It was the voice of the Volsung
Spake up in wrath & pain:
" Had I but known your treason,
I was man for more than twain! "
      ·       ·       ·
192.
Swiftly they changed their garments
hereon his life-blood ran;
But never a step stirred Grane
That had the wit of man.
193.
Never a step stirs Grane
Tho' Gunnar mounts to ride;
Still stands the horse by his master's corse,
& lowers his crest of pride.
      ·       ·       ·
194.
When he was slain, they took the swain
& laid him on his shield;
Full many a man is done to death
By power that women wield.
195.
The bleeding corse of Sigurd
At Brynhild's feet they laid;
" As Gudrun had him living,
So let her have him dead! "

1. nithing = coward, dastard

84       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

196.
The bleeding corse of Sigurd
To Gudrun's bed they bore,
Or ever the bride awakened
The sheets were drenched with gore.
197.
Or ever the bride awakened
His blood o'er the bed did flow;
Wan stared Gjúki's daughter
Upon that sight of woe.
198.
And when the bride awakened
She spake in dule & pine:
" How little thought I, King Gunnar,
Such treason would e'er be thine! "
199.
Up rose Gjúki's daughter,
& wiped from her brow the sweat,
& kissed the mouth of Sigurd
That with his blood was wet.
200.
And these the words that Gudrun
Spake up for all to hear:
" Now if I live, my brethren,
This death shall cost ye dear! "
201.
Now Gudrun went to the high-loft
Away from her widowed bed;
All the days of her lifetime
She sorrowed for Sigurd dead.
202.
" Lithe & listen, my daughter,
Nor sorrow for him that's dead!
Artala, King in Hunland,
Hath store of the gold so red. "

THE BALLAD OF BRYNHILD       85

203.
Up & answered Gudrun
In heavy grief & sore:
" Vengeance I'll wreak for Sigurd
Or ever my life be o'er! "
204.
So many a night fair Brynhild
In Sigurd's arms had lain,
& now she died of sorrow
Because she had brought him bane.
205.
Brynhild died of sorrow
When Sigurd lived no more;
Brighter aye grew her beauty
Because of the love she bore.
206.
Brynhild died of sorrow
When Sigurd's corse lay cold;
But her brethren bore to Gudrun
Great store of the red, red gold.
207.
Tender the hearts of women,
& well acquent with pain! (1)
Far did Gudrun wander, Holding by Grane's rein.
      ·       ·      
208.
Now shall I cease from song awhile,
& look that ye mind it well,
Ere once again I raise my strain
This three-fold tale to tell.
      ·       ·       ·

1. acquainted

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