The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

THE BALLAD OF HØGNI       93

14.
Up & spake the warrior
With the gold rings on his hand:
" The name men name is Artala,
King in the Hunnish land. "
15.
Up rose Gjúki's daughter,
& stretched forth her lily-white hand:
" Full fain am I to follow thee
Home to the Hunnish land! "
16.
Oh, she has stretched her lily-white hand
To him across the board;
Right courteously they spake together
With many a wooing word.
17.
Artala, King of Hunland,
(In Bragdar tale 'tis told)
Thus won the lady Gudrun
That Sigurd loved of old.
18.
All in the morning early,
With the gold rings on his hand,
He bore the fair dame Gudrun
Home to the Hunnish land.
19.
All in the morning early,
From the land where Sigurd died,
Artala, King in Hunnish land,
Hath borne his beauteous bride.
20.
She dwelt with him in Hunland
Till many a day was done;
Babes right fair she bore him,
& never a boy but one.

94       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

21.
Long she dwelt in Hunland,
Again her cheeks grew red;
But ever she thought in secret,
On vengeance for the dead.
22.
" Tis Gudrun Gjúki's daughter
That breweth and blendeth mead;
& she's sent to call her brethren all,
& bidden them come with speed.
23.
Artala., King in Hunland,
Sent courteous words & kind
Little they guessed, those brethren bold.
What peril lurked behind!
24.
'Twas Gunnar, son of Gjúki,
That cried thro' bower & hall:
" Now will we ride to Hunland,
To hold high festival! "
25.
Up spake Grimhild his mother:
" Wild are thy words & vain,
For they that ride to Hunland
Will ne'er return again. "
26.
'Twas. Gunnar, son of Gjúki,
That thus did speak & say:
" Yet will we ride to Hunland,
Let come of it what may! "
27.
" And wilt thou drink Gudrun's red wine,
& hence to Hunland ride,
Yet Gislar & Hjarnar thy brethren young,
Shall with their mother bide. "

THE BALLAD OF HØGNI       95

28.
But Gislar & young Hjarnar
Would neither hold nor heed,
Forth they fared to Hunland
Against their mother's rede.
29.
Gislar the young & Hjarnar
(For none can flee from fate)
Bade gay farewell to GrimhiJct
Stood weeping by the gate.
30.
All by the gate stood Grimhild,
So woefuf & wise was she:
" An if thou wilt ride to Hunland,
Then let me ride with thee! "
31.
" So wild is the wind, my mother,
I hear not thy dule & pine; (1)
The spray doth break on thy rosy cheek
Till I see not thy weeping eyne. "
32.
Up & spake Queen Grimhild:
" Take thou this runic spell,
& bind it fast about thy loins,
& see that thou guard it well.
33.
" Take thou to thee this runic belt
About thy loins to bind;
Its power can loosen every lock,
& comfort every mind. "
34.
Bright shone the sun on the heathland.
& reddened the shields they bore,
When they rode away, the blithesome band,
That ne'er turned homeward mote.,
      ·       ·       ·

1. dule = sorrow

96       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

35.
It was Høgni Gjúkason
Rode down by salt sea-strand,
& there he met a Mermaiden
All on the snow-white sand.
36.
" Now hail, all hail, thou wise sea-wife!
Speak thou & tell me plain,
If I fare forth to Hunnish land,
Shall I come home again? "
37.
" Now harken, Høgni Gjúkason,
For this I tell thee plain,
They that fare forth to Hunnish land
Will ne'er return again.
38.
It was Høgni Gjúkason .
That drew his brand so bnght;
Body from head he sundered,
So strongly did he smite.
39.
The blood-stained head he's taken,
And hurled far into the sound;
The body he threw thereafter,
And both sank down to ground.
40.
" Now lie thou there, thou leasing tongue, (1)
The deep blue sea within!
I trow, an I ride to Hunnish realm,
Great honour I shall win. "
41.
It was Høgni Gjúkason
That rode along the strand,
& there he met a Merman bold
All on the snow-white sand.

1. leasing tongue = loose, false


THE BALLAD OF HØGNI       97

42.
Now hail, all hail, my Merman bold!
Speak, for I fain would learn,
If I may ride to Hunnish realm,
& whole & hale return? "
43.
Now harken, Høgni Gjúkason,
To what thou fain wouldst learn,
Well mayst thou ride to Hunnish realm.
& whole & hale return! "
      ·       ·       ·

44.
Oh Høgni hoisted sail on mast,
& sped away from shore,
& weeping went Queen Grimhild
Homeward to Gjúki's door.
45.
Weeping right sore, Queen Grimhild
Turned back to Gjúki's garth:
No more, no more, dear sons o' mine,
We meet on Middle Earth! "
46.
Up & spake Queen Grimhild
That saw her sons depart:
" Right well I know that my daughter
Brews evil in her heart! "
47.
Now when they sailed in midmost sea
So wild the wind did blow,
That Høgni took to him oars of iron,
& bent himself to row.
48.
The while in King Artala's hall
They tell these tidings new:
Behold a ship far out at sea
With sails o' the gold & blue! "

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