The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

108       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

117.
So hard upon the host he hewed,
So mightily he thrust,
That all Artala's following
In Hunland bit the dust.
118.
The host of King Artala
Lay dead in Hunland all;
& then did Høgni Gjúkason
Leap back to castle-wall.
119.
All, all were slain, did none remain,
(I tell ye the tale aright)
& long had the gloaming fallen
Or ever they ceased from fight.
      ·       ·       · 120.
Forth fared Gudrun when sunrise
Shone bright as burning bale,
& saw him walk unwounded
Within the blood-stained vale.
121.
Up & spake Queen Gudrun
In that red morning-tide:
" Now harken, Høgni, my brother,
To greenwood shalt thou ride.
122.
" Thro' wild greenwood, by Hildar's flood,
I rede thee turn thy rein;
The living shall meet there with the dead,
The slayer with the slain. "
123.
So Høgni rode thro' the greenwood
Eastward by Hildar's shore,
Tryst to hold with the dead & cold,
Whose blood he spilt of yore.

THE BALLAD OF HØGNI       109

124.
The warrior stood in wild greenwood
That woeful tryst to hold;
Oh fair to see, the Budlung's corse,
Laid on his shield of goldl
125.
In wild greenwood the warrior stood
To see a sign of doom;
With furious speed the spectral steed
Came storming thro' the gloom.
126.
The warrior stood in wild greenwood,
& thought on mickle woe,
When he beheld the gory head
Bound to the saddle-bow.
127.
Up spake the head of the hero,
(& still it seemed to bleed):
" When thou betrayedst me, Høgni,
Thou didst an evil deed. .
128.
" More love had Budli's daughter,
The fairest seen with eye,
& more the daughter of Gjúki,
& therefore I needs must die.
129.
So well did Brynhild love me,
Her brow in death grew cold,
But Gudrun with thee shared the Treasure,
Great store of the red, red gold.
130.
" Return, return, oh living man,
To hall & warm hearthside!
Thro' dark & cold, by wood & wold, (1)
The homeless ghost must ride. "

1. wold = tract of open rolling country

110       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

131.
Grim was the wrath of Gudrun
All in the morning dim,
When Høgni came from the greenwood
Yet whole in every limb.
132.
Little on peace thought Høgni,
& much on war's alarm;
Waiting he saw & weaponed
King Artala's men-at-arms.
133.
They fell before his sword-strokes
By twenty & by ten,
He found no other footing
Than on the forms of men.
134.
Loud howls the wolf of the greenwood,
& loud the eagle cries,
So many fall on that red field
That never more shall rise.
135.
'Twas still Gudrun that urged them on
As waves by stormy wind,
For still, the more fell down before,
The more came on behind.
136.
And aye a two-fold toil was his
By might of magic rune,
For whoso fell dead when sun shone red,
She raised beneath the moon.
137.
Up spake Høgni Gjúkason:
" This life hath little mirth!
Weary am I in Hunnish land
Of hewing thrills to earth. "

THE BALLAD OF HØGNI       111

138.
Grim was the wrath of Gudrun
All in the morning red,
For Høgni yet stood hale & whole
Among the countless dead.
139.
'Twas Gudrun Gjúki's daughter
Called to her trusty swain:
" Get hence, seek Geva Long-man,
& bid him come amain! "
140.
Oh, fleet of foot the messenger
That hasted from her bower;
She bade them broider his garments all
With rose & lily-flower. 141.
" Now harken, Geva Long-man,
Nor let my words be vain!
All by the fault of Høgni
Mine only son lies slain.
142.
" And harken, Geva Long-man,
Thou champion good at need,
Whoso slays Høgni Gjúkason
Will do a manly deed. "
143.
Up spake Geva Long-man
When as he knew her will:
" 'Tis more than one man's work, I ween,
That warrior's blood to spill! "
144.
Right well at sight of Geva
Might the boldest turn the rein,
But Høgni drew his biting brand
& spurred his steed amain.

112       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

145.
But Høgni spurred his steed amain
& rushed upon the foe;
Body from head he sundered
So fearful was the blow.
146.
Gudrun went forth at dawning,
& grim was her wrath, to see
How Høgni yet stood hale & whole
Beneath the greenwood tree.
147.
'Twas Gudrun blended mead & wine
As for high festival,
& she's bidden Tidrik Tattnarson
Home to Artala's hall.
148.
Oh, fleet of foot her messenger
That neither stayed nor stood,
But hastened forth to Tattnar's garth
Deep in the wild greenwood.
149.
" Now welcome, welcome, thou little page,
Home to this house o' mine!
Come drink with me what liketh thee,
The brown mead or the wine. "
150.
" Little I reck of the mead so brown,
& less of the blood-red wine!
Another errand have I to thee,
& other thoughts are mine.
151.
" Another errand is mine, I wis,
Nor is your wine for me;
" 'Tis Gudrun Gjúki's daughter
That fain would speak with thee.'

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