The Northern Way

Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer

SIVORD AND BRYNHILD

GIVEN as No. IV in Tragica (1657), which version is an amalgam from earlier MSS. Version E in Dg. F [*Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser] (1) is interesting as having been preserved (in Danish) among the Faroës. That the Ballad owes more to Northern influence than to German is. apparent in the Northern form (Sivord)of Sigurd's name; in the reference to Sigurd's steed; in the association of Brynhild with the Hill of Glass (Hildar-howe), rather than with a castle; and in the outdoor locality of the Flyting, placed by the German legends within four walls. The name of Haagen, true, has crept in from the German, but its bearer is obviously King Gunnar in disguise. The borrowing of the sword, and the locality of the murder, neither in the wood, nor in Signild's (Gudrun's) bower, are features peculiar to this Ballad, as is the slaying of Brynhild. The name of the sword Adelring, however, obviously derives from that of the Nagelring borne by Dietrich of Bern. Signild for Gudrun harks back to the Signy of V.S., and to the Valkyrie Sigrdrifa, the supernatural aspect of Brynhild; but Signild in this type of ballad (like Kirstin of the love-ballads) must be regarded as a generic name for a special type of heroine. (2)

Here we have a beautiful, highly artistic echo of 'old, unhappy, far-off things.' Though the wistful metre of Aage og Else seems ill-suited to the grim story,


1. * Tragica (1657) by the noblewoman Mette Gjøe.
2. E. von der Recke, 'Danmarks Fornviser' (Copenhagen, 1927), Vol. I, p. 53.

202       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

yet it is admirably handled. The narrative marches well, and the pathos is not unduly stressed. The emotional tone, however, implicit in the very form of the verse, is so far removed, not only from that of the Lays, but from that of the Faroëse cycle, as to suggest rather the Victorian harp of Tennyson than the harp of the Skalds.


SIVORD AND BRYNHILD

1.
A GALLANT steed had Sivord
In days of yore;
Bright Brynhild from the Hill of Glass
By light of day he bore.
(Oh, the King's children o' Denmark!)
2.
But the hand of haughty Brynhild
That knew not fear,
He gave to Hero Haagen,
His weapon-brother dear.
3.
It was Sivord Snarensvend
Rode up by land & lea;
He wedded stately Signild,
So fair was she.
4.
Signild & proud Brynhild
Forth did they fare,
Down to the stream, to wash
Their silken garments there.
5.
" Lithe & listen, Signild, .
Sweet sister mine!
Whence came the ring of gold
Doth on thy finger shine? "

204       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

6.
" The ring of gold that shineth
Upon my finger small,
I got from Sivord Snarensvend,
Bravest of all.
7.
" That golden ring he gave me
In lover's mood,
But thee he gave to Haagen
In weapon-brotherhood! "
8.
It was haughty Brynhild
That self-same hour,
Who laid her down & sickened
For sorrow in her bower.
9.
It was Hero Haagen
Asked once & yet again,
If aught in all the world
Could ease her of her pain.
10.
" Nay, nought in all the world
Can ease me of my pain,
Save only the red heart's blood
Of Sivord Snarensvend!
11.
" My hurt shall ne' er be healed
By sea nor by land,
Till the gory head of Sivord
I hold in my hand. "
12.
" How shall I win his head
In foray or fight?
No sword in all the world
Upon his skin will bite.

SIVORD AND BRYNHILD       199

13.
" No sword of earthly forging
Will bite upon his skin,
Save his own good blade alone,
& that I may not win. "
14.
" Now haste, seek thou Sivord
Ere the dawn break,
& bid him lend his brand
For honour's sake!
15.
" Go beg of him the brand
All for thy fame;
Say thou art sworn to fight
In thy fair lady's name. "
16.
It was Hero Haagen
That straight to Sigurd came,.
& begged his goodly brand
All for his lady's fame.
17.
" & hast thou my goodly sword,
Adelring hight,
Then never shalt thou fail
To win in fight.
18.
" My bonnie brand Adelring
Shalt wield an thou wilt,
But beware the tears of blood,
Lie hidden in the hilt!
19.
" Beware the tears of blood
In hilt that hidden lie!
If they thy fingers redden,
Then must thou die. "

206       SIGURD THE DRAGON-SLAYER

20.
Thus did Sivord Snarensvend,
Weapon-brother true,
Lend the sword hight Adelring;
That did he rue.
21.
It was Hero Haagen
Seized the bright brand,
& slew his weapon-brother
With his own hand.
22.
Beneath his cloak of scarlet
The blood-stained head he bore,
And laid it in the high-loft
Brynhild before.
23.
" The gory head thou hast
Thine heart to cheer;
Woe's me that I have slain
My weapon-brother dead "
24.
" Hide, hide the gory head
That mine eyes shall never sed
What tho' I brought him bane,
I loved him more than thee. "
25.
It was Hero Haagen
That turned in bitter smart,
It was haughty Brynhild
He pierced to the heart.
26.
" Now I have slain my lady,
And my weapon-brother bold!
A third must yet be slain
Before the tale be told. "

SIVORD AND BRYNHILD       199

27.
Against an earth-fast stone
He stayed the golden hilt;
The point of Sivord's blade
His heart's blood spilt.
28.
Woe worth the day
When Brynhild was born!
Two most noble King's children
For her were lost & lorn.

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