The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

German Literature

Page 5

Stay, my beloved Siegfried, take not my words amiss.

'T is the true love I bear thee that bids me counsel this."

"Back shall I be shortly, my own beloved mate.

Not a soul in Rhineland know I, who bears me hate.

I'm well with all thy kinsmen; they're all my firm allies;

Nor have I from any e'er deserv'd otherwise."

"Nay! do not, dearest Siegfried! 't is e'en thy death I dread.

Last night I dreamt, two mountains fell thundering on thy head,

And I no more beheld thee; if thou from me wilt go,

My heart will sure be breaking with bitterness of woe."

Round her peerless body his clasping arms he threw;

Lovingly he kiss'd her, that faithful wife and true;

Then took his leave, and parted;----in a moment all was o'er---

Living, alas poor lady! she saw him never more.

In the chase Siegfried prefers to hunt with a single limehound. But he achieves most marvelous feats of skill and strength.

Stanzas 962-971.

All, that the limehound started, anon with mighty hand

Were slain by noble Siegfried the chief of Netherland.

No beast could there outrun him, so swift his steed could race;

He won from all high praises for mastery in the chace.

Whatever he attempted, he went the best before.

The first beast he encounter'd was a fierce half-bred boar.

Him with a mighty death-stroke he stretch'd upon the ground;

Just after in a thicket a lion huge he found.

Him the limehound started; his bow Sir Siegfried drew;

With a keen-headed arrow he shot the lion through.

But three faint bounds thereafter the dying monster made.

His wond'ring fellow-huntsmen thanks to Sir Siegfried paid.

Then one upon another buffalo, an elk

He slew, four strong ureoxen, and last a savage shelk.

No beast, how swift soever, could leave his steed behind;

Scarcely their speed could profit the flying hart or hind.

...... ......... .......... .........

They heard then all about them, throughout those forest grounds,

Such shouting and such baying of huntsmen and of hounds,

That hill and wood re-echoed with the wild uproar.

Th' attendants had uncoupled four and twenty dogs or more.

Then full many a monster was doom'd his last to groan.

They thought with glad expectance to challenge for their own

The praise for the best hunting; but lower sunk their pride,

When to the tryst-fire shortly they saw Sir Siegfried ride.

The hunting now was over for the most part at least;

Game was brought in plenty and skins of many a beast

To the place of meeting, and laid the hearth before.

Ah! to the busy kitchen what full supplies they bore!

....... ......... .......... .........

The chase being done, the hunters are summoned to a feast in a neighbor-

ing glade. Here, though they are served with a profusion of sump-

tuous viands, there is, according to Hagen's plot, no wine to drink.

When, toward, the end of the meal Siegfried is tormented with thirst,

Hagen tells him of a cool runnel near by under a linden, and proposes

that he and Gunther and Siegfried shall try a race to this brook. Sieg-

fried gaily consents, and boasts that he will run with all his clothing

and his weapons upon him.

Stanzas 1005-1029.

King Gunther and Sir Hagan to strip were nothing slow;

Both for the race stood ready in shirts as white as snow.

Long bounds, like two wild panthers o'er the grass they took,,

But seen was noble Siegfried before them at the brook.

Whate'er he did, the warrior high o'er his fellows soar'd.

Now laid he down his quiver, and quick ungirt his sword.

Against the spreading linden he lean'd his mighty spear.

So by the brook stood waiting the chief without a peer.

In every lofty virtue none with Sir Siegfried vied.

Down he laid his buckler by the water's side.

For all the thirst that parch'd him, one drop he never drank

Till the king had finished; he had full evil thank.

Cool was the little runnel, and sparkled clear as glass.

O'er the rill king Gunther knelt down upon the grass,

When he his draught had taken, he rose and stepp'd aside.

Full fain alike would Siegfried his thirst have satisfied.

Dear paid he for his courtesy; his bow, his matchless blade,

His weapons all, Sir Hagan far from their lord convey'd,

Then back sprung to the linden to seize his ashen spear,

And to find out the token survey'd his vesture near;

Then, as to drink Sir Siegfried down kneeling there he found,

He pierc'd him through the croslet, that sudden from the wound

Forth the life-blood spouted e'en o'er his murderer's weed.

Never more will warrior dare so foul a deed.

Between his shoulders sticking he left the deadly spear.

Never before Sir Hagan so fled for ghastly fear,

As from the matchless champion whom he had butcher'd there.

Soon as was Sir Siegfried of the mortal wound aware,

Up he from the runnel started, as he were wood

Out from betwixt his shoulders his own hugh boar-spear stood.

He thought to find his quiver or his broadsword true.

The traitor for his treason had then receiv'd his due.

But, ah! the deadly-wounded nor sword nor quiver found;

His shield alone beside him lay there upon the ground.

This from the bank he lifted and straight at Hagan ran;

Him could not then by fleetness escape king Gunther's man.

E'ev to the death though wounded, he hurl'd it with such power,

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