The Northern Way

Helgakviða Hundingsbana Önnur

The Second Lay of Helgi Hundingcide.

Page 1

        King Sigmund, son of Völsung, had to wife Broghild of Brálund. They named their son Helgi, after Helgi Hiörvard´s son. Helgi was fostered by Hagal. There was a powerful king named Hunding, after whom the land was called Hundland. He was a great warrior, and had many sons, who were engaged in warfare. There was enmity, both open and concealed, between Kin Hunding and King Sigmund, and they slew each others kinsmen. King Sigmund and his kindred were called Völsungs, and Ylfings. Helgi went forth and secretly explored the court of King Hunding. Heming, Hunding´s son, was at home. On departing Helgi met a herdsman, and said:

1. “Say thou to Heming,
that Helgi bears in mind
who the mailed warrior was,
whom the men laid low,
when the grey wolf
ye had within,
and King Hunding
that it was Hamal.”

        Hamal was the son of Hagal. King Hunding sent men to Hagal in search of Helgi, and Helgi had no other way to save himself than by taking the clothes of a female slave and going to grind. They sought but did not find him. Then said Blind the Baleful:

2. Sharp are the eyes of Hagal’s thrall-wench;
of no churlish race is she
who at the mill stands.
The mill-stones are split,
the receiver flies asunder.
Now a hard fate has
befallen the warrior,
when a prince must
barley grind:
much more fitting
to that hand
is the falchion’s hilt
than a mill-handle.

Hagal answered and said: -
3. No wonder ‘tis
that the receiver rattles,
when a royal damsel
the handle turns.
She hovered
hither than the clouds,
and, like the vikings,
dared to fight,
until Helgi
made her captive.
She is a sister of
Sigar and Högni;
therefore has fierce eyes
the Ylfing maid.


        Helgi escaped and went on board a ship of war. He slew King Hunding, and was afterwards named Helgi Hundingsbani. He lay with his force in Brunavágar, and carried on ‘strand-högg’ and ate raw flesh. There was a king named Högni, whose daughter was Sigrún: she was a Valkyria, and rode through air and over the sea. She was Svava regenerated. Sigrún rode to Helgi, and said: -

4. What men cause a ship
along the coasts to float?
where do ye warriors a home possess?
what await ye
in Brunavágar?
whither desire ye
to explore a way?

5. Hamal causes a ship
along the coasts to float;
we have home
in Hlésey;
a fair wind we await
in Brunavágar;
eastward we desire
to explore a way.

6. Were, o prince!
hast thou wakened war,
or fed the birds
on conflict’s sisters?
Why is thy corslet
sprinkled with blood?
Why beneath the helm
eat ye raw flesh?

7. It was the Ylfings’ son’s
last achievement, -
if thou desirest to know -
west of the ocean,
that I took bears
in Bragalund,
and the eagles’ race
with our weapons sated.
Now, maiden! I have said
what the reasons were,
why at sea
we little cooked meat ate.

8. To a battle thou alludest.
Before Helgi has
King Hunding
been doomed to fall.
In conflict ye have engaged,
when your kindred ye avenged,
and stained with blood
the falchion’s edge.

9. Why dost thou suppose,
sagacious maiden!
that it was they,
who their kin avenged?
Many a warrior’s
bold sons there are,
and hostile
to our kindred.

10. I was not far,
leader of people!
eager, at many
a chieftain’s end:
yet crafty I account
Sigmund’s son,
when in val-runes
the slaughter he announces.
11. A while ago I saw thee
commanding war-ships,
when thou hadst station
on the bloody prow,
and the cold sea
waves were playing.
Now, prince! thou wilt
from me conceal it,
but Högni’s daughter
recognizes thee.


        Granmar was the name of a powerful prince who dwelt at Svarinshaug. He had many sons: one was called Hödbrodd, the second Gudmund, the third Starkadr. Hödbrodd was at the assembly of kings, and there betrothed himself to Sigrún, the daughter of Högni. But when she was informed of it, she rode with the Valkyriur through the air and over the sea in quest of Helgi. Helgi was at Logafiöll, warring against the sons of Hunding, where he slew Alf and Eyiólf, Hiörvard and Hervard. Being over-fatigued with the conflict, he was sitting under the Arastein, where Sigrún found him, and running to him, threw her arms round his neck, and, kissing him, told him her errand so as it is related in the first Völsungakviða.

12. Sigrún sought
the joyous prince,
Helgi´s hand
she forthwith grasped,
kissed and addressed
the helm-decked king.

13. Then was the chieftain’s mind
to the lady turned.
She declared that she had loved,
with her whole heart,
Sigmund’s son,
before she had seen him.

14. “To Hödbrodd I was
in th’assembly betrothed,
but I another
prince would have:
yet, chieftain! I foresee
my kindred’s wrath:
I have my father’s
promise broken.”

15. Högni’s daughter spoke not
at variance with her heart:
she said that Helgi’s
affection she must possess.

16. Care thou not
for Högni´s wrath,
nor for the evil
mind of thy kin.
Thou shalt, young maiden!
live with me:
of a good race thou art,
as I perceive.

        Helgi then collected a large fleet and proceeded to Frekastein, and at sea experienced a perilous storm. Lightnings came over them, and the flashes entered the ships. They saw that nine Valkyriur were riding in the air, and recognized Sigrún among them. The storm then abated and they reached land in safety. The sons of Granmar were sitting on a hill as the sips were sailing towards the land. Gudmund leapt on a horse, and rode to explore on the hill by the haven. The Völsungs then lowered their sails, and Gudmund spoke as it is before written in the Helgakvida: -

“Who is the leader
that commands the fleet,
and an appalling host
leads to our land?”

        This said Gudmund, Granmar’s son.

17. Who is the warrior
that commands the ships,
and lets his golden banner
wave o’er his prow?
No peace seems to me
in that ship’s front;
it casts a warlike glow
around the vikings.

Sinfiölti, Sigmund´s son, answered:

18. Here may Hödbrodd
Helgi learn to know,
the hard of fight,
in the fleet´s midst:
he the possession
hold of thy race;
he the fishes’ heritage
has to him subjected.

19. Therefore ought we first,
at Frekastein,
to settle together,
and decide our quarrels!
Hödbrod! ‘tis time
vengeance to take,
if an inferior lot
we long have borne.

20. Rather shalt thou, Gudmund!
tend goats,
and steep mountain-tops
shalt climb,
have in thy hand
a hazel staff,
that will better please thee
than judgments of the sword.

        Gudmund rode home with intelligence of the hostile arrangement; whereupon the sons of Granmar collected a host, and many kings came thither. Among them were Högni, the father of Sigrún, with his sons Bragi and Dag. There was a great battle, and all the sons of Högni, and all their chiefs were slain, except Dag, who obtained peace, and swore oaths to the Völsungs. Sigrún, going among the slain, found Hödbrodd at the point of death. She said:

23. Not will Sigrún
of Sefafiöll,
King Hödbrodd!
sink in thy arms:
thy life is departed.
Oft the axe’s blade
the head approaches
of Granmar’s sons.

        She then met Helgi, and was overjoyed. He said:

24. Not to thee, all-wise maiden!
are all things granted,
though, I say, in somewhat
are the Norns to blame.
This morn have fallen
at Frekastein
Bragi and Högni:
I was their slayer.

25. But at Styrkleifar
King Starkadr,
and at Hlebiörg
the son of Hrollaug.
That prince I saw
of all most fierce,
whose trunk yet fought
when the head was far.


Index  |  helgakviša hundingsbana fyrri - the first lay of helgi hundingcide page 2  |  Helgakviša Hundingsbana Önnur - the second lay of helgi hundingcide page 2