The Northern Way

Helgakviða Hundingsbana Önnur

The Second Lay of Helgi Hundingcide.

Page 2

26. On the earth lie
the greater number
of thy kinsmen,
to corpses turned.
Thou hast not fought the battle,
yet ´twas decreed,
that thou, potent maiden!
shouldst cause the strife.

        Sigrún then wept. Helgi said:

27. Sigrún! console thyself;
a Hild thou hast been to us.
Kings cannot conquer fate:
gladly would I have them living
who are departed,
if I might clasp thee to my breast.

        Helgi obtained Sigrún, and they had sons. Helgi lived not to be old. Dag, the son of Högni, sacrificed to Odin, for vengeance for his father. Odin lent Dag his spear. Dag met with his relation Helgi in a place called Fiöturlund, and pierced him through with his spear. Helgi fell there, but Dag rode to the mountains and told Sigrún what had taken place.

28. Loath am I, sister!
sad news to tell thee;
for unwillingly I have
my sister caused to weep.
This morning fell,
in Fiöturlund,
the prince who was
on earth the best,
and on the necks
of warriors stood.

29. Thee shall the oaths
all gnaw,
which to Helgi
thou didst swear,
the limped
Leiptr’s water,
and at the cold dank
wave-washed rock.

30. May the ship not move forward,
which under thee should move,
although the wished-for wind
behind thee blow.
May the horse not run,
which under thee should run,
although from enemies
thou hast to flee!

31. May the sword not bite
which thou drawest,
unless it sing
round thy own head.
Then would Helgi’s death
be on thee avenged,
if a wolf thou wert,
out in the woods,
of all good bereft,
and every joy,
have no sustenance,
unless on corpses thou shouldst spring.

32. Sister! thou ravest,
and hast lost thy wits,
when on thy brother thou
callest down such miseries.
Odin alone is cause
of all the evil;
for between relatives
he brought the runes of strife.

33. Thy brother offers thee
rings of red gold,
all Vadilsvé
and Vigdalir:
have half the land,
thy grief to compensate,
woman ring-adorned!
thou and thy sons.

34. So happy I shall not sit
at Sefafiöll,
neither at morn nor night,
as to feel joy in life,
if o’er the people plays not
the prince’s beam of light;
if his war-steed runs not
under the chieftain hither,
to the gold bit accustomed;
if in the king I cannot rejoice.

35. So had Helgi
struck with fear
all his foes
and their kindred,
as before the wolf
the goats run frantic
from the fell,
of terror full.

36. So himself Helgi
among warriors bore,
as the towering ash
is among thorns,
or as the fawn,
moistened with dew,
that more proudly stalks
than all the other beasts,
and its horns glisten
against the sky.

        A mound was raised for Helgi; but when he came to Valhall, Odin offered him rule over all jointly with himself. Helgi said:

37. Thou, Hundung! shalt
for every man
a foot-bath get,
and fire kindle;
shalt bind the dogs,
to the horses look,
to the swine give wash,
ere to sleep thou goest.

        A female slave passing at evening by Helgi’s mound, saw him riding towards it with many men:

38. Is it a delusion
which methinks I see,
or the powers’ dissolution,
that ye, dead men, ride,
and your horses
with spurs urge on,
or to warriors is
a home journey granted?

39. ‘Tis no delusion
which thou thinkst to see,
nor of mankind the end,
although thou seest us,
although our horses we
with spurs urge on,
nor to warriors is
a home-journey granted.

        The slave went home and said to Sigrún:

40. Sigrún! go forth
from Sefafiöll,
if the people´s chief
thou desirest to meet.
The mound is opened,
Helgi is come,
his wounds still bleed;
the prince prayed thee
that thou wouldst still
the trickling blood.

        Sigrún entered the mound to Helgi and said:

41. Now am I as glad,
at our meeting,
as the voracious
hawks of Odin,
when they of slaughter know;
of warm prey,
or, dewy-feathered, see
the peep of day.

42. I will kiss
my lifeless king,
ere thou thy bloody corslet
layest aside.
Thy hair is, Helgi!
tumid with sweat of death;
my prince is all
bathed in slaughter-dew;
cold, clammy are the hands
of Högni’s son.
How shall I, prince! for this
make thee amends?

43. Thou art alone the cause,
Sigrún of Sefafiöll!
that Helgi is
with sorrow’s dew suffused.
Thou weepest, gold-adorned!
cruel tears,
sun-bright daughter of the south!
ere to sleep thou goest;
each one falls bloody
on the prince’s breast,
wet, cold, and piercing,
with sorrow big.

44. We shall surely drink
delicious draughts,
thou we have lost
life and lands.
No one shall
a song of mourning sing,
though on my breast
he wounds behold.
Now are women
in the mound enclosed,
daughters of kings,
with us the dead.

        Sigrún prepares a bed in the mound.

35. Here, Helgi! have I for thee
a peaceful
couch prepared,
for the Ylfings’ son.
On thy breast I will,
chieftain! repose,
as in my hero’s lifetime
I was wont.

36. Nothing I now declare
unlooked for,
at Sefafiöll
late or early,
since in a corpse’s
arms thou sleepest,
Högni’s fair daughter!
in a mound,
and thou art living,
daughter of kings!

37. Time ‘tis for me to ride
on the reddening ways:
let the pale horse
tread the aërial path.
I towards the west must go
over Vindhiálm´s bridge,
ere Salgofnir
awakens heroes.

        Helgi and his attendants rode their way, but Sigrún and hers proceeded to their habitation. The following evening Sigrún ordered her serving-maid to hold watch at the mound; but at nightfall, when Sigrún came thither, she said:

48. Now would be come,
if he to come intended,
Sigmund’s son,
from Odin’s halls.
I think the hope lessens
of the king’s coming,
since on the ash’s boughs
the eagles sit,
and all the folk
to the dreams’ tryst are hastening.

49. Be not so rash
alone to go,
daughter of heroes!
to the house of draugs:
more powerful are,
in the night-season,
all dead warriors,
then in the light of day.

        Sigrún’s life was shortened by grief and mourning. It was a belief in ancient times that men were regenerated, but that is now regarded as an old crone’s fancy. Helgi and Sigrún are said to have been regenerated. He was then called Helgi Haddingiaskadi, and she Kara Hálfdan’s daughter, as it is said in the songs of Kara; and she also was a Valkyria.


Index  |  Helgakviša Hundingsbana Önnur - the second lay of helgi hundingcide page 1  |  Sinfiötlalok - sinfiotlis end