The Northern Way

Atlamál in Groenlenzku

The Groenland Lay of Atli.

Page 2

26. Methought dead women
in the night came hither;
not ill-clad were they:
they would choose thee,
forthwith invited thee
to their seats.
I ween thy Dísir
have forsaken thee.”

Gunnar
27. “Too late it is to speak,
it is now so resolved;
from the journey we shall not shrink,
as it is decreed to go:
very probable it seems
that our lives will be short.”

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28. When colours were discernable,
those on journey bent
all rose up:
the others fain would stay them.
The five journeyed together,
of ‘hús-carls’ there were present
twice that number.
- It was ill devised -
Snævar and Sólar,
they were Högni’s sons;
Orkning he was named,
who them accompanied,
a gentle shield-bearer was he,
the brother of Högni’s wife.

29. They went fair-appointed,
until the firth them parted:
ever would their wives have stayed them,
they would not be stayed.

30. Glaumvör then spake,
Gunnar’s consort,
Vingi she addressed,
as to her seemed fitting:
“I know not whether ye will requite us
as we would:
with treachery came the guest,
if aught of ill betide.”

31. Then Vingi swore,
little spared he himself:
“May him the Jötuns have,
if towards you he lies!
the gallows hold him,
if aught against peace he meditates!”

32. Bera took up the word,
she of gentle soul:
“Sail ye prosperous,
and may success attend you:
may it be as I pray,
and it nothing hinder!”

33. Högni answered
- he to his kin meant well -
“Be of good cheer, ye prudent!
whatever may befall.
Many say the same,
though with great difference;
for many little care
how they depart from home.”

34. On each other then they looked
before they parted:
then, I ween, their fates were severed,
and their ways divided.

35. Vigorously they rowed,
their bark was well nigh riven;
backward bending the waves they beat,
ardently plied:
their oar-bands were broken,
the rowlocks shattered.

36. A little after
- I will the end relate -
they saw the mansion stand
that Budli had possessed.
Loud creaked the latticed gates,
when Högni knocked.

37. Then said Vingi,
what he had better not,
“Go far from the house,
‘tis perilous to enter;
I quickly enticed you to perdition;
ye shall forthwith be slain.
With fair words I prayed your coming,
though guile was under them.
But just bide here,
while a gallows I prepare.”

38. Högni answered -
little thought he of yielding,
or of aught fearful
that was to be proved: -
“Think not to frighten us;
try that seldom.
If one word thou addest,
thou wilt thy harm prolong.”
39. They rushed on Vingi,
and struck him dead,
laid on their axes,
while life within him throbbed.

40. Atli his men assembled,
in their byrnies they issued forth,
went prepared so
that a fence was between them.
Words they brandied,
all with rags boiling:
“Already had we resolved
to take your lives away.”

Högni
41. “It looks but ill,
if ye before have counseled:
e’en now ye are unprepared,
and we one have felled,
smitten to death:
one of your host was he.”

42. Furious they became,
when those words they heard;
their fingers they stretched forth,
and their bow-strings seized;
sharply shot,
and with shields themselves protected.

43. In then came the tale
of what without was passing;
loud before the hall
they a thrall heard speak.

44. Then incensed was Gudrún,
when the sad news she heard:
adorned with necklaces,
she tore them all asunder;
so hurled the silver,
that the rings in shivers flew.

45. Then she went out,
not gently moved the doors;
went forth void of fear,
and the comers hailed,
turned to the Niflungs:
that was her last greeting,
truth attended it;
more words she said:

46. “I sought by symbols
to prevent your leaving home,
- fate may no one resist -
and yet must you come hither.”
Wisely she asked:
might they not be appeased?
No one consented,
all answered no.

47. Saw then the high-born lady
that a hard game they played;
a deadly deed she meditated,
and her robe dashed aside,
a naked falchion seized,
and her kinsmen’s lives defended:
skilful she was in warfare,
where her hand she applied.

48. Giuki’s daughter caused
two warriors to fall;
Atli’s brother she struck down,
- he must thenceforth be borne -
so she the conflict managed,
that she his foot struck off.
Another too she smote,
so that he never rose,
to Hel she sent him:
her hand trembled not.

49. A conflict then ensued,
which was widely famed,
but that excelled all else
which Giuki’s sons performed.
So ‘tis said the Niflungs,
while yet they lived,
with swords maintained the fight,
corslets rent,
helmets hewed,
as their hearts prompted.

50. At morning most they fought,
until mid-day had passed;
all early morn,
and the forenoon,
ere the fight was ended,
the field flowed with blood,
until eighteen had fallen:
Bera’s two sons,
and her brother,
had them overcome.

 

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