The Northern Way

Atlamál in Groenlenzku

The Groenland Lay of Atli.

Page 4

76. Atli oft inquired
whither his boys
were gone to play,
as he nowhere saw them?

Gudrún
77. Over I am resolved to go,
and to Atli tell it.
Grimhild’s daughter
will not conceal from thee.
Little glad, Atli! wilt thou be,
when all thou learnest;
great woe didst thou raise up,
when thou my brothers slewest.

78. Very seldom have I slept
since they fell.
Bitterly I threatened thee:
now I have reminded thee.
‘It is now morning’, saidst thou:
I yet it well remember;
and it now is eve,
when thou the like shalt learn.

79. Thou thy sons hast lost,
as thou least shouldest;
know that their skulls thou
hast had for beer-cups;
thy drink I prepared,
I their red blood have shed.

80. I their hearts took,
and on a spit staked them,
then to thee gave them.
I said they were of calves,
-it was long of thee alone -
thou didst leave none,
voraciously didst devour,
well didst ply thy teeth.

81. Thy children’s fate thou knowest,
few a worse awaits.
I have my part performed,
though in it glory not.
Atli
82. Cruel was thou, Gudrún!
who couldst so act,
with thy children’s blood
my drink to mingle.
Thou hast destroyed thy offspring,
as thou least shouldest;
and to myself thou leavest
a short interval from ill.

Gudrún
83. I could still desire
thyself to slay;
rarely too ill
it fares with such a prince.
Thou hast already perpetrated
crimes unexampled among men
of frantic cruelty,
in this world:
now thou hast added
what we have just witnessed.
A great misdeed hast thou committed,
thy death-feast thou hast prepared.

Atli
84. On the pile thou shalt be burnt,
but first be stoned;
then wilt thou have earned
what thou hast ever sought.

Gudrún
85. Tell to thyself such griefs
early to-morrow:
by a fairer death I will
pass to another light.

86. In the same hall they sat,
exchanged hostile thoughts,
bandied words of hate:
each was ill at ease.

87. Hate waxed in a Hniflung,
a great deed he meditated;
to Gudrún he declared
that he was Atli’s deadly foe.

88. Into her mind came
Högni’s treatment;
happy she him accounted,
if he vengeance wreaked.
Then was Atli slain,
within a little space;
Högni’s son him slew,
and Gudrún herself.

89. The bold king spake,
roused up from sleep;
quickly he felt the wounds,
said he no binding needed.
“Tell me most truly
who has slain Budli’s son.
I am hardly treated:
of life I have no hope.”

Gudrún
90. I, Grimhild’s daughter,
will not from thee hide,
that I am the cause
that thy life passes away;
but partly Högni’s son,
that thy wounds make thee faint.

Atli
91. To the slaughter thou hast rushed,
although it ill beseemed thee;
‘tis bad to circumvent a friend,
who well confided in thee.
Besought I went from home,
to woo thee, Gudrún!

92. A widow thou wast left,
fierce thou was accounted,
which was no falsehood,
as we have proved.
Hither home thou camest,
us a host of men attended;
all was splendid
on our journey.

93. Pomp of all kinds was there,
of illustrious men,
beeves in abundance:
largely we enjoyed them.
Of all things there was plenty
partaken of by many.

94. A marriage gift to my bride I gave,
treasures for her acceptance,
thralls thrice ten,
seven fair female slaves:
in such things was honour;
silver there was yet more.

95. All seemed to thee
as it were naught,
while the lands untouched lay,
which Budli had left me.
So didst thou undermine,
didst allow me nothing to receive.
Thou didst my mother let
often sit weeping:
with heart content I found not
one of my household after.

Gudrún
96. Now, Atli! thou liest,
though of that I little reck.
Gentle I seldom was,
yet didst thou greatly aggravate it.
Young brothers ye fought together,
among yourselves contended;
to Hel went the half
from thy house:
all went to ruin
that should be for benefit.

97. Brothers and sisters we were three,
we thought ourselves invincible:
from the land we departed,
we followed Sigurd.
We roved about,
each steered a ship;
seeking luck we went,
till to the east we came.

98. The chief king we slew,
there a land obtained,
the ‘hersar’ yielded to us;
that manifested fear.
We from the forest freed
him whom we wished harmless,
raised him to prosperity
who nothing had possessed.

99. The Hun king died,
then suddenly my fortune changed:
great was the young wife’s grief,
the widow’s lot was hers.
A torment to me it seemed
to come living to the house of Atli.
A hero had possessed me:
sad was that loss!

100. Thou didst never from a contest come,
as we have heard,
where thou didst gain thy cause,
or others overcome;
ever wouldst thou give way,
and never stand,
lettest all pass of quietly,
as ill beseemed a king.

Atli
101. Gudrún! now thou liest.
Little will be bettered
the lot of either:
we have all suffered.
Now act thou, Gudrún!
0f thy goodness,
and for our honour,
when I forth am borne.

Gudrún
102. I a ship will buy,
and a painted cist;
will the winding-sheet well wax,
to enwrap thy corse;
will think of every requisite,
as if we had each other loved.

103. Atli was now a corpse,
lament from his kin arose:
the illustrious woman did
all she had promised.
The wise woman would
go to destroy herself;
her days were lengthened:
she died another time.

104. Happy is every one hereafter
who shall give birth to such
a daughter famed for deeds,
as Giuki begat:
ever will live,
in every land,
their oft-told tale,
wherever people shall give ear.

Index  |  atlamál in groenlenzku - the groenland lay of atli page 3  |  gudrúnarhvöt - gudruns incitement