The Northern Way

Brot af Brynhildarkviða

Fragments of the Lay of Brynhild.


1. “Why art thou, Brynhild!
Budli’s daughter!
absorbed in evil
and murderous thoughts?
What injury
has Sigurd done thee,
that thou the hero wilt
of life bereave?”

2. “Sigurd to me
oaths has sworn,
all falsehoods.
He at a time deceived me
when he should have been
of all oaths
most observant.”

3. “Thee Brynhild has
in anger instigated
evil to perpetrate,
harm to execute.
She grudges Gudrún
her happy marriage,
and thee,
possession of herself.”


4. Some a wolf roasted,
some a snake cut up,
some to Guthorm
served the wolf,
before they might,
eager for crime,
on the mighty man
lay their hands.

5. Without stood Gudrún,
Giuki’s daughter,
and these words
first of all she uttered:
“Where is now Sigurd,
lord of warriors,
seeing that my kinsmen
foremost ride?”

6. Högni alone to her
answer gave:
“Asunder have we Sigurd
hewed with our swords;
his grey steed bends
o’er the dead chief.”

7. Then said Brynhild,
Budli’s daughter,
“Well shall ye now enjoy
arms and lands.
Sigurd would alone
over all have ruled,
had he a little longer
life retained.

8. Unseemly it had been
that he should so have ruled
over Giuki’s heritage
and the Goths’ people,
when he five sons,
for the fall of hosts,
eager for warfare,
had begotten.”

9. Then laughed Brynhild -
the whole burgh resounded -
once only
from her whole heart:
“Well shall ye enjoy
lands and subjects,
now the daring king
ye have caused to fall.”

10. Then said Gudrún,
Guiki’s daughter:
“Much thou speakest,
things most atrocious:
may fiends have Gunnar,
Sigurd’s murderer!
Souls malevolent
vengeance awaits.”

11. Sigurd had fallen
south of the Rhine:
loud from a tree
a raven screamed:
“With you blood will Atli
his sword’s edge redden;
the oaths ye have sworn
your slaughter shall dissolve.”

12. Evening was advanced,
much was drunken,
then did pleasant talk
of all kinds pass:
all sank in sleep,
when to rest they went.
Gunnar alone was wakeful
longer than all:

13. He began his foot to move,
and much with himself to speak;
the warlike chief
in his mind pondered,
what during the conflict
the raven and the eagle
were ever saying,
as they rode home.

14. Brynhild awoke,
Budli’s daughter,
daughter of the Skiöldungs,
a little ere day:
“Urge me or stay me -
the mischief is perpetrated -
my sorrow to pour forth,
or so suppress it.”

15. All were silent
at these words;
few understood
the lady’s conduct,
that weeping she
should begin to speak
of what she laughing
had desired.

16. “In my dream, Gunnar!
all seemed so horrid;
in the chamber all was dead;
my bed was cold;
and thou, king! wast riding
of joy bereft,
with fetters loaded,
to a hostile host.
So will ye all,
race of Niflungs!
be of power deprived,
perjurers as ye are!

17. Ill Gunnar!
didst thou remember,
when blood ye in your footsteps
both let flow;
now hast thou him
ill for all that requited,
because he would
prove himself foremost.

18. Then was it proved,
when the hero had
ridden to see me,
to woo me,
how the warlike chief
whilom held sacred
his oath towards
the youthful prince.

19. Laid his sword,
with gold adorned,
the illustrious king
between us both:
outward its edges were
with fire wrought,
but with venom drops
tempered within.”

        From this lay, in which the death of Sigurd is related, it appears that he was slain without doors, while some relate that he was slain sleeping in his bed: but the Germans say he was slain out in the forest; and it is told in the Guðrúnarkviða hin Forna, that Sigurd and the sons of Giuki had ridden to the public assembly (Þing) when he was slain. But it is said by all, without exception, that they broke faith with him, and attacked him while lying down and unprepared.


Index  |  sigurŽarkviša fafnisbana Žrišja - the third lay of sigurd fafnicide page 3  |  guŽrśnarkviša fyrsta - the first lay of gudrun