The Northern Way


                        Sigurth and Regin went up to the Gnitaheith, and found there the track that Fafnir made when he crawled to water. Then Sigurth made a great trench across the path, and took his place therein. When Fafnir crawled from his gold, he blew out venom, and it ran down from above on Sigurth’s head. But when Fafnir crawled over the trench, then Sigurth thrust his sword into his body to the heart. Fafnir writhed and struck out with his head and tail. Sigurth leaped from the trench, and each looked at the other. Fafnir said:

“Youth, oh, youth!        of whom then, youth, art thou born?
Say whose son thou art,
Who in Fafnir’s blood         thy bright blade reddened,
And struck thy sword to my heart.”

Sigurth concealed his name because it was believed in olden times that the word of a dying man might have great power if he cursed his foe by his name. He said:

“The Noble Hart        my name, and I go
A motherless man abroad;
Father I had not,        as others have,
And lonely ever I live.”

Fafnir spake:
“If father thou hadst not,        as others have,
By what wonder wast thou born?
(Though thy name on the day         of my death thou hidest,
Thou knowest now thou dost lie.)”

Sigurth spake:
“My race, methinks,         is unknown to thee,
And so am I myself;
Sigurth my name, and Sigmund’s son,
Who smote thee thus with the sword.”

Fafnir spake:
“Who drove thee on? why wert thou driven
My life to make me lose?
A father brave                had the bright-eyed youth,
For bold in boyhood thou art.”

Sigurth spake:
“My heart did drive me,        my hand fulfilled,
And my shining sword so sharp;
Few are keen        when old age comes,
Who timid in boyhood be.”

Fafnir spake:
“If thou mightest grow        thy friends among,
One might see thee fiercely fight;
But bound thou art,        and in battle taken,
And to fear are prisoners prone.”

Sigurth spake:
“Thou blamest me, Fafnir,        that I see from afar
The wealth that my father’s was;
Not bound am I,         though in battle taken,
Thou has found that free I live.”

Fafnir spake:
“In all I say        dost thou hatred see,
Yet truth alone do I tell;
The sounding gold,        the glow-red wealth,
And the rings thy bane shall be.”

Sigurth spake:
“Some one the hoard        shall ever hold,
Till the destined day shall come;
For a time there is         when every man
Shall journey hence to Hel.”

Fafnir spake:
“The fate of the Norns        before the headland
Thou findest, and doom of a fool;
In the water shalt drown        if thou row ‘gainst the wind,
All danger is near to death.”

Sigurth spake:
“Tell me then, Fafnir,        for wise art famed,
And much thou knowest now:
Who are the Norns        who are helpful in need,
And the babe from the mother bring?”

Fafnir spake:
“Of many births        the Norns must be,
Nor one in race they were
Some to gods, others        to elves are kin,
And Dvalin’s daughters some.”

Sigurth spake:
“Tell me then, Fafnir,                 for wise thou art famed,
And much thou knowest now:
How call they the isle        where all the gods
And Surt shall sword-sweat mingle?”

Fafnir spake:
“Oskopnir is it,        where all the gods
Shall seek the play of swords;
Bilrost breaks                when they cross the bridge,
And the steeds shall swim the flood.

“The fear-helm I wore        to afright mankind,
While gaurding my gold I lay;
Mightier seemed I        than any man,
For a fiercer never I found.”

Sigurth spake:
“The fear-helm surely                no man shields
When he faces a valiant foe;
Oft one finds,                when the foe he meets,
That he is not the bravest of all.”

Fafnir spake:
“Venom I breathed        when bright I lay
By the hoard my father had;
(There was none so mighty        as dared to meet me,
And weapons nor wiles I feared.)”

Sigurth spake:
“Glittering worm,        thy hissing was great,
And hard dist show thy heart;
But hatred more         have the sons of men
For him who owns the helm.”

Fafnir spake:
“I counsel thee, Sigurth,        heed my speech,
And ride thou homeward hence;
The sounding gold,        the glow-red wealth,
And the rings thy bane shall be.”
(V. “For it often happens that he who gets a deathly wound yet avenges himself.”)

Sigurth spake:
“Thy counsel is given,        but go I shall
To the gold in the heather hidden;
And, Fafnir, thou        with death dost fight,
Lying where Hel shall have thee.”

Fafnir spake:
“Regin betrayed me,         and thee will betray,
Us both to death will he bring;
His life, methinks,        must Fafnir lose,
For the mightier man wast thou.”

Regin had gone to a distance while Sigurth fought Fafnir, and came back while Sigurth was wiping the blood from his sword. Regin said:

“Hail to thee, Sigurth!         Thou victory hast,
And Fafnir in fight hast slain;
Of all the men                who tread the earth,
Most fearless art thou, methinks.”

Sigurth spake:
“Unknown it is,        when all are together,
(The sons of the glorious gods,)
Who bravest born shall seem;
Some are valiant        who redden no sword
In the blood of a foeman’s breast.”

Regin spake:
“Glad art thou, Sigurth,        of battle gained,
As Gram with grass thou cleanest;
My brother fierce        in fight hast slain,
And somewhat I did myself.”

Sigurth spake:
“Afar didst thou go        while Fafnir reddened
With his blood my blade so keen;
With the might of the dragon        my strength I matched,
While thou in the heather didst hide.”

Regin spake:
“Longer wouldst thou        in the heather have let
Yon hoary giant hide,
Had the weapon availed not        that once I forged,
The keen-edged blade thou didst bear.”

Sigurth spake:
“Better is heart        than a mighty blade
For him who shall fiercely fight;
The brave man well        shall fight and win,
Though dull his blade may be.

“Brave men better        than cowards be,
When the clash of battle comes;
And better the glad        than the gloomy men
Shall face what before him lies.

“Thy rede it was        that I should ride
Hither o’er mountains high;
The glittering worm        would have wealth and life
If thou hadst not mocked at my might.”

Then Regin went up to Fafnir and cut out his heart with his sword, that was named Rithil, and then he drank blood from the wounds. Regin said:

“Sit now, Sigurth,        for sleep will I,
Hold Fafnir’s heart to the fire;
For all his heart        shall eaten be,
Since deep of blood I have drunk.”

Sigurth took Fafnir’s heart and cooked it on a spit. When he thought that it was fully cooked, and the blood foamed out of the heart, then he tried it with his finger to see whether it was fully cooked. He burned his finger, and put it in his mouth. But when Fafnir’s heart’s-blood came on his tongue, he understood the speech of birds. He heard nut-hatches chattering in the thickets. A nut-hatch said:

“There sits Sigurth,        sprinkled with blood,
And Fafnir’s heart        with fire he cooks;
Wise were the breaker        of rings, I ween,
To eat the life-muscles        all so bright.”

A second spake:
“There Regin lies,        and plans he lays
The youth to betray        who trusts him well;
Lying words        with wiles will he speak,
Till his brother the maker        of mischief avenges.”

A third spake:
“Less by a head        let the chatterer hoary
Go from here to Hel;
Then all of the wealth        he alone can wield,
The gold that Fafnir gaurded.”

A forth spake:
“Wise would he seem                if so he would heed
The counsel good         we sisters give;
Thought he would give,        and the ravens gladden,
There is ever a wolf        where his ears I spy.”

A fifth spake:
“Less wise must be        the tree of battle
Than to me would seem        the leader of men,
If forth he lets         one brother fare,
When he of the other        the slayer is.”

A sixth spake:
“Most foolish he seems        if he shall spare
His foe, the bane of the folk;
There Regin lies,        who hath wronged him so,
Yet falsehood knows he not.”

A seventh spake:
“Let the head from the frost-cold        giant be hewed,
And let him of rings be robbed;
Then all the wealth        which Fafnir’s was
Shall belong to thee alone.”

Sigurth spake:
“Not so rich a fate        shall Regin have
As the tale of my death to tell;
For soon the brothers        both shall die,
And hence to Hel shall go.”

Sigurth hewed off Regin’s head, and then he ate Fafnir’s heart, and drank the blood of both Regin and Fafnir. Then Sigurth heard what the nut-hatch said:

“Bind, Sigurth, the golden        rings together,
Not kingly is it        aught to fear;
I know a maid,         there is none so fair,
Rich in gold,        if thou mightest get her.

“Green the paths        that to Gjuki lead,
And his fate the way        to the wanderer shows;
The doughty king        a daughter has,
That thou as a bride        mayst, Sigurth, buy.”

Another spake:
“A hall stands high        on Hindarfjoll,
All with flame        is it ringed without;
Warriors wise        did make it once
Out of the flaming        light of the flood.

“On the mountain sleeps        a battle-maid,
And about her plays        the bane of the wood;
Ygg with the thorn        hath smitten her thus,
For she felled the fighter        he fain would save.

“There mayst thou behold        the maiden helmed,
Who forth on Vingskornir        rode from the fight;
The victory-bringer        her sleep shall break not,
Thou heroes’ son,        so the Norns have set.”

Sigurth rode along Fafnir’s trail to his lair, and found it open. The gate-posts were of iron, and the gates; of iron, too, were all the beams in the house, which was dug down into the earth. There Sigurth found a mighty store of gold, and he filled two chests full thereof; he took the fear-helm and a golden mail-coat and the sword Hrotti, and many other precious things, and loaded Grani with them, but the horse would not go forward until Sigurth mounted on his back.


Index  |  sigurŽarkviša fafnisbana onnur - the second lay of sigurd fafnicide  |  sigrdrifumal - the lay of sigrdrifa page 1