The Northern Way

GuÞrúnarkviða Fyrsta

The First Lay of Gudrún.

Gudrún sat over Sigurd dead; she wept not as other women, although ready to burst with sorrow. Both men and women, came to console her, but that was not easy. It is said by some that Gudrún had eaten of Fafnir’s heart, and therefore understood the talk of birds. This is also sung of Gudrún:

1. Of old it was that Gudrún
prepared to die,
when she sorrowing
over Sigurd sat.
No sigh she uttered,
nor with her hands beat,
nor wailed,
as other women.

2. Jarls came forward
of great sagacity,
from her sad state of mind
to divert her.
Gudrún could not
shed a tear,
such was her affliction;
ready she was to burst.

3. Sat there noble
wives of jarls,
adorned with gold,
before Gudrún;
each of them
told her sorrows,
the bitterest
she had known.

4. Then said Giaflaug,
Giuki’s sister:
“I know myself to be
on earth most joyless:
of five consorts I
the loss have suffered;
of two daughters,
sisters three,
and brothers eight;
I alone live.”

5. Gudrún could not
shed a tear,
such was her affliction
for her dead consort,
and her soul’s anguish
for the king’s fall.

6. Then said Herborg,
Hunaland’s queen:
“I a more cruel grief
have to recount:
my seven sons,
in the south land,
my spouse the eighth,
in conflict fell.

7. My father and my mother,
my brothers four,
on the sea
the wind deluded;
the waves struck
on the ship’s timbers.

8. Their last honours
‘twas mine to pay,
‘twas mine to see them tombed,
their funeral rites
to prepare was mine.
All this I underwent
in one half-year,
and to me no one
consolation offered.

9. Then I became a captive,
taken in war,
at the close
of the same half-year.
Then had I to adorn,
and tie the shoes,
of the hersir’s wife,
each morn.

10. From jealousy
she threatened me,
and with hard blows
drove me:
nowhere master
found I a better,
but mistress
no where a worse.”

11. Gudrún could not
shed a tear,
such was her affliction
for her dead consort,
and her soul’s anguish
for the king’s fall.

12. Then said Gullrönd,
Guiki’s daughter:
“Little canst thou, my fosterer,
wise as thou art,
with a young wife
fittingly talk.”
The king’s body she forbade
to be longer hidden.

13. She snatched the sheet
from Sigurd’s corse,
and turned his cheek
towards his wife’s knees:
“Behold thy loved one,
lay thy mouth to his lip,
as if thou wouldst embrace
the living prince.”

14. Gudrún upon him
cast one look:
she saw the prince’s locks
dripping with blood,
the chief’s sparking eyes
closed in death,
his kingly breast
cleft by the sword.

15. Then sank down Gudrún
back on her pillow,
her head-gear was loosed,
her cheeks grew red,
and a flood of tears
fell to her knees.
16. Then wept Gudrún,
Giuki’s daughter,
so that the tears
spontaneously flowed,
and at the same time screamed
the geese in the court,
the noble birds,
which the lady owned.

17. Then spake Gullrönd
Giuki’s daughter:
“Your loves I know
were the most ardent
among living beings
upon earth:
thou hadst delight nowhere,
sister mine!
save with Sigurd.”

18. Then said Gudrún,
Giuki’s daughter:
“Such was my Sigurd
among Giuki’s sons,
as is the garlick
out from the grass which grows,
or a bright stone
on a thread drawn,
a precious gem
on kings.

19. I also seemed
to the prince’s warriors
higher than any
of Herian’s Dísir;
now I am as little
as the leaf oft is
in the storm-winds,
after the chieftain’s death.

20. Sitting I miss,
and in my bed,
my dearest friend.
Giuki’s sons have caused,
Giuki’s sons have caused
my affliction,
and their sister’s
tears of anguish.
21. So ye desolate
the people’s land,
as ye have kept
your sworn oaths.
Gunnar! thou wilt not
the gold enjoy;
those rings will
be thy bane,
for the oaths thou
to Sigurd gavest.

22. Oft in the mansion was
the greater mirth,
when my Sigurd
Grani saddled,
and Brynhild
they went to woo,
that witch accursed,
in an evil hour!”

23. Then said Brynhild,
Budli’s daughter:
“May the hag lack
spouse and children,
who thee, Gudrún!
has caused to weep,
and this morning
given the runes of speech!”

24. Then said Gullrönd,
Giuki’s daughter:
“Cease, thou loathed of all!
from those words.
The evil destiny of princes
thou hast ever been;
thee every billow drives
of an evil nature;
thou sore affliction
of seven kings,
the greatest bane of friendship
among women!”

25. Then said Brynhild,
Budli’s daughter:
“Atli my brother,
Budli’s offspring,
is the sole cause
of all the evil;

26. When in the hall
of the Hunnish folk,
with the king we beheld
the fire of the serpent’s bed.
Of that journey,
I have paid the penalty,
that sight
I have ever rued.”

27. She by a column stood,
the wood violently clasped.
From the eyes of Brynhild,
Budli’s daughter,
fire gleamed forth;
venom she snorted,
when she beheld
the wounds of Sigurd.

        Gudrún then went away to the forest and deserts, and travelled to Denmark, where she stayed seven half-years with Thora, Hakon’s daughter. Brynhild would not outlive Sigurd. She caused her eight thralls and five female slaves to be killed, and then slew herself with a sword, as it is related in the ‘Sigurðarkviða in Skemma’ (the Short Lay of Sigurd).


Index  |  brot af brynhildarkviša - fragments of the lay of brynhild  |  helreiš brynhildar - brynhilds hel-ride