The Northern Way

Helgakviða Hundingsbana Fyrri

The First Lay of Helgi Hundingcide.

Page 2

28. So might be heard,
when together came
the tempest’s sister
and the long keels,
as when rock and surge
on each other break.

29. Higher still bade Helgi
the deep sail be hauled.
No port gave shelter
to the crews;
when Ægir´s
terrific daughter
the chieftains’ vessels
would o’erwhelm.

30. But from above
Sigrún intrepid,
saved them
and their fleet also;
from the hand of Rán
powerfully was wrested
the royal ship
at Gnípalund.

31. At eve they halted
in Unavágar;
the splendid ships
might into port have floated,
but the crews,
from Svarinshaug,
in hostile mood,
espied the host.

32. Then demanded
the god-born Gudmund:
“Who is the chieftain
that commands the fleet,
and that formidable force
brings to our land?”

33. Sinfiötli said,
slinging up on the yard
a red-hued shield
with golden rim; -
He at the strait kept watch,
and able was to answer,
and with nobles
words exchanged -

34. “Tell it at eve,
when you feed your pigs,
and your dogs
lead to their food,
that the Ylfings
from the east are come,
ready to fight
at Gnípalund.

35. Hödbrodd will
Helgi find
in the fleet´s midst,
a king hard to make flee,
who has oft
the eagles sated,
while thou wast at the mills,
kissing the thrall-wenches.

36. Little dost thou remember
of ancient saws,
when of the noble
thou falsehoods utterest.
Thou hast been eating
wolves’ dainties,
and of thy brother
wast the slayer;
wounds hast thou often
sucked with cold mouth;
every where loathed,
thou hast crawled in caverns.

37. Thou was a Vala-crone
in Varinsey,
cunning as a fox,
a spreader of lies.
Thou saidst thou no man
wouldst ever marry,
no corsleted warrior,
save Sinfiötli.

38. A mischievous crone was thou,
a giantess, a Valkyria,
insolent, onstrous,
in Alfather’s hall.
All the Einheriar
fought with each other,
deceitful woman!
for thy sake.
Nine wolves we begat
in Sagunes;
I alone was
father of them all.

39. Father thou wast not
of Fenriswolves,
older than all,
as far as I remember;
since by Gnípalund,
the Thurs-maidens
thee emasculated
upon Thorsnes.

40. Thou was Siggeir’s stepson,
at home under the benches layest,
accustomed to the wolf’s howl
out in the forests:
calamity of every kind
came over thee,
when thou didst lacerate
thy brother’s breast.
Notorious thou mad’st thyself
by thy atrocious works.

41. Thou was Grani´s bride
at Brávöllr,
hadst a golden bit,
ready for the course.
Many a time have I
ridden thee tired,
hungry and saddled,
through the fells, thou hag!

42. A graceless lad
thou wast thought to be,
when Gulnir’s goats
thou didst milk.
Another time thou wast
a giantess’s daughter,
a tattered wretch.
Wilt thou a longer chat?

43. I rather would
at Frekastein
the ravens cram
with thy carcase,
than thy dogs
lead to their meat,
or thy hogs feed.
May the fiend deal with thee!

44. “Much more seemly, Sinfiölti!
would it be for you both
in battle to engage,
and the eagles gladden,
than with useless
words to contend,
however princes
may foster hate.

45. Not good to me appear
Granmar’s sons,
yet ‘tis right that princes
should speak the truth:
they have shown,
at Móinsheimar,
that they have courage
to draw the sword.” -

46. Rapidly they their horses
made to run,
Svipud and Svegiud,
to Sólheimar,
over dewy dales,
dark mountain-sides;
trembled the sea of mist,
where the men went.

47. The king they met
at the burgh’s gate,
to the prince announced
the hostile advent.
Without stood Hödbrodd
with helmet decked:
he the speed noticed
of his kinsmen.
“Why have ye Hníflúngs
such wrathful countenance?”

48. “Hither to the shore are come
rapid keels,
towering masts,
and long yards,
shields many,
and smooth-shaven oars,
a king’s noble host,
joyous Ylfings.

49. Fifteen bands
are come to land;
but there are out at sea,
before Gnípulund,
seven thousand
blue-black ocean-beasts
with gold adorned;
there is by far
their greatest multitude.
Now will Helgi not
delay the conflict.”

50. “Let a bridled steed
to the chief assembly run,
but Sporvitnir
to Sparinsheid;
Melnir and Mylnir
to Myrkvid;
let no man
stay behind
of those
who swords can brandish.

51. Summon to you Högni,
and the sons of Hring,
Atli and Yngvi,
Alf the old;
they will gladly
engage in conflict.
We will let the Völsungs
find resistance.”

52. It was a whirlwind,
when together came
the fallow blades
at Frekastein:
ever was Helgi
foremost in the host,
where men together fought:
ardent for battle,
disdaining flight;
the chieftain had
a valiant heart.

53. Then came a maid from heaven,
helmed, from above -
the clash of arms increased -
for the king’s protection.
Then said Sigrún -
well skilled to fly
to the host of heroes
from Hugin’s grove -

54. “Unscathed shalt thou, prince!
possess thy people,
pillar of Yngvi’s race!
and life enjoy;
thou hast laid low
the slow of flight,
the chief who caused
the dread warrior’s death.
And thee, o king!
well beseem both
red-gold rings
and a powerful maid:
unscathed shalt thou, prince!
both enjoy,
Högni’s daughter,
and Hringstadir,
victory and lands:
then is conflict ended.”


Index  |  helgakviša hundingsbana fyrri - the first lay of helgi hundingcide page 1  |  Helgakviša Hundingsbana Önnur - the second lay of helgi hundingcide page 1