The Northern Way

Völundarkviða

The Lay of Völund.

Page 1

There was a king in Sweden named Nidud: he had two sons and a daughter, whose name was Bödvild. There were three brothers, sons of a king of the Finns, one was called Slagfid, the second Egil, the third Völund. They went on snow-shoes and hunted wild-beasts. They came to Ulfdal, and there made themselves a house, where there is a water called Ulfsíar. Early one morning they found on the border of the lake three females sitting and spinning flax. Near them lay their swan-plumages: they were Valkyriur. Two of them, Hladgud-Svanhvit and Hervör-Alvit, were daughters of King Hlödver; the third was Ölrún, a daughter of Kiár of Valland. They took them home with them to their dwelling. Egil had Ölrún, Slagfid Svanhvít, and Völund Alvit. They lived there seven years, when they few away seeking conflicts, and did not return. Egil then went on snow-shoes in search of Ölrún, and Slagfid in search of Svanhvit, but Völund remained in Ulfdal. He was a most skilful man, as we learn from old traditions. King Nidud ordered him to be seized, so as it is here related.


1. Maids flew from the south,
through the murky wood,
Alvit the young,
fate to fulfil.

2. One of them,
of maidens fairest,
to his comely breast
Egil clasped.
Svanhvit was the second,
she a swan´s plumage bore;
but the third,
their sister,
the white neck clasped
of Völund.

3. There they stayed
seven winters through;
but all the eighth
were with longing seized;
and in the ninth
fate parted them.
The maidens yearned
for the murky wood,
the young Alvit,
fate to fulfil.

4. From the chase came
the ardent hunters,
Slagfid and Egil,
found their house deserted,
went out and in,
and looked around.
Egil went east
after Ölrún,
and Slagfid west
after Svanhvit;

5. But Völund alone
remained in Ulfdal.
He the red gold set
with the hard gem,
well fastened all the rings
on linden bast,
and so awaited
his bright consort,
if to him
she would return.

6. It was told to Nidud,
the Niarars´ lord,
that Völund alone
remained in Ulfdal.
In the night went men,
in studded corslets,
their shields glistened
in the waning moon.

7. From their saddles they alighted
at the house´s gable,
thence went in
through the house.
On the bast they saw
the rings all drawn,
seven hundred,
which the warrior owned.
8. And they took them off,
and they put them on,
all save one,
which they bore away.
Came then from the chase
the ardent hunter,
Völund, gliding
on the long way.

9. To the fire he went,
bear´s flesh to roast.
Soon blazed the brushwood,
and the arid fir,
the wind-dried wood,
before Völund.

10. On the bearskin sat,
his rings counted,
the Alfar´s companion:
one was missing.
He thought that Hlödver´s
daughter had it,
the young Alvit,
and that she was returned.

11. So long he sat
until he slept;
and he awoke
of joy bereft:
on his hands he felt
heavy constraints,
and round his feet
fetters clasped.

12. “Who are the men
that on the rings’ possessor
have laid bonds?
and me have bound?”

13. Then cried Nidud,
the Niarars’ lord:
“Whence gottest thou, Völund!
Alfars´chief!
our gold,
in Ulfdal?”

14. “No gold was here
in Grani’s path,
far I thought our land
from the hills of Rhine.
I mind me that we more
treasures possessed,
when, a whole family,
we were at home.

15. Hladgud and Hervör
were of Hlödver born;
know was Ölrún,
Kiar´s daughter,
she entered
into the house,
stood on the floor,
her voice moderated:
“Now is he not mirthful,
who from the forest comes.”

        King Nidud gave to his daughter Bödvild the ring which had been taken from the bast in Völund´s house; but he himself bore the sword that had belonged to Völund. The queen said:

16. His teeth he shows,
when the sword he sees,
and Bödvild´s ring
he recognizes:
threatening are his eyes
as a glistening serpent’s:
let be severed
his sinews’ strength;
and set him then
in Sævarstad.

        This was done; he was hamstrung and then set on a certain small island near the shore, called Sævarstad. He there forged for the king all kinds of jewellery work. No one was allowed to go to him, except the king. Völund said:

17. “The sword shines
in Nidud’s belt,
which I whetted
as I could most skilfully,
and tempered,
as seemed to me most cunningly.
That bright blade for ever is
taken from me:
never shall I see it
borne into Völund’s smithy.

18. Now Bödvild wears
my consort´s
red-gold rings:
for this I have no indemnity.”
He sat and never slept,
and his hammer plied;
but much more speedy vengeance
devised on Nidud.

19. The two young sons
of Nidud ran
in at the door to look,
in Sævarstad.
To the chest they came,
for the keys asked;
manifest was their grudge,
when therein they looked.

20. Many necklaces were there,
which to those youths appeared
of the red gold to be,
and treasures.
“Come ye two alone,
to-morrow come;
that gold shall
be given to you.

 

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