The Northern Way


 (Ed. Notes. Regarding Sigurth/ In Old High German this name is ‘Sigifrid’ meaning ‘Peace-Bringing through Victory’ in Old Norse it is ‘Sigvorth’ meaning ‘Victory-Gaurder’, which in this text becomes ‘Sigurth’.)

      Gripir was the name of Eylimi’s son, the brother of Hjordis; he ruled over lands and was of all men the wisest and most forward-seeing. Sigurth once was riding alone and came to Gripir’s hall. Sigurth was easy to recognize; he found out in front of the hall a man whose name was Geitir. Then Sigurth questioned him and asked:

1. “Who is it has                this dwelling here,
Or what do men call        the people’s king?”

Geitir spake:
2. “Gripir the name        of the chieftain good
Who holds the folk        and the firm-ruled land.”

Sigurth spake:
3. “Is the kin all-knowing        now within,
Will the monarch come        with me to speak?
A man unknown         his counsel needs,
And Gripir fain        I soon would find.”

Geitir spake:
4. “The ruler glad        of Geitir will ask
Who seeks with Gripir        speech to have.”

Sigurth spake:
5. “Sigurth am I,                and Sigmund’s son,
And Hjordis the name                 of the hero’s mother.”

Then Geitir went        and to Gripir spake:
6. “A stranger comes        and stands without;
Lofty he is        to look upon,
And, prince, thyself        he fain would see.”

7. From the hall the ruler        of heroes went,
And greeted well        the warrior come:
“Sigurth, welcome        long since had been thine;
Now, Geitir, shalt thou        Grani take.”

(Grani is known as the son of Sleipnir, granted to Sigurth by Odhinn himself. Some texts disagree with his origin and Sigurth’s attainment of him.)

8. Then of many         Things they talked,
When thus the men        so wise had met.

Sigurth spake:
9. “To me, if thou knowest,        my mother’s brother,
Say what life        will Sigurth’s be.”

Gripir spake:
10. “Of men thou shalt be                 on earth the mightiest,
And higher famed        than all the heroes;
Free of gold-giving,        slow to flee,
Noble to see,                and sage in speech.”

Sigurth spake:
11. “Monarch wise,        now more I ask;
To Sigurth say,        if thou thinkst to see,
What first will chance                of my fortune fair,
When hence I go        from out thy home?”

Gripir spake:
12. “First shalt thou, prince,        thy father avenge,
And Eylimi,                their ills requiting;
The hardy sons        of Hunding thou
Soon shalt fell,        and victory find.”

Sigurth spake:
13. “Noble king,        my kinsman, say
Thy meaning true,        for our minds we speak;
For Sigurth the mighty        deeds dost see,
The highest beneath        the heavens all?”

Gripir spake:
14. “The fiery dragon        alone thou shalt fight
That greedy lies        at Gnitaheith;
Thou shalt be of Regin        and Fafnir both
The slayer; truth        doth Gripir tell thee.”

Sigurth spake:
15. “Rich shall I be        if battles I win
With such as these,        as now thou sayest;
Forward look,                and further tell:
What the life                that I shall lead?”

Gripir spake:
16. “Fafnir’s den        thou then shalt find,
And all his treasure        fair shalt take;
Gold shalt heap        on Grani’s back,
And, proved in fight,        to Gjuki fare.”

Sigurth spake:
17. “To the warrior now        in words so wise,
Monarch noble,        more shalt tell;
I am Gjuki’s guest,        and thence I go;
What the life        that I shall lead?”

Gripir spake:
18. “On the rocks there sleeps        the ruler’s daughter,
Fair in armour,        since Helgi fell;
Thou shalt cut                 With keen-edged sword,
And cleave the byrnie                 with Fafnir’s killer.”

Sigurth spake:
19. “The mail-coat is broken,        the maiden speaks,
The woman who        from sleep has wakened;
What says the maid        to Sigurth then
That happy fate        to the hero brings?”

Gripir spake:
20. “Runes to the warrior                will she tell,
All that men        may ever seek,
And teach thee to speak        in all men’s tongues,
And life with health;                thou’rt happy, king!”

Sigurth spake:
21. “Now it is ended,         the knowledge is won,
And ready I am        forth thence to ride;
Forward look                 and further tell:
What the life                that I shall lead?”

Gripir spake:
22. “Then to Heimir’s         home thou comest,
And glad shalt be        the guest of the king;
Ended, Sigurth,        is all I see,
No further aught        of Gripir ask.”

Sigurth spake:
23. “Sorrow brings me        the word thou sayest,
For, monarch, forward        further thou seest;
Sad the grief        for Sigurth thou knowest,
Yet nought to me, Gripir,        known wilt make.”

Gripir spake:
24. “Before me lay        in clearest light
All of thy youth        for mine eyes to see;
Nor rightly can I         wise be called,
Nor forward-seeing;        my wisdom is fled.”

Sigurth spake:
25. “No man, Gripir,        on earth I know
Who sees the future        as far as thou;
Hide thou nought,        though hard it be,
And base the deeds        that I shall do.”

Gripir spake:
26. “With baseness never        thy life is burdened,
Hero noble,        hold that sure;
Lofty as long        and the world shall live,
Battle-bringer,        thy name shall be.”

Sigurth spake:
27. “Nought could seem worse,        but now must part
The prince and Sigurth,        since so it is;
My road I ask,-         the future lies open,-
Mighty one, speak,        my mother’s brother.”

Gripir spake:
28. “Now to Sigurth        all shall I say,
For to this the warrior        bends my will;
Thou knowest well        that I will not lie,-
A day there is                when thy death is doomed.”

Sigurth spake:
29. “No scorn I know        for the noble king,
But counsel good        from Gripir I seek;
Well will I know,        though evil awaits,
What Sigurth may        before him see.”

Gripir spake:
30. “A maid in Heimir’s        home there dwells,
Brynhild her name        to men is known,
Daughter of Buthli,        the doughty king,
And Heimir fosters        the fearless maid.”

Sigurth spake:
31. “What is it to me,        though the maiden be
So fair, and Heimir        the fosterling is?
Gripir, truth        to me shalt tell,
For all of fate        before me thou seest.”

Gripir spake:
32. “Of many a joy        the maiden robs thee,
Fair to see,        whom Heimir fosters;
Sleep thou shalt find not,        feuds thou shalt end not,
Nor seek out men,        if the maid thou seest not.”

Sigurth spake:
33. “What may be had        for Sigurth’s healing?
Say now, Gripir,        if see thou canst;
May I buy the maid        with the marriage-price,
The daughter fair        of the chieftain famed?”

Gripir spake:
34. “Ye twain shall all        the oaths then swear
That bind full fast;        few shall ye keep;
One night when Gjuki’s        guest thou hast been,
Will Heimir’s fosterling        fade from thy mind.”

Sigurth spake:
35. “What sayst thou, Gripir?        give me the truth,
Does fickleness hide                in the hero’s heart?
Can it be that touch        I break with the maid,
With her I believed        I loved so dear?”

Gripir spake:
36. “Tricked by another,        prince, thou art,
And the price of Grimhild’s        wiles thou must pay;
Fain of thee        for the fair-haired maid,
Her daughter, she is,        and she drags thee down.”

(Ed. em. or (/Fain of thee        the fair-haired one        for her daughter is/)

Sigurth spake:
37. “Might I with Gunnar                kinship make,
And Guthrun win        to be my wife,
Well the hero                wedded would be,
If my treacherous deed        would trouble me not.”

Gripir spake:
38. “Wholly Grimhild        thy heart deceives,
She will bid thee go        and Brynhild woo
For Gunnar’s wife,        the lord of the goths;
And the prince’s mother        thy promise shall win.”

Sigurth spake:
39. “Evil waits me,        well I see it,
And gone is Sigurth’s                wisdom good,
If I shall woo                for another to win
The maiden fair        that so fondly I loved.”

Gripir spake:
40. “Ye three shall all        the oaths then take,
Gunnar and Hogni,        and, hero, thou;
Your forms ye shall change,        as forth ye fare,
Gunnar and thou;        for Gripir lies not.”

Sigurth spake:
41. “How meanest thou?        Why make we the change
Of shape and form        as forth we fare?
There must follow        another falsehood
Grim in all ways;        speak on, Gripir!”

Gripir spake:
42. “The form of Gunnar                and shape thou gettest,
But mind and voice        thine own remain;
The hand of the fosterling        noble of Heimir
Now dost thou win,        and none can prevent it.”

Sigurth spake:
43. “Most evil it seems,        and men will say
Base is Sigurth        that so he did;
Not of my will        shall I cheat with wiles
The heroes’s maiden        whom noblest I hold.”

Gripir spake:
44. “Thou dwellest, leader        lofty of men,
With the maid as if        thy mother she were;
Lofty as long                as the world shall live,
Ruler of men,                thy name shall remain.”

(Ed. em. /With thy sword between,        three nights sleepest/
With her thou winnest        for Gunnar’s wife/)

Sigurth spake:
45. “Shall Gunnar have        a goodly wife,
Famed among men,-        speak forth now, Gripir!
Although at my side        three nights she slept,
The warrior’s bride?        Such ne’er has been.”

Gripir spake:
46. “The marriage draught        will be drunk for both,
For Sigurth and Gunnar,        in Gjuki’s hall;
Your forms ye change,        when home ye fare,
But the mind of each                to himself remains.”

Sigurth spake:
47. “Shall the kinship new        thereafter come
To good among us?        Tell me, Gripir!
To Gunnar joy        shall it later give,
Or happiness send        for me myself?”

Gripir spake:
48. “Thine oaths remembering,        silent thou art,
And dwellest with Guthrun        in wedlock good;
But Brynhild shall deem        she is badly mated,
And wiles she seeks,                herself to avenge.”

Sigurth spake:
49. “What may for the bride        requital be,
the wife we won        with subtle wiles?
From me she has        the oaths I made,
And kept not long;        they gladdened her little.”

Gripir spake:
50. “To Gunnar soon        his bride will say
That ill didst thou        thine oath fulfill,
When the goodly king,        the son of Gjuki,
With all his heart        the hero trusted.”

Sigurth spake:
51. “What sayst thou, Gripir?        give me the truth!
Am I guilty so         as now is said,
Or lies does the far-famed        queen put forth
Of me and herself?        Yet further speak.”

Gripir spake:
52. “In wrath and grief        full little good
The noble bride        shall work thee now;
No shame thou gavest        the goodly one,
Though the monarch’s wife        with wiles didst cheat.”

Sigurth spake:
53. “Shall Gunnar the wise        to the woman’s words,
And Gotthorm and Hogni,         then give heed?
Shall Gjuki’s sons,        now tell me, Gripir,
Redden their blades        with their kinsman’s blood?”

Gripir spake:
54. “Heavy it lies                on Guthrun’s heart,
When her brothers all                shall bring thee death,
Never again        shall she happiness know,
The woman so fair;        ‘tis Grimhild’s work.”

Sigurth spake:
55. “Now fare thee well!        our fates we shun not;
And well has Gripir        answered my wish;
More of joy        to me wouldst tell
Of my life to come        if so thou couldst.”

Gripir spake:
56. “Ever remember,        ruler of men,
That fortune lies        in the hero’s life;
A noble man        shall never live
Beneath the sun        than Sigurth shall seem.”

Gjuki: Old Norse/Gibeche (The Giver)
Brynhild: (Armed Warrior)

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