The Northern Way

Atlamol en Gronlenzku

1. There are many who know                how of old did men
In counsel gather;                little good did they get;
In secret they plotted,        it was sore for them later,
And for Gjuki's sons,        whose trust they deceived.

2. Fate grew for the princes,        to death they were given;
Ill counsel was Atli's,        thou keenness he had;
He felled his staunch bulwark,        his own sorrow fashioned,
Soon a message he sent         that his kinsmen should seek him.

3. Wise was the woman,        she fain would use wisdom,
She saw well what meant        all they said in secret;
From her heart it was hid        how help she might render,
The sea they should sail,        while herself she should go not.

4. Runes did she fashion,        but false Vingi made them,
The speeder of hatred,        ere to give them he sought;
Then soon fared the warriors        whom Atli had sent,
And to Limafjord came,        to the home of the kings.

5. They were kindly with ale,        and fires they kindled,
They thought not of craft        from the guests who had come;
The gifts did they take        that the noble one gave them,
On the pillars they hung them,         no fear did they harbour.

6. Forth did Kostbera, wife        of Hogni, then come,
Full kindly she was,                and she welcomed them both;
And glad to was Glaumvor,        the wife of Gunnar,
She knew well to care        for the needs of the guests.

7. Then Hogni they asked        if more eager he were,
Full clear was the guile,        if on guard they had been,
Then Gunnar made promise,        if Hogni would go,
And Hogni made answer        as the other counseled.

8. Then the famed ones brought mead,        and fair was the feast,
Full many were the horns,                till the men had drunk deep;
Then the mates made ready        their beds for resting.

9. Wise was Kostbera,                and cunning in rune_craft,
The letters would she read                by the light of the fire;
But full quickly her tongue                to her palate clave,
So strange did they seem                that their meaning she saw not.

10. Full soon then his bed        came Hogni to seek,
_lacuna_ (But sleep to the woman        so wise came little)
The clear_souled one dreamed,        and her dream she kept not,
To the warrior the wise one        spake when she wakened:

11. "Thou wouldst go hence, Hogni,        but heed my counsel,_
Known to few are the runes,_        and put off thy faring;
I have read now the runes                that thy sister wrote,
And this time the bright one        did not bid thee to come.

12. "Full much do I wonder,        nor well can I see,
Why the woman wise        so wildly hath written;
But to me it seems                that the meaning beneath
Is that both shall be slain        if soon ye shall go.
But one rune she missed,        or else others have marred it."

Hogni spake:
13. "All women are fearful;        not so do I feel,
Ill I seek not to find                till I soon must avenge it;
The king now will give us        the glow_ruddy gold;
I never shall fear,        thou of dangers I know."

Kostbera spake:
14. "In danger ye fare,        if forth ye go thither,
No welcoming friendly        this time shall ye find;
For I dreamed now, Hogni,                and nought will I hide,
Full evil thy faring,        if rightly I fear.

15. "Thy bed_covering saw I        in flames burning,
And the fire burst high        through the walls of my home."

Hogni spake:
16. "Yon garment of linen        lies little of worth,
It will soon be burned,        so thou sawest the bedcover."

Kostbera spake:
17. "A bear saw I enter,                the pillars he broke,
And he brandished his claws        so that craven we were;
With his mouth seized he many,        and nought was our might,
And loud was the tumult,        not little it was."

Hogni spake:
18. "Now a storm is brewing,        and wild it grows swiftly,
A dream of an ice_bear        means a gale from the east."

Kostbera spake:
19. "An eagle I saw flying        from the end through the house,
Our fate must be bad,        for with blood he sprinkled us;
_lacuna_ (Black were his feathers                with blood he was covered)
From the evil I fear                that was Atli's spirit."
(Ed. The word 'hamr' is used here to indicate Atli taking eagle_form)

Hogni spake:
20. "They will slaughter soon,        and so blood do we see,
Oft oxen it means,        when of eagles one dreams;
True is Atli's heart,        whatever thou dreamest."
Then silent they were,        and nought further they said.

21. The high_born ones wakened,        and like speech they had,
Then did Glaumvor tell        how in terror she dreamed,
_lacuna_ Gunnar        two roads they should go.

Glaumvor spake:
22. "A gallows saw I ready,        thou didst go to thy hanging,
Thy flesh serpents ate,        and yet living I found thee;
The gods' doom descended;        now say what it boded."

(Gunnar spake:
23. "Banners are gleaming,        since of gallows didst dream,
And wealth it must mean        that thou serpents didst watch.")


24. "A sword drawn bloody        from they garments I saw,_
Such a dream is hard        to a husband to tell,_
A spear stood, methought,        through thy body thrust,
And at head and feet        the wolves were howling."

Gunnar spake:
25. "The hounds are running,        loud their barking is heard,
Oft hounds' clamour follows        the flying of spears."

Glaumvor spake:
26. "A river the length         of the hall saw I run,
Full swiftly it roared,                o'er the benches it swept;
O'er the feet did it break        of ye brothers twain,
The water would yield not;                some meaning there was."

(V. The grain shall flow, since thou hast dreamed of rivers,
and when we go to the fields, often the chaff rises above our feet."


27. "I dreamed that by night        came dead women hither,
Sad were their garments,        and thee were they seeking;
They bade thee come swiftly        forth to their benches,
And nothing, methinks,        could the Norns avail thee."

Gunnar spake:
28. "Too late is thy speaking,        for so is it settled;
From the faring I turn not,        the going is fixed,
Though likely it is         that our lives shall be short."

29. Then bright shone the morning,        the men all were ready,
They said, and yet each        would the other hold back;
Five were the warriors,        and their followers all
But twice as many,_         their minds knew not wisdom.

30. (Gunnar and Hogni,                the heirs twain of Gjuki,)
Snaevar and Solar,                they were sons of Hogni,
Orkning was he called        who came with the others,
Blithe was the shield_tree,        the brother of Kostbera;
The fair_decked ones followed,        till the fjord divided them,
Full hard did they plead,        but the others heard not.

31. Then did Glaumvor speak forth,        the wife of Gunnar,
To Vingi she said        that which wise to her seemed:
"I know not if well        thou requitest our welcome,
Full ill was thy coming,        if evil shall follow."

32. Then did Vingi swear,        and full glib was his speech,
_lacuna_ (The evil was clear        when his words he uttered,)
"May giants now take me                if lies I have told ye,
And the gallows hostile        thought did I have."

33. Then did Bera speak forth,                and fair was her thought,
_lacuna_ (And clear was her cry        to her kinsmen dear,)
"May ye sail now happy,        and victory have,
To fare as I bid ye,        may nought your way bar."

34. Then Hogni made answer,_        dear held he his kin,_
"Take courage, ye wise ones,        whatsoever may come;
Though many may speak,        yet is evil oft mighty,
And words avail little        to lead one homeward."

35. They tenderly looked        till each turned on his way,
Then with clanging fate        were their farings divided.

36. Full stoutly they rowed,        and the keel clove asunder,
Their backs strained at the oars,        and their strength was fierce;
The oar_loops were burst,        the thole_pins were broken,
Nor the ship made they fast        ere from her they fared.

37. Not long was it after_        the end must I tell_
That the home they beheld                that Buthli once had;
Loud the gated resounded                when Hogni smote them;
Vingi spake then a word        that were better unsaid:
(V. "Better had ye left this undone,)

38. "Go ye far from the house,                for false is its entrance,
Soon shall I burn you,        ye are swiftly smitten;
I bade ye come fairly,        but falseness was under,
Now bide ye afar        while your gallows I fashion."

39. Then Hogni made answer,                his heart yielded little,
And nought did he fear        that his fate held in store;
"Seek not to affright us,        thou shalt seldom succeed;
If thy words are more,        then the worse grows thy fate."

40. Then Vingi did they smite,        and they sent him to Hel,
With their axes they clove him        while the death_rattle came.

41. Atli summoned his men,        in mail_coats they hastened,
All ready they came,        and between was the court_yard.

(V. "Be welcome among us, and give me that store of gold which is ours by right, the gold that Sigurth had, and that now belong to Guthrun."
42. Gunnar spake: "Never shalt thou get that gold, and mena of might shalt thou find here, ere we give up our lives, if it is battle thou dost offer us; in thought it seems that thou has prepared this feast in kingly fashion, with little grudging toward eagle and wolf."


43. Then came they to words,        and full wrathful they were:
"Long since did we plan        how soon we might slay you."

Hogni spake:
44. (Then Hogni laughed loud                where the slain Vingi lay,)
"Little it matters        if long ye have planned it;
For unarmed do ye wait,        and one have we felled,
We smote him to Hel,        of your host was he once."

45. Then wild was their anger        when all heard his words;
Their fingers were swift        on their bowstrings to seize,
Full sharply they shot,        by their shields were they guarded.

46. In the house came the word        how the heroes without
Fought in the front of the hall;         they heard a thrall tell it;
(or "In the house came the word        of the warring without
Loud in the front of the hall                they heard a thrall shouting;)
Grim then was Guthrun,        the grief when she heard,
With necklaces fair,                and she flund them all from her,
(The silver she hurled        so the rings burst asunder.)

47. Then out did she go,        she flung open the doors,
All fearless she went,        and the guests did she welcome;
To the Niflungs she went_        her last greeting it was,_
In her speech truth was clear,        and much would she speak.

48. "For your safety I sought        that at home ye should stay;
None escapes his fate,        so ye hither must fare."
Full wisely she spake,        if yet peach they might win,
But to nought would they hearken,        and "No" said they all.

49. Then the high_born one saw        that hard was their battle,
In fierceness of heart        she flung off her mantle;
Her naked sword grasped she        her kin's lives to guard,
Not gentle her hands        in the hewing of battle.

50. Then the daugher of Gjuki        two warriors smote down,
Atli's brother she slew,        and forth then they bore him;
(So fiercely she fought        that his feet she clove off;)
Another she smote                so that never he stood,
To Hel did she send him,_        her hands trembled never.

51. Full wide was the fame        of the battle they fought,
'Twas the greatest of deeds        of the sons of Gjuki;
Men say that the Niflungs,                while themselves they were living,
With their swords fought mightily,        mail_coats they sundered,
And helms did they hew,        as their hearts were fearless.

52. All the morning they fought                until midday shone,
(All the dusk as well                and the dawning of day,)
When the battle was ended,        the field flowed with blood;
Ere they fell, eighteen        of their foemen were slain,
By the two sons of Bera        and her brother as well.

53. Then the warrior spake,        and wild was his anger:
"This is evil to see,        and thy doing is all;
Once we were thirty,        we thanes keen for battle,
Now eleven are left,                and great is our lack.

54. "There were five of us brothers        when Buthli we lost,
Now Hel has the half,        and two smitten lie here;
A great kinship had I,_        the truth may I hide not,_
From a wife bringing slaughter        small joy could I win.

55. We lay seldom together        since to me thou wast given,
Now my kin all are gone,        of my gold am I robbed;
Nay, and worst, thou didst send        my sister to Hel."

Guthrun spake:
56. "Hear me now, Atli!        the first evil was thine;
My mother didst thou take,                and for gold didst murder her,
My sister's daughter                thou didst starve in a prison.
A jest does it seem        that thy sorrow thou tellest,
And good do I find it                that grief to thee comes."

(V. or Hogni spake: "Why speakest thou so? Thou wast the first to break peace; thou didst take my kinswoman and starved her in a prison, and murdered her and took her wealth; tha twas not kinglike; and laughable does it seem to me that thou talkest of thy sorrow, and good shall I find it that all goes ill with thee.")

Atli spake:
57. "Go now, ye warriors,        and make greater the grief
Of the woman so fair,        for fain would I see it;
So fierce be thy warring        that Guthrun shall weep,
I would gladly behold         her happiness lost.

58. "Seize ye now Hogni,        and with knives shall ye hew him,
His heart shall ye cut out,        this hast ye to do;
And grim-hearted Gunnar        shall ye bind on the gallows,
Swift shall ye do it,        to serpents now cast him."

Hogni spake:
59. "Do now as thou wilt,        for glad I await it,
Brave shalt thou find me,        I have faced worse before;
We held thee at bay                while whole we were fighting,
Now with wounds are we spent,        so thy will canst thou work."

60. Then did Beiti speak,        he was Atli's steward:
"Let us seize now Hjalli,        and Hogni spare we!
Let us fell the sluggard,        he is fit for death,
He has lived too long,        and lazy men call him."

61. Afraid was the pot-watcher,        he fled here and yon,
And crazed with his terror        he climbed in the corners:
"Ill for me is this fighting,        if I pay for your fierceness,
And sad is the day        to die leaving my swine
And all the fair victuals        that of old did I have."

62. They seized Buthli's cook,          and they came with the knife,
The frightened thrall howled        ere the edge did he feel;
He was willing, he cried,        to dung well the courtyard,
Do the basest of work,        if spare him they would;
Full happy were Hjalli        if his life he might have.

63. Then fain was Hogni-        there are few would do thus-
To beg for the slave                that safe hence he should go;
"I would find it far better        this knife-play to feel,
Why must we all hark        to this howling longer?"

64. Then the brave one they seized;        to the warriors bold
No chance was there left        to delay his fate longer;
Loud did Hogni laugh,        all the sons of day heard him,
So valiant he was        that well he could suffer.


65. A harp Gunnar seized,        with his toes he smote it;
So well did he strike                that the women all wept,
And the men, when clear        they heard it, lamented;
Full noble was his song,        the rafters burst asunder.

66. Then the heroes died        ere the day was yet come;
Their fame did they leave        ever lofty to live.
_lacuna_ (Few braver shall ever        be found on earth,
Or loftier men        in the world ever live.)

67. Full mighty seemed Atli        as o'er them he stood,
The wise ones he blamed,        and his words reproached her:
"It is morning, Guthrun;         now thy dear ones dost miss,
But the blame is part thine        that thus it has chanced."

Guthrun spake:
68. "Thou art joyous, Atli,        for of evil thou tellest,
But sorrow is thing        if thou mightest all see;
Thy heritage is heavy        here can I tell thee,
Sorrow never thou losest        unless I shall die."

Atli spake:
69. "Not free of guilt am I;        a way shall I find
That is better by far,-        oft the fairest we shunned;-
With slaves I console thee,                with gems fair to see,
And with silver snow-white,        as thyself thou shalt choose."

Guthrun spake:
70. "No hope shall this give thee,        thy gifts I shall take not,
Requital I spurned        when my sorrows were smaller;
Once grim did I seem,        but now greater my grimness,
There was nought seemed too hard        while Hogni was living.

71. "Our childhood did we have        in a single house,
We played many a game,        in the grove did we grow;
Then did Grimhild give us        gold and necklaces;
Thou shalt ne'er make amends        for my brother's murder,
Nor ever shalt win me        to think it was well.

72. "But the fierceness of men                rules the fate of women,
The tree-top bows low        if bereft of its leaves,
The tree bends over                if the roots are cleft under it;
Now mayst thou, Atli,        o'er all things here rule."
(line 2: On the knee goes the fist        if the twigs are taken off,)

73. Full heedless the warrior        was that he trusted her,
So clear was her guile        if on guard he had been;
But crafty was Guthrun,         with cunning she spake,
Her glance she made pleasant,        with two shields she played.

74. The beer then she sought        for her brothers' death-feast,
And a feast Atli made        for his followers dead;
No more did they speak,        the mead was made ready,
Soon the men were gathered        with mighty uproar.

75. Thus bitterly planned she,                and Buthli's race threatened,
And terrible vengeance        on her husband would take;
The little ones called she,        on a block she laid them;
Afraid were the proud ones,        but their tears did not fall;
To their mother's arms went they,                and asked what she would.

Guthrun spake:
76. "Nay, ask me no more!        You both shall I murder,
For long I have wished         your lives to steal from you."

The boys spake:
77. "Slay the boys as thou wilt,        for no one may bar it,
Short the angry one's peace        if all thou shalt do."

78. Then the grim one slew both        of the brothers young,
Full hard was her deed        when their heads she smote off;
Fain was Atli to know        whither now they were gone,
The boys from their sport,        for nowhere he spied them.

Guthrun spake:
79. "My fate shall I seek,        all to Atli saying,
The daughter of Grimhild        the deed from thee hides not;
No joy thou hast, Atli,        if all thou shalt hear,
Great sorrow didst wake        when my brothers thou slewest.

80. "I have seldom slept                since the hour they were slain,
Baleful were my threats,        now I bid thee recall them;
Thou didst say it was morning,-        too well I remember,-
Now is evening come,        and this question thou askest.

81. "Now both of thy sons        thou hast lost -lacuna-
-lacuna- (Thy sons hast thou lost         as thou never shouldst lose them,)
The skulls of thy boys        thou as beer-cups didst have,
And the draught that I made thee        was mixed with their blood.

82. "I cut out their hearts,        on a spit I cooked them,
I came to thee with them,        and calf's flesh I called them;
Alone didst thou eat them,        nor any didst leave,
Thou didst greedily bite,        and thy teeth were busy.

83. "Of thy sons now thou knowest;        few suffer more sorrow;
My guilt have I told,                fame it never shall give me."

Atli spake:
84. "Grim wast thou, Guthrun,                in so grievous a deed,
My draught with the blood                of thy boys to mingle;
Thou hast slain thine own kin,        most ill it beseemed thee,
And little for me         twixt my sorrows thou leavest."

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