FRAGMENTS OF THE LAY OF BRYNHILD
THE ELDER EDDAS OF SAEMUND SIGFUSSON.
Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English BY BENJAMIN THORPE
FRAGMENTS OF THE LAY OF BRYNHILD.
1. "Why art thou, Brynhild! Budli's daughter! absorbed in evil and murderous thoughts? What injury has Sigurd done thee, that thou the hero wilt of life bereave?"
2. "Sigurd to me oaths has sworn, oaths sworn, all falsehoods. He at a time deceived me when he should have been of all oaths most observant."
3. "Thee Brynhild has in anger instigated evil to perpetrate, harm to execute. She grudges Gudrun her happy marriage, and thee, possession of herself." * * *
4. Some a wolf roasted, some a snake cut up, some to Guthorm served the wolf, before they might, eager for crime, on the mighty man lay their hands.
5. Without stood Gudrun, Giuki's daughter, and these words first of all uttered: "Where is now Sigurd, lord of warriors, seeing that my kinsmen foremost ride?"
6. Hogni alone to her answer gave: "Asunder have we Sigurd hewed with our swords; his grey steed bends o'er the dead chief."
7. Then said Brynhild, Budli's daughter: "Well shall ye now enjoy arms and lands. Sigurd would alone over all have ruled, had he a little longer life retained.[Pg 204]
8. Unseemly it had been that he should so have ruled over Giuki's heritage and the Goths' people, when he five sons, for the fall of hosts, eager for warfare, had begotten."
9. Then laughed Brynhild—the whole burgh resounded—once only from her whole heart: "Well shall ye enjoy lands and subjects, now the daring king ye have caused to fall."
10. Then said Gudrun, Giuki's daughter: "Much thou speakest, things most atrocious: may fiends have Gunnar, Sigurd's murderer! Souls malevolent vengeance awaits."
11. Sigurd had fallen south of Rhine: loud from a tree a raven screamed: "With your blood will Atli his sword's edges redden; the oaths ye have sworn your slaughter shall dissolve."
12. Evening was advanced, much was drunken, then did pleasant talk of all kinds pass: all sank in sleep, when to rest they went. Gunnar alone was wakeful longer than all:
13. He began his foot to move, and much with himself to speak; the warlike chief in his mind pondered, what during the conflict the raven and the eagle were ever saying, as they rode home.
14. Brynhild awoke, Budli's daughter, daughter of Skioldungs, a little ere day: "Urge me or stay me—the mischief is perpetrated—my sorrow to pour forth, or to suppress it."
15. All were silent at these words; few understood the lady's conduct, that weeping she should begin to speak of what she laughing had desired.
16. "In my dream, Gunnar! all seemed so horrid, in the chamber all was dead; my bed was cold; and thou, king! wast riding of joy bereft, with fetters loaded, to a hostile host. So will ye all, race of Niflungs! be of power deprived, perjurers as ye are!
17. Ill Gunnar! didst thou remember, when blood ye in your footsteps both let flow; now hast thou him ill for all that requited, because he would prove himself foremost.
18. Then was it proved, when the hero had ridden to see me, to woo me, how the warlike chief whilom held sacred his oath towards the youthful prince.
19. Laid his sword, with gold adorned, the illustrious king between us both: outward its edges were with fire wrought, but with venom drops tempered within."
From this lay, in which the death of Sigurd is related, it appears that he was slain without doors, while some relate that he was slain sleeping in his bed: but the Germans say he was slain out in the forest; and it is told in the "Gudrunarkvida hin Forna," that Sigurd and the sons of Giuki had ridden to the public assembly (thing) when he was slain. But it is said by all, without exception, that they broke faith with him, and attacked him while lying down and unprepared.