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Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English BY BENJAMIN THORPE


Having slain Atli, Gudrun went to the sea-shore. She went out into the sea, and would destroy herself, but could not sink. She was borne across the firth to the land of King Jonakr, who married her. Their sons were Sorii, Erp, and Hamdir. There was reared up Svanhild, the daughter of Sigurd. She was given in marriage to Jormunrek the Powerful. With him lived Bikki, who counselled Randver, the king's son, to take her. Bikki told that to the king, who caused Randver to be hanged, and Svanhild trodden under horses' feet. When Gudrun heard of this she said to her sons:—

1. Then heard I tell of quarrels dire, hard sayings uttered from great affliction, when her sons the fierce-hearted Gudrun, in deadly words, to slaughter instigated.

2. "Why sit ye here? why sleep life away? why does it pain you not joyous words to speak, now Jormunrek your sister young in years has with horses trodden, white and black, in the public way, with grey and way-wont Gothic steeds?

3. Ye are not like to Gunnar and the others, nor of soul so valiant as Hogni was. Her ye should seek to [Pg 249]avenge, if ye had the courage of my brothers, or the fierce spirit of the Hunnish kings."

4. Then said Hamdir, the great of heart: "Little didst thou care Hogni's deed to praise, when Sigurd he from sleep awaked. Thy blue-white bed-clothes were red with thy husband's gore, with death-blood covered.

5. "For thy brothers thou didst o'er-hasty vengeance take, dire and bitter, when thou thy sons didst murder. We young ones could on Jormunrek, acting all together, have avenged our sister.

6. "Bring forth the arms of the Hunnish kings: thou hast us stimulated to a sword-mote."

7. Laughing Gudrun to the storehouse turned, the kings' crested helms from the coffers drew, their ample corslets, and to her sons them bore. The young heroes loaded their horses' shoulders.

8. Then said Hamdir, the great of heart: "So will no more come his mother to see, the warrior felled in the Gothic land, so that thou the funeral-beer after us all may drink, after Svanhild and thy sons."

9. Weeping Gudrun, Giuki's daughter, sorrowing went, to sit in the fore-court, and to recount, with tear-worn cheeks, sad of soul, her calamities, in many ways.

10. "Three fires I have known, three hearths I have known, of three consorts I have been borne to the house. Sigurd alone to me was better than all, of whom my brothers were the murderers.

11. "Of my painful wounds I might not complain; yet they even more seemed to afflict me, when those chieftains to Atli gave me.

12. "My bright boys I called to speak with me; for my injuries I could not get revenge, ere I had severed the Hniflungs' heads.

13. "To the sea-shore I went, against the Norns I was embittered; I would cast off their persecution; bore, and submerged me not the towering billows; up on land I rose, because I was to live.

14. "To the nuptial couch I went—as I thought better for me,—for the third time, with a mighty king. I brought forth offspring, guardians of the heritage, guardians of the heritage, Jonakr's sons.

15. "But around Svanhild bond-maidens sat; of all my children her I loved the best. Svanhild was, in my hall, as was the sun-beam, fair to behold.

16. "I with gold adorned her, and with fine raiment, before I gave her to the Gothic people. That is to me the hardest of all my woes, that Svanhild's beauteous locks should in the mire be trodden under horses' feet.

17. "But that was yet more painful, when my Sigurd they ingloriously slew in his bed; though of all most cruel, when of Gunnar the glistening serpents to the vitals crawled; but the most agonizing, which to my heart flew, when the brave king's heart they while quick cut out.

18. "Many griefs I call to memory, many ills I call to memory. Guide, Sigurd! thy black steed, thy swift courser, hither let it run. Here sits no son's wife, no daughter, who to Gudrun precious things may give.

19. "Remember, Sigurd! what we together said, when on our bed we both were sitting, that thou, brave one, wouldst come to me from Hel's abode, but I from the world to thee.

20. "Raise, ye Jarls! an oaken pile; let it under heaven the highest be. May it burn a breast full of woes! the fire round my heart its sorrows melt!"

21. May all men's lot be bettered, all women's sorrow lessened, to whom this tale of woes shall be recounted.