THE SECOND LAY OF GUDRUN

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


THE SECOND LAY OF GUDRUN.


King Theodric was with Atli, and had there lost the greater number of his men. Theodric and Gudrun mutually bewailed their afflictions. She related to him and said:


1. A maid above all maids I was; my mother reared me bright in her bower; my brothers I much loved, until me Giuki, with gold adorned, with gold adorned, to Sigurd gave.

2. Such was Sigurd above Giuki's sons, as the green leek is, springing from the grass, or the high-limbed hart above the savage beasts, or gleed-red gold above grey silver.

3. Until my brothers the possession grudged me of a consort to all superior. They could not sleep, nor on affairs deliberate, before they Sigurd had caused to die.

4. Grani to the assembly ran, his tramp was to be heard; but Sigurd then himself came not. All the saddle-beasts were splashed with blood, and with sweating faint, from the murderers.

5. Weeping I went to talk to Grani, with humid cheeks, I prayed the steed to tell: then Grani shuddered, in the grass bowed down his head. The steed knew that his master was no more.

6. Long I wandered, long was my mind distracted, ere of the people's guardian I inquired for my king.

7. Gunnar hung his head, but Hogni told me of Sigurd's cruel death. "Beyond the river slaughtered lies Guthorm's murderer, and to the wolves given.

8. Yonder behold Sigurd, towards the south, there thou wilt hear the ravens croak, the eagles scream, in their feast exulting; the wolves howling round thy consort."

9. "Why wilt thou, Hogni! to a joyless being such miseries recount? May thy heart by ravens be torn and scattered over the wide world, rather than thou shouldst walk with men."

10. Hogni answered, for once cast down, from his cheerful mood by intense trouble: "Gudrun! thou wouldst have greater cause to weep, if the ravens should tear my heart."

11. Alone I turned from that interview to the wolves' scattered leavings. No sigh I uttered, nor with my hands beat, nor wailed, as other women, when I heartbroken sat by Sigurd.

12. Night seemed to me of blackest darkness, when I sorrowing sat by Sigurd. Better by far it seemed to me had the wolves taken my life, or I had been burnt as a birchen tree.

13. From the fell I journeyed five long days and nights, until the lofty hall of Half I recognized. Seven half-years I with Thora stayed, Hakon's daughter, in Denmark.

14. She for my solace wrought in gold southern halls, and Danish swans.

15. We had in pictures the game of warriors, and in handiworks a prince's nobles; red shields, Hunnish heroes, a sworded host, a helmed host, a prince's following.

16. Sigmund's ships from the land sailing, with gilded heads, and carved prows. We on our canvas wrought how Sigar and Siggeir both contended southward in Fyen.

17. When Grimhild, the Gothic woman, heard how greatly I was afflicted, she cast aside her needle-work, and her sons called oft and earnestly, that she might know, who for her son would their sister compensate, or for her consort slain the blood-fine pay?

18. Gunnar was ready gold to offer, for the injuries to atone, and Hogni also. * * * She then inquired who would go the steeds to saddle, the chariot to drive, on horseback ride, the hawk let fly, arrows shoot from the yew bow?

19. Valdar and the Danes with Jarizleif, Eymod the third with Jarizkar, then entered, to princes like. Red mantles had the Langbard's men, corslets ornamented, towering helms; girded they were with falchions, brown were their locks.

20. For me each one would choose precious gifts, precious gifts, and to my heart would speak, if for my many woes they might gain my confidence, and I would in them trust.

21. Grimhild to me brought a potion to drink cold and bitter, that I my injuries might forget; it was mingled with Urd's power, with cold sea-water, and with Son's blood.

22. In that horn were characters of every kind graven and red-hued; nor could I comprehend them: the long lyng-fish[82] of the Haddings' land, an uncut ear of corn: the wild-beasts' entrance.

23. In that potion were many ills together, a herb from every wood, and the acorn, the fire-stead's dew,[83] entrails of offerings, swine's liver seethed; for that deadens strife.

24. And then I forgot, when I had taken it, all the king's words in the hall spoken. There to my feet three kings came, before she herself sought to speak with me.

25. "Gudrun! I will give thee gold to possess, of all the riches much of thy dead father; rings of red gold, Hlodver's halls, all the hangings left by the fallen king.

26. Hunnish maids, those who weave tapestry, and in bright gold work, so that it may delight thee. Over Budli's wealth thou alone shalt rule, adorned with gold, and given to Atli."

27. "I will not have any man, nor Brynhild's brother marry: it beseems me not with Budli's son to increase a race, or life enjoy."

28. "Take care not to pay the chiefs with hate; for 'tis we who have been the aggressors: so shouldst thou act as if yet lived Sigurd and Sigmund, if sons thou bearest."

29. "Grimhild! I cannot in mirth indulge, nor, for my hero's sake, cherish a hope, since the bloodthirsty [wolf and] raven have together cruelly drunk my Sigurd's heart's blood."

30. "Him[84] of all I have found to be a king of noblest race, and in much most excellent: him shalt thou have until age lays thee low, or mateless be, if him thou wilt not take."

31. "Cease to offer that cup of ills so pertinaciously, that race to me: he will Gunnar's destruction perpetrate, and will cut out Hogni's heart. I will not cease until the exulting strife-exciter's life I shall have taken."

32. Weeping Grimhild caught the words, by which to her sons Gudrun foreboded evil, and to her kindred dire misfortunes. "Lands I will also give thee, people and followers, Vinbiorg and Valbiorg, if thou wilt accept them; for life possess them, and be happy, daughter!"

33. "Him then I will choose among the kings, and from my relatives reluctantly receive him. Never will he be to me a welcome consort, nor my brothers' bale a protection to our sons."

34. Forthwith on horseback was each warrior to be seen; but the Walish women were in chariots placed. For seven days o'er a cold land we rode; but the second seven, we beat the waves; and the third seven, we reached dry land.

35. There the gate-wards of the lofty burgh the latticed entrance opened, ere the court we entered.

36. Atli waked me, but I seemed to be full of evil thoughts, for my kinsmen's death.

37. "So me just now have the Norns waked,—a grateful interpretation I fain would have. Methought that thou, Gudrun! Giuki's daughter! with a treacherous sword didst pierce me through."

38. "Fire it forebodes, when one of iron dreams, arrogance and pleasure, a woman's anger. Against evil I will go burn thee, cure and medicate thee, although to me thou art hateful."

39. "Seemed to me here in the garden that young shoots had fallen, which I wished to let grow: torn up with their roots, reddened with blood, to table they were brought, and offered me to eat.

40. "Seemed to me that hawks flew from my hand, lacking their quarry, to the house of woes; seemed to me I ate their hearts with honey swollen with blood, with sorrowing mind.

41. "Seemed to me from my hand whelps I let slip; lacking cause of joy, both of them howled: seemed to me their bodies became dead carcases: of the carrion I was compelled to eat."

42. "There will warriors round thy couch converse, and of the white-locked ones take off the head; death-doomed they are within a few nights, a little ere day: thy court will eat of them."

43. "Lie down I would not, nor sleep after, obstinate in my fate—That I will execute!"