Atlakvitha – The Lay of Atli

44. With her sword she gave blood | for the bed to drink,
With her death-dealing hand, | and the hounds she loosed,
The thralls she awakened, | and a firebrand threw
In the door of the hall; | so vengeance she had.

45. To the flames she gave all | who yet were within,
And from Myrkheim had come | from the murder of Gunnar;
The timbers old fell, | the temple was in flames,
The dwelling of the Buthlungs, | and the shield-maids burned,
They were slain in the house, | in the hot flames they sank.

46. Now the tale is all told, | nor in later time
Will a woman in byrnie | avenge so her brothers;
The fair one to three | of the kings of the folk
Brought the doom of death | ere herself she died.

Still more is told in the Greenland ballad of Atli.

44. Guthrun allows the dogs and the house-thralls, who had no part in Gunnar’s death, to escape before she burns the dwelling with all who are left therein. In Atlamol, stanzas 83-84, Atli is slain by a son of Hogni (Hniflung?) with Guthrun’s help.

45. Some editions transfer line 2 to stanza 34; others reject line 3 as interpolated. Myrkheim (“Dark-Home”): probably identical with Myrkwood; cf. stanza 3. Temple: probably both here and in stanza 42 the word means little more than the place where Atli’s treasures were kept; the poet was by no means literal in his use of terms connected with the heathen religion. Buthlungs: sons of Buthli, i.e., Atli and his family. Shield-maids: cf. stanza 16 and note.

46. The entire stanza is very likely a later addition. Three kings: Atli and his two sons, Erp and Eitil.


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