Reginsmál (Sigurðarkviða Fáfnisbana II) – The Lay of Regin

Hreithmar spake:

11. “A daughter, woman | with wolf’s heart, bear,
If thou hast no son | with the hero brave;
If one weds the maid, | for the need is mighty,
Their son for thy hurt | may vengeance seek.”

Then Hreithmar died, and Fafnir took all the gold. Thereupon Regin asked to have his inheritance from his father, but Fafnir refused this. Then Regin asked counsel of Lyngheith, his sister, how he should win his inheritance. She said:

12. “In friendly wise | the wealth shalt thou ask
Of thy brother, and better will;
Not seemly is it | to seek with the sword
Fafnir’s treasure to take.”

All these happenings did Regin tell to Sigurth.

One day, when he came to Regin’s house, he was gladly welcomed. Regin said:

13. “Hither the son | of Sigmund is come,
The hero eager, | here to our hall;
His courage is more | than an ancient man’s,
And battle I hope | from the hardy wolf.

14. “Here shall I foster | the fearless prince,
Now Yngvi’s heir | to us is come;
The noblest hero | beneath the sun,
The threads of his fate | all lands enfold.”

Sigurth was there continually with Regin, who said to Sigurth that Fafnir lay at Gnitaheith, and was in the shape of a dragon. He had a fear-helm, of which all living creatures were terrified. Regin made Sigurth the sword which was called Gram; it was so sharp that when he thrust it down into the Rhine, and let a strand of wool drift against it with the stream, it cleft the strand asunder as if it were water. With this sword Sigurth cleft asunder Regin’s anvil. After that Regin egged Sigurth on to slay Fafnir, but he said:

15. “Loud will the sons | of Hunding laugh,
Who low did Eylimi | lay in death,
If the hero sooner | seeks the red
Rings to find | than his father’s vengeance.”

11. Apparently an interpolation (cf. Introductory Note). Vigfusson tries to reconstruct lines 2 and 4 to fit the Ljothahattr rhythm, but without much success. Hreithmar urges his daughter, as she has no sons, to bear a daughter who, in turn, will have a son to avenge his great-grandfather. Grundtvig worked out an ingenious theory to fit this stanza, making Sigurth’s grand-father, Eylimi, the husband of Lyngheith’s daughter, but there is absolutely no evidence to support this. The stanza may have nothing to do with Hreithmar.

13. This and the following stanza may be out of place here, really belonging, together with their introductory prose sentence, in the opening prose passage, following the first sentence describing Regin. Certainly they seem to relate to Regin’s first meeting with Sigurth. Stanzas 13-26, interspersed with prose, are quoted in the Nornageststhattr. Stanzas 13-18 may be the remnants of a lost poem belonging to the Helgi cycle (cf. Introductory Note). Hardy wolf: warrior, i. e., Sigurth.

14. Yngvi’s heir: Yngvi was one of the sons of the Danish king Halfdan the Old, and traditionally an ancestor of Helgi (cf. Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I, 57 and note (Bellows original translation)). Calling Sigurth a descendant of Yngvi is, of course, absurd, and the use of this phrase is one of the many reasons for believing that stanzas 13-18 belonged originally to the Helgi cycle. The threads, etc.: another link with Helgi; cf. Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I, 3-4. As Helgi was likewise regarded as a son of Sigmund, stanzas 15-14 would fit him just as well as Sigurth.

Prose. Gnitaheith: cf. Gripisspo, 11 and note. Fear-helm: the word “ægis-hjalmr,” which occurs both here and in Fafnismol, suggests an extraordinarily interesting, and still disputed, question of etymology. Gram: according to the Volsungasaga Regin forged this sword from the fragments of the sword given by Othin to Sigmund (cf. Fra Dautha Sinfjotla and note).

15. Regarding the sons of Hunding and Eylimi, father of Sigurth’s mother, all of whom belong to the Helgi-tradition, cf. Fra Dautha Sinfjotla and note.