Sigurðarkviða hin skamma

11. “Back shall I fare | where first I dwelt,
Among the kin | that come of my race,
To wait there, sleeping | my life away,
If Sigurth’s death | thou shalt not dare,
(And best of heroes | thou shalt not be.)

12. “The son shall fare | with his father hence,
And let not long | the wolf-cub live;
Lighter to pay | is the vengeance-price
After the deed | if the son is dead.”

13. Sad was Gunnar, | and bowed with grief,
Deep in thought | the whole day through;
Yet from his heart | it was ever hid
What deed most fitting | he should find,
(Or what thing best | for him should be,
Or if he should seek | the Volsung to slay,
For with mighty longing | Sigurth he loved.)

14. Much he pondered | for many an hour;
Never before | was the wonder known
That a queen should thus | her kingdom leave;
In counsel then | did he Hogni call,
(For him in truest | trust he held.)

15. “More than all | to me is Brynhild,
Buthli’s child, | the best of women;
My very life | would I sooner lose
Than yield the love | of yonder maid.

16. “Wilt thou the hero | for wealth betray?
‘Twere good to have | the gold of the Rhine,
And all the hoard | in peace to hold,
And waiting fortune | thus to win.”

17. Few the words | of Hogni were:
“Us it beseems not | so to do,
To cleave with swords | the oaths we swore,
The oaths we swore | and all our vows.

18. “We know no mightier | men on earth
The while we four | o’er the folk hold sway,
And while the Hunnish | hero lives,
Nor higher kinship | the world doth hold.
“If sons we five | shall soon beget,
Great, methinks, | our race shall grow;

19. Well I see | whence lead the ways;
Too bitter far | is Brynhild’s hate.”

Gunnar spake:

20. “Gotthorm to wrath | we needs must rouse,
Our younger brother, | in rashness blind;
He entered not | in the oaths we swore,
The oaths we swore | and all our vows.”


11. Line 5, or perhaps line 3, may be interpolated.”

12. The son: the three-year-old son of Sigurth and Guthrun, Sigmund, who was killed at Brynhild’s behest.

13. This stanza has been the subject of many conjectural emendations. Some editions assume a gap after line 2, and make a separate stanza of lines 3-7; others mark lines 5-7 as spurious. The stanza seems to have been expanded by repetition. Grief (line 1): the manuscript has “wrath,” involving a metrical error.

14. Bugge and Gering transfer lines 4-5 to the beginning of stanza 16, on the basis of the Volsungasaga paraphrase, and assume a gap of one line after line 3. Line 5, which is in the nature of a stereotyped clause, may well be interpolated.

15. After “Buthli” in line 2 the manuscript has “my brother,” apparently a scribal error. In line 4 the manuscript has “wealth” instead of “love,” apparently with stanza 10, in mind, but the Volsungasaga paraphrase has “love,” and many editors have suspected an error.

16. Cf. note on stanza 14. After thus adding lines 4-5 of stanza 14 at the beginning of stanza 16, Gering marks line 4 as probably spurious; others reject both lines 3 and 4 as mere repetitions. Rhine: the Rhine, the sands of which traditionally contained gold, was apparently the original home of the treasure of the Nibelungs, converted in the North to Andvari’s treasure (cf. Reginsmol, 1-9). That greed for Sigurth’s wealth was one of the motives for his slaying is indicated likewise in Guthrunarkvitha I, 20, and in the German versions of the story.

18. We four: if line 5 of stanza 18 is spurious, or the reference therein to “five” is a blunder, as may well be the case, then the “four” are Sigurth and the three brothers, Gunnar, Hogni, and Gotthorm. But it may be that the poet had in mind a tradition which, as in the Thithrekssaga, gave Gjuki a fourth son, in which case the “four” refers only to the four Gjukungs. Hunnish hero: Sigurth; cf. stanza 4 and note. Some editions put line 2 Stanza 19 between lines 4 and 5 Stanza 18. Lines 4 and 5 of stanza 18 are lines 1 and 2 in the original Bellows translation they have been added to the end of stanza 18 to confrom with the ON.

19. We five: see note on preceding stanza. Some editors mark lines:

“If sons we five | shall soon beget,
Great, methinks, | our race shall grow;”

as spurious, and either assume a gap of two lines after:

“Too bitter far | is Brynhild’s hate.”

or combine lines “If sons we five | shall soon beget, Great, methinks, | our race shall grow;” with stanza 20. Whence lead the ways: a proverbial expression signifying “whence the trouble comes.”

20. The manuscript does not name the speaker. Gotthorm (the name is variously spelt): half-brother of Gunnar and Hogni (cf. Hyndluljoth, 27 and note, and Brot, 4 and note). The name is the northern form of Gundomar; a prince of this name is mentioned in the Lex Burgundionum, apparently as a brother of Gundahari (Gundicarius). In the Nibelungenlied the third brother is called Gernot.

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