Sigurðarkviða hin skamma

31. Then Gunnar, monarch | of men, spake forth:
“Thou dost not laugh, | thou lover of hate,
In gladness there, | or for aught of good;
Why has thy face | so white a hue,
Mother of ill? | Foredoomed thou art.

32. “A worthier woman | wouldst thou have been
If before thine eyes | we had Atli slain;
If thy brother’s bleeding | body hadst seen
And the bloody wounds | that thou shouldst End.”

Brynhild spake:

33. “None mock thee, Gunnar! | thou hast mightily fought,
But thy hatred little | doth Atli heed;
Longer than thou, | methinks, shall he live,
And greater in might | shall he ever remain.

34. “To thee I say, | and thyself thou knowest,
That all these ills | thou didst early shape;
No bonds I knew, | nor sorrow bore,
And wealth I had | in my brother’s home.

35. “Never a husband | sought I to have,
Before the Gjukungs | fared to our land;
Three were the kings | on steeds that came,
Need of their journey | never there was.

36. “To the hero great | my troth I gave
Who gold-decked sat | on Grani’s back;
Not like to thine | was the light of his eyes,
(Nor like in form | and face are ye,)
Though kingly both | ye seemed to be.

37. “And so to me | did Atli say
That share in our wealth | I should not have,
Of gold or lands, | if my hand I gave not;
(More evil yet, | the wealth I should yield,)
The gold that he | in my childhood gave me,
(The wealth from him | in my youth I had.)

38. “Oft in my mind | I pondered much
If still I should fight, | and warriors fell,
Brave in my byrnie, | my brother defying;
That would wide | in the world be known,
And sorrow for many | a man would make.

39. “But the bond at last | I let be made,
For more the hoard | I longed to have,
The rings that the son | of Sigmund won;
No other’s treasure | e’er I sought.

40. “One-alone | of all I loved,
Nor changing heart | I ever had;
All in the end | shall Atli know,
When he hears I have gone | on the death-road hence.”


31. Line 1 may well be a mere expansion of “Gunnar spake.” The manuscript marks line 4 as the beginning of a new stanza, and some editions combine lines 4-5 with stanza 32.

32. This stanza, which all editors have accepted as an integral part of the poem, apparently refers to the same story represented by stanzas 37-39, which most editors have (I believe mistakenly) marked as interpolated. As is pointed out in the notes on stanzas 3, 5, 6 and 10, the poet throughout seems to have accepted the version of the story wherein Gunnar and Sigurth besiege Atli, and are bought off by the gift of Atli’s sister, Brynhild, to Gunnar as wife, her consent being won by Atli’s representation that Gunnar is Sigurth (cf. also Guthrunarkvitha I, 24 and note).

33. The manuscript does not name the speaker, and some editions add a first line: “Then Brynhild, daughter | of Buthli, spake.”

34. Cf. stanza 5.

35. Three kings: Gunnar, Hogni, and Sigurth.

36. Some editions place this stanza after stanza 39, on the theory that stanzas 37-39 are interpolated. Line 4, as virtually a repetition of line 3, has generally been marked as spurious. In this version of the winning of Brynhild it appears that Atli pointed out Sigurth as Gunnar, and Brynhild promptly fell in love with the hero whom, as he rode on Grani and was decked with some of the spoils taken from Fafnir, she recognized as the dragon’s slayer. Thus no change of form between Sigurth and Gunnar was necessary. The oath to marry Gunnar had to be carried out even after Brynhild had discovered the deception.

37. Most editors mark stanzas 37-39 as interpolated, but cf. note on stanza 32. Stanza 37 has been variously emended. Lines 4 and 6 look like interpolated repetitions, but many editors make two stanzas, following the manuscript in beginning a new stanza with line 4. After line I Grundtvig adds: “Son of Buthli, | and brother of mine.” After line 6 Bugge adds: “Not thou was it, Gunnar, | who Grani rode, / Though thou my brother | with rings didst buy.” Regarding Brynhild’s wealth cf. stanza 10 and note.

38. Brynhild here again appears as a Valkyrie. The manuscript marks line 4 as the beginning of a new stanza. Any one of the last three lines may be spurious.

39. Some editions combine this stanza with lines 4-5 of stanza 38, with lines 1-2 of stanza 40, or with the whole of stanza 40. The bond: Brynhild thought she was marrying Sigurth, owner of the treasure, whereas she was being tricked into marrying Gunnar.

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