Sigurðarkviða hin skamma

51. Long the woman, | linen-decked, pondered,–
–Young she was,– | and weighed her words:
“For my sake now | shall none unwilling
Or loath to die | her life lay down.

52. “But little of gems | to gleam on your limbs
Ye then shall find | when forth ye fare
To follow me, | or of Menja’s wealth.

53. “Sit now, Gunnar! | for I shall speak
Of thy bride so fair | and so fain to die;
Thy ship in harbor | home thou hast not,
Although my life | I now have lost.

54. “Thou shalt Guthrun requite |
more quick than thou thinkest,
Though sadly mourns | the maiden wise
Who dwells with the king, | o’er her husband dead.

55. “A maid shall then | the mother bear;
Brighter far | than the fairest day
Svanhild shall be, | or the beams of the sun.

56. “Guthrun a noble | husband thou givest,
Yet to many a warrior | woe will she bring,
Not happily wedded | she holds herself;
Her shall Atli | hither seek,
(Buthli’s son, | and brother of mine.)

57. “Well I remember | how me ye treated
When ye betrayed me | with treacherous wiles;
Lost was my joy | as long as I lived.

58. “Oddrun as wife | thou fain wouldst win,
But Atli this | from thee withholds;
Yet in secret tryst | ye twain shall love;
She shall hold thee dear, | as I had done
If kindly fate | to us had fallen.

59. “Ill to thee | shall Atli bring,
When he casts thee down | in the den of snakes.

60. “But soon thereafter | Atli too
His life, methinks, | as thou shalt lose,
(His fortune lose | and the lives of his sons;)
Him shall Guthrun, | grim of heart,
With the biting blade | in his bed destroy.


52. No gap indicated in the manuscript; many editions place it between lines 3 and 4. Menja’s wealth: gold; the story of the mill Grotti, whereby the giantesses Menja and Fenja ground gold for King Frothi, is told in the Grottasongr.

53. With this stanza begins Brynhild’s prophesy of what is to befall Gunnar, Guthrun, Atli, and the many others involved in their fate. Line 3 is a proverbial expression meaning simply “your troubles are not at an end.”

54. No gap is indicated in the manuscript; one suggestion for line 2 runs: “Grimhild shall make her | to laugh once more.” Gering: suggests a loss of three lines, and joins lines 3-4 with stanza 55.

55. Probably a line has been lost from this stanza. Grundtvig adds as a new first line: “Her shalt thou find in the hall of Half.” Some editions query line 3 as possibly spurious. Svanhild: the figure of Svanhild is exceedingly old. The name means “Swan-Maiden-Warrior,” applying to just such mixtures of swan-maiden and Valkyrie as appear in the Völundarkvitha. Originally part of a separate tradition, Svanhild appears first to have been incorporated in the Jormunrek (Ermanarich) story as the unhappy wife of that monarch, and much later to have been identified as the daughter of Sigurth and Guthrun, thus linking the two sets of legends.

56. Line 2 in the original is almost totally obscure. Line 4 should very possibly precede line 2, while line 5 looks like an unwarranted addition.

57. This stanza probably ought to follow stanza 53, as it refers solely to) the winning of Brynhild by Gunnar and Sigurth. Müllenhoff regards stanzas 54-56 as interpolated. The manuscript indicates no gap after line 3.”

58. Stanzas 58-59 seem to be the remains of two stanzas, but the Volsungasaga paraphrase follows closely the form here given. Line 3 may well be spurious; line 5 has likewise been questioned. Oddrun: this sister of Atli and Brynhild, known mainly through the Oddrunargratr, is a purely northern addition to the cycle, and apparently one of a relatively late date. She figures solely by reason of her love affair with Gunnar.

59. Possibly two lines have been lost; many editions combine the two remaining lines with lines 1-3 of stanza 60. Concerning the manner of Gunnar’s death cf. Drap Niflunga.

60. Line 3 may well be spurious, as it is largely repetition. The manuscript has “sofa” (“sleep”) in place of “sona” (“sons”), but the Volsungasaga paraphrase says clearly “sons.” The slaying of Atli by Guthrun in revenge for his killing of her brothers is told in the two Atli lays. The manuscript marks line 4 as the beginning of a new stanza, and some editions make a separate stanza out of lines 4-5, or else combine them with stanza 61.

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