Oddrúnarkviða – The Lament of Oddrun

Oddrun spake:

21. To Atli rings | so red they offered,
And mighty gifts | to my brother would give.
“Fifteen dwellings | fain would he give
For me, and the burden | that Grani bore;

22. But Atli said | he would never receive
Marriage gold | from Gjuki’s son.
“Yet could we not | our love o’ercome,
And my head I laid | on the hero’s shoulder;

23. Many there were | of kinsmen mine
Who said that together | us they had seen.
Atli said | that never I
Would evil plan, | or ill deed do;

24. But none may this | of another think,
Or surely speak, | when love is shared.

25. “Soon his men | did Atli send,
In the murky wood | on me to spy;
Thither they came | where they should not come,
Where beneath one cover | close we lay.

Oddrun spake:

26. “To the warriors ruddy | rings we offered,
That nought to Atli | e’er they should say;
But swiftly home | they hastened thence,
And eager all | to Atli told.

27. “But close from Guthrun | kept they hid
What first of all | she ought to have known.
. . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . .

28. “Great was the clatter | of gilded hoofs
When Gjuki’s sons | through the gateway rode;
The heart they hewed | from Hogni then,
And the other they cast | in the serpents’ cave.

29. “Alone was I gone | to Geirmund then,
The draught to mix | and ready to make;
The hero wise | on his harp then smote,
. . . . . . . . . .
For help from me | in his heart yet hoped
The high-born king, | might come to him.

30. Sudden I heard | from Hlesey clear
How in sorrow the strings | of the harp resounded.
I bade the serving-maids | ready to be,
For I longed the hero’s | life to save;


21. Grani’s burden: the treasure won by Sigurth from Fafnir; cf. Fafnismol, concluding prose. The manuscript marks line 3 as beginning a new stanza, as also in stanzas 21 and 22.

25. Murky wood: the forest which divided Atli’s realm from that of the Gjukungs is in Atlakvitha, 3, called Myrkwood. This hardly accords with the extraordinary geography of stanzas 29-30, or with the journey described in Guthrunarkvitha II, 36.

26. In the manuscript lines 3 and 4 stand in reversed order.

27. No gap is indicated in the manuscript; some editors assume the loss not only of two lines, but of an additional stanza. Evidently Guthrun has already become Atli’s wife.

28. If a stanza has been lost after stanza 27, it may well have told of Atli’s treacherous invitation to the Gjukungs to visit him; cf. Drap Niflunga, which likewise tells of the slaying of Hogni and Gunnar (the other).

27. In the manuscript these three lines follow line 2 of stanza 29. No gap is indicated in the manuscript, In the Volsungasaga Guthrun gives her brother the harp, with which he puts the serpents to sleep. The episode is undoubtedly related to the famous thirtieth Aventiure {sic of the Nibelungenlied, in which Volker plays the followers of Gunther to sleep before the final battle.

29. In the manuscript the three lines of stanza 28 follow line 2, and line 3 is marked as beginning a new stanza. Geirmund: nothing further is known of him, but he seems to be an ally or retainer of Atli, or possibly his brother. Hlesey: the poet’s geography is here in very bad shape. Hlesey is (or may be) the Danish island of Läsö, in the Kattegat (cf. Harbarthsljoth, 37 and note), and thither he has suddenly transported not only Gunnar’s death-place but Atli’s whole dwelling (cf. stanza 30), despite his previous references to the ride to Hunland (stanzas 3-4) and the “murky wood” (stanza 25). Geirmund’s home, where Oddrun has gone, is separated from Hlesey and Atli’s dwelling by a sound (stanza 30). However, geographical accuracy is seldom to be looked for in heroic epic poetry.

30. Many editions combine this stanza with lines 3-4 of stanza 29. The sound: cf. note on stanza 29.

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