Oddrúnarkviða – The Lament of Oddrun

Oddrun spake:

31. Across the sound | the boats we sailed,
Till we saw the whole | of Atli’s home.

32. “Then crawling the evil | woman came,
Atli’s mother– | may she ever rot!
And hard she bit | to Gunnar’s heart,
So I could not help | the hero brave.

33. “Oft have I wondered | how after this,
Serpents’-bed goddess! | I still might live,
For well I loved | the warrior brave,
The giver of swords, | as my very self.

34. “Thou didst see and listen, | the while I said
The mighty grief | that was mine and theirs;
Each man lives | as his longing wills,–
Oddrun’s lament | is ended now.”

32. The manuscript marks line 3 as beginning a new stanza. Atli’s mother: the Volsungasaga does not follow this version; Gunnar puts all the serpents but one to sleep with his harp playing, “but a mighty and evil adder crawled to him and drove his fangs into him till they reached his heart, and so he died.” It is possible that “Atli” is a scribal error for a word meaning “of serpents.”

33. Serpents’-bed goddess: woman (i. e., Borgny); “goddess of gold” was a frequent term for a woman, and gold was often called the “serpents’ bed” (cf. Guthrunarkvitha I, 24 and note)


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