Chapter XXXI. Of the Lamentation of Gudrun over Sigurd dead, as it is told told in ancient Songs.

Of the Lamentation of Gudrun over Sigurd dead, as it is told told in ancient Songs. (1)

     Gudrun of old days
     Drew near to dying
     As she sat in sorrow
     Over Sigurd;
     Yet she sighed not
     Nor smote hand on hand,
     Nor wailed she aught
     As other women.

     Then went earls to her.
     Full of all wisdom,
     Fain help to deal
     To her dreadful heart:
     Hushed was Gudrun
     Of wail, or greeting,
     But with a heavy woe
     Was her heart a-breaking.

     Bright and fair
     Sat the great earls' brides,
     Gold arrayed
     Before Gudrun;
     Each told the tale
     Of her great trouble,
     The bitterest bale
     She erst abode.

     Then spake Giaflaug,
     Giuki's sister:
     "Lo upon earth
     I live most loveless
     Who of five mates
     Must see the ending,
     Of daughters twain
     And three sisters,
     Of brethren eight,
     And abide behind lonely."

     Naught gat Gudrun
     Of wail and greeting,
     So heavy was she
     For her dead husband,
     So dreadful-hearted
     For the King laid dead there.

     Then spake Herborg
     Queen of Hunland—
     "Crueller tale
     Have I to tell of,
     Of my seven sons
     Down in the Southlands,
     And the eighth man, my mate,
     Felled in the death-mead.

     "Father and mother,
     And four brothers,
     On the wide sea
     The winds and death played with;
     The billows beat
     On the bulwark boards.

     "Alone must I sing o'er them,
     Alone must I array them,
     Alone must my hands deal with
     Their departing;
     And all this was
     In one season's wearing,
     And none was left
     For love or solace.

     "Then was I bound
     A prey of the battle,
     When that same season
     Wore to its ending;
     As a tiring may
     Must I bind the shoon
     Of the duke's high dame,
     Every day at dawning.

     "From her jealous hate
     Gat I heavy mocking,
     Cruel lashes
     She laid upon me,
     Never met I
     Better master
     Or mistress worser
     In all the wide world."

     Naught gat Gudrun
     Of wail or greeting,
     So heavy was she
     For her dead husband,
     So dreadful-hearted
     For the King laid dead there.

     Then spake Gullrond,
     Giuki's daughter—
     "O foster-mother,
     Wise as thou mayst be,
     Naught canst thou better
     The young wife's bale."
     And she bade uncover
     The dead King's corpse.

     She swept the sheet
     Away from Sigurd,
     And turned his cheek
     Towards his wife's knees—
     "Look on thy loved one
     Lay lips to his lips,
     E'en as thou wert clinging
     To thy king alive yet!"

     Once looked Gudrun—
     One look only,
     And saw her lord's locks
     Lying all bloody,
     The great man's eyes
     Glazed and deadly,
     And his heart's bulwark
     Broken by sword-edge.

     Back then sank Gudrun,
     Back on the bolster,
     Loosed was her head array,
     Red did her cheeks grow,
     And the rain-drops ran
     Down over her knees.

     Then wept Gudrun,
     Giuki's daughter,
     So that the tears flowed
     Through the pillow;
     As the geese withal
     That were in the homefield,
     The fair fowls the may owned,
     Fell a-screaming.

     Then spake Gullrond,
     Giuki's daughter—
     "Surely knew I
     No love like your love
     Among all men,
     On the mould abiding;
     Naught wouldst thou joy in
     Without or within doors,
     O my sister,
     Save beside Sigurd."

     Then spake Gudrun,
     Giuki's daughter—
     "Such was my Sigurd
     Among the sons of Giuki,
     As is the king leek
     O'er the low grass waxing,
     Or a bright stone
     Strung on band,
     Or a pearl of price
     On a prince's brow.

     "Once was I counted
     By the king's warriors
     Higher than any
     Of Herjan's mays;
     Now am I as little
     As the leaf may be,
     Amid wind-swept wood
     Now when dead he lieth.

     I miss from my seat,
     I miss from my bed,
     My darling of sweet speech.
     Wrought the sons of Giuki,
     Wrought the sons of Giuki,
     This sore sorrow,
     Yea, for their sister,
     Most sore sorrow.

     "So may your lands
     Lie waste on all sides,
     As ye have broken
     Your bounden oaths!
     Ne'er shalt thou, Gunnar,
     The gold have joy of;
     The dear-bought rings
     Shall drag thee to death,
     Whereon thou swarest
     Oath unto Sigurd.

     Ah, in the days by-gone
     Great mirth in the homefield
     When my Sigurd
     Set saddle on Grani,
     And they went their ways
     For the wooing of Brynhild!
     An ill day, an ill woman,
     And most ill hap!"

     Then spake Brynhild,
     Budli's daughter—
     "May the woman lack
     Both love and children,
     Who gained greeting
     For thee, O Gudrun!
     Who gave thee this morning
     Many words!"

     Then spake Gullrond,
     Giuki's daughter—
     "Hold peace of such words
     Thou hated of all folk!
     The bane of brave men
     Hast thou been ever,
     All waves of ill
     Wash over thy mind,
     To seven great kings
     Hast thou been a sore sorrow,
     And the death of good will
     To wives and women."

     Then spake Brynhild,
     Budli's daughter—
     "None but Atli
     Brought bale upon us,
     My very brother
     Born of Budli.

     When we saw in the hall
     Of the Hunnish people
     The gold a-gleaming
     On the kingly Giukings;
     I have paid for that faring
     Oft and full,
     And for the sight
     That then I saw."

     By a pillar she stood
     And strained its wood to her;
     From the eyes of Brynhild,
     Budli's daughter,
     Flashed out fire,
     And she snorted forth venom,
     As the sore wounds she gazed on
     Of the dead-slain Sigurd.

(1) This chapter is the Eddaic poem, called the first Lay of Gudrun, inserted here by the translators.


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