The second lay or ancient lay of Gudrun.

Thiodrek the King was in Atli’s house, and had lost there the more part of his men: so there Thiodrek and Gudrun bewailed their troubles one to the other, and she spake and said:

     A may of all mays
     My mother reared me
     Bright in bower;
     Well loved I my brethren,
     Until that Giuki
     With gold arrayed me,
     With gold arrayed me,
     And gave me to Sigurd.

     Such was my Sigurd,
     Among the sons of Giuki
     As is the green leek
     O'er the low grass waxen,
     Or a hart high-limbed
     Over hurrying deer,
     Or glede-red gold
     Over grey silver.

     Till me they begrudged,
     Those my brethren,
     The fate to have him,
     Who was first of all men;
     Nor might they sleep,
     Nor sit a-dooming,
     Ere they let slay
     My well-loved Sigurd.

     Grani ran to the Thing,
     There was clatter to hear,
     But never came Sigurd
     Himself thereunto;
     All the saddle-girt beasts
     With blood were besprinkled,
     As faint with the way
     Neath the slayers they went.

     Then greeting I went
     With Grani to talk,
     And with tear-furrowed cheeks
     I bade him tell all;
     But drooping laid Grani,
     His head in the grass,
     For the steed well wotted
     Of his master's slaying.

     A long while I wandered,
     Long my mind wavered,
     Ere the kings I might ask
     Concerning my king.

     Then Gunnar hung head,
     But Hogni told
     Of the cruel slaying
     Of my Sigurd:
     "On the water's far side
     Lies, smitten to death,
     The bane of Guttorm
     To the wolves given over.

     "Go, look on Sigurd,
     On the ways that go southward,
     There shalt thou hear
     The ernes high screaming,
     The ravens a-croaking
     As their meat they crave for;
     Thou shalt hear the wolves howling
     Over thine husband.

     "How hast thou, Hogni,
     The heart to tell me,
     Me of joy made empty,
     Of such misery?
     Thy wretched heart
     May the ravens tear
     Wide over the world,
     With no men mayst thou wend."

     One thing Hogni
     Had for answer,
     Fallen from his high heart,
     Full of all trouble:
     "More greeting yet,
     O Gudrun, for thee,
     If my heart the ravens
     Should rend asunder!"

     Thence I turned
     From the talk and the trouble
     To go a leasing (1)
     What the wolves had left me;
     No sigh I made
     No smote hands together,
     Nor did I wail
     As other women
     When I sat over
     My Sigurd slain.

     Night methought it,
     And the moonless dark,
     When I sat in sorrow
     Over Sigurd;
     Better than all things
     I deemed it would be
     If they would let me
     Cast my life by,
     Or burn me up
     As they burn the birch-wood.

     From the fell I wandered
     Five days together,
     Until the high hall
     Of Half lay before me;
     Seven seasons there
     I sat with Thora,
     The daughter of Hacon,
     Up in Denmark.

     My heart to gladden
     With gold she wrought
     Southland halls
     And swans of the Dane-folk;
     There had we painted
     The chiefs a-playing;
     Fair our hands wrought
     Folk of the kings.

     Red shields we did,
     Doughty knights of the Huns,
     Hosts spear-dight, hosts helm-dight,
     All a high king's fellows;
     And the ships of Sigmund
     From the land swift sailing;
     Heads gilt over
     And prows fair graven.

     On the cloth we broidered
     That tide of their battling,
     Siggeir and Siggar,
     South in Fion.

     Then heard Grimhild,
     The Queen of Gothland,
     How I was abiding,
     Weighed down with woe;
     And she thrust the cloth from her
     And called to her sons,
     And oft and eagerly
     Asked them thereof,
     Who for her son
     Would their sister atone,
     Who for her lord slain
     Would lay down weregild.

     Fain was Gunnar
     Gold to lay down
     All wrongs to atone for,
     And Hogni in likewise;
     Then she asked who was fain
     Of faring straightly,
     The steed to saddle
     To set forth the wain,
     The horse to back,
     And the hawk to fly,
     To shoot forth the arrow
     From out the yew-bow.

     Valdarr the Dane-king
     Came with Jarisleif
     Eymod the third went
     Then went Jarizskar;
     In kingly wise
     In they wended,
     The host of the Longbeards;
     Red cloaks had they,
     Byrnies short-cut,
     Helms strong hammered,
     Girt with glaives,
     And hair red-gleaming.

     Each would give me
     Gifts desired,
     Gifts desired,
     Speech dear to my heart,
     If they might yet,
     Despite my sorrow,
     Win back my trust,
     But in them nought I trusted.

     Then brought me Grimhild
     A beaker to drink of,
     Cold and bitter,
     Wrong's memory to quench;
     Made great was that drink
     With the might of the earth,
     With the death-cold sea
     And the blood that Son (2) holdeth.

     On that horn's face were there
     All the kin of letters
     Cut aright and reddened,
     How should I rede them rightly?

     The ling-fish long
     Of the land of Hadding,
     Wheat-ears unshorn,
     And wild things' inwards.

     In that mead were mingled
     Many ills together,
     Blood of all the wood,
     And brown-burnt acorns;
     The black dew of the hearth, (3)
     And god-doomed dead beasts' inwards
     And the swine's liver sodden,
     For wrongs late done that deadens.

     Then waned my memory
     When that was within me,
     Of my lord 'mid the hall
     By the iron laid low.
     Three kings came
     Before my knees
     Ere she herself
     Fell to speech with me.

     "I will give to thee, Gudrun,
     Gold to be glad with,
     All the great wealth
     Of thy father gone from us,
     Rings of red gold
     And the great hall of Lodver,
     And all fair hangings left
     By the king late fallen.

     "Maids of the Huns
     Woven pictures to make,
     And work fair in gold
     Till thou deem'st thyself glad.
     Alone shalt thou rule
     O'er the riches of Budli,
     Shalt be made great with gold,
     And be given to Atli."

     "Never will I
     Wend to a husband,
     Or wed the brother
     Of Queen Brynhild;
     Naught it beseems me
     With the son of Budli
     Kin to bring forth,
     Or to live and be merry."

     "Nay, the high chiefs
     Reward not with hatred,
     For take heed that I
     Was the first in this tale!
     To thy heart shall it be
     As if both these had life,
     Sigurd and Sigmund,
     When thou hast borne sons."

     "Naught may I, Grimhild,
     Seek after gladness,
     Nor deem aught hopeful
     Of any high warrior,
     Since wolf and raven
     Were friends together,
     The greedy, the cruel,
     O'er great Sigurd's heart-blood."

     "Of all men that can be
     For the noblest of kin
     This king have I found,
     And the foremost of all;
     Him shalt thou have
     Till with eld thou art heavy—
     Be thou ever unwed,
     If thou wilt naught of him!"

     "Nay, nay, bid me not
     With thy words long abiding
     To take unto me
     That balefullest kin;
     This king shall bid Gunnar
     Be stung to his bane,
     And shall cut the heart
     From out of Hogni.

     "Nor shall I leave life
     Ere the keen lord,
     The eager in sword-play,
     My hand shall make end of."

     Grimhild a-weeping
     Took up the word then,
     When the sore bale she wotted
     Awaiting her sons,
     And the bane hanging over
     Her offspring beloved.

     "I will give thee, moreover,
     Great lands, many men,
     Wineberg and Valberg,
     If thou wilt but have them;
     Hold them lifelong,
     And live happy, O daughter!"

     "Then him must I take
     From among kingly men,
     'Gainst my heart's desire,
     From the hands of my kinsfolk;
     But no joy I look
     To have from that lord:
     Scarce may my brother's bane
     Be a shield to my sons."

     Soon was each warrior
     Seen on his horse,
     But the Gaulish women
     Into wains were gotten;
     Then seven days long
     O'er a cold land we rode,
     And for seven other
     Clove we the sea-waves.
     But with the third seven
     O'er dry land we wended.

     There the gate-wardens
     Of the burg, high and wide,
     Unlooked the barriers
     Ere the burg-garth we rode to—


     Atli woke me
     When meseemed I was
     Full evil of heart
     For my kin dead slain.

     "In such wise did the Norns
     Wake me or now."—
     Fain was he to know
     Of this ill foreshowing—
     "That methought, O Gudrun,
     Giuki's daughter,
     That thou setst in my heart
     A sword wrought for guile."

     "For fires tokening I deem it
     That dreaming of iron,
     But for pride and for lust
     The wrath of fair women
     Against some bale
     Belike, I shall burn thee
     For thy solace and healing
     Though hateful thou art."

     "In the fair garth methought
     Had saplings fallen
     E'en such as I would
     Should have waxen ever;
     Uprooted were these,
     And reddened with blood,
     And borne to the bench,
     And folk bade me eat of them.

     "Methought from my hand then
     Went hawks a-flying
     Lacking their meat
     To the land of all ill;
     Methought that their hearts
     Mingled with honey,
     Swollen with blood
     I ate amid sorrow.

     "Lo, next two whelps
     From my hands I loosened,
     Joyless were both,
     And both a-howling;
     And now their flesh
     Became naught but corpses,
     Whereof must I eat
     But sore against my will."

     "O'er the prey of the fishers
     Will folk give doom;
     From the bright white fish
     The heads will they take;
     Within a few nights,
     Fey as they are,
     A little ere day
     Of that draught will they eat."

     "Ne'er since lay I down,
     Ne'er since would I sleep,
     Hard of heart, in my bed:—
     That deed have I to do. (4)

(1) The original has “a vid lesa”. “Leasing” is the word still used for gleaning in many country sides in England.

(2) Son was the vessel into which was poured the blood of Quasir, the God of Poetry.

(3) This means soot.

(4) The whole of this latter part is fragmentary and obscure; there seems wanting to two of the dreams some trivial interpretation by Gudrun, like those given by Hogni to Kostbera in the Saga, of which nature, of course, the interpretation contained in the last stanza but one is, as we have rendered it: another rendering, from the different reading of the earlier edition of “Edda” (Copenhagen, 1818) would make this refer much more directly to the slaying of her sons by Gudrun.


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