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Medieval and Classical Library



Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #29

Gudrun went down unto the sea whenas she had slain Atli, and she cast herself therein, for she was fain to end her life: but nowise might she drown. She drave over the firths to the land of King Jonakr, and he wedded her, and their sons were Sorli, and Erp, and Hamdir, and there was Swanhild, Sigurd's daughter, nourished: and she was given to Jormunrek the Mighty. Now Bikki was a man of his, and gave such counsel to Randver, the king's son, as that he should take her; and with that counsel were the young folk well content.

Then Bikki told the king, and the king let hang Randver, but bade Swanhild be trodden under horses' feet. But when Gudrun heard thereof, she spake to her sons --

     Words of strife heard I,
     Huger than any,
     Woeful words spoken,
     Sprung from all sorrow,
     When Gudrun fierce-hearted
     With the grimmest of words
     Whetter her sons
     Unto the slaying.

"Why are ye sitting here? Why sleep ye life away? Why doth it grieve you nought? Glad words to speak, Now when your sister -- Young of years was she -- Has Jormunrek trodden With the treading of horses? --
"Black horses and white In the highway of warriors; Grey horses that know The roads of the Goths. --
"Little like are ye grown To that Gunnar of old days! Nought are your hearts As the heart of Hogni! Well would ye seek Vengeance to win If your mood were in aught As the mood of my brethren, Or the hardy hearts Of the Kings of the Huns!"
Then spake Hamdir, The high-hearted -- "Little didst thou Praise Hogni's doings, When Sigurd woke From out of sleep, And the blue-white bed-gear Upon thy bed Grew red with man's blood -- With the blood of thy mate!
"Too baleful vengeance Wroughtest thou for thy brethren Most sore and evil When thy sons thou slewedst, Else all we together On Jormunrek Had wrought sore vengeance For that our sister.
"Come, bring forth quickly The Hun kings' bright gear, Since thou has urged us Unto the sword-Thing!"
Laughing went Gudrun To the bower of good gear, Kings' crested helms From chests she drew, And wide-wrought byrnies Bore to her sons: Then on their horses Load laid the heroes.
Then spake Hamdir, The high-hearted -- "Never cometh again His mother to see The spear-god laid low In the land of the Goths. That one arvel mayst thou For all of us drink, For sister Swanhild, And us thy sons."
Greeted Gudrun Giuki's daughter; Sorrowing she went In the forecourt to sit, That she might tell, With cheeks tear-furrowed, Her weary wail In many a wise.
"Three fires I knew, Three hearths I knew, To three husbands' houses Have I been carried; And better than all Had been Sigurd alone, He whom my brethren Brought to his bane.
"Such sore grief as that Methought never should be, Yet more indeed Was left for my torment Then, when the great ones Gave me to Atli.
"My fair bright boys I bade unto speech, Nor yet might I win Weregild for my bale, Ere I had hewn off Those Niblungs' heads.
"To the sea-strand I went With the Norns sorely wroth, For I would thrust from me The storm of their torment; But the high billows Would not drown, but bore me Forth, till I stepped a-land Longer to live.
"Then I went a-bed -- -- Ah, better in the old days, This was the third time! -- To a king of the people; Offspring I brought forth, Props of a fair house, Props of a fair house, Jonakr's fair sons.
"But around Swanhild Bond-maidens sat, Her, that of all mine Most to my heart was; Such was my Swanhild, In my hall's midmost, As is the sunbeam Fair to beheld.
"In gold I arrayed her, And goodly raiment, Or ever I gave her To the folk of the Goths. That was the hardest Of my heavy woes, When the bright hair, -- O the bright hair of Swanhild! -- In the mire was trodden By the treading of horses.
"This was the sorest, When my love, my Sigurd, Reft of glory In his bed gat ending: But this the grimmest When glittering worms Tore their way Through the heart of Gunnar.
"But this the keenest When they cut to the quick Of the hardy heart Of the unfeared Hogni. Of much of bale I mind me, Of many griefs I mind me; Why should I sit abiding Yet more bale and more?
"Thy coal-black horse, O Sigurd, bridle, The swift on the highway! O let him speed hither! Here sitteth no longer Son or daughter, More good gifts To give to Gudrun!
"Mindst thou not, Sigurd, Of the speech betwixt us, When on one bed We both sat together, O my great king -- That thou wouldst come to me E'en from the hall of Hell, I to thee from the fair earth?
"Pile high, O earls The oaken pile, Let it be the highest That ever queen had! Let the fire burn swift, My breast with woe laden, And thaw all my heart, Hard, heavy with sorrow!"
Now may all earls Be bettered in mind, May the grief of all maidens Ever be minished, For this tale of sorrow So told to its ending.

Go to The Lay of Hamdir