Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages by William D. McClintock and Porter Lander McClintock

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

For there is neither busk nor hay[2]
In May, that it nill[3] shrouded been
And [4] it with new(e) leaves wrene[5]
These wood(e)s eek recover green,
That dry in winter been to seen;[6]
And the earth waxeth proud withal
For sweet dews that on it fall.
And the poor estate forget
In which that winter had it set.
And then becometh the ground so proud,
That it will have a new(e) shroud,
And maketh so quaint his robe and fair
That it had hews an hundred pair,
Of grass and flowers, inde and perse[7]
And many hew(e)s full diverse:
That is the robe, I mean, ivis,[8]
Through which the ground to praise(n)[9] is.
The birds that have(n) left their song,
While they have suffered cold so strong,
In weathers grill [10] and dark to sight,
Ben [11] in May for [12] the sun(en) bright
So glad(e), that they show in singing
That in (t)heir hearts is such liking,[13]
That they mote [14] sing(en) and be light.
Then doth the nightingale her might
To make noise and sing(en) blithe,
Then is bussful many sithe,[15]
The calandra [16] and the popinjay.[17]
Then young(e) folk entend(en)[18] aye
For to be gay and amorous,
The time is then so favorous.[19]
Hard is the heart that loveth nought,
In May when all this mirth is wrought:
When he may on these branches hear
The small(e) bird(e)s sing(en) clear
(T)heir blissful' sweet song piteous,
And in this season delightous[20]
When love affrayeth[21] all(e) thing.

[1] Then. [2] Bush nor hedge. [3] Will not. [4] As if. [5] Were
covered. [6] Are to be seen. [7] Azure and sky-colored. [8]
Certainly. [9] To be praised. [10] Severe. [11] Are. [12] On
account of. [13] Good bodily condition. [14] Must. [15] Times.
[16] A kind of lark. [17] Parrot. [18] Attend. [19] Favorable.
[20] Delightful. [21] Moveth.

The poet sees in vision the Garden of Love. He knocks at "a wiket
smalle," which was finally opened by a maiden.

Ll. 539.--
Her hair was as yellow of hew
As any basin scoured new,
Her flesh tender as is a chick,
With bent brow(e)s, smooth and sleek;
And by measure large were,
The opening of her eyen [1]clere,
Her nose of good proportion,
Her eyen [1] gray as is a falcon,
With sweet(e) breath and well savored,
Her face white and well colored,
With little mouth and round to see;
A clove[2] chin eek had(de) she.
Her neek(e) was of good fashion[3]
In length and greatness by reason,[4]
Without(e) blain(e),[5] scab or roigne.[6]
From Jerusalem unto Burgoyne,
There nys [7] a fairer neck, iwis,[8]
To feel how smooth and soft it is.
Her throat also white of hew
As snow on branch(e) snowed new.
Of body full well wrought was she;
Men needed not in no country
A fairer body for to seek,
And of fine orphreys [9] had she eek
A chap(e)let; so seemly one,
Ne[10] I werede never maid upon,
And fair above that chap(e)let
A rose garland had she set.
She had a gay mirror,
And with a rich(e) gold treasure
Her head was tressed [11] quaint(e)ly;
Her sleeves sewed fetisely,[12]
And for to keep her hand(e)s fair
Of gloves white she had a pair.
And she had on a coat of green,
Of cloth of Gaunt; without(e) ween[13]
Well seemed by her apparel
She was not wont to great travail,
For when she kempto was fetisely[14]
And well arrayed and rich(e)ly
Then had she done all her journey;
For merry and well begun was she.
She had a lusty[15] life in May,
She had no thought by night nor day,
Of no thing but if it were only
To graith[16] her well and uncouthly.[17]
When that this door had opened me
This May, seemly for to see,
I thanked her as I best might,
And asked her how that she hight[18]
And what she was' I asked eek.
And she to me was nought unmeek [19]
Ne of her answer dangerous [20]
But fair answered and said(e) thus:
"Lo, sir, my name is Idleness;
So clepe[21] men me, more and less."
Full mighty and full rich am I,
And that of one thing, namely,"
For I entend(e)[28] to no thing
But to my joy, and my playing,
And for to kemb[29] and tress(e)[30] me.
Acquainted am I and privy
With Mirth(e), lord of this garden,
That from the land of Alexander
Made the trees hither be fet[31]
That in this garden be i-set.
And when the trees were waxen on height[32]
This wall, that stands here in thy sight,
Did Mirth enclose(n) all about;
And these images[33] all without
He did 'em both entail[43] and paint.
That neither be joly,[35] nor quaint,[36]
But they be full of sorrow and woe
As thou hast seen a while ago.
"And oft(e) time him to solace,
Sir Mirth(e) cometh into this place
And eek with him cometh his meiny[37]
That live in lust[38] and jollity,
And now is Mirth therein to hear
The bird(e)s, how they sing(en) clear
The mavis and the nightingale,
And other jolly bird(e)s small,
And thus he walketh to solace
Him and his folk; for sweeter place
To play(en) in he may not find,
Although he sought one in till[39] Inde.[40]
The alther fairest[41] folk to see
That in this world may found(e) be
Hath Mirth(e) with him in his rout,
That follow him always about.
. . . . .
And forth without(e) word(e)s mo,[42]
In at that wicket went I tho,[43]
That idleness had opened me,
Into that garden fair to see.

[1] Eyes. [2] Dimpled. [3] Form. [4] Proportion. [5] Pustule. [6]
Pimple. [7] Is not. [8] Certainly. [9] Fringe of gold. [10] Not.
[11] Wore. [12] Plaited. [13] Neatly. [14] Doubt. [15] Combed,
ironed. [16] Day's work. [17] In fine form. [18] Pleasant. [19]
Dress. [20] Unusually, elegantly. [21] Was called. [22] Bold.
[23] Sparing. [24] Name. [25] Great and small. [26] Chiefly. [27]
Attend. [29] Comb. [30] Plait. [31] Fetched. [32] Were grown to
a height. [33] The pictures on the outside of the wall. [34]
Scarve.[35] Joyful, pleasant. [36] Unusual, queer. [37] Retinue.
[38] Pleasure. [39] To. [40] India. [41] Fairest of all. [42]
More. [43] Then.

After wandering about the garden hearing the birds and getting
acquainted with the inhabitants, he saw

Among a thousand thing(e)s mo[1]
A roser [2] charged full of roses,
That with an hedge about enclosed is.
Tho[3] had I such lust[4] and envy,
That for Paris nor for Pavie,
Nolde[5]I have left to go at see
There greatest heap of roses be.
When I was with this rage hent[6]
That caught hath many a man and shent[7]
Toward the roser I gan go.
And when I was not far therefro,[8]
The savor of the roses sweet
Me smote right to the heart(e) root
As I had all embalmed be.
And if I had ne[9] endoubted[10] me
To have been hated or assailed,
Me thank(e)s[11] would I not been failed
To pull a rose of all that rout,[12]
To bear(en) in my hand about
And smell(en) to it where I went;
But ever I dreaded me to repent,
And lest it grieved or forthought[13]
The lord that thilke[14] garden wrought,
Of roses there were great(e) wone,[15]
So fair(e) waxe [16] never in Rone.[17]
Of knop(e)s[18] close,[19] some saw I there
And some well better waxen[20] were,
And some there be of other moison[21]
That drew(e) nigh to their season,
And sped 'em fast(e) for to spread;
I love well such roses red;
For broad[22] roses, and open also,
Be passed in a day or two;
But knop(e)s[18] will(e) fresh(e) be
Two day(e)s at the least, or three,
The knop(e)s greatly liked[23]me,
For fairer may there no man see
Whoso might have one of all
It aught him be full lief[24]withall.
Might I one garland of 'em get
For no riches I would it let.[25]
Among the knop(e)s I chose one
So fair, that of the remnant none
Ne prize I half so well as it,
When I avise[26] it is my wit.
In it so well was enlumined
With color red, as well y-fined[27]
As nature couthe[28]it make fair.
And it had leaves well four pair,
That Kynde[29] hath set through his knowing
About the red roses springing.
The stalk(e) was as rush(e) right
And thereon stood the knop upright,
That it ne bowed upon no side,
The sweet(e) smell(e) sprang so wide
That it did[30] all the place about.
When I had smelled the savor sweet
No will had I from thence yet go
But somedeal[31] nearer it went I tho[32]
To take it: but mine hand for dread
Ne durst I to the rose bede[33]
For thistles sharp of many manners,
Nettles, thornes, and hooked briers;
For mickle they disturbed me,
For sore I dreaded to harmed be.

[1] More. [2] Rose-bush. [3] Then. [4] Desire. [5] Would not. [6]
Seized. [7] Ruined. [8] There from. [9] Not. [10] Feared. [11]
Willingly. [12] Company. [13] Caused to repent. [14] That. [15]
Quantity. [16] Waxed, grew. [17] Provence. [18] Buds. [19]
Closed. [20] Much better grown. [21] Harvest. [22] Blown. [23]
Pleased. [24] Pleasing. [25] Let go. [26] Consider.[27] Polished.
[28] Knew how. [29] Nature. [30] Filled. [31] Somewhat. [32]
Then. [33] Offer.


The golden age of Spanish literature embraces the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries; but the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
were, in Spain as in other European countries, a period of
special literary activity. The impulses at work were the same as
those to be noted in contemporary France, England, and Germany,
and the work produced of the same general types. The chief phases
of Spanish mediaeval literature are these:

1. Epic and heroic poetry. Here, as elsewhere, heroic ballads
grew up about the national heroes. These were gradually fused
into long epic poems by the wandering minstrels. The best of
these Chansons de Geste are (1) "The Poem of the Cid", (2)
"Rhymed Chronicle of the Cid". Both of them belong probably to
the twelfth century.

2. Romances. Many romances, or short semi-epic poems, grew up
about the Cid. Of others, some were of the Carlovingian cycle,
the most famous being that concerning Bernardo del Carpio, the
traditional rival and conqueror of Roland. Some were devoted to
the Arthurian legend. This latter cycle of stories was immensely
popular in Spain, though rather in translation and imitation than
in original works. In the fourteenth century these older romances
were technically called "books of chivalry" and their popularity
and influence was widespread.

3. Lyric poetry. There seems to have been no special development
of lyric poetry early in Spain, such as is found in France. The
earliest noteworthy lyric poet is Juan Ruiz (1300-1350).

4. Didactic literature. As early as the first half of the
thirteenth century, we have in Spain a strong didactic
literature. Gonzalo de Berceo (d. 1268) wrote many lives of the
saints, miracles, hymns to the Virgin, and other devotional
pieces. But the impulse to allegorizing does not seem to come to
Spain till much later.

5. Fables and tales. Though a little later in being developed in
Spain than in France, the same delight was taken in fables and
short tales. About the middle of the fourteenth century, Juan
Manul (d. 1349) made, in his "El Conde Lucanor", a large
collection of these tales.

6. Chronicles. Spain had early an excellent school of
chroniclers. An example of their work is The General Chronicle of
Spain, compiled under Alphonso the Wise (d. 1284).


Romantic ballads grew up in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
in Spain, centering chiefly about the national hero, Rodrigo Diaz
de Bivar, who was called THE CID, some account of whom is
necessary in order to an understanding of the poems.

History--Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, born 1030-40, died 1099, was the
foremost warrior of the great struggle between the Christians and
the Moors in Spain. The Moors called him the CID (Seid, the
Lord), and the Champion (El Campeador). He was a vigorous,
unscrupulous fighter, now on one side, now on the other. He was
at one time entrusted with high embassies of state, at others, a
rebel. His true place in history seems to be that of a great
freebooter and guerrilla. His contemporary fame was really great.

Legend--During the lifetime of the CID many marvels and myths
grew up about him, and within the next century they became almost
numberless. He became the hero of poet and of romancer to the
Spanish people. His story was told everywhere by the wandering
minstrels, and his name became the center of all popular

Literature.--At once, then, a large literature sprang up
concerning the CID--ballads, romances, and incipient dramas. The
chief pieces are (1)"The Ballads of the Cid", composed from the
twelfth to the fifteenth century, of which nearly two hundred
survive; (2)"The Poem of the Cid", a noble fragment; (3)"The
Chronicle of the Cid".

The early history of Spain's popular hero is traced very
accurately in (1)"The General Chronicle of Spain", compiled under
Alphonso X. (died 1284); (2)"The Chronicle of the Cid", perhaps
extracts from the first, and (3) Various Poems and Romances of
the CID from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century.

The following give some of his adventures, and show the spirit of
this interesting early literature--the earliest ballad literature
in Europe.

From the Cid Ballads.


Brooding sat Diego Laynez o'er the insult to his name,
Nobler and more ancient far than Inigo Abarca's fame;
For he felt that strength was wanting to avenge the craven blow,
If he himself at such an age to fight should think to go.
Sleepless he passed the weary nights, his food untasted lay,
Ne'er raised his eyes from off the ground, nor ventured forth to
Refused all converse with his friends, impelled by mortal fear,
Lest fame of outrage unatoned should aggravate his care.
While pondering thus his honor's claims in search of just
He thought of an expedient his failing house to test;
So summoning to his side his sons, excused all explanation,
Silent began to clutch their hands in proper alternation,
(Not by their tender palms to trace the chiromantic linings,
For at that day no place was found in Spain for such divinings),
But calling on his honor spent for strength and self-denial,
He set aside parental love and steeled his nerves to trial,
Griping their hands with all his might till each cried: "Hold,
Sir, hold!
What meaneth this? pray, let me go; thou'rt killing me, behold!"
Now when he came to Roderick, the youngest of them all,
Despair had well-nigh banished hope of cherished fruit withal
(Though ofttimes lingering nearest when farthest thought to be);
The young man's eyes flashed fury, like tiger fierce stood he
And cried: "Hold, father, hold, a curse upon ye, stay!
An ye were not my father, I would not stop to pray,
But by this good right arm of mine would straight pluck out your
With a bare digit of my hand, in lieu of vulgar knife!
The old man wept for joy: "Son of my soul," quoth he,
"Thy rage my rage disarmeth, thine ire is good to see;
Prove now thy mettle, Rod'rick; wipe out my grievous stain,
Restore the honor I have lost, unless thou it regain--"
Then quickly told him of the wrong to which he was a prey,
Gave him his blessing and a sword and bade him go his way
To end the Count's existence and begin a brighter day.

--Tr. by Knapp.

Pensive stood the young Castilian, musing calmly on his plight;
'Gainst a man like Count Lozano to avenge a father's slight!
Thought of all the trained dependents that his foe could quickly
A thousand brave Asturians scattered through the highlands all;
Thought, too, how at the Cortes of Leon his voice prevailed,
And how in border forays the Moor before him quailed;
At last reviewed the grievance--No sacrifice too great
To vindicate the first affront to Layn Calvo's state;
Then calls on Heaven for justice, and on the earth for space,
Craves strength of honor injured, and of his father grace,
Nor heeds his youthful bearing, for men of rank like he
Are wont from birth to prove their worth by deeds of chivalry.

Next from the wainscot took he down an ancient sword and long:
Once it had been Mudarra's, but now had rusty grown,
And, holding it sufficient to achieve the end he sought,
Before he girt it on him, he addressed the fitting thought:
"Consider, valiant claymore, that Mudarrals arm is mine,
And the cause wherein ye wrestle is Mudarra's cause and thine;
But if, forsooth, thou scornest to be grasped by youthful hand,
Think not 'twill lead thee backward e'en a jot from the demand;
For as firm as thine own steel thou wilt find me in the fray,
And as good as e'er the best man--Thou hast gained a lord to-day;
And if perchance they worst thee, enraged at such a stain,
I shall plunge thee to the cross in my breast for very shame.
Then on to the field away, for the hour to fight is come,
To requite on Count Lozano all the mischief he has done."
So, full of courage and emprise the Cid rode forth to war,
And his triumph was accomplished in the space of one short hour.

--Tr. by KNAPP.


"It is not meet for men of brain, nor yet for champion true,
To offer insult to a man of better blood than you!
The brawny warrior, howe'er fierce and valiant he may be,
Was never wont to test his power on aged infirmity.
The men of Leon need not boast of high emprise, forsooth,
Who craven smite the face of age, and not the breast of youth.
Ye should have known who was my sire, and Layn Calvo's line,
A breed that never brook offence, nor challenge fit decline;
How dared ye thus provoke a man whom only Heaven may,
And not another' while the son lives to avenge the day!
Ye cast about his noble face dishonor's sombre pall,
But I am here to strip it off and expiate it all;
For only blood will cleanse the stain attainted honor brings,
And valid blood is that alone which from the aggressor springs;
Yours it must be, Oh tyrant, since by its overplay
It moved ye to so foul a deed and robbed your sense away;
On my father ye laid hand, in the presence of the king,
And I, his son, am here to-day atonement fall to bring.
Count, ye did a craven business and I call ye COWARD here!
Behold, if I await you, think not I come with fear,
For Diego Laynez wrought me well set in his own mould,
And while I prove my birthright I your baseness shall unfold.
Your valor as a crafty blade will not avail ye more,
For to my needs I bring a sword and charger trained to war."
Thus spake to Count Lozano Spain's champion, the Cid,
(Ere long he won the title by achievements which he did)
That day he slew his enemy and severing quick the head,
Bore high the bleeding trophy as he homeward proudly sped.

--Tr. by Knapp.


Weeping sat Diego Laynez still o'er his untasted meal;
Still o'er his shame was brooding, the tears his thoughts reveal;
Beset with a thousand fancies, and crazed with honest care,
Sensitive to a footfall lest some foe were lurking there,
When Rod'rick, bearing by the locks the Count's dissevered poll,
Tracking the floor with recent gore, advanced along the hall.
He touched his father's shoulder and roused him from his dream,
And proudly flaunting his revenge he thus addresses him:
"Behold the evil tares, sir, that ye may taste the wheat;
Open thine eyes, my father, and lift thy head, 'tis meet,
For this thine honor is secure, is raised to life once more,
And all the stain is washed away in spite of pride and power:
For here are hands that are not hands, this tongue no tongue is
I have avenged thee, sir, behold, and here the truth avow."
The old man thinks he dreams; but no, no dream is there;
'Twas only his long grieving that had filled his heart with care.
At length he lifts his eyes, spent by chivalrous deeds,
And turns them on his enemy clad in the ghastly weeds:
"Roderick, son of my soul, mantle the spectre anon,
Lest, like a new Medusa, it change my heart to stone,
And leave me in such plight at last, that, ere I wish ye joy,
My heart should rend within me of bliss without alloy.
Oh, infamous Lozano! kind heaven hath wrought redress,
And the great justice of my claim hath fired Rodrigo's breast!
Sit down, my son, and dine, here at the head with me,
For he who bringest such a gift, is head of my family."

--Tr. by Knapp.


Now rides Diego Laynez, to kiss the good King's hand,
Three hundred men of gentry go with him from his land,
Among them, young Rodrigo, the proud Knight of Bivar;
The rest on mules are mounted, he on his horse of war.

They ride in glittering gowns of soye--He harnessed like a lord;
There is no gold about the boy, but the crosslet of his sword;
The rest have gloves of sweet perfume,--He gauntlets strong of
They broidered cap and flaunting plume,--He crest untaught to

All talking with each other thus along their way they passed,
But now they've come to Burgos, and met the King at last;
When they came near his nobles, a whisper through them ran,--
"He rides amidst the gentry that slew the Count Lozan."

With very haughty gesture Rodrigo reined his horse,
Right scornfully he shouted, when he heard them so discourse,
"If any of his kinsmen or vassals dare appear,
The man to give them answer, on horse or foot,is here."--

"The devil ask the question," thus muttered all the band;--
With that they all alighted, to kiss the good King's hand,--
All but the proud Rodrigo, he in his saddle stayed,--
Then turned to him his father (you may hear the words he said).

"Now, light, my son, I pray thee, and kiss the good King's hand,
He is our lord, Rodrigo; we hold of him our land."--
But when Rodrigo heard him, he looked in sulky sort,
I wot the words he answered they were both cold and short.

"Had any other said it, his pains had well been paid,
But thou, sir, art my father, thy word must be obeyed."--
With that he sprung down lightly, before the King to kneel,
But as the knee was bending, out leapt his blade of steel.

The King drew back in terror, when he saw the sword was bare;
"Stand back, stand back, Rodrigo, in the devil's name beware;
Your looks bespeak a creature of father Adam's mould,
But in your wild behaviour you're like some lion bold."

When Rodrigo heard him say so, he leapt into his seat,
And thence he made his answer, with visage nothing sweet,--
"I'd think it little honour to kiss a kingly palm,
And if my father's kissed it, thereof ashamed I am."--

When he these words had uttered, he turned him from the gate.
His true three hundred gentles behind him followed straight;
If with good gowns they came that day, with better arms they
And if their mules behind did stay, with horses they're content.

--Tr. by Lockhart.


Now, of Rodrigo de Bivar great was the fame that run,
How he five Kings had vanquished, proud Moormen every one;
And how, when they consented to hold of him their ground,
He freed them from the prison wherein they had been bound.

To the good King Fernando, in Burgos where he lay,
Came then Ximena Gomez, and thus to him did say:--
"I am Don Gomez, daughter, in Gormaz Count was he;
Him slew Rodrigo of Bivar in battle valiantly.

"Now am I come before you, this day a boon to crave,
And it is that I to husband may this Rodrigo have;
Grant this, and I shall hold me a happy damosell,
Much honoured shall I hold me, I shall be married well.

"I know he's born for thriving, none like him in the land;
I know that none in battle against his spear may stand;
Forgiveness is well pleasing in God our Saviour's view,
And I forgive him freely, for that my sire he slew."--

Right pleasing to Fernando was the thing she did propose;
He writes his letter swiftly, and forth his foot-page goes;
I wot, when young Rodrigo saw how the King did write,
He leapt on Bavieca--I wot his leap was light.

With his own troop of true men forthwith he took the way,
Three hundred friends and kinsmen, all gently born were they;
All in one colour mantled, in armour gleaming gay,
New were both scarf and scabbard, when they went forth that day.

The King came out to meet him. with words of hearty cheer;
Quoth he, "My good Rodrigo, you are right welcome here;
This girl Ximena Gomez would have ye for her lord,
Already for the slaughter her grace she doth accord.

"I pray you be consenting, my gladness will be great;
You shall have lands in plenty, to strengthen your estate."
"Lord King", Rodrigo answers, "in this and all beside,
Command, and I'll obey you. The girl shall be my bride."--

But when the fair Ximena came forth to plight her hand,
Rodrigo, gazing on her, his face could not command:
He stood and blushed before her;--thus at the last said he--
"I slew thy sire, Ximena, but not in villany:-

"In no disguise I slew him, man against man I stood;
There was some wrong between us* and I did shed his blood.
I slew a man, I owe a man; fair lady, by God's grace,
An honoured husband thou shalt have in thy dead father's place."

[1] See the account of this quarrel, "Non es de Sessudos Homes."

--Tr. by Lockhart.


The favorite warrior horse of the Cid. There are several more
ballads devoted to this charger.

The King looked on him kindly, as on a vassal true;
Then to the King Ruy Diaz spake after reverence due,--
"O King, the thing is shameful, that any man beside
The liege lord of Castile himself should Bavieca ride:

"For neither Spain or Araby could another charger bring
So good as he, and certes, the best befits my King.
But that you may behold him, and know him to the core,
I'll make him go as he was wont when his nostrils smelt the

With that, the Cid, clad as he was in mantle furred and wide,
On Bavieca vaulting, put the rowel in his side;
And up and down, and round and round, so fierce was his career,
Streamed like a pennon on the wind Ruy Diaz' minivere.

And all that saw them praised them--they lauded man and horse,
As matched well, and rivalless for gallantry and force
Ne'er had they looked on horseman might to this knight come near,
Nor on other charger worthy of such a cavalier.

Thus, to and fro a-rushing, the fierce and furious steed,
He snapt in twain his hither rein:--"God pity now the Cid."
"God pity Diaz," cried the Lords,--but when they looked again,
They saw Ruy Diaz ruling him, with the fragment of his rein;
They saw him proudly ruling with gesture firm and calm,
Like a true lord commanding--and obeyed as by a lamb.

And so he led him foaming and panting to the King,
But "No," said Don Alphonso, "it were a shameful thing
That peerless Bavieca should ever be bestrid
By any mortal but Bivar--Mount, mount again, my Cid."

--Tr. by Lockhart.


The Cid has been banished by King Alphonso, has entered the
Moors, country and taken a city. The Moors rally, gather their
allies and surround the Cid's army. He turns to consult with his

"From water they have out us off, our bread is running low;
If we would steal away by night, they will not let us go;
Against us there are fearful odds if we make choice to fight;
What would ye do now gentlemen, in this our present plight?"
Minaya was the first to speak: said the stout cavalier,
"Forth from Castile the gentle thrust, we are but exiles here;
Unless we grapple with the Moor bread he will never yield;
A good six hundred men or more we have to take the field;
In God's name let us falter not, nor countenance delay,
But sally forth and strike a blow upon to-morrow's day."
"Like thee the counsel," said my Cid; "thou speakest to my mind;
And ready to support thy word thy hand we ever find."
Then all the Moors that bide within the walls he bids to go
Forth from the gates, lest they, perchance, his purpose come to
In making their defences good they spend the day and night,
And at the rising of the sun they arm them for the fight.
Then said the Cid: "Let all go forth, all that are in our band;
Save only two of those on foot, beside the gate to stand.
Here they will bury us if death we meet on yonder plain,
But if we win our battle there, rich booty we shall gain.
And thou Pero Bermuez, this my standard thou shalt hold;
It is a trust that fits thee well, for thou art stout and bold;
But see that thou advance it not unless I give command."
Bermuez took the standard and he kissed the Champion's hand.
Then bursting through the castle gates upon the plain they is
Back on their lines in panic fall the watchmen of the foe.
And hurrying to and fro the Moors are arming all around,
While Moorish drums go rolling like to split the very ground,
And in hot haste they mass their troops behind their standards
Two mighty bands of men-at-arms to count them it were vain.
And now their line comes sweeping on, advancing to the fray,
Sure of my Cid and all his band to make an easy prey.
"Now steady, comrades"' said my Cid; "our ground we have to
Let no man stir beyond the ranks until I give command."
Bermuez fretted at the word, delay he could not brook;
He spurred his charger to the front, aloft the banner shook:
"O loyal Cid Campeador, God give the aid! I go
To plant thy ensign in among the thickest of the foe;
And ye who serve it, be it yours our standard to restore."
"Not so--as thou dost love me, stay!" called the Campeador.
Came Pero's answer, "Their attack I cannot, will not stay."
He gave his horse the spur and dashed against the Moors array.
To win the standard eager all the Moors await the shock,
Amid a rain of blows he stands unshaken as a rock.
Then cried my Cid: "In charity, on to the rescue--ho!"
With bucklers braced before their breasts, with lances pointing
With stooping crests and heads bent down above the saddle bow,
All firm of hand and high of heart they roll upon the foe.
And he that in a good hour was born, his clarion voice rings out,
And clear above the clang of arms is heard his battle shout,
"Among them, gentlemen! Strike home for the love of charity!
The Champion of Bivar is here--Ruy Diaz--I am he!"
Then bearing where Bermuez still maintains unequal fight,
Three hundred lances down they come, their pennons flickering
Down go three hundred Moors to earth, a man to every blow;
And when they wheel three hundred more, as wheeling back they go.
It was a sight to see the lances rise and fall that day;
The shivered shields and riven mail, to see how thick they lay;
The pennons that went in snow-white come out a gory red;
The horses running riderless, the riders lying dead;
While Moors call on Mohammed, and "St. James!" the Christians
And sixty score of Moors and more in narrow compass lie.
Above his gilded saddle-bow there played the Champion's sword;
And Minaya Alvar Fanez, Zurita's gallant lord;
Add Martin Antolinez the worthy Burgalese;
And Muno Gustioz his squire--all to the front were these.
And there was Martin Mufloz, he who ruled in Mont Mayor;
And there was Alvar Alvarez, and Alvar Salvador;
And the good Galin Garcia, stout lance of Arragon;
And Felix Mufloz, nephew of my Cid the Champion.
Well did they quit themselves that day, all these and many more,
In rescue of the standard for my Cid Campeador.

--Tr. by Ormsby.


Loud from among the Moorish tents the call to battle comes,
And some there are, unused to war, awed by the rolling drums.
Ferrando and Diego most: of troubled mind are they;
Not of their will they find themselves before the Moors that day.
"Pero Burmuez," said the Cid, "my nephew staunch and true,
Ferrando and Diego do I give in charge to you;
Be yours the task in this day's fight my sons-in-law to shield,
For, by God's grace to-day we sweep the Moors from off the
"Nay," said Bermuez, "Cid, for all the love I bear to thee,
The safety of thy sons-in-law no charge of mine shall be.
Let him who will the office fill; my place is at the front,
Among the comrades of my choice to bear the battle's brunt;
As it is thine upon the rear against surprise to guard,
And ready stand to give support where'or the fight goes hard."
Came Alvar Fanez: "Loyal Cid Campeador," he cried,
"This battle surely God ordains--He will be on our side;
Now give the order of attack which seems to thee the befit,
And, trust me, every man of us will do his chief's behest."
But lo! all armed from head to heel the Bishop Jeronie shows;
He ever brings good fortune to my Cid where'er he goes.
"Mass have I said, and now I come to join you in the fray;
To strike a blow against the Moor in battle if I may,
And in the field win honor for my order and my hand.
It is for this that I am here, far from my native land.
Unto Valencia did I come to cast my lot with you,
All for the longing that I had to slay a Moor or two.
And so in warlike guise I come, with blazoned shield and lance,
That I may flesh my blade to-day, if God but give the chance,
Then send me to the front to do the bidding of my heart:
Grant me this favor that I ask, or else, my Cid, we part."
"Good!" said my Cid. "Go, flesh thy blade; there stand thy Moorish
Now shall we see how gallantly our fighting Abbot goes."
He said; and straight the Bishop's spurs are in his charger's
And with a will he flings himself against the Moorish ranks.
By his good fortune, and the aid of God, that loved him well,
Two of the foe before his point at the first onset fell.
His lance he broke, he drew his sword--God! how the good steel
Two with the lance he slew, now five go down beneath his blade.
But many are the Moors and round about him fast they close,
And on his hauberk, and his shield, they rain a shower of blows.
He in the good hour born beheld Don Jerome sorely pressed;
He braced his buckler on his arm, he laid his lance in rest,
And aiming where beset by Moors the Bishop stood at bay,
Touched Bavieca with the spur and plunged into the fray;
And flung to earth unhorsed were seven, and lying dead were four,
Where breaking through the Moorish ranks came the Campeador.
God it so pleased, that this should be the finish of the fight;
Before the lances of my Cid the fray became a flight;
And then to see the tent-ropes burst, the tent-poles prostrate
As the Cid's horsemen crashing came the Moorish tents among.
Forth from the camp King Bucar's Moors they drove upon the plain,
And charging on the rout, they rode and cut them down amain
Here severed lay the mail-clad arm, there lay the steel-capped
And here the charger riderless, ran trampling on the dead.
Behind King Bucar as he fled my Cid came spurring on;
"Now, turn thee, Bucar, turn!" he cried; "here is the Bearded
Here is that Cid you came to seek, King from beyond the main,
Let there be peace and amity to-day between us twain."
Said Bucar, "Nay; thy naked sword, thy rushing steed, I see;
If these mean amity, then God confound such amity.
Thy hand and mine shall never join unless in yonder deep,
If the good steed that I bestride his footing can but keep."
Swift was the steed, but swifter borne on Bavieca's stride,
Three fathoms from the sea my Cid rode at King Bucar's side;
Aloft his blade a moment played, then on the helmet's crown,
Shearing the steel-cap dight with gems, Colada he brought down.
Down to the belt, through helm and mail, he cleft the Moor in
And so he slew King Bucar, who came from beyond the main.
This was the battle, this the day, when he the great sword won,
Worth a full thousand marks of gold--the famous Brand Tizon.

--Tr. by Ormsby.


Scandinavian literature embraces the literature of Norway,
Sweden, Iceland, and their western colonies. In the Middle Ages
this literature reached its fullest and best development in

The earliest and greatest portion of this literature is the
heroic poetry forming the collection called the Poetic or Elder
Edda. Like all early poetry these were minstrel poems, passing
orally from singer (skald) to singer for centuries. Some of them
were composed as early as the eighth century. The collection was
probably made in the thirteenth century (1240). The collection
consists of thirty-nine distinct songs or poems. They are based
upon common Norse mythology and tradition. In one section of this
collection is found in outline the story of the Nibelungs and
Brunhild-the story which later formed the basis of the
"Niebelungen-Lied". This fact connects the two literatures with
the original common Teutonic traditions. Anderson says, "The
Elder Edda presents the Norse cosmogony, the doctrines of the
Odinic mythology, and the lives and doings of the gods. It
contains also a cycle of poems on the demigods and mythic heroes
and heroines of the same period. It gives us as complete a view
of the mythological world of the North as Homer and Hesiod do of
that of Greece" (Norse Mythology). Almost equal in importance
and interest is the Prose Edda, sometimes called the Younger
Edda, arranged and in part written by Snorra Sturleson, who lived
from 1178 to 1241. The chief portions of it are:

1. "Gylfaginning," in which Odin recounts to Gylf the history of
the gods.

2. "Bragaraethur, the conversations of Braga the god of poetry.

Other and less important varieties of Scandinavian literature are
the romances of history and romances of pure fiction.


The Voluspa is the first song in the Elder Edda. It is a song of
a prophetess and gives an account of the creation of the world,
of man, giants, and dwarfs; of the employments of fairies or
destinies; of the functions of the gods, their adventures, their
quarrels, and the vengeance they take; of the final state of the
universe and its dissolution; of the battle of the lower deities
and the evil beings; of the renovation of the world; of the happy
lot of the good, and the punishment of the wicked. The first
passage selected gives the account of creation.

In early times,
When Ymer[1] lived,
Was sand, nor sea,
Nor cooling wave;
No earth was found,
Nor heaven above;
One chaos all,
And nowhere grass:

Until Bor's[2] sons
Th' expanse did raise,
By whom Midgard [3]
The great was made.
From th' south the sun
Shone on the walls;
Then did the earth
Green herbs produce.

The sun turned south;
The moon did shine;
Her right hand held
The horse of heaven.
The sun knew not
His proper sphere;
The stars knew not
Their proper place;
The moon know not
Her proper power.

Then all the powers
Went to the throne,
The holy gods,
And held consult:
Night and cock-crowing
Their names they gave,
Morning also,
And noon-day tide,
And afternoon,
The years to tell.

The Asas[4] met
On Ida's plains,
Who altars raised
And temples built;
Anvils they laid,
And money coined;
Their strength they tried
In various ways,
When making songs,
And forming tools.

On th' green they played
In joyful mood,
Nor knew at all
The want of gold,
Until there came
Three Thursa maids,
Exceeding strong,
From Jotunheim:[5]
. . . .
Until there came
Out of the ranks,
Powerful and fair,
Three Asas home,
And found on shore,
In helpless plight,
Ask and Embla [6]
Without their fate.

They had not yet
Spirit or mind,
Blood, or beauty,
Or lovely hue.
Odin gave spirit,
Heinir gave mind,
Lothur gave blood
And lovely hue.

[1] Ymer, the progenitor of the giants.

[2] Bor, the father of Odin, Vile, and Ve.

[3] Midgard, the earth.

[4] Asas, the gods.

[5] The home of the giants.

[6] The first man and first woman made out of pine trees by the
three gods Odin, Heinir, and Lothur.

--Tr. by Henderson.

The second passage gives an account of the universal
dissolution--called Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods.

Loud barks Garm 1]
At Gnipa-cave;
The fetters are severed,
The wolf is set free,
Vala[2] knows the future.
More does she see
Of the victorious gods,
Terrible fall.

From the east drives Hrym,[3]
Bears his child before him;
Jormungander welters
In giant fierceness;
The waves thunder;
The eagle screams,
Rends the corpses with pale beak,
And Naglfar[4] is launched.
A ship from the east nears,
The hosts of Muspel
Come o'er the main,
But Loke is pilot.
All grim and gaunt monsters
Conjoin with the wolf,
And before them all goes
The brother of Byleist.[5]

From the south wends Surt [6]
With seething fire;
The sun of the war-god
Shines in his sword;
Mountains together dash,
And frighten the giant-maids;
Heroes tread the paths to Hel,
And heaven in twain is rent.
Over Him [7] then shall come
Another woe,
When Odin goes forth
The wolf to combat.
. . . .
All men
Abandon the earth.

The sun darkens,
The earth sinks into the ocean;
The lucid stars
From heaven vanish;
Fire and vapor
Rage toward heaven;
High flames
Involve the skies.

Loud barks Garm
At Gnipa-eave:
The fetters are severed,
The wolf is set free,--
Vala knows the future.
More does she see
Of the victorious gods,
Terrible fall.

[1] Hel's dog.

[2] Vala, the prophetess.

[3] The winter.

[4] Naglfar, a ship of the gods.

[5] The brother of Byleist, Loke.

[6] Surt, a fire-giant.

[7] Hlin, a name sometimes used for the goddess, Frigg.

--Tr. by Thorpe.

The conclusion of the "Voluspa "is the following picture of the
regenerated earth.

She sees arise,
The second time,
From the sea, the earth
Completely green:
Cascades do fall;
The eagle soars,
That on the hills
Pursues his prey.

The gods convene
On Ida's plains,
And talk of man,
The worm of dust:
They call to mind
Their former might,
And the ancient runes
Of Fimbultyr.[1]

The fields unsown
Shall yield their growth;
All ills shall cease;
Balder[2] shall come,
And dwell with Hauthr[3]
In Hropt's[4] abodes.
Say, warrior-gods,
Conceive ye yet?

A hall she sees
Outshine the sun,
Of gold its roof,
It stands in heaven:
The virtuous there
Shall always dwell,
And evermore
Delights enjoy.

[1] Fimbultyr, Odin.

[2] Balder, the god of the summer.

[3] Hauthr, Hoder, the brother of Balder.

[4] Hropt, Odin. of Odinic morality and precepts of wisdom, in
the form of social and moral maxims.

--Tr. by Henderson.


The High-Song of Odin. This is the second song in the Elder Edda.
Odin himself is represented as its author. It contains a pretty
complete code.

All door-ways
Before going forward,
Should be looked to;
For difficult it is to know
Where foes may sit
Within a dwelling.
. . . .
Of his understanding
No one should be proud,
But rather in conduct cautious.
When the prudent and taciturn
Come to a dwelling,
Harm seldom befalls the cautious;
For a firmer friend
No man ever gets
Than great sagacity.
. . . .
One's own house is best,
Small though it be;
At home is every one his own master.
Though he but two goats possess,
And a straw-thatched cot,
Even that is better than begging.

One's own house is best,
Small though it be;
At home is every one his own master.
Bleeding at heart is he
Who has to ask
For food at every meal-tide.
. . . .
A miserable man,
And ill-conditioned,
Sneers at everything:
One thing he knows not,
Which he ought to know,
That he is not free from faults.
. . . .
Know if thou hast a friend
Whom thou fully trustest,
And from whom thou would'st good derive;
Thou should'st blend thy mind with his,
And gifts exchange,
And often go to see him.

If thou hast another
Whom thou little trustest,
Yet would'st good from him derive,
Thou should'st speak him fair,
But think craftily,
And leasing pay with lying.

But of him yet further
Whom thou little trustest,
And thou suspectest his affection,
Before him thou should'st laugh,
And contrary to thy thoughts speak;
Requital should the gift resemble.

I once was young,
I was journeying alone
And lost my way;
Rich I thought myself
When I met another:
Man is the joy of man.

Liberal and brave
Men live best,
They seldom cherish sorrow;
But a bare-minded man
Dreads everything;
The niggardly is uneasy even at gifts.

My garments in a field
I gave away
To two wooden men:
Heroes they seemed to be
When they got cloaks:[1]
Exposed to insult is a naked man.
. . . . .
Something great
Is not always to be given,
Praise is often for a trifle bought.
With half a loaf
And a tilted vessel
I got myself a comrade.
Little are the sand grains,
Little the wits,
Little the minds of men;
For all men
Are not wise alike:
Men are everywhere by halves.
Moderately wise
Should each one be,
But never over-wise;
For a wise man's heart
Is seldom glad,
If he is all-wise who owns it.
. . . .
Much too early
I came to many places,
But too late to others;
The beer was drunk, or not ready:
The disliked seldom hits the moment.
. . . .
Cattle die,
Kindred die,
We ourselves also die;
But the fair fame
Never dies of him who has earned it.

Cattle die,
Kindred die,
We ourselves also die;
But I know one thing
That never dies,
Judgment on each one dead.

[1] The tailor makes the man.

--Tr. by Thorpe.


From the third poem in the Elder Edda came the following lines,
describing the day and the night:

Delling called is he
Who the Day's father is,
But Night was of Norve born;
The new and waning moons
The beneficent powers created
To count years for men.

Skinfaxe[1] he is named
That the bright day draws
Forth over human kind;
Of coursers he is best accounted
Among faring men;
Ever sheds light that horse's mane.

Hrimfaxe[2] he is called
That each night draws forth
Over the beneficent powers;
He from his bit lets fall
Drops every morn
Whence in the dells comes dew.
--Tr. by Thorpe

[1] Skinfaxe (shining mane), the horse of Day.

[2] Hrimfaxe (Rime mane), the horse of Night.


There are three classical periods in German literature.[1]

[1] See Scherer's "History of German Literature." Vol. I., page

1. The Old High German Period, culminating about 600 A. D. The
chief development of this period is the epic legend and poetry.
As this literature remained largely unwritten, it is all lost
except one fragment, The Song of Hildebrand.

2. The Middle High German Period, culminating about 1200 A. D.
This was in Germany, as elsewhere in Europe, a time of abundant
literary activity. It is the period of the renaissance of the
heroic legends of the first period, and their remaking into
developed epic poetry; of the writing of romances of chivalry and
of antiquity; of the development of the lyric poetry of the
Minnesingers; of the growth of popular fables and tales and of
the drama. In short, all the forms of literary production known
to the Middle Ages flourished in Germany in this period.

3. The Modern Classical Period, culminating about 1800 in the
work of Goethe, Schiller, and the many poets and scholars
surrounding them.


The fragment of the "Song of Hildebrand" is the sole surviving
portion of the heroic literature of the first period. The story
runs that "Hildebrand had fought in his youth in Italy, married
there, and left a three-year son, when he was driven by Odoacer
to Attila, king of the Huns. After years, in which the son grew
up to manhood, Hildebrand re-entered Italy as a great chief in
the army of Theodorle. His son, Hadubrand was then a chief
combatant in Odoacer's army." They challenge each other to
combat, and though the fragment ends before the fight is over, it
is thought from other references that Hildebrand is victor.


I have heard tell, they called each other forth,
Hildebrand, Hadubrand, among the hosts.
Son, father, made them ready for the strife.
Donned their war shirts, and girded on their swords
Over ringed mail, rode, heroes, to the fight.

Hildebrand, Herbrand's son, the elder man
And wiser, spake, well skilled in questionings
Asked in few words, who among all the folk
His father was, "or of what stock thou be?
Tell, and I'll give a mail of triple web:
Child in this realm, I knew its families."
Hadubrand spoke, Hildebrand's son: "The old
And wise among our folk tell me my father
Was Hildebrand, my name is Hadubrand.
My father went to the east to fly the hate
Of Otaker, with Dietrich and his bands.
A slender bride abiding in the lands
He left in bower, with an ungrown child,
And weapons masterless. Eastward he went
When sorrow came to Deitrich, friendless man,
My kinsman Otaker became his foe.
Most famed of warriors, since Dietrich fell,
Foremost in every field, he loved the fight,
Praised by the bold, I doubt not he is dead."

"Lord God of men," spake Hildebrand, "from heaven
Stay strife between two men so near in blood!"
Then twisted from his arm the bracelet ring
That once the King of Huns had given him,
I give it you in token of my love."
Spake Hadubrand, the son of Hildebrand,
"At the spear's point I take of you such gifts,
Point against point. No comrade thou, old Hun,
With Bly, enticing words wouldst win me near:
My answer to thee is with cast of spear.
Thou'rt old. This cunning out of age is bred."
Over the Midland Sea came foes who said,
"Hildebrand, son of Herbrand, he is dead."

Hildebrand, son of Herbrand, spake again:
"Thine arms show that in this land thou couldst not gain
A liberal leader or a royal friend.
Now well away. Great God, fate's evil end!
For sixty years, exile in stranger lands,
Summer and winter with spear-darting bands,
Never once leg bound within city wall,
I come back by my own son's hand to fall,
Hewn by his sword, or be his murderer,--
But if thy strength hold, thou canst readily
Win of the brave his arms, spoil of the slain,
When thine by right." Said Hildebrand, "Now, worst
Of Ostrogoths be he who holds me back! My heart is for the fray.
Judge comrades who look on, which of us wins
The fame, best throws the dart, and earns the spoil."
The ashen spears then sped, stuck in the shields
With their keen points, and down on the white shields
The heavy axes rang with sounding blows,
Shattering their rims, the flesh behind stood firm. . . .

--Tr. by Morley.

In the second, or Middle High German Period, the heroic legends
of early times were revived and formed the subject matter of many
epic and semi epic poems. These legends have been classified into
six several cycles of romances:[1]

[1] Cf. Morley's "English Writers." Vol.III., pp.152-4.

1. The Frankish cycle contains the stories of Siegfried, the
Sigurd of the Scandinavian tradition.

2. The Burgundian cycle contains King Gunther.

3. The Ostrogoth cycle contains Dietrich, Theodoric, and

4. The Hungarian cycle, to which belongs Attila or Etzel, and

5. The Lombard cycle, to which belong King Rother, King Otnit,
and Wolfdietrich.

6. The North Saxon cycle, to which belongs the tale of Gudrun.
The two most important of all the epics based upon these cycles
are the Gudrun and the Niebelungenlied. The latter is the more
comprehensive, national, and famous. It includes and unifies all
the tales from the first four cycles of heroic legends.[1] The
whole of German art, literature, and tradition is full of
reflections of this poem. The best scholarship has concluded that
the poem is not the work of a single author, but, like other folk
epics, an edited collection of songs. The work was finished about
1190-12l0. It consists of two greater parts, (1) the "Death of
Siegfried" and (2) the "Vengeance of Kriemhild".

[1] See Kluge, "Geschichte der Deutschen National-Literature," p.

From the "Niebelungenlied". The first song in the poem gives us
Kriemhild's foreboding dream.

Stanzas 1-19.

In stories of our fathers high marvels we are told
Of champions well approved in perils manifold.
Of feasts and merry meetings, of weeping and of wail,
And deeds of gallant daring I'll tell yon in my tale.

In Burgundy there flourish'd a maid so fair to see,
That in all the world together a fairer could not be.
This maiden's name was Kriemhild; through her in dismal strife
Full many a proudest warrior thereafter lost his life.

Many a fearless champion, as such well became,
Woo'd the lovely lady; she from none had blame.
Matchless was her person, matchless was her mind.
This one maiden's virtue grac'd all womankind.

Three puissant Kings her guarded with all the care they might,
Gunther and eke Gernot, each a redoubted knight,
And Giselher the youthful, a chosen champion he;
This lady was their sister, well lov'd of all the three.

They were high of lineage, thereto mild of mood,
But in field and foray champions fierce and rude.
They rul'd a mighty kingdom, Burgundy by name;
They wrought in Etzel's country deeds of deathless fame.

At Worms was their proud dwelling, the fair Rhine flowing by,
There had they suit and service from haughtiest chivalry
For broad lands and lordships, and glorious was their state,
Till wretchedly they perish'd by two noble ladies' hate.

Dame Uta was their mother, a queen both rich and sage;
Their father hight Dancrat, who the fair heritage
Left to his noble children when he his course had run;
He too by deeds of knighthood in youth had worship won.

Each of these three princes, as you have heard me say,
Were men of mighty puissance. They had beneath their sway
The noblest knights for liegemen that ever dwelt on ground;
For hardihood and prowess were none so high renown'd.

There was Hagan of Troy of a noble line,
His brother nimble Dankwart, and the knight of Metz, Ortwine,
Eckewart and Gary, the margraves stout in fight,
Folker of Alzeia, full of manly might.

Rumolt the steward (a chosen knight was he),
Sindolt, and Hunolt; these serv'd the brethren three,
At their court discharging their several duties well;
Besides, knights had they many whom now I cannot tell.

Dankwart was marshal to the king his lord,
Ortwine of Metz, his nephew, was carver at the board,
Sindolt he was butler, a champion choice and true,
The chamberlain was Hunolt; they well their duties knew.

The gorgeous pomp and splendour, wherein these brethren reign'd,
How well they tended knighthood, what worship they attain'd,
How they thro' life were merry, and mock'd at woe and bale--
Who'd seek all this to tell you, would never end his tale.

A dream was dreamt by Kriemhild the virtuous and the gay,
How a wild young falcon she train'd for many a day,
Till two fierce eagles tore it; to her there could not be
In all the world such sorrow at this perforce to see.
To her mother Uta at once the dream she told,

But she the threatening future could only thus unfold;
"The falcon that thou trainedst is sure a noble mate;
God shield him in his mercy, or thou must lose him straight."

"A mate for me? what say'st thou, dearest mother mine?
Ne'er to love, assure thee, my heart will I resign.
I'll live and die a maiden, and end as I began,
Nor (let what else befall me) will suffer woe for man."

"Nay", said her anxious mother, "renounce not marriage so;
Wouldst thou true heartfelt pleasure taste ever here below,
Man's love alone can give it. Thou'rt fair as eye can see,
A fitting mate God send thee, and nought will wanting be."

"No more," the maiden answer'd, "no more, dear mother, say;
From many a woman's fortune this truth is clear as day,
That falsely smiling Pleasure with Pain requites us ever.
I from both will keep me, and thus will sorrow never."

So in her lofty virtues, fancy-free and gay,
Liv'd the noble maiden many a happy day,
Nor one more than another found favour in her sight;
Still at the last she wedded a far-renowned knight.

He was the self-same falcon she in her dream had seen,
Foretold by her wise mother. What vengeance took the queen
On her nearest kinsmen who him to death had done!
That single death atoning died many a mother's son.

In his home in the Netherlands the hero Siegfried hears of the
beauty of Kriemhild and after magnificent preparations comes to
Worms to win her, if possible, for his bride. After a long stay
at the court of her brother, he finally sees her at a feast. They
love each other at their first meeting. In Isenstein, far over
the sea, lives Brunhild, the Amazon-queen, who is pledged to wed
only him who can conquer her in single combat. Gunther, the
brother of Kriemhild, desires her for his wife. Siegfried
promises to win her for him on condition that Gunther grant him
Kriemhild's hand in return. They proceed to Brunhild's land,
where Siegfried, by the aid of a magic cloak, which renders him
invisible, helps Gunther to overcome Brunhild.

Stanza 447-455.

There too was come fair Brunhild; arm'd might you see her stand,
As though resolv'd to champion all kings for all their land.
She bore on her silk surcoat, gold spangles light and thin,
That quivering gave sweet glimpses of her fair snowy skin.

Then came on her followers, and forward to the field
Of ruddy gold far-sparkling bore a mighty shield,
Thick, and broad, and weighty, with studs of steel o'erlaid,
The which was wont in battle to wield the martial maid.

As thong to that huge buckler a gorgeous band there lay;
Precious stones beset it as green as grass in May;
With varying hues it glitter'd against the glittering gold.
Who would woo its wielder must be boldest of the bold.

Beneath its folds enormous three spans thick was the shield,
If all be true they tell us, that Brunhild bore in field.
Of steel and gold compacted all gorgeously it glow'd.
Four chamberlains, that bore it, stagger'd beneath the load.

Grimly smil'd Sir Hagan, Trony's champion strong,
And mutter'd, as he mark'd it trail'd heavily along,
"How now, my lord king Gunther? who thinks to scape with life?
This love of yours and lady--'faith she's the devil's wife."
. . . . . . . . . . .
Then to the maid was carried heavily and slow
A strong well-sharpen'd jav'lin, which she ever us'd to throw,
Huge and of weight enormous, fit for so strong a queen,
Cutting deep and deadly with its edges keen.

To form the mighty spear-head a wondrous work was done;
Three weights of iron and better were welden into one;
The same three men of Brunhild's scarcely along could bring;
Whereat deeply ponder'd the stout Burgundian king.

To himself thus thought he, "What have I not to fear?
The devil himself could scarcely 'scape from such danger clear.
In sooth, if I were only in safety by the Rhine,
Long might remain this maiden free from all suit of mine."
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Stanza 464-483.
Then was the strength of Brunhild to each beholder shown.
Into the ring by th' effort of panting knights a stone
Was borne of weight enormous, massy and large and round.
It strain'd twelve brawny champions to heave it to the ground.

This would she cast at all times when she had hurl'd the spear;
The sight the bold Burgundians fill'd with care and fear.
Quoth Hagan, "she's a darling to lie by Gunther's side.
Better the foul fiend take her to serve him as a bride."

Her sleeve back turn'd the maiden, and bar'd her arm of snow,
Her heavy shield she handled, and brandished to and fro
High o'er her head the jav'lin; thus began the strife.
Bold as they were, the strangers each trembled for his life;

And had not then to help him come Siegfried to his side,
At once by that grim maiden had good King Gunther died.
Unseen up went he to him, unseen he touch'd his hand.
His trains bewilder'd Gunther was slow to understand.

"Who was it just now touch'd me?" thought he and star'd around
To see who could be near him; not a soul he found.
Said th' other, "I am Siegfried, thy trusty friend and true;
Be not in fear a moment for all the queen can do."

Said he, "off with the buckler and give it me to bear;
Now, what I shall advise thee, mark with thy closest care.
Be it thine to make the gestures, and mine the work to do."
Glad man was then king Gunther, when he his helpmate knew.

"But all my trains keep secret; thus for us both 'twere best;
Else this o'erweening maiden, be sure, will never rest,
Till her grudge against thee to full effect she bring.
See where she stands to face thee so sternly in the ring!"

With all her strength the jav'lin the forceful maiden threw.
It came upon the buckler massy, broad, and new,
That in his hand unshaken, the son of Sieglind bore.
Sparks from the steel came streaming, as if the breeze before.

Right through the groaning buckler the spear tempestuous broke;
Fire from the mail-links sparkled beneath the thund'ring stroke,
Those two mighty champions stagger'd from side to side;
But for the wondrous cloud-cloak both on the spot had died.

From the mouth of Siegfried burst the gushing blood;
Soon he again sprung forward; straight snatch'd the hero good
The spear that through his buckler she just had hurl'd amain,
And sent it at its mistress in thunder back again.

Thought he "'t were sure a pity so fair a maid to slay;"
So he revers'd the jav'lin, and turn'd the point away.
Yet, with the butt end foremost, so forceful was the throw,
That the sore-smitten damsel totter'd to and fro.

From her mail fire sparkled as driven before the blast;
With such huge strength the jav'lin by Sieglind's son was cast,
That 'gainst the furious impulse she could no longer stand.
A stroke so sturdy never could come from Gunther's hand.

Up in a trice she started, and straight her silence broke,
"Noble knight, Sir Gunther, 'thank thee for the stroke."
She thought 't was Gunther's manhood had laid her on the lea;
No! It was not he had fell'd her, but a mightier far than he.

Then turn'd aside the maiden; angry was her mood;
On high the stone she lifted rugged and round and rude,
And brandish'd it with fury, and far before her flung,
Then bounded quick behind it, that loud her armour rung.

Twelve fathoms' length or better the mighty mass was thrown,
But the maiden bounded further than the stone.
To where the stone was lying Siegfried fleetly flew
Gunther did but lift it, th' Unseen it was, who threw.

Bold, tall, and strong was Siegfried, the first all knights
He threw the stone far further, behind it further sprung.
His wondrous arts had made him so more than mortal strong,
That with him as he bounded, he bore the king along.

The leap was seen of all men, there lay as plain the stone,
But seen was no one near it, save Gunther all alone.
Brunhild was red with anger, quick came her panting breath;
Siegfried has rescued Gunther that day from certain death.

Then all aloud fair Brunhild bespake her courtier band,
Seeing in the ring at distance unharm'd her wooer stand,
"Hither, my men and kinsmen: low to my better bow;
I am no more your mistress; you're Gunther's liegemen now."

Down cast the noble warriors their weapons hastily,
And lowly kneel'd to Gunther the king of Burgundy.
To him as to their sovran was kingly homage done,
Whose manhood, as they fancied, the mighty match had won.

He fair the chiefs saluted bending with gracious look;
Then by the hand the maiden her conquering suitor took,
And granted him to govern the land with sovran sway;
Whereat the warlike nobles were joyous all and gay.

Upon the return to Worms the double marriage feast is
celebrated--the weddings of Gunther and Brunhild, of Siegfried
and Kriemhild. A second time is Gunther compelled to ask the help
of Siegfried in conquering Brunhild, who again thinks that
Gunther is the conqueror. From this second struggle Siegfried
carries away Brunhild's ring and girdle, which he gives to
Kriemhild. Siegfried and Kriemhild depart to his country, and
not until after ten years do they visit again the court of
Gunther. At the festival given in honor of this visit, the two
queens, looking on at the knightly games, fall into a bitter
quarrel concerning the prowess of their husbands. Kriemhild
boasts to Brunhild that it was Siegfried and not Gunther who
overcame her in both struggles. To prove her taunt she shows the
girdle and ring. Brunhild is thrown into violent anger by the
insult and desires only vengeance upon Siegfried and Kriemhild.
Hagen, the most valiant of Gunther's vassals, takes up her cause,
and seeks opportunity to kill Siegfried. A war against the
Saxons is declared, in which Siegfried offers to assist Gunther.
On the eve of the departure to battle, Hagen visits Kriemhild.
She begs him to protect Siegfried, and tells him the story of her
husband's one vulnerable spot--when Siegfried had killed the
dragon, he bathed in its blood, and was rendered invulnerable,
except in one spot, where a lime leaf fell between his shoulders.
This spot the dragon blood did not touch. Kriemhild promises to
mark this spot with a silken cross, that Hagen may the better
protect her husband. The next morning the excursion against the
Saxons is withdrawn, and the heroes conclude to go on a hunting

Stanzas 944-958.

Gunther and Hagan, the warriors fierce and bold,
To execute their treason, resolved to scour the wold.
The bear, the boar, the wild bull, by hill or dale or fen,
To hunt with keen-edg'd javelins; what fitter sport for valiant

In lordly pomp rode with them Siegfried the champion strong.
Good store of costly viands they brought with them along.
Anon by a cool runnel he lost his guiltless fife.
'T was so devis'd by Brunhild, King Gunther's moody wife.

But first he sought the chamber where he his lady found.
He and his friends already had on the sumpters bound
Their gorgeous hunting raiment; they o'er the Rhine would go.
Never before was Kriemhild sunk so deep in woe.

On her mouth of roses he kiss'd his lady dear;
"God grant me, dame, returning in health to see thee here;
So may those eyes see me too; meanwhile be blithe and gay
Among thy gentle kinsmen; I must hence away."

Then thought she on the secret (the truth she durst not tell)
How she had told it Hagan; then the poor lady fell
To wailing and lamenting that ever she was born.
Then wept she without measure, sobbing and sorrow-worn.

She thus bespake her husband, "Give up that chace of thine.
I dreamt last night of evil, how two fierce forest swine
Over the heath pursued thee; the flowers turn'd bloody red.
I cannot help thus weeping; I'm chill'd with mortal dread.

I fear some secret treason, and cannot lose thee hence,
Lest malice should be borne thee from misconceiv'd offence.
Stay, my beloved Siegfried, take not my words amiss.
'T is the true love I bear thee that bids me counsel this."

"Back shall I be shortly, my own beloved mate.
Not a soul in Rhineland know I, who bears me hate.
I'm well with all thy kinsmen; they're all my firm allies;
Nor have I from any e'er deserv'd otherwise."

"Nay! do not, dearest Siegfried! 't is e'en thy death I dread.
Last night I dreamt, two mountains fell thundering on thy head,
And I no more beheld thee; if thou from me wilt go,
My heart will sure be breaking with bitterness of woe."

Round her peerless body his clasping arms he threw;
Lovingly he kiss'd her, that faithful wife and true;
Then took his leave, and parted;--in a moment all was o'er--
Living, alas poor lady! she saw him never more.

In the chase Siegfried prefers to hunt with a single limehound.
But he achieves most marvelous feats of skill and strength.

Stanzas 962-971.
All, that the limehound started, anon with mighty hand
Were slain by noble Siegfried the chief of Netherland.
No beast could there outrun him, so swift is steed could race;
He won from all high praises for mastery in the chace.

Whatever he attempted, he went the best before.
The first beast he encounter'd was a fierce half-bred boar.
Him with a mighty death-stroke he stretch'd upon the ground;
Just after in a thicket a lion huge he found.

Him the limehound started; his bow Sir Siegfried drew;
With a keen-headed arrow he shot the lion through.
But three faint bounds thereafter the dying monster made.
His wond'ring fellow-huntsmen thanks to Sir Siegfried paid.

Then one upon another a buffalo, an elk
He slew, four strong ureoxen, and last a savage shelk.
No beast, how swift soever, could leave his steed behind;
Scarcely their speed could profit the flying hart or hind
. . . . . . .
They heard then all about them, throughout those forest grounds,
Such shouting and such baying of huntsmen and of hounds,
That hill and wood re-echoed with the wild uproar.
Th' attendants had uncoupled four and twenty dogs or more.

Then full many a monster was doom'd his last to groan.
They thought with glad expectance to challenge for their own
The praise for the best hunting; but lower sunk their pride,
When to the tryst-fire shortly they saw Sir Siegfried ride.

The hunting now was over for the most part at least;
Game was brought in plenty and skins of many a beast
To the place of meeting, and laid the hearth before.
Ah! to the busy kitchen what full supplies they bore!
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

The chase being done, the hunters are summoned to a feast in a
neighboring glade. Here, though they are served with a profusion
of sumptuous viands, there is, according to Hagen's plot, no wine
to drink. When, toward the end of the meal Siegfried is tormented
with thirst, Hagen tells him of a cool runnel near by under a
linden, and proposes that he and Gunther and Siegfried shall try
a race to this brook. Siegfried gaily consents, and boasts that
he will run with all his clothing and his weapons upon him.

Stanzas 1005-1029.
King Gunther and Sir Hagan to strip were nothing slow;
Both for the race stood ready in shirts as white as snow.
Long bounds, like two wild panthers o'er the grass they took,
But seen was noble Siegfried before them at the brook.

Whate'er he did, the warrior high o'er his fellows soar'd.
Now laid he down his quiver, and quick ungirt his sword.
Against,the spreading linden he lean'd his mighty spear.
So by the brook stood waiting the chief without a peer.

In every lofty virtue none with Sir Siegfried vied.
Down he laid his buckler by the water's side.
For all the thirst that parch'd him, one drop he never drank
Till the king had finished; he had full evil thank.

Cool was the little runnel, and sparkled clear as glass.
O'er the rill king Gunther knelt down upon the grass.
When he his draught had taken, he rose and stepp'd aside.
Full fain alike would Siegfried his thirst have satisfied.

Dear paid he for his courtesy; his bow, his matchless blade,
His weapons all, Sir Hagan far from their lord convey'd,
Then back sprung to the linden to seize his ashen spear,
And to find out the token survey'd his vesture near;

Then, as to drink Sir Siegfried down kneeling there he found,
He pierc'd him through the croslet, that sudden from the wound
Forth the life-blood spouted e'en o'er his murderer's weed.
Never more will warrior dare so foul a deed.

Between his shoulders sticking he left the deadly spear.
Never before Sir Hagan so fled for ghastly fear,
As from the matchless champion whom he had butcher'd there.
Soon as was Sir Siegfried of the mortal wound aware,

Up he from the runnel started, as he were wood
Out from betwixt his shoulders his own hugh boar-spear stood.
He thought to find his quiver or his broadsword true.
The traitor for his treason had then receiv'd his due.

But, ah! the deadly-wounded nor sword nor quiver found;
His shield alone beside him lay there upon the ground.
This from the bank he lifted and straight at Hagan ran;
Him could not then by fleetness escape king Gunther's man.

E'en to the death though wounded, he hurl'd it with such power,
That the whirling buckler scatter'd wide a shower
Of the most precious jewels, then straight in shivers broke.
Full gladly had the warrior then vengeance with that stroke.

E'en as it was, his manhood fierce Hagan level'd low.
Loud, all around, the meadow rang with the wondrous blow.
Had he in hand good Balmung, the murderer he had slain.
His wound was sore upon him; he writh'd in mortal pain;

His lively colour faded; a cloud came o'er his sight:
He could stand no longer; melted all his might;
In his paling visage the mark of death he bore.
Soon many a lovely lady sorrow'd for him sore.

So the lord of Kriemhild araong the flowerets fell.
From the wound fresh gushing his heart's blood fast did well.
Then thus amidst his tortures, e'en with his failing breath,
The false friends he upbraided who had contriv'd his death.

Thus spake the deadly-wounded, "Ay! cowards false as hell!
To you I still was faithful; I serv'd you long and well;
But what boots all?--for guerdon treason and death I've won.
By your friends, vile traitors! foully have you done.

Whoever shall hereafter from your loins be born,
Shall take from such vile fathers a heritage of scorn.
On me you have wreak'd malice where gratitude was due.
With shame shall you be banish'd by all good knights and true."

Thither ran all the warriors where in his blood he lay.
To many of that party sure it was a joyless day.
Whoever were true and faithful, they sorrow'd for his fall.
So much the peerless champion had merited of all.

With them the false king Gunther bewept his timeless end.
Then spake the deadly-wounded; "little it boots your friend
Yourself to plot his murder, and then the deed deplore.
Such is a shameful sorrow; better at once it were o'er."

Then spake the low'ring Hagan, "I know not why you moan.
Our cares all and suspicions are now for ever flown.
Who now are left, against us who'll dare to make defence?
Well's me, for all this weeping, that I have rid him hence."

"Small cause hast thou," said Siegfried, "to glory in my fate.
Had I ween'd thy friendship cloak'd such murderous hate,
From such as thou full lightly could I have kept my life.
Now grieve I but for Kriemhild, my dear, my widow'd wife.
. . . . . . . . .
Then further spake the dying, and speaking sigh'd full deep,
"Oh king! if thou a promise with any one wilt keep,
Let me in this last moment thy grace and favour find
For my dear love and lady, the wife I leave behind.

Remember, she's thy sister, yield her a sister's right,
Guard her with faith and honour, as thou'rt a king and knight.
My father and my followers for me they long must wait.
Comrade ne'er found from comrade so sorrowful a fate."

In his mortal anguish he writh'd him to and fro,
And then said, deadly groaning, "this foul and murderous blow
Deep will ye rue hereafter; this for sure truth retain,
That in slaying Siegfried you yourselves have slain."

With blood were all bedabbled the flowerets of the field.
Some time with death he struggled, as though he scorn'd to yield
E'en to the foe, whose weapon strikes down the loftiest head.
At last prone in the meadow lay mighty Siegfried dead.

They carry the body of Siegfried back to Worms, and lay it at
Kriemhild's door. Here she finding it next morning. She has it
carried to the church and stands by it while the heroes come to
view it, expecting to discover the murderer.

Stanza 1071-1078.

And now the night was over; forth peep'd the morning fair;
Straight had the noble lady thence to the minster bear
The matchless champion Siegfried, her husband lov'd so dear.
All her friends close follow'd with many a sigh and tear.

When they the minster enter'd, how many a bell was rung!
How many a priest on all sides the mournful requiem sung!
Then thither with his meiny came Dancrat's haughty son,
And thither too grim Hagan; it had been better left undone.

Then spoke the king, "dear sister, woe worth this loss of thine!
Alas that such misfortune has happ'd to me and mine!
For sure the death of Siegfried we ever both must rue."
"Nay", said the mournful lady, "so without cause you do,

For if you really rued it, never had it been.
I know, you have your sister forgotten quite and clean,
So I and my beloved were parted as you see.
Good God! would he had granted the stroke had fall'n on me!"

Firmly they made denial; Kriemhild at once replied,
"Whoe'er in this is guiltless, let him this proof abide.
In sight of all the people let him approach the bier,
And so to each beholder shall the plain truth appear."

It is a mighty marvel, which oft e'en now we spy,
That when the blood-stain'd murderer comes to the murder'd nigh,
The wounds break out a-bleeding; then too the same befell,
And thus could each beholder the guilt of Hagan tell.

The wounds at once burst streaming fast as they did before;
Those, who then sorrow'd deeply, now yet lamented more.
Then outspake king Gunther, "I give you here to know,
He was slain by robbers; Hagan struck ne'er a blow."

"Ay! well know I those robbers," his widow'd sister said;
"By the hands of his true comrades may God revenge the dead!
False Gunther, and false Hagan! 't was you, your friend that
Thereat the knights of Siegfried grip'd to their swords anew.

After the burial of Siegfried, Kriemhild decides to remain at the
court of Gunther, in the care of her brothers. Thither is brought
the enormous treasures of the Niebelungen, which Siegfried had
won, and of which he had been the guardian, and which now fell to
Kriemhild. The crafty Hagen gains possession of this horde, and
conceals it by sinking it in the Rhine, hoping some day to
recover and enjoy it. For thirteen years Kriemhild remains at the
court of her brother, brooding over her wrongs and meditating
revenge. The second part of the poem begins by telling how
Etzel, king of the Hung, proposed for the hand of the widowed
Kriemhild, and how she finally, hoping to use him in her plan of
vengeance, conlsents to a marriage with him and goes away with
him into his land. Here for many years she lives the beloved
queen of the Huns. But her purpose of vengeance never falters,
and at last she persuades Etzel to invite her brothers to his
court on a visit. Against many forebodings and warnings they
come, Hagen with them. After numerous interesting episodes upon
the journey, they arrive at Etzell's court and are handsomely
welcomed. But the inevitable quarrel soon breaks out and a
desperate fight begins. After a most desperate and bloody
struggle, Gunther, Hagen, and a few followers are shut up in a
hall. To this Kriemhild sets fire.

Stanza, 2l86-2194.

With that, the wife of Etzel had set the hall on fire.
How sore then were they tortur'd in burning anguish dire!
At once, as the wind freshen'd, the house was in a glow.
Never, I ween, were mortals in such extremes of woe.

"We all are lost together," each to his neighbour cried,
"It had been far better we had in battle died.
Now God have mercy on us! woe for this fiery pain!
Ah! what a monstrous vengeance the bloody queen has ta'en!"

Then faintly said another, "needs must we here fall dead;
What boots us now the greeting, to us by Etzel sped?
Ah me! I'm so tormented by thirst from burning heat,
That in this horrid anguish my life must quickly fleet."

Book of the day: