Part 2 out of 6
he rued, in sooth, their (4) proud defiance. The envoys said
that Gunther had full many a valiant man-at-arms and among them
they saw a warrior stand, whose name was Siegfried, a hero from
Netherland. Little liked it Liudegast when he heard aright this
tale. When the men of Denmark had heard these tidings told, they
hasted all the more to call their friends; till Sir Liudegast had
gathered for his journey full twenty thousand knights from among
his valiant men. Then King Liudeger, also, of Saxon land, sent
forth his summons, till they had forty thousand men and more,
with whom they thought to ride to the Burgundian land.
Likewise at home King Gunther got him men-at-arms among his kin
and the liegemen of his brothers, and among Hagen's men whom
they wished to lead thence for battle. Much need of this the
heroes had, but warriors soon must suffer death from this. Thus
they made them ready for the journey. When they would hence,
Folker, the daring, must bear the flag. In such wise they
thought to ride from Worms across the Rhine. Hagen of Troneg was
master of the troop; with them rode Sindolt and Hunolt, too, who
wist well how to merit Gunther's gold. Dankwart, Hagen's
brother, and Ortwin, too, well could they serve with honor in
"Sir King," spake then Siegfried, "stay ye at home; since that
your warriors are willed to follow me, remain ye with the ladies
and keep your spirits high. I trow well to guard for you both
honor and estate. Well will I bring it to pass that those who
thought to seek you out at Worms upon the Rhine, had better far
have stayed at home. We shall ride so nigh unto their land that
their proud defiance shall be turned to fear."
From the Rhine they rode through Hesse with their warriors
towards Saxon land, where they later fought. With fire and
pillage, too, they harried all the countryside, so that the two
kings did learn of it in dire distress. Then came they to the
border; the warriors marched along. Siegfried, the strong, gan
ask: "Who shall now guard here the troop?" Forsooth never did
men ride more scathfully to the Saxons. They spake: "Let the
valiant Dankwart guard the young upon the way, he is a doughty
knight. Thus shall we lose the less through Liudeger's men. Let
him and Ortwin guard the rear."
"Then I myself will ride," spake Siegfried, the knight, "and play
the outlook toward the foe, until I discover aright where these
warriors be." Quickly the son of fair Siegelind donned his
harness. The troop he gave in charge to Hagen, when he would
depart, and to Gernot, the valiant man. Thus he rode hence into
the Saxon land alone and many a helmet band he cut to pieces on
that day. Soon he spied the mighty host that lay encamped upon
the plain and far outweighed the forces of his men. Forty
thousand or better still there were. Full blithely Siegfried saw
this in lofty mood. Meantime a warrior full well arrayed had
mounted to the outlook 'gainst the foe. Him Sir Siegfried spied,
and the bold man saw him, too. Each began to watch the other in
hostile wise. Who it was, who stood on guard, I'll tell you now;
a gleaming shield of gold lay by his hand. It was the good King
Liudegast, who was guarding here his band. The noble stranger
pricked along in lordly wise.
Now had Sir Liudegast espied him with hostile eye. Into the
flanks of their horses they plunged the spurs; with all their
might they couched the spears against the shields. At this great
fear befell the mighty king. After the thrust the horses carried
past each other the royal knights, as though borne upon the wind.
With the bridles they wheeled in knightly wise and the two fierce
champions encountered with their swords. Then smote Sir
Siegfried, so that the whole field did ring. Through the hero's
hand from out the helmets, as from firebrands, flew the bright
red sparks. Each in the other found his match. Sir Liudegast,
too, struck many a savage blow; the might of each broke full upon
the shields. Thirty of Liudegast's men stood there on guard, but
ere they could come to his aid, Siegfried had won the fight, with
three groat wounds which he dealt the king through his gleaming
breastplate, the which was passing good. The blood from the
wounds gushed forth along the edges of the sword, whereat King
Liudegast stood in sorry mood. He begged for life and made
offrance of his lands and said that his name was Liudegast. Then
came his warrior's, who had witnessed what there had happed upon
the lookout. As Siegfried would lead his captive thence, he was
set upon by thirty of these men. With mighty blows the hero's
hand guarded his noble prize. The stately knight then wrought
worse scathe. In self-defense he did thirty unto death; only one
he left alive, who rode full fast to tell the tale of what here
had chanced. By his reddened helmet one might see the truth. It
sorely grieved the men of Denmark, when the tale was told them
that their king was taken captive. Men told it to his brother,
who at the news began to rage with monstrous wrath, for great woe
it brought him.
Liudegast, the warrior, then was led away by Siegfried's might to
Gunther's men and given to Hagen in charge. When that they heard
it was the king, full moderate was their dole. The Burgundians
now were bidden raise their banner. "Up, men," cried Siegfried,
"here shall more be done, ere the day end, and I lose not my
life. Full many a stately dame in Saxon land shall rue this
fight. Ye heroes from the Rhine, give heed to me, for I can
guide you well to Liudeger's band. So shall ye see helmets
carved by the hands of goodly knights; ere we turn again, they
shall become acquaint with fear."
To their horses Gernot and all his men now hasted, and soon the
stalwart minstrel, Sir Folker, grasped the battle-flag and rode
before the band. Then were all the comrades arrayed in lordly
wise for strife; nor had they more than a thousand men, and
thereto Siegfried's twelve men-at-arms. Now from the road gan
rise the dust, as across the land they rode; many a lordly shield
was seen to gleam from out their midst. There, too, were come
the Saxons with their troops and well-sharpened swords, as I
since have heard. Sore cut these weapons in the heroes' hands,
for they would fain guard both their castles and their land
against the strangers. The lordings' marshals led on the troop.
Siegfried, too, was come with his men-at-arms, whom he had
brought from Netherland. In the storm of battle many a hand this
day grew red with blood. Sindolt and Hunolt and Gernot, too,
slew many a knight in the strife, ere these rightly knew the
boldness of their foes. This many a stately dame must needs
bewail. Folker and Hagen and Ortwin, too, dimmed in the battle
the gleam of many a helm with flowing blood, these storm-bold
men. By Dankwart, too, great deeds were done.
The men of Denmark proved well their hands; one heard many a
shield resounding from the hurtling and from the sharp swords as
well, many of which were wielded there. The battle-bold Saxons
did scathe enow, but when the men of Burgundy pressed to the
fight, by them was really a wide wound carved. Then down across
the saddles the blood was seen to flow. Thus they fought for
honors, these knights both bold and good. Loud rang the sharp
weapons in the heroes' hands, as those of Netherland followed
their lording through the sturdy host. Valiantly they forced
their way in Siegfried's wake, but not a knight from the Rhine
was seen to follow. Through the shining helmets one could see
flow the bloody stream, drawn forth by Siegfried's hand, till at
last he found Liudeger before his men-at-arms. Thrice had he
pierced the host from end to end. Now was Hagen come, who helped
him achieve in the battle all his mind. Before them many a good
knight must needs die this day.
When the mighty Liudeger espied Siegfried and saw that he bore
high in hand the good sword Balmung and did slay so many a man,
then waxed the lording wroth and fierce enow. A mighty surging
and a mighty clang of swords arose, as their comrades pressed
against each other. The two champions tried their prowess all
the more. The troops began to yield; fierce grew the hate. To
the ruler of the Saxons the tale was told that his brother had
been captured; great dole this gave him. Well he knew it was the
son of Siegelind who had done the deed. Men blamed Sir Gernot,
but later he learned the truth.
So mighty were the blows of Liudeger that Siegfried's charger
reeled beneath the saddle. When the steed recovered, bold
Siegfried took on a frightful usance in the fray. In this Hagen
helped him well, likewise Gernot, Dankwart, and Folker, too.
Through them lay many dead. Likewise Sindolt and Hunolt and
Ortwin, the knight, laid many low in strife; side by side in the
fray the noble princes stood. One saw above the helmets many a
spear, thrown by here's hand, hurtling through the gleaming
shields. Blood-red was colored many a lordly buckler; many a man
in the fierce conflict was unhorsed. At each other ran
Siegfried, the brave, and Liudeger; shafts were seen to fly and
many a keen-edged spear. Then off flew the shield-plates, struck
by Siegfried's hand; the hero of Netherland thought to win the
battle from the valiant Saxons, wondrous many of whom one saw.
Ho! How many shining armor-rings the daring Dankwart broke!
Then Sir Liudegor espied a crown painted on the shield in
Siegfried's hand. Well he knew that it was Siegfried, the mighty
man. To his friends the hero loudly called: "Desist ye from the
strife, my men, here I have seen the son of Siegmund, Siegfried,
the strong, and recognized him well. The foul fiend himself hath
sent him hither to the Saxon land." The banners bade he lower in
the fight. Peace he craved, and this was later granted him, but
he must needs go as hostage to Gunther's land. This was wrung
from him by valiant Siegfried's hand. With one accord they then
gave over the strife and laid aside the many riddled helmets and
the broad, battered bucklers. Whatever of these was found, bore
the hue of blood from the Burgundians' hand. They captured whom
they would, for this lay in their power. Gernot and Hagen, the
full bold warriors, bade bear away the wounded; five hundred
stately men they led forth captive to the Rhine. The worsted
knights rode back to Denmark, nor had the Saxons fought so well
that one could give them aught of praise, and this the heroes
rued full sore. The fallen, too, were greatly mourned by
Then they bade place the weapons on sumpters for the Rhine.
Siegfried, the warrior, and his heroes had wrought full well, as
Gunther's men must needs confess. Sir Gernot now sent messengers
homeward to Worms in his native land, and bade tell his kin what
great success had happed to him and to his men, and how these
daring knights had striven well for honor. The squirelings ran
and told the tale. Then those who afore had sorrowed, were
blithe for joy at the pleasing tidings that were come. Much
questioning was heard from noble dames, how it had fared with the
liegemen of the mighty king. One of the messengers they bade go
to Kriemhild; this happed full secretly (openly she durst not),
for she, too, had amongst them her own true love. When she saw
the messenger coming to her bower, fair Kriemhild spake in kindly
wise: "Now tell me glad news, I pray. And thou dost so without
deceit, I will give thee of my gold and will ever be thy friend.
How fared forth from the battle my brother Gernot and others of
my kin? Are many of them dead perchance? Or who wrought there
the best? This thou must tell me."
Quickly then the envoy spake: "Ne'er a coward did we have, but,
to tell the truth, O noble queen, none rode so well to the strife
and fray, as did the noble stranger from Netherland. Mickle
wonders the hand of valiant Siegfried wrought. Whate'er the
knights have done in strife, Dankwart and Hagen and other men of
the king, however much they strove for honor, 'tis but as the
wind compared with Siegfried, the son of Siegmund, the king.
They slew full many a hero in the fray, but none might tell you
of the wonders which Siegfried wrought, whenever he rode into the
fight. Great woe he did the ladies through their kin; upon the
field the love of many a dame lay dead. His blows were heard to
ring so loud upon the helmets, that from the wounds they drew
forth the blood in streams. In every knightly art he is a worthy
knight and a brave. Whatever Ortwin of Metz achieved (and he
whom he could reach with his good sword, fell sorely wounded, but
mostly dead), yet your brother wrought the direst woe that could
ever chance in battle. One must say of the chosen knights in
truth, that these proud Burgundians acquitted them so well that
they can well preserve their honor from every taint of shame.
Through their hands we saw many a saddle bare, while the field
resounded with the flashing swords. So well rode the warriors
from the Rhine, that it were better for their foes had it been
avoided. The valiant men of Troneg, also, wrought dire woe, when
in great numbers the armies met. Bold Hagen's hand did many a
one to death; of this full many stories might be told here in the
Burgundian land. Sindolt and Hunolt, Gernot's men, Rumolt the
brave, have done such deeds that it may well ever rue Liudeger
that he made war upon thy kinsmen by the Rhine. The very best
fight that happed from first to last, that one has ever seen, was
made full lustily by Siegfried's hand. Rich hostages he bringeth
to Gunther's land. He won them by his prowess, this stately man.
Of this King Liudegast must bear the loss and eke his brother
Liudeger of Saxon land. Now listen to my tale, most noble queen:
by the hand of Siegfried the twain were caught. Never have men
brought so many hostages to this land, as now are coming to the
Rhine through him. Men are bringing to our land five hundred or
more unharmed captives; and of the deadly wounded, my lady, know,
not less than eighty blood-red biers. These men were mostly
wounded by bold Siegfried's hand. Those who in haughty pride
sent a challenge to the Rhine, must now needs be the captives of
Gunther, the king, and men are bringing them with joy unto this
Still higher rose Kriemhild's color when she heard this tale.
Her fair face blushed a rosy red, that Siegfried, the youth, the
stately knight, had fared forth so joyfully from the dangerous
strife. These tidings could not have pleased her better. For
her kinsmen, too, she rejoiced in duty bound. Then spake the
lovely maid: "A fair tale thou hast told me; therefore shalt thou
have as guerdon rich attire. Likewise I'll have thee brought ten
marks of gold." (5) Small wonder that such tales are gladly told
to noble dames.
They gave him then his guerdon, the garments and the gold. Then
many a fair maid hied her to the casement and gazed upon the
street, where many high-mettled warriors were seen riding into
the Burgundian land. There came the champions, the wounded and
the sound. Without shame they heard the greetings of their
friends. Merrily the host rode forth to meet his guests, for his
great sorrow had been turned to joy. Well greeted he his vassals
and the strangers, too; for it was only meet that the mighty king
in courtly wise should thank those who were come back to him,
because in the storm of battle they had won the fight with honor.
Gunther bade his kinsmen tell who had been slain upon the march;
but sixty had been lost, whom one must mourn, as is the wont with
heroes. Many a riven shield and battered helm the unharmed
warriors brought to Gunther's land. The men alighted from their
steeds before the palace of the king. Loud was heard the joyous
sound of the merry welcome; then order was given to lodge the
warriors in the town. The king bade minister well unto his
guests, attend the wounded and give them good easement. His
courtesie was cleverly seen upon his foes. He spake to
Liudegast: "Now be ye welcome. Much damage have I ta'en because
of you; for this I shall now be repaid, if fortune favor. God
reward my kinsmen, for they have given me joy."
"Well may ye thank them," answered Liudeger; "such noble hostages
hath king never gained afore. For fair treatment we offer great
store of wealth, that ye may act with mercy towards your foes."
"I will let you both go free," spake Gunther, "but I must have
surety that my foes remain here with me, that they do not leave
the land against my will." To that Liudeger pledged his hand.
Men brought them to their lodgings and gave them easement. The
wounded were bedded well, and for the sound were poured out good
mead and wine. Never could the comrades have been more merry.
Their battered shields were borne away for keeping, and enow
there was of bloody saddles which one bade hide away, that the
ladies might not weep. Many a good knight returned aweary from
the fray. The king did make his guests great cheer. His lands
were full of strangers and of home-folk. He bade ease the sorely
wounded in kindly wise; their haughty pride was now laid low.
Men offered to the leeches rich rewards, silver without weight
and thereto shining gold, if they would heal the heroes from the
stress of war. To his guests the king likewise gave great gifts.
Those that were minded to set out for home, were asked to stay,
as one doth to friends. The king bethought him how he might
requite his men, for they had brought to pass his wish for fame
Then spake Lord Gernot: "Let them ride away, but be it made known
to them that in six weeks they must come again for a mighty
feast. By then will many a one be healed who now lieth sorely
Then Siegfried of Netherland also asked for leave, but when King
Gunther learned his wish, lovingly he bade him stay erstwhile.
Were it not for the king's sister, this were never done. He was
too rich to take reward, though he well deserved it and the king
liked him well, as also did the kinsmen, who had seen what happed
in battle through his strength. For the sake of one fair lady he
thought to stay, if perchance he might espy her. Later it was
done, and according to his wish he met the maid. He rode
thereafter joyfully to Siegmund's land.
At all times the host bade practice knighthood, and many a
youthful knight did this right gladly. Meanwhile he ordered
seats prepared upon the sand before the town of Worms for those
who were to visit him in the Burgundian land. At the time when
they should come, fair Kriemhild heard it said that the king
would hold a feasting for the sake of his dear friends. Then
comely women hasted apace with robes and headgear which they were
to don. The noble Uta heard tales told of the proud warriors who
were to come. Then many rich dresses were taken from the press.
To please her children she bade make garments ready, that many
ladies and many maids might therewith be decked and many youthful
knights of the Burgundian land. Also for many of the strangers
she bade fashion lordly robes.
(1) "Saxons". This war with the Saxons does not appear in the
poetic "Edda", but was probably introduced into the story
later to provide the heroes with a suitable activity in the
period elapsing between Siegfried's marriage and the journey
to Brunhild's land. (In our poem it is placed before the
marriage.) It reflects the ancient feuds between the Franks
on the one hand and the Saxons and Danes on the other.
Originally Siegfried probably did not take part in it, but
was later introduced and made the leader of the expedition
in place of the king, in accordance with the tendency to
idealize him and to give him everywhere the most important
role. The two opposing leaders are "Liudeger", lord of the
Saxons, and "Liudegast", king of Denmark. In "Biterolf"
Liudeger rules over both Saxons and Danes, and Liudegast is
(2) "Fey". This Scotch and older English word has been chosen
to translate the M.H.G. "veige", 'fated', 'doomed', as it is
etymologically the same word. The ancient Germans were
fatalists and believed only those would die in battle whom
fate had so predestined.
(3) "Thirty thousand". The M.H.G. epics are fond of round
numbers and especially of thirty and its multiples. They
will he found to occur very frequently in our poem. See
Lachmann, "Anmerkungen zu den Nibelungen", 474 1.
(4) "Their". The original is obscure here; the meaning is,
'when he heard with what message they were come, he rued the
haughtiness of the Burgundians'.
(5) "Marks of gold". A mark (Lat. "mares") was half a pound of
gold or silver.
How Siegfried First Saw Kriemhild.
One saw daily riding to the Rhine those who would fain be at the
feasting. Full many of these who for the king's sake were come
into the land, were given steeds and lordly harness. Seats were
prepared for all, for the highest and the best, as we are told,
for two and thirty princes at the feast. For this, too, the fair
ladies vied in their attire. Giselher, the youth, was aught but
idle; he and Gernot and all their men received the friends and
strangers. In truth, they gave the knights right courtly
greetings. These brought into the land many a saddle of golden
red, dainty shields and lordly armor to the feasting on the
Rhine. Many a wounded man was seen full merry since. Even those
who lay abed in stress of wounds, must needs forget the
bitterness of death. Men ceased to mourn for the weak and sick
and joyed in prospect of the festal day, and how well they would
fare at the feasting of the king. Pleasure without stint and
overabundance of joy pervaded all the folk which there were seen.
Therefore great rejoicing arose throughout the whole of Gunther's
Upon a Whitsun morning five thousand or more brave men, clad in
glad attire, were seen going forth to the high festal tide. On
all sides they vied with each other in knightly sports. The host
marked well, what he already wet, how from his very heart the
hero of Netherland did love his sister, albeit he had never seen
her, whose comeliness men praised above all maids. Then spake
the knight Ortwin to the king: "Would ye have full honor at your
feast, so should ye let be seen the charming maids, who live in
such high honors here in Burgundy. What were the joy of man,
what else could give him pleasure, but pretty maids and noble
dames? Pray let your sister go forth before the guests." To the
joy of many a hero was this counsel given.
"This will I gladly do," spake then the king, and all who heard
it were merry at the thought. Then bade he say to the Lady Uta
and her comely daughter, that with their maidens they should come
to court. From the presses they took fair raiment and whatso of
rich attire was laid away. Of rings and ribbons, too, enow they
had. Thus each stately maiden decked herself with zeal. Full
many a youthful knight upon that day was of the mind that he was
so fair to look upon for ladies, that he would not exchange this
chance for the lands of any mighty king. Gladly they gazed on
those whom till now they had not known. Then bade the mighty
king full a hundred of his men, who were his kin and hers, escort
his sister and serve her thus. These were the court retainers of
the Burgundian land and carried swords in hand. Soon one saw the
noble Uta coming with her child. Full hundred or more fair
ladies had she taken for her train, who wore rich robes.
Likewise there followed her daughter many a stately maid. When
from out a bower men saw them come, there rose a mighty press of
knights who had the hope, if that might be, to gaze with joy upon
the noble maid. Now came she forth, the lovely fair, as doth the
red of dawn from out the lowering clouds. He then was reft of
many woes who bore her in his heart so long a time, when he saw
the lovely maid stand forth so glorious. How shone full many a
precious stone upon her robes! In lovely wise her rose-red hue
appeared. Whatever one might wish, he could not but confess that
never in the world had he beheld a fairer maid. As the radiant
moon, whose sheen is thrown so brightly on the clouds, doth stand
before the stars, so stood she now before full many a stately
dame. Therefore higher rose the spirits of the comely knights.
Richly appareled chamberlains marched on in front, while the
high-mettled warriors forsooth must press where they might see
the lovely maid. At this Lord Siegfried felt both joy and dole.
To himself he thought: "How could that chance, that I should love
thee? That is a foolish dream. But if I now must lose thee,
then were I better dead." At thought of this his color came and
went. There stood the son of Siegmund in such dainty grace, as
he were limned on parchment by skillful master's art. Indeed
'twas said of him that never had so fair a knight been seen. The
escort of the ladies now bade everywhere give way and many a man
obeyed. These high-born hearts rejoiced full many a wight, as
thus so many a noble dame appeared in courtly bearing.
Then spake Lord Gernot of Burgundy: "Dear brother Gunther, him
who offered service in such kindly wise, ye should in like manner
requite before these knights; nor shall I ever rue this counsel.
Bid Siegfried now approach my sister, that the maid may greet
him; this will ever be our gain. She who never greeted warrior
shall greet him fair, that by this means we now may win the
Then went the kinsmen of the host to fetch the hero. To the
champion from Netherland they spake: "You hath the king permitted
to go to court; his sister is to greet you. This hath he decreed
to do you honor."
At this the lord grew blithe of mood, for in his heart he bare
joy without alloy, that he thus should see fair Uta's child.
With lovely grace she greeted Siegfried then, but when she saw
the haughty knight stand thus before her, her cheeks flamed
bright. "Be welcome, Sir Siegfried, most good and noble knight,"
the fair maid spake, and at this greeting his spirits mounted
high. Courteously he made obeisance; she took him by the hand.
How gallantly he walked by the lady's side! Upon each other this
lord and lady gazed with kindling eyes. Full secretly this
happed. Was perchance a white hand there fervently pressed by
heart-felt love? That know I not; yet I cannot believe that this
was left undone, for soon had she betrayed to him her love.
Nevermore in summertide nor in the days of May bare he within his
heart such lofty joy as now he gained, when hand in hand he
walked with her whom he fain would call his love.
Then thought full many a knight: "Had that but happed to me, to
walk thus with her hand in hand, as now I see him do, or to lie
beside her, I'd bear it willingly."
Never has warrior better served to gain a queen. From whatever
land the guests were come, all gazed alike upon this pair alone.
She then was bidden kiss the stately man, to whom no such delight
had ever happened in this world.
Then spake the king of Denmark: "Because of this high greeting
many a warrior lieth wounded (this wot I well), through
Siegfried's hand. God grant that he may never come again to my
On all sides they bade make way for Kriemhild, as thus to church
one saw her go with many a valiant knight in courtly wise. Then
soon the stately knight was parted from her side. Thus went she
to the minster, followed by many a dame. So full of graces was
this queenly maid that many a daring wish must needs be lost.
Born she was to be the eyes' delight of many a knight. Siegfried
scarce could wait till mass was sung. Well might he think his
fortune that she did favor him, whom thus he bare in heart.
Cause enow he had to love the fair.
When she came forth from out the minster, they begged the gallant
knight again to bear her company, as he had done afore. Then
first the lovely maid began to thank him that he had fought so
gloriously before so many knights. "Now God requite you, Sir
Siegfried," spake the comely maid, "that ye have brought to pass
with your service, that the warriors do love you with such fealty
as I hear them say."
Then upon Dame Kriemhild he began to gaze in loving wise. "I
will serve them ever," spake then the knight, "and while life
shall last, never will I lay my head to rest till I have done
their will; and this I do, my Lady Kriemhild, to win your love."
A twelfth-night long, on each and every day, one saw the winsome
maid beside the knight, when she should go to court to meet her
kin. This service was done from sheer delight. A great rout of
joy and pleasure was daily seen in front of Gunther's hall,
without and eke within, from many a daring man. Ortwin and Hagen
began to do great marvels. Whatever any wished to play, these
lusty knights were fully ready; thus they became well known to
all the guests and so the whole of Gunther's land was decked with
honor. Those who had lain wounded were now seen coming forth;
they, too, would fain have pastime with the troop and guard
themselves with bucklers and hurl the shaft. Enow there were to
help them, for there was great store of men.
At the feasting the host bade purvey them with the best of cheer.
He kept him free from every form of blame that might befall a
king; men saw him move in friendly wise among his guests. He
spake: "Ye worthy knights, ere ye go hence, pray take my gifts.
I am minded to deserve it of you ever. Do not disdain my goods,
the which I'll share with you, as I have great desire."
Then up spake they of Denmark: "Ere we ride homeward to our land,
we crave a lasting peace; we knights have need thereof, for many
a one of our kinsmen lieth dead at the hands of your men-at-
Liudegast, the Saxon chief, was now cured of his wounds and had
recovered from the fray, though many dead they left within this
land. Then King Gunther went to find Sir Siegfried; to the
knight he spake: "Now tell me what to do. Our foes would fain
ride early and beg for lasting peace of me and of my men. Advise
me now, Knight Siegfried, what thinketh thee good to do? What
the lordings offer me will I tell thee; what of gold five hundred
steeds can bear, that would they gladly give me, and I set them
Then spake the mighty Siegfried: "That were done but ill. Let
them ride hence unhindered, but make each of the lordings give
surety with his hand, that their noble knights henceforth forbear
all hostile riding hither to your land."
"This counsel will I follow." Herewith they parted, and to the
king's foes was told that no one craved the gold they proffered.
For their loved friends at home the battle-weary warriors longed.
Many a shield full of treasure was then brought forth which the
king dealt out unweighed to his many friends, to each five
hundred marks of gold, and to a few, still more. Gernot, the
brave, had counseled Gunther this. Then they all took leave,
sith they would hence. One saw the guests draw nigh to Kriemhild
and also to where Dame Uta sate. Never yet were knights
dismissed in better wise. Lodgings grew empty as they rode away,
but still there stayed at home the king and all his kin and many
a noble liegeman. Daily they were seen as they went to Lady
Kriemhild. The good knight Siegfried now would likewise take his
leave; he weened not to win that on which his mind was set. The
king heard said that he would hence, but Giselher, the youth,
quite won him from the journey.
"Whither would ye ride now, noble Siegfried? Pray tarry with the
knights, I beg you, with Gunther the king and with his men.
Here, too, are many comely dames whom we shall gladly let you
Then spake the mighty Siegfried: "Let stand the steeds. I listed
to ride hence, but now will I desist. The shields, too, bear
away. To my land I craved to go, in truth, but Giselher with his
great love hath turned me from it."
So the valiant knight stayed on to please his friends, nor could
he have fared more gentilly in any land. This happed because he
daily saw Kriemhild, the fair; for the sake of her unmeasured
beauty the lording stayed. With many a pastime they whiled the
hours away, but still her love constrained him and often gave him
dole. Because of this same love in later days the valiant knight
lay pitiful in death.
How Gunther Fared To Isenland (1) for Brunhild.
New tidings came across the Rhine. 'Twas said that yonder many a
fair maid dwelt. The good king Gunther thought to win him one of
these; high therefore rose the warrior's spirits. There lived a
queen beyond the sea, whose like men knew not anywhere. Peerless
was her beauty and great her strength. With doughty knights she
shot the shaft for love. The stone she hurled afar and sprang
far after it. He who craved her love must win without fail three
games from this high-born dame. When the noble maid had done
this passing oft, a stately knight did hear it by the Rhine. He
turned his thoughts upon this comely dame, and so heroes must
needs later lose their lives.
One day when the king and his vassals sate and pondered to and
fro in many a wise, whom their lord might take to wife, who would
be fit to be their lady and beseem the land, up spake the lord of
the Rhinelands: "I will go down to the sea and hence to Brunhlld,
however it may go with me. For her love I'll risk my life. I
will gladly lose it and she become not my wife."
"Against that do I counsel you," spake then Siegfried, "if, as ye
say, the queen doth have so fierce a wont, he who wooeth for her
love will pay full dear. Therefore should ye give over the
Then spake King Gunther: "Never was woman born so strong and bold
that I might not vanquish her with mine own hand."
"Be still," spake Siegfried, "ye little know her strength."
"So will I advise you," spake Hagen then, "that ye beg Siegfried
to share with you this heavy task. This is my rede, sith he doth
know so well how matters stand with Brunhild."
The king spake: "Wilt thou help me, noble Siegfried, to woo this
lovely maid? And thou doest what I pray thee and this comely
dame become my love, for thy sake will I risk both life and
To this Siegfried, the son of Siegmund, answered: "I will do it,
and thou give me thy sister Kriemhild, the noble queen. For my
pains I ask no other meed."
"I'll pledge that, Siegfried, in thy hand," spake then Gunther,
"and if fair Brunhild come hither to this land, I'll give thee my
sister unto wife. Then canst thou live ever merrily with the
This the noble warriors swore oaths to do, and so the greater
grew their hardships, till they brought the lady to the Rhine.
On this account these brave men must later be in passing danger.
Siegfried had to take with him hence the cloak which he, the bold
hero, had won 'mid dangers from a dwarf, Alberich he hight.
These bold and mighty knights now made them ready for the
journey. When Siegfried wore the Cloak of Darkness he had
strength enow: the force of full twelve men beside his own. With
cunning arts he won the royal maid. This cloak was fashioned so,
that whatsoever any wrought within it, none saw him. Thus he won
Brunhild, which brought him dole.
"Now tell me, good Knight Siegfried, before our trip begin, shall
we not take warriors with us into Brunhild's land, that we may
come with passing honors to the sea? Thirty thousand men-at-arms
can soon be called."
"However many men we take," quoth Siegfried, "the queen doth use
so fierce a wont that they must perish through her haughty pride.
I'll give thee better counsel, O brave and worthy king. Let us
fare as wandering knights adown the Rhine, and I will tell thee
those that shall be of the band. In all four knights, we'll
journey to the sea and thus we'll woo the lady, whatever be our
fate thereafter. I shall be one of the four comrades, the second
thou shalt be. Let Hagen be the third (then have we hope of
life), Dankwart then the fourth, the valiant man. A thousand
others durst not match us in the fight."
"Gladly would I know," spake then the king, "ere we go hence ('t
would please me much), what garments we should wear before
Brunhild, which would beseem us there. Pray tell this now to
"Weeds of the very best which can be found are worn all times in
Brunhild's land. We must wear rich clothes before the lady, that
we feel no shame when men shall hear the tidings told."
The good knight spake: "Then will I go myself to my dear mother,
if perchance I can bring it to pass that her fair maids purvey us
garments which we may wear with honor before the high-born maid."
Hagen of Troneg spake then in lordly wise: "Wherefore will ye
pray your mother of such service? Let your sister hear what ye
have in mind, and she'll purvey you well for your journey to
Then sent he word to his sister, that he would fain see her, and
Knight Siegfried, too, sent word. Ere this happed the fair had
clad her passing well. That these brave men were coming, gave
her little grief. Now were her attendants, too, arrayed in
seemly wise. The lordings came, and when she heard the tale,
from her seat she rose and walked in courtly wise to greet the
noble stranger and her brother, too.
"Welcome be my brother and his comrade. I'd gladly know," so
spake the maid, "what ye lords desire, sith ye be thus come to
court. Pray let me hear how it standeth with you noble knights."
Then spake king Gunther: "My lady, I'll tell you now. Maugre our
lofty mood, yet have we mickle care. We would ride a-wooing far
into foreign lands, and for this journey we have need of costly
"Now sit you down, dear brother," spake the royal maid, "and let
me hear aright who these ladies be whom ye fain would woo in the
lands of other kings."
By the hand the lady took the chosen knights and with the twain
she walked to where she sate afore upon a couch, worked, as well
I wot, with dainty figures embossed in gold. There might they
have fair pastime with the ladies. Friendly glances and kindly
looks passed now full oft between the twain. In his heart he
bare her, she was dear to him as life. In after days fair
Kriemhild became strong Siegfried's wife.
Then spake the mighty king: "Dear sister mine, without thy help
it may not be. We would go for knightly pastime to Brunhild's
land, and have need of princely garb to wear before the dames."
Then the noble maiden answered: "Dear brother mine, I do you now
to wit, that whatever need ye have of help of mine, that stand I
ready to give. Should any deny you aught, 't would please
Kriemhild but ill. Most noble knights, beseech me not with such
concern, but order me with lordly air to do whatso ye list. I
stand at your bidding and will do it with a will." So spake
the winsome maid.
"We would fain, dear sister, wear good attire, and this your
noble hand shall help to choose . Your maidens then must make it
fit us, for there be no help against this journey." Then spake
the princess: "Now mark ye what I say. Silks I have myself; see
ye that men do bring us jewels upon the shields and thus we'll
work the clothes. Gunther and Siegfried, too, gave glad assent.
"Who are the comrades," spake the queen, "who shall fare with you
thus clad to court?"
He spake: "I shall be one of four. My liegemen twain, Dankwart
and Hagen, shall go with me to court. Now mark ye well, my lady,
what I say. Each of us four must have to wear for four whole
days three changes of apparel and such goodly trappings that
without shame we may quit Brunhild's land."
In fitting wise the lords took leave and parted hence.
Kriemhild, the queen, bade thirty of her maidens who were
skillful in such work, come forth from out their bowers. Silks
of Araby, white as snow, and the fair silk of Zazamanc, (2) green
as is the clover, they overlaid with precious stones; that gave
garments passing fair. Kriemhild herself, the high-born maiden,
cut them out. Whatso they had at hand of well-wrought linings
from the skin of foreign fish, but rarely seen of folk, they
covered now with silk, as was the wont to wear. (3) Now hear
great marvels of these shining weeds. From the kingdom of
Morocco and from Libya, too, they had great store of the fairest
silks which the kith of any king did ever win. Kriemhild made it
well appear what love she bore the twain. Sith upon the proud
journey they had set their minds, they deemed ermine to be well
fit. (4) Upon this lay fine silk as black as coal. This would
still beseem all doughty knights at high festal tides. From out
a setting of Arabian gold there shone forth many a stone. The
ladies' zeal, it was not small, forsooth; in seven weeks they
wrought the robes. Ready, too, were the weapons for the right
When now they all stood dight, (5) there was built for them in
haste upon the Rhine a sturdy little skiff, that should bear them
downward to the sea. Weary were the noble maids from all their
cares. Then the warriors were told that the brave vestures they
should wear were now prepared; as they had craved it, so it now
was done. Then no longer would they tarry on the Rhine; they
sent a message to their war-companions, if perchance they should
care to view their new attire, to see if it be too long or short.
All was found in fitting measure, and for this they gave the
ladies thanks. All who saw them could not but aver that never in
the world had they seen attire more fair. Therefore they wore it
gladly at the court. None wist how to tell of better knightly
weeds. Nor did they fail to give great thanks. Then the lusty
knights craved leave to go, and this the lordings did in courtly
wise. Bright eyes grew dim and moist thereat from weeping.
Kriemhild spake: "Dear brother, ye might better tarry here a
while and pay court to other dames, where ye would not so risk
your life; then would I say well done. Ye might find nearer home
a wife of as high a birth."
I ween their hearts did tell them what would hap. All wept
alike, no matter what men said. The gold upon their breasts was
tarnished by their tears, which thick and fast coursed downward
from their eyes.
She spake: "Sir Siegfried, let this dear brother of mine be
commended to your fealty and troth, that naught may harm him in
Brunhild's land." This the full brave knight vowed in Lady
The mighty warrior spake: "If I lose not my life, ye may be free
from every care, my lady. I'll bring him to you sound again
hither to the Rhine; that know of a surety." The fair maid
bowed her thanks.
Men bare their gold-hued shields out to them upon the sands and
brought them all their harness. One bade lead up the steeds, for
they would ride away. Much weeping then was done by comely
dames. The winsome maids stood at the easements. A high wind
stirred the ship and sails; the proud war fellowship embarked
upon the Rhine.
Then spake King Gunther: "Who shall be the captain of the ship?"
"That will I," quoth Siegfried, "I wot well how to steer you on
the flood. That know, good knights, the right water ways be well
known to me."
So they parted merrily from out the Burgundian land. Siegfried
quickly grasped an oar and from the shore the stalwart man gan
push. Bold Gunther took the helm himself, and thus the
worshipful and speedy knights set forth from land. With them
they took rich food and eke good wine, the best that could be
found along the Rhine. Their steeds stood fair; they had good
easement. Their ship rode well; scant harm did hap them. Their
stout sheet-rope was tightened by the breeze. Twenty leagues
they sailed, or ever came the night, with a good wind, downward
toward the sea. These hard toils later brought the high-mettled
Upon the twelfth-day morning, as we hear say, the winds had borne
them far away to Isenstein in Brunhild's land. To none save
Siegfried was this known; but when King Gunther spied so many
castles and broad marches, too, how soon he spake: "Pray
tell me, friend Siegfried, is it known to you whose are these
castles and this lordly land?"
Siegfried answered: "I know it well. It is the land and folk of
Brunhild and the fortress Isenstein, as ye heard me say. Fair
ladies ye may still see there to-day. Methinketh good to advise
you heroes that ye be of one single mind, and that ye tell the
selfsame tale. For if we go to-day before Brunhild, in much
jeopardy must we stand before the queen. When we behold the
lovely maiden with her train, then, ye far-famed heroes, must ye
tell but this single tale: that Gunther be my master and I his
man; then what he craveth will come to pass." Full ready they
were for whatever he bade them vow, nor because of pride did any
one abstain. They promised what he would; wherefrom they all
fared well, when King Gunther saw fair Brunhild. (6)
"Forsooth I vow it less for thy sake than for thy sister's, the
comely maid, who is to me as mine own soul and body. Gladly will
I bring it to pass, that she become my wife."
(1) "Isenland" translates here M.H.G. "Islant", which has,
however, no connection with Iceland in spite of the
agreement of the names in German. "Isen lant", the reading
of the MSS. BJh, has been chosen, partly to avoid confusion,
and partly to indicate its probable derivation from
"Isenstein", the name of Brunhild's castle. Boer's
interpretation of "Isen" as 'ice' finds corroboration in
Otfrid's form "isine steina" ('ice stones', i.e. crystals)
I, 1. 70. Isenstein would then mean Ice Castle. In the
"Thidreksaga" Brunhild's castle is called "Saegarthr" ('Sea
Garden'), and in a fairy tale (No. 93 of Grimm) "Stromberg",
referring to the fact that it was surrounded by the sea.
Here, too, in our poem it stands directly on the shore.
(2) "Zazamanc", a fictitious kingdom mentioned only here and a
few times in Parzival, Wolfram probably having obtained the
name from this passage. (See Bartsch, "Germanistische
Studien", ii, 129.)
(3) "Wont to wear". In the Middle Ages costly furs and
fish-skins were used as linings and covered, as here
described, with silk or cloth. By fish such amphibious
animals as otter and beaver were often meant.
(4) "Well fit". In this passage "wert", the reading of A and D,
has been followed, instead of unwert of B and C, as it seems
more appropriate to the sense.
(5) "Dight", 'arrayed'; used by Milton.
(6) "Brunhild". The following words are evidently a late
interpolation, and weaken the ending, but have been
translated for the sake of completeness. They are spoken by
How Gunther Won Brunhild.
Meanwhile their bark had come so near the castle that the king
saw many a comely maiden standing at the casements. Much it
irked King Gunther that he knew them not. He asked his comrade
Siegfried: "Hast thou no knowledge of these maidens, who yonder
are gazing downward towards us on the flood? Whoever be their
lord, they are of lofty mood."
At this Sir Siegfried spake: "I pray you, spy secretly among the
high-born maids and tell me then whom ye would choose, and ye had
"That will I," spake Gunther, the bold and valiant knight. "In
yonder window do I see one stand in snow-white weeds. She is
fashioned so fair that mine eyes would choose her for her
comeliness. Had I power, she should become my wife."
"Right well thine eyes have chosen for thee. It is the noble
Brunhild, the comely maid, for whom thy heart doth strive and eke
thy mind and mood." All her bearing seemed to Gunther good.
When bade the queen her high-born maids go from the windows, for
it behooved them not to be the mark of strangers' eyes. Each one
obeyed. What next the ladies did, hath been told us since. They
decked their persons out to meet the unknown knights, a way fair
maids have ever had. To the narrow casements they came again,
where they had seen the knights. Through love of gazing this was
But four there were that were come to land. Through the windows
the stately women saw how Siegfried led a horse out on the sand,
whereby King Gunther felt himself much honored. By the bridle he
held the steed, so stately, good and fair, and large and strong,
until King Gunther had sat him in the saddle. Thus Siegfried
served him, the which he later quite forgot. Such service he had
seldom done afore, that he should stand at any here's stirrup.
Then he led his own steed from the ship. All this the comely
dames of noble birth saw through the casements. The steeds and
garments, too, of the lusty knights, of snow-white hue, were
right well matched and all alike; the bucklers, fashioned well,
gleamed in the hands of the stately men. In lordly wise they
rode to Brunhild's hall, their saddles set with precious stones,
with narrow martingales, from which hung bells of bright and
ruddy gold. So they came to the land, as well befit their
prowess, with newly sharpened spears, with well-wrought swords,
the which hung down to the spurs of these stately men. The
swords the bold men bore were sharp and broad. All this
Brunhild, the high-born maid, espied.
With the king came Dankwart and Hagen, too. We have heard tales
told of how the knights wore costly raiment, raven black of hue.
Fair were their bucklers, mickle, good and broad. Jewels they
wore from the land of India, the which gleamed gloriously upon
their weeds. By the flood they left their skiff without a guard.
Thus the brave knights and good rode to the castle. Six and
eighty towers they saw within, three broad palaces, (1) and one
hall well wrought of costly marble, green as grass, wherein
Brunhild herself sate with her courtiers. The castle was
unlocked and the gates flung wide. Then ran Brunhild's men to
meet them and welcomed the strangers into their mistress' land.
One bade relieve them of their steeds and shields.
Then spake a chamberlain: "Pray give us now your swords and your
shining breastplates, too."
"That we may not grant you," said Hagen of Troneg; "we ourselves
will bear them."
Then gan Siegfried tell aright the tale. "The usage of the
castle, let me say, is such that no guests may here bear arms.
Let them now be taken hence, then will all be well."
Unwillingly Hagen, Gunther's man, obeyed. For the strangers men
bade pour out wine and make their lodgings ready. Many doughty
knights were seen walking everywhere at court in lordly weeds.
Mickle and oft were these heroes gazed upon.
Then the tidings were told to Lady Brunhild, that unknown
warriors were come in lordly raiment, sailing on the flood. The
fair and worthy maid gan ask concerning this. "Pray let me
hear," spake the queen, "who be these unknown knights, who stand
so lordly in my castle, and for whose sake the heroes have
Then spake one of the courtiers: "My lady, I can well say that
never have I set eyes on any of them, but one like Siegfried doth
stand among them. Him ye should give fair greetings; that is my
rede, in truth. The second of their fellowship is so worthy of
praise that he were easily a mighty king over broad and princely
lands, and he had the power and might possess them. One doth see
him stand by the rest in such right lordly wise. The third of
the fellowship is so fierce and yet withal so fair of body, most
noble queen. By the fierce glances he so oft doth east, I ween
he be grim of thought and mood. The youngest among them is
worshipful indeed. I see the noble knight stand so charmingly,
with courtly bearing, in almost maiden modesty. We might all
have cause for fear, had any done him aught. However blithely he
doth practice chivalry, and howso fair of body he be, yet might
he well make many a comely woman weep, should he e'er grow angry.
He is so fashioned that in all knightly virtues he must be a bold
knight and a brave."
Then spake the queen: "Now bring me my attire. If the mighty
Siegfried be come unto this land through love of mine, he doth
risk his life. I fear him not so sore, that I should become his
Brunhild, the fair, was soon well clad. Then went there with her
many a comely maid, full hundred or more, decked out in gay
attire. The stately dames would gaze upon the strangers. With
them there walked good knights from Isenland, Brunhild's men-
at-arms, five hundred or more, who bore swords in hand. This the
strangers rued. From their seats then the brave and lusty heroes
rose. When that the queen spied Siegfried, now hear what the
maid did speak.
"Be ye welcome, Siegfried, here in this our land! What doth your
journey mean? That I fain would know."
"Gramercy, my Lady Brunhild, that ye have deigned to greet me,
most generous queen, in the presence of this noble knight who
standeth here before me, for he is my liege lord. This honor I
must needs forswear. By birth he's from the Rhine; what more
need I to say? For thy sake are we come hither. Fain would he
woo thee, however he fare. Methink thee now betimes, my lord
will not let thee go. He is hight Gunther and is a lordly king.
An' he win thy love, he doth crave naught more. Forsooth this
knight, so well beseen, did bid me journey hither. I would fain
have given it over, could I have said him nay."
She spake: "Is he thy liege and thou his man, dare he assay the
games which I mete out and gain the mastery, then I'll become his
wife; but should I win, 't will cost you all your lives."
Then up spake Hagen of Troneg: "My lady, let us see your mighty
games. It must indeed go hard, or ever Gunther, my lord, give
you the palm. He troweth well to win so fair a maid."
"He must hurl the stone and after spring and cast the spear with
me. Be ye not too hasty. Ye are like to lose here your honor
and your life as well. Bethink you therefore rightly," spake the
Siegfried, the bold, went to the king and bade him tell the queen
all that he had in mind, he should have no fear. "I'll guard you
well against her with my arts."
Then spake King Gunther: "Most noble queen, now mete out whatso
ye list, and were it more, that would I all endure for your sweet
sake. I'll gladly lose my head, and ye become not my wife."
When the queen heard this speech, she begged them hasten to the
games, as was but meet. She bade purvey her with good armor for
the strife: a breastplate of ruddy gold and a right good shield.
A silken surcoat, (2) too, the maid put on, which sword had never
cut in any fray, of silken cloth of Libya. Well was it wrought.
Bright embroidered edging was seen to shine thereon.
Meanwhile the knights were threatened much with battle cries.
Dankwart and Hagen stood ill at ease; their minds were troubled
at the thought of how the king would speed. Thought they: "Our
journey will not bring us warriors aught of good."
Meanwhile Siegfried, the stately man, or ever any marked it, had
hied him to the ship, where he found his magic cloak concealed.
Into it he quickly slipped and so was seen of none. He hurried
back and there he found a great press of knights, where the queen
dealt out her lofty games. Thither he went in secret wise (by
his arts it happed), nor was he seen of any that were there. The
ring had been marked out, where the games should be, afore many
valiant warriors, who were to view them there. More than seven
hundred were seen bearing arms, who were to say who won the game.
Then was come Brunhild, armed as though she would battle for all
royal lands. Above her silken coat she wore many a bar of gold;
gloriously her lovely color shone beneath the armor. Then came
her courtiers, who bare along a shield of ruddy gold with large
broad strips as hard as steel, beneath the which the lovely maid
would fight. As shield-thong there served a costly band upon
which lay jewels green as grass. It shone and gleamed against
the gold. He must needs be passing bold, to whom the maid would
show her love. The shield the maid should bear was three spans
thick beneath the studs, as we are told. Rich enow it was, of
steel and eke of gold, the which four chamberlains could scarcely
When the stalwart Hagen saw the shield borne forth, the knight of
Troneg spake full grim of mood: "How now, King Gunther? How we
shall lose our lives! She you would make your love is the
devil's bride, in truth."
Hear now about her weeds; enow of these she had; she wore a
surcoat of silk of Azagoue, (3) noble and costly. Many a lordly
stone shone in contrast to its color on the person of the queen.
Then was brought forth for the lady a spear, sharp, heavy, and
large, the which she cast all time, stout and unwieldy, mickle
and broad, which on its edges cut most fearfully. Of the spear's
great weight hear wonders told. Three and one half weights (4)
of iron were wrought therein, the which scarce three of
Brunhild's men could bear. The noble Gunther gan be sore afraid.
Within his heart he thought: "What doth this mean? How could the
devil from hell himself escape alive? Were I safe and sound in
Burgundy, long might she live here free of any love of mine."
Then spake Hagen's brother, the valiant Dankwart: "The journey to
this court doth rue me sore. We who have ever borne the name of
knights, how must we lose our lives! Shall we now perish at the
hands of women in these lands? It doth irk me much, that ever I
came unto this country. Had but my brother Hagen his sword in
hand, and I mine, too, then should Brunhild's men go softly in
their overweening pride. This know for sure, they'd guard
against it well. And had I sworn a peace with a thousand oaths,
before I'd see my dear lord die, the comely maid herself should
lose her life."
"We might leave this land unscathed," spake then his brother
Hagen, "had we the harness which we sorely need and our good
swords as well; then would the pride of this strong dame become a
deal more soft."
What the warrior spake the noble maid heard well. Over her
shoulders she gazed with smiling mouth. "Now sith he thinketh
himself so brave, bring them forth their coats-of-mail; put in
the warriors' hands their sharp-edged swords."
When they received their weapons as the maiden bade, bold
Dankwart blushed for very joy. "Now let them play whatso they
list," spake the doughty man. "Gunther is unconquered, since now
we have our arms."
Mightily now did Brunhild's strength appear. Into the ring men
bare a heavy stone, huge and great, mickle and round. Twelve
brave and valiant men-at-arms could scarcely bear it. This she
threw at all times, when she had shot the spear. The
Burgundians' fear now grew amain.
"Woe is me," cried Hagen. "Whom hath King Gunther chosen for a
love? Certes she should be the foul fiend's bride in hell."
Upon her fair white arm the maid turned back her sleeves; with
her hands she grasped the shield and poised the spear on high.
Thus the strife began. Gunther and Siegfried feared Brunhild's
hate, and had Siegfried not come to Gunther's aid, she would have
bereft the king of life. Secretly Siegfried went and touched his
hand; with great fear Gunther marked his wiles. "Who hath
touched me?" thought the valiant man. Then he gazed around on
every side, but saw none standing there.
"'Tis I, Siegfried, the dear friend of thine. Thou must not fear
the queen. Give me the shield from off thy hand and let me bear
it and mark aright what thou dost hear me say. Make thou the
motions, I will do the deeds."
When Gunther knew that it was Siegfried, he was overjoyed.
Quoth Siegfried: "Now hide thou my arts; tell them not to any
man; then can the queen win from thee little fame, albeit she
doth desire it. See how fearlessly the lady standeth now before
Then with might and main the noble maiden hurled the spear at a
shield, mickle, new, and broad, which the son of Siegelind bore
upon his arm. The sparks sprang from the steel, as if the wind
did blow. The edge of the mighty spear broke fully through the
shield, so that men saw the fire flame forth from the armor
rings. The stalwart men both staggered at the blow; but for the
Cloak of Darkness they had lain there dead. From the mouth of
Siegfried, the brave, gushed forth the blood. Quickly the good
knight sprang back again and snatched the spear that she had
driven through his shield. Stout Siegfried's hand now sent it
back again. He thought: "I will not pierce the comely maid." So
he reversed the point and cast it at her armor with the butt,
that it rang out loudly from his mighty hand. The sparks flew
from the armor rings, as though driven by the wind. Siegmund's
son had made the throw with might. With all her strength she
could not stand before the blow. In faith King Gunther never
could have done the deed.
Brunhild, the fair, how quickly up she sprang! "Gunther, noble
knight, I cry you mercy for the shot." She weened that he had
done it with his strength. To her had crept a far more powerful
man. Then went she quickly, angry was her mood. The noble maid
and good raised high the stone and hurled it mightily far from
her hand. After the cast she sprang, that all her armor rang, in
truth. The stone had fallen twelve fathoms hence, but with her
leap the comely maid out-sprang the throw. Then went Sir
Siegfried to where lay the stone. Gunther poised it, while the
hero made the throw. Siegfried was bold, strong, and tall; he
threw the stone still further and made a broader jump. Through
his fair arts he had strength enow to bear King Gunther with him
as he sprang. The leap was made, the stone lay on the ground;
men saw none other save Gunther, the knight, alone. Siegfried
had banished the fear of King Gunther's death. Brunhild, the
fair, waxed red with wrath. To her courtiers she spake a deal
too loud, when she spied the hero safe and sound at the border of
the ring: "Come nearer quickly, ye kinsmen and liegemen of mine,
ye must now be subject to Gunther, the king."
Then the brave knights laid aside their arms and paid their
homage at the feet of mighty Gunther from the Burgundian land.
They weened that he had won the games by his own strength alone.
He greeted them in loving wise; in sooth he was most rich in
Then the lovely maiden took him by the hand; full power she
granted him within the land. At this Hagen, the bold and doughty
knight, rejoiced him. She bade the noble knight go with her
hence to the spacious palace. When this was done, they gave the
warriors with their service better cheer. With good grace Hagen
and Dankwart now must needs submit. The doughty Siegfried was
wise enow and bare away his magic cloak. Then he repaired to
where the ladies sate. To the king he spake and shrewdly did he
this: "Why wait ye, good my lord? Why begin ye not the games, of
which the queen doth deal so great a store? Let us soon see how
they be played." The crafty man did not as though he wist
not a whit thereof.
Then spake the Queen: "How hath it chanced that ye, Sir
Siegfried, have seen naught of the games which the hand of
Gunther here hath won?"
To this Hagen of the Burgundian land made answer. He spake: "Ye
have made us sad of mind, my lady. Siegfried, the good knight,
was by the ship when the lord of the Rhineland won from you the
games. He knoweth naught thereof."
"Well is me of this tale," spake Siegfried, the knight, "that
your pride hath been brought thus low, and that there doth live a
wight who hath the power to be your master. Now, O noble maiden,
must ye follow us hence to the Rhine."
Then spake the fair-fashioned maid: "That may not be. First must
my kith and liegemen learn of this. Certes, I may not so lightly
void my lands; my dearest friends must first be fetched."
Then bade she messengers ride on every side. She called her
friends, her kinsmen, and her men-at-arms and begged them come
without delay to Isenstein, and bade them all be given lordly and
rich apparel. Daily, early and late, they rode in troops to
"Welaway," cried Hagen, "what have we done! We may ill abide the
coming of fair Brunhild's men. If now they come into this land
in force, then hath the noble maid been born to our great rue.
The will of the queen is unknown to us; what if she be so wroth
that we be lost?"
Then the stalwart Siegfried spake: "Of that I'll have care. I'll
not let hap that which ye fear. I'll bring you help hither to
this land, from chosen knights the which till now ye have not
known. Ye must not ask about me; I will fare hence. Meanwhile
may God preserve your honor. I'll return eftsoon and bring you a
thousand men, the very best of knights that I have ever known."
"Pray tarry not too long," spake then the king; "of your help we
be justly glad."
He answered: "In a few short days I'll come again. Tell ye to
Brunhild, that ye've sent me hence."
(1) "Palaces". See Adventure III, note 7.
(2) "Surcoat", which here translates the M.H.G. "wafenhemde", is
a light garment of cloth or silk worn above the armor.
(3) "Azagouc". See Zazamanc, Adventure VI, note 2. This
strophe is evidently a late interpolation, as it contradicts
the description given above.
(4) Weights. The M.H.G. "messe" (Lat. "masse") is just as
indefinite as the English expression. It was a mass or lump
of any metal, probably determined by the size of the
ADVENTURE VIII (1)
How Siegfried Fared To His Men-At-Arms, the Nibelungs.
Through the gate Siegfried hied him in his Cloak of Darkness down
to the sand, where he found a skiff. Secretly the son of
Siegmund embarked and drove it quickly hence, as though the wind
did blow it on. None saw the steersman; the bark fared fast,
impelled by Siegfried's mighty strength. They weened a seldom
strong wind did drive it on. Nay, it was rowed by Siegfried, the
son of Siegelind, the fair. In the time of a day and night with
might and main he reached a land full hundred rests (2) away, or
more. The people hight Nibelungs, where he owned the mighty
hoard. The hero rowed alone to a broad isle, where the lusty
knight now beached the boat and made it fast full soon. To a
hill he hied him, upon which stood a castle, and sought here
lodgment, as way-worn travelers do. He came first to a gateway
that stood fast locked. In sooth they guarded well their honor,
as men still do. The stranger now gan knock upon the door, the
which was closely guarded. There within he saw a giant standing,
who kept the castle and at whose side lay at all times his arms.
He spake: "Who is it who doth knock so rudely on the gate?"
Then bold Siegfried changed his voice and spake: "I am a knight;
do up the door, else will I enrage many a one outside to-day, who
would liefer lie soft and take his ease."
When Siegfried thus spake, it irked the warder. Meanwhile the
giant had donned his armor and placed his helm upon his head.
Quickly the mighty man snatched up his shield and opened wide the
gate. How fiercely he ran at Siegfried and asked, how he durst
wake so many valiant men? Huge blows were dealt out by his hand.
Then the lordly stranger gan defend him, but with an iron bar the
warder shattered his shield-plates. Then was the hero in dire
need. Siegfried gan fear a deal his death, when the warder
struck such mighty blows. Enow his master Siegfried loved him
for this cause. They strove so sore that all the castle rang and
the sound was heard in Nibelung's hall. He overcame the warder
and bound him, too.
The tale was noised abroad in all the Nibelungs' land. Alberich,
the bold, a savage dwarf, heard the fierce struggle through the
mountain. He armed him quick and ran to where he found the noble
stranger, as he bound the mighty giant. Full wroth was Alberich
and strong enow. On his body he bare helmet and rings of mail
and in his hand a heavy scourge of gold. Swift and hard he ran
to where Siegfried stood. Seven heavy knobs (3) hung down in
front, with which he smote so fiercely the shield upon the bold
man's arm, that it brake in parts. The stately stranger came in
danger of his life. From his hand he flung the broken shield and
thrust into the sheath a sword, the which was long. He would not
strike his servant dead, but showed his courtly breeding as his
knightly virtue bade him. He rushed at Alberich and with his
powerful hands he seized the gray-haired man by the beard. So
roughly he pulled his beard, that he screamed aloud. The tugging
of the youthful knight hurt Alberich sore.
Loud cried the valiant dwarf: "Now spare my life. And might I be
the vassal of any save one knight, to whom I swore an oath that I
would own him as my lord, I'd serve you till my death." So spake
the cunning (4) man.
He then bound Alberich as he had the giant afore. Full sore the
strength of Siegfried hurt him. The dwarf gan ask: "How are ye
"My name is Siegfried," he replied; "I deemed ye knew me well."
"Well is me of these tidings," spake Alberich, the dwarf. "Now
have I noted well the knightly deeds, through which ye be by
right the sovran of the land. I'll do whatso ye bid, and ye let
Then spake Sir Siegfried: "Go quickly now and bring me the best
of knights we have, a thousand Nibelungs, that they may see me
Why he wanted this, none heard him say. He loosed the bonds of
Alberich and the giant. Then ran Alberich swift to where he
found the knights. In fear he waked the Nibelung men. He spake:
"Up now, ye heroes, ye must go to Siegfried."
From their beds they sprang and were ready in a trice. A
thousand doughty knights soon stood well clad. They hied them to
where they saw Sir Siegfried stand. Then was done a fair
greeting, in part by deeds. Great store of tapers were now lit
up; they proffered him mulled wine. (5) He gave them thanks that
they were come so soon. He spake: "Ye must away with me across
Full ready for this he found the heroes brave and good. Well
thirty hundred men were come eftsoon, from whom he chose a
thousand of the best. Men brought them their helmets and other
arms, for he would lead them to Brunhild's land. He spake: "Ye
good knights, this will I tell you, ye must wear full costly
garments there at court, for many lovely dames shall gaze upon
us. Therefore must ye deck yourselves with goodly weeds."
Early on a morn they started on their way. What a speedy journey
Siegfried won! They took with them good steeds and lordly
harness, and thus they came in knightly wise to Brunhild's land.
The fair maids stood upon the battlements. Then spake the queen:
"Knoweth any, who they be whom I see sailing yonder far out upon
the sea? They have rich sails e'en whiter than the snow."
Quoth the king of the Rhineland: "They're men of mine, the which
I left hard by here on the way. I had them sent for, and now
they be come, my lady." All eyes were fixed upon the lordly
Then one spied Siegfried standing at his vessel's prow in lordly
weeds and many other men. The queen spake: "Sir King, pray tell
me, shall I receive the strangers or shall I deny them
He spake: "Ye must go to meet them out before the palace, that
they may well perceive how fain we be to see them here."
Then the queen did as the king advised her. She marked out
Siegfried with her greetings from the rest. Men purveyed them
lodgings and took in charge their trappings. So many strangers
were now come to the land, that everywhere they jostled
Brunhild's bands. Now would the valiant men fare home to
Then spake the queen: "My favor would I bestow on him who could
deal out to the king's guests and mine my silver and gold, of
which I have such store."
To this Dankwart, King Giselher's liegeman, answered: "Most noble
queen," spake the brave knight, "let me but wield the keys. I
trow to deal it out in fitting wise; whatso of blame I gain, let
be mine own." That he was bountiful, he made appear full well.
When now Sir Hagen's brother took the keys in charge, the hero's
hand did proffer many a costly gift. He who craved a mark (6)
received such store that all the poor might lead a merry life.
Full hundred pounds he gave, nor did he stop to count. Enow
walked before the hall in rich attire, who never had worn afore
such lordly dress. Full sore it rued the queen when this she
heard. She spake: "Sir King, I fain would have your aid, lest
your chamberlain leave naught of all my store of dress; he
squandereth eke my gold. If any would forfend this, I'd be his
friend for aye. He giveth such royal gifts, the knight must
ween, forsooth, that I have sent for death. I would fain use it
longer and trow well myself to waste that which my father left
me." No queen as yet hath ever had so bounteous a chamberlain.
Then spake Hagen of Troneg: "My lady, be it told you that the
king of the Rhineland hath such great store of gold and robes to
give, that we have no need to carry hence aught of Brunhild's
"Nay, and ye love me," spake the queen, "let me fill twenty
traveling chests with gold and silk as well, the which my hand
shall give, when we are come across to Gunther's land."
Men filled her chests with precious stones, the while her
chamberlains stood by. She would not trust the duty to
Giselher's men. Gunther and Hagen began to laugh thereat.
Then spake the queen: "With whom shall I leave my lands? This my
hand and yours must first decree."
Quoth the noble king: "Now bid draw near whom ye deem fit and we
will make him steward."
The lady spied near by one of her highest kin (it was her
mother's brother); to him the maiden spake: "Now let be
commended to your care my castles and my lands, till that King
Gunther's hand rule here."
Then twenty hundred of her men she chose, who should fare with
her hence to Burgundy, together with those thousand warriors from
the Nibelung land. They dressed their journey; one saw them
riding forth upon the sand. Six and eighty dames they took along
and thereto a hundred maids, their bodies passing fair. No
longer now they tarried, for they were fain to get them hence.
Ho, what great wail was made by those they left at home! In
courtly wise she voided thus her land. She kissed her nearest
kinsmen who were found at court. After a fair leave-taking they
journeyed to the sea. To her fatherland the lady nevermore
returned. Many kinds of games were seen upon the way; pastimes
they had galore. A real sea breeze did help them on their
voyage. Thus they fared forth from the land fully merrily. She
would not let her husband court her on the way; this pleasure was
deferred until their wedding-tide in the castle, their home, at
Worms, to which in good time she came right joyfully with all her
(1) Adventure VIII. This whole episode, in which Siegfried
fetches men to aid Gunther in case of attempted treachery on
Brunhild's part, is of late origin and has no counterpart in
the older versions. It is a further development of
Siegfried's fight in which he slew Schilbung and Nibelung
and became the ruler of the Nibelung land. The fight with
Alberich is simply a repetition of the one in the former
(2) "Rest" (M.H.G. "rast"), originally 'repose', then used as a
measure of distance, as here.
(3) "Knobs", round pieces of metal fastened to the scourge.
(4) "Cunning" is to be taken here in the Biblical sense of
'knowing'. The M.H.G. "listig" which it here translates,
denotes 'skilled' or 'learned' in various arts and is a
standing epithet of dwarfs.
(5) "Mulled wine" translates M.H.G. "lutertranc", a claret
mulled with herbs and spice and left to stand until clear.
(6) "Mark". See Adventure V, note 5.
How Siegfried Was Sent To Worms.
When they had thus fared on their way full nine days, Hagen of
Troneg spake: "Now mark ye what I say. We wait too long with
the tidings for Worms upon the Rhine. Our messengers should be
e'en now in Burgundy."
Then spake King Gunther: "Ye have told me true, and none be more
fitting for this trip than ye, friend Hagen; now ride ye to my
land. None can acquaint them better with our journey home to
To this Hagen made answer: "I am no fit envoy. Let me play
chamberlan, I'll stay with the ladies upon the flood and guard
their robes, until we bring them to the Burgundian land. Bid
Siegfried bear the message, he knoweth how to do it well with his
mighty strength. If he refuse you the journey, then must ye in
courtly and gentle wise pray him of the boon for your sister's
Gunther sent now for the warrior, who came to where he stood. He
spake: "Sith we be now nearing my lands at home, it behooveth me
to send a messenger to the dear sister of mine and to my mother,
too, that we draw near the Rhine. This I pray you, Siegfried;
now do my will, that I may requite it to you ever," spake the
Siegfried, the passing bold man, however said him nay, till
Gunther gan beseech him sore. He spake: "Ye must ride for my
sake and for Kriemhild's too, the comely maiden, so that the
royal maid requite it, as well as I."
When Siegfried heard these words, full ready was the knight.
"Now bid me what ye will; naught shall be withheld. I will do it
gladly for the fair maid's sake. Why should I refuse her whom I
bear in heart? Whatso ye command for love of her, shall all be
"Then tell my mother Uta, the queen, that we be of lofty mood
upon this voyage. Let my brothers know how we have fared. These
tidings must ye let our friends hear, too. Hide naught from my
fair sister, give her mine and Brunhild's greetings. Greet the
retainers, too, and all my men. How well I have ended that for
which my heart hath ever striven! And tell Ortwin, the dear
nephew of mine, that he bid seats be built at Worms along the
Rhine. Let my other kinsmen know that I am willed to hold with
Brunhild a mighty wedding feast. And tell my sister, when she
hath heard that I be come with my guests to the land, that she
give fair greeting to my bride. For that I will ever render
The good Lord Siegfried soon took leave of Lady Brunhild, as
beseemed him well, and of all her train; then rode he to the
Rhine. Never might there be a better envoy in this world. He
rode with four and twenty men-at-arms to Worms; he came without
the king. When that was noised about, the courtiers all were
grieved; they feared their master had been slain.
Then they dismounted from their steeds, high stood their mood.
Giselher, the good young king, came soon to meet them, and Gernot
his brother, too. How quickly then he spake, when he saw not
Gunther at Siegfried's side: "Be welcome, Siegfried; pray let me
know where ye have left the king my brother? The prowess of
Brunhild, I ween, hath ta'en him from us. Great scathe had her
haughty love then brought us."
"Let be this fear. My battle-comrade sendeth greetings to you
and to his kin. I left him safe and sound. He sent me on ahead,
that I might be his messenger with tidings hither to this land.
Pray have a care, however that may hap, that I may see the queen
and your sister, too, for I must let them hear what message
Gunther and Brunhild have sent them. Both are in high estate."
Then spake Giselher, the youth: "Now must ye go to her, for ye
have brought my much of joy. She is mickle fearful for my
brother. I'll answer that the maid will see you gladly."
Then spake Sir Siegfried: "Howsoever I may serve her, that shall
be gladly done, in faith. Who now will tell the ladies that I
would hie me thither?"
Giselher then became the messenger, the stately man. The doughty
knight spake to his mother and his sister too, when that he saw
them both: "To us is come Siegfried, the hero from Netherland;
him my brother Gunther hath sent hither to the Rhine. He
bringeth the news of how it standeth with the king. Pray let him
therefore come to court. He'll tell you the right tidings
straight from Isenland."
As yet the noble ladies were acquaint with fear, but now for
their weeds they sprang and dressed them and bade Sir Siegfried
come to court. This he did full gladly, for he was fain to see
them. Kriemhild, the noble maid, addressed him fair: "Be
welcome, Sir Siegfried, most worshipful knight. Where is my
brother Gunther, the noble and mighty king? We ween that we have
lost him through Brunhild's strength. Woe is me, poor maid, that
ever I was born."
Then spake the daring knight: "Now give me an envoy's guerdon, ye
passing fair ladies, ye do weep without a cause. I do you to
wit, I left him safe and sound. They have sent me with the
tidings to you both. He and his bride do send you kindly
greetings and a kinsman's love, O noble queen. Now leave off
your weeping, they'll come full soon."
In many a day she had not heard a tale so glad. With her snow-
white hem she wiped the tears from her pretty eyes and began to
thank the messenger for the tidings, which now were come. Thus
her great sorrow and her weeping were taken away. She bade the
messenger be seated; full ready he was for this. Then spake the
winsome maid: "I should not rue it, should I give you as an
envoy's meed my gold. For that ye are too rich, but I will be
your friend in other ways."
"And had I alone," spake he, "thirty lands, yet would I gladly
receive gifts from your fair hand."
Then spake the courtly maid: "It shall be done." She bade her
chamberlain go fetch the meed for tidings. Four and twenty arm-
rings, set with goodly gold, she gave him as his meed. So stood
the hero's mood that he would not retain them, but gave them
straightway to her nearest maidens, he found within the bower.
Full kindly her mother offered him her service. "I am to tell
you the tale," then spake the valiant man, "of what the king doth
pray you, when he cometh to the Rhine. If ye perform that, my
lady, he'll ever hold you in his love. I heard him crave that ye
should give fair greetings to his noble guests and grant him the
boon, that ye ride to meet him out in front of Worms upon the
strand. This ye are right truly admonished by the king to do."
Then spake the winsome maid: "For this am I full ready. In
whatsoever wise I can serve the king, that will I not refuse;
with a kinsman's love it shall be done." Her color heightened
for very joy. Never was the messenger of any prince received
more fair. The lady would have kissed him, had she but dared.
How lovingly he parted from the dames!
The men of Burgundy then did as Siegfried counseled. Sindolt and
Hunolt and Rumolt, the knight, must needs be busy with the work
of putting up the seats outside of Worms upon the strand. The
royal stewards, too, were found at work. Ortwin and Gere would
not desist, but sent to fetch their friends on every side, and
made known to them the feasting that was to be. The many comely
maids arrayed themselves against the feast. Everywhere the
palace and the walls were decked out for the guests. Gunther's
hall was passing well purveyed for the many strangers. Thus
began full merrily this splendid feast.
From every side along the highways of the land pricked now the
kinsmen of these three kings, who had been called that they might
wait upon those who were coming home. Then from the presses
great store of costly weeds was taken. Soon tidings were brought
that men saw Brunhild's kinsmen ride along. Great jostling then
arose from the press of folk in the Burgundian land. Ho, what
bold knights were found on either side!
Then spake fair Kriemhild: "Ye maids of mine, who would be with
me at the greeting, seek out from the guests the very best of
robes; then will praise and honor be given us by the guests."
Then came the warriors, too, and bade the lordly saddles of pure
red gold be carried forth, on which the ladies should ride from
Worms down to the Rhine. Better trappings might there never be.
Ho, what bright gold did sparkle on the jet-black palfreys! From
their bridles there gleamed forth many a precious stone. The
golden stepping-blocks were brought and placed on shining carpets
for the ladies, who were gay of mood. As I have said, the
palfreys now stood ready in the courtyard for the noble maids.
One saw the steeds wear narrow martingales of the best of silk,
of which tale might be told. Six and eighty ladies who wore
fillets (1) in their hair were seen come forth. The fair ones
came to Kriemhild wearing glittering robes. Then followed many a
comely maid in brave attire, fifty and four from the Burgundian
land. They were eke the best that might anywhere be found. Men
saw them walking with their flaxen hair and shining ribbons.
That which the king desired was done with zeal. They wore before
the stranger knights rich cloth of silk, the best that could be
found, and so many a goodly robe, which well befit their ample
beauty. One found there many clothes of sable and ermine fur.
Many an arm and hand was well adorned with bracelets over the
silken sleeves, which they should wear. None might tell the
story of this tiring to the end. Many a hand played with
well-wrought girdles, rich and long, above gay colored robes,
over costly ferran (2) skirts of silken cloth of Araby. In high
spirits were these maids of noble birth. Clasps (3) were sewed
in lovely wise upon the dress of many a comely maid. She had
good cause to rue it, whose bright color did not shine in
contrast to her weeds. No kingly race hath now such fair
retainers. When now the lovely maids had donned the garments
they should wear, there then drew near a mickle band of
high-mettled champions. Together with their shields they carried
many an ashen spear.
(1) "Fillets" were worn only by married women.
(2) "Ferran", a gray colored cloth of silk and wool; from O.F.
(3) "Clasps" or "brooches" were used to fasten the dresses in
How Brunhild Was Received At Worms.
Across the Rhine men saw the king with his guests in many bands
pricking to the shore. One saw the horse of many a maiden, too,
led by the bridle. All those who should give them welcome were
ready now. When those of Isenland and Siegfried's Nibelung men
were come across in boats, they hasted to the shore (not idle
were their hands), where the kindred of the king were seen upon
the other bank. Now hear this tale, too, of the queen, the noble
Uta, how she herself rode hither with the maidens from the
castle. Then many a knight and maid became acquaint. Duke Gere
led Kriemhild's palfroy by the bridle till just outside the
castle gate. Siegfried, the valiant knight, must needs attend
her further. A fair maid was she! Later the noble dame requited
well this deed. Ortwin, the bold, rode by Lady Uta's side, and
many knights and maidens rode in pairs. Well may we aver that so
many dames were never seen together at such stately greeting.
Many a splendid joust was ridden by worshipful knights (not well
might it be left undone) afore Kriemhild, the fair, down to the
ships. Then the fair-fashioned ladies were lifted from the
palfreys. The king was come across and many a worthy guest. Ho,
what stout lances brake before the ladies' eyes! One heard the
clash of many hurtling shields. Ho, what costly bucklers rang
loudly as they closed! The lovely fair stood by the shore as
Gunther and his guests alighted from the boats; he himself led
Brunhild by the hand. Bright gems and gleaming armor shone forth
in rivalry. Lady Kriemhild walked with courtly breeding to meet
Dame Brunhild and her train. White hands removed the chaplets,
(1) as these twain kissed each other; through deference this was
Then in courteous wise the maiden Kriemhild spake: "Be ye welcome
in these lands of ours, to me and to my mother and to all the
loyal kin we have."
Low bows were made and the ladies now embraced full oft. Such
loving greeting hath one never heard, as the two ladies, Dame
Uta and her daughter, gave the bride; upon her sweet mouth they
kissed her oft. When now Brunhild's ladies all were come to
land, stately knights took many a comely woman by the hand in
loving wise. The fair-fashioned maids were seen to stand before
the lady Brunhild. Long time elasped or ever the greetings all
were done; many a rose-red mouth was kissed, in sooth. Still
side by side the noble princesses stood, which liked full well
the doughty warriors for to see. They who had heard men boast
afore that such beauty had ne'er been seen as these two dames
possessed, spied now with all their eyes and must confess the
truth. Nor did one see upon their persons cheats of any kind.
Those who wot how to judge of women and lovely charms, praised
Gunther's bride for beauty; but the wise had seen more clear and
spake, that one must give Kriemhild the palm before Brunhild.
Maids and ladies now drew near each other. Many a comely dame
was seen arrayed full well. Silken tents and many rich pavilions
stood hard by, the which quite filled the plain of Worms. The
kinsmen of the king came crowding around, when Brunhild and
Kriemhild and with them all the dames were bidden go to where
shade was found. Thither the knights from the Burgundian land
Now were the strangers come to horse, and shields were pierced in
many royal jousts. From the plain the dust gan rise, as though
the whole land had burst forth into flames. There many a knight
became well known as champion. Many a maiden saw what there the
warriors plied. Methinks, Sir Siegfried and his knights rode
many a turn afore the tents. He led a thousand stately
Then Hagen of Troneg came, as the king had counseled, and parted
in gentle wise the jousting, that the fair maids be not covered
with the dust, the which the strangers willingly obeyed. Then
spake Sir Gernot: "Let stand the steeds till the air grow cooler,
for ye must be full ready when that the king will ride.
Meanwhile let us serve the comely dames before the spacious
When now over all the plain the jousts had ceased, the knights,
on pastime bent, hied them to the ladies under many a high
pavilion in the hope of lofty joys. There they passed the hours
until they were minded to ride away.
Just at eventide, when the sun was setting and the air grew
chill, no longer they delayed, but man and woman hasted toward
the castle. Many a comely maiden was caressed with loving
glances. In jousting great store of clothes were torn by good
knights, by the high-mettled warriors, after the custom of the
land, until the king dismounted by the hall. Valiant heroes
helped the ladies, as is their wont. The noble queens then
parted; Lady Uta and her daughter went with their train to a
spacious hall, where great noise of merriment was heard on every
The seats were now made ready, for the king would go to table
with his guests. At his side men saw fair Brunhild stand,
wearing the crown in the king's domain. Royal enow she was in
sooth. Good broad tables, with full many benches for the men,
were set with vitaille, as we are told. Little they lacked that
they should have! At the king's table many a lordly guest was
seen. The chamberlains of the host bare water forth in basins of
ruddy gold. It were but in vain, if any told you that men were
ever better served at princes' feasts: I would not believe you
Before the lord of the Rhineland took the water to wash his
hands, Siegfried did as was but meet, he minded him by his troth
of what he had promised, or ever he had seen Brunhild at home in
Isenland. He spake: "Ye must remember how ye swore me by your
hand, that when Lady Brunhild came to this land, ye would give me
your sister to wife. Where be now these oaths? I have suffered
mickle hardship on our trip."
Then spake the king to his guest: "Rightly have ye minded me.
Certes my hand shall not be perjured. I'll bring it to pass as
best I can."
Then they bade Kriemhild go to court before the king. She came
with her fair maidens to the entrance of the hall. At this Sir
Giselher sprang down the
steps. "Now bid these maidens turn again. None save my sister
alone shall be here by the king."
Then they brought Kriemhild to where the king was found. There
stood noble knights from many princes' lands; throughout the
broad hall one bade them stand quite still. By this time Lady
Brunhild had stepped to the table, too. Then spake King Gunther:
"Sweet sister mine, by thy courtesie redeem my oath. I swore to
give thee to a knight, and if he become thy husband, then hast
thou done my will most loyally."
Quoth the noble maid: "Dear brother mine, ye must not thus
entreat me. Certes I'll be ever so, that whatever ye command,
that shall be done. I'll gladly pledge my troth to him whom ye,
my lord, do give me to husband."
Siegfried here grew red at the glance of friendly eyes. The
knight then proffered his service to Lady Kriemhild. Men bade
them take their stand at each other's side within the ring and
asked if she would take the stately man. In maidenly modesty she
was a deal abashed, yet such was Siegfried's luck and fortune,
that she would not refuse him out of hand. The noble king of
Netherland vowed to take her, too, to wife. When he and the maid
had pledged their troths, Siegfried's arm embraced eftsoon the
winsome maid. Then the fair queen was kissed before the knights.
The courtiers parted, when that had happed; on the bench over
against the king Siegfried was seen to take his scat with
Kriemhild. Thither many a man accompanied him as servitor; men
saw the Nibelungs walk at Siegfried's side.
The king had seated him with Brunhild, the maid, when she espied
Kriemhild (naught had ever irked her so) sitting at Siegfried's
side. She began to weep and hot tears coursed down fair cheeks.
Quoth the lord of the land: "What aileth you, my lady, that ye
let bright eyes grow dim? Ye may well rejoice; my castles and my
land and many a stately vassal own your sway."
"I have good cause to weep," spake the comely maid; "my heart is
sore because of thy sister, whom I see sitting so near thy
vassal's side. I must ever weep that she be so demeaned."
Then spake the King Gunther: "Ye would do well to hold your
peace. At another time I will tell you the tale of why I gave
Siegfried my sister unto wife. Certes she may well live ever
happily with the knight."
She spake: "I sorrow ever for her beauty and her courtesie. I
fain would flee, and I wist whither I might; go, for never will I
lie close by your side, unless ye tell me through what cause
Kriemhild be Siegfried's bride."
Then spake the noble king: "I'll do it you to wit; he hath
castles and broad domains, as well as I. Know of a truth, he is
a mighty king, therefore did I give him the peerless maid to
But whatsoever the king might say, she remained full sad of mood.
Now many a good knight hastened from the board. Their hurtling
waxed so passing hard, that the whole castle rang. But the host
was weary of his guests. Him-thought that he might lie more soft
at his fair lady's side. As yet he had not lost at all the hope
that much of joy might hap to him through her. Lovingly he began
to gaze on Lady Brunhild. Men bade the guests leave off their
knightly games, for the king and his wife would go to bed.
Brunhild and Kriemhild then met before the stairway of the hall,
as yet without the hate of either. Then came their retinue.
Noble chamberlains delayed not, but brought them lights. The
warriors, the liegemen of the two kings, then parted on either
side and many of the knights were seen to walk with Siegfried.
The lords were now come to the rooms where they should lie. Each
of the twain thought to conquer by love his winsome dame. This
made them blithe of mood. Siegfried's pleasure on that night was
passing great. When Lord Siegfried lay at Kriemhild's side and
with his noble love caressed the high-born maid so tenderly, she
grew as dear to him as life, so that not for a thousand other
women would he have given her alone. No more I'll tell how
Siegfried wooed his wife; hear now the tale of how King Gunther
lay by Lady Brunhild's side. The stately knight had often lain
more soft by other dames. The courtiers now had left, both maid
and man. The chamber soon was locked; he thought to caress the
lovely maid. Forsooth the time was still far off, ere she became
his wife. In a smock of snowy linen she went to bed. Then
thought the noble knight: "Now have I here all that I have ever
craved in all my days." By rights she must needs please him
through her comeliness. The noble king gan shroud the lights and
then the bold knight hied him to where the lady lay. He laid him
at her side, and great was his joy when in his arms he clasped
the lovely fair. Many loving caresses he might have given, had
but the noble dame allowed it. She waxed so wroth that he was
sore a-troubled; he weened that they were lovers, but he found
here hostile hate. She spake: "Sir Knight, pray give this over,
which now ye hope. Forsooth this may not hap, for I will still
remain a maid, until I hear the tale; now mark ye that."
Then Gunther grew wroth; he struggled for her love and rumpled
all her clothes. The high-born maid then seized her girdle, the
which was a stout band she wore around her waist, and with it she
wrought the king great wrong enow. She bound him hand and foot
and bare him to a nail and hung him on the wall. She forbade him
love, sith he disturbed her sleep. Of a truth he came full nigh
to death through her great strength.
Then he who had weened to be the master, began to plead. "Now
loose my bands, most noble queen. I no longer trow to conquer
you, fair lady, and full seldom will I lie so near your side."
She reeked not how he felt, for she lay full soft. There he had
to hang all night till break of day, until the bright morn shone
through the casements. Had he ever had great strength, it was
little seen upon him now.
"Now tell me, Sir Gunther, would that irk you aught," the fair
maid spake, "and your servants found you bound by a woman's
Then spake the noble knight: "That would serve you ill; nor would
it gain me honor," spake the doughty man. "By your courtesie,
pray let me lie now by your side. Sith that my love mislike you
so, I will not touch your garment with my hands."
Then she loosed him soon and let him rise. To the bed again, to
the lady he went and laid him down so far away, that thereafter
he full seldom touched her comely weeds. Nor would she have
Then their servants came and brought them new attire, of which
great store was ready for them against the morn. However merry
men made, the lord of the land was sad enow, albeit he wore a
crown that day. As was the usage which they had and which they
kept by right, Gunther and Brunhild no longer tarried, but hied
them to the minster, where mass was sung. Thither, too, Sir
Siegfried came and a great press arose among the crowd. In
keeping with their royal rank, there was ready for them all that
they did need, their crowns and robes as well. Then they were
consecrated. When this was done, all four were seen to stand
joyful 'neath their crowns. Many young squires, six hundred or
better, were now girt with sword in honor of the kings, as ye
must know. Great joy rose then in the Burgundian land; one heard
spear-shafts clashing in the hands of the sworded knights. There
at the windows the fair maids sat; they saw shining afore them
the gleam of many a shield. But the king had sundered him from
his liegemen; whatso others plied, men saw him stand full sad.
Unlike stood his and Siegfried's mood. The noble knight and good
would fain have known what ailed the king. He hasted to him and
gan ask: "Pray let me know how ye have fared this night, Sir
Then spake the king to his guest: "Shame and disgrace have I won;
I have brought a fell devil to my house and home. When I weened
to love her, she bound me sore; she bare me to a nail and hung me
high upon a wall. There I hung affrighted all night until the
day, or ever she unbound me. How softly she lay bedded there!
In hope of thy pity do I make plaint to thee as friend to
Then spake stout Siegfried: "That rueth me in truth. I'll do you
this to wit; and ye allow me without distrust, I'll contrive that
she lie by you so near this night, that she'll nevermore withhold
from you her love."
After all his hardships Gunther liked well this speech. Sir
Siegfried spake again: "Thou mayst well be of good cheer. I ween
we fared unlike last night. Thy sister Kriemhild is dearer to me
than life; the Lady Brunhild must become thy wife to-night. I'll
come to thy chamber this night, so secretly in my Cloud Cloak,
that none may note at all my arts. Then let the chamberlains
betake them to their lodgings and I'll put out the lights in the
pages' hands, whereby thou mayst know that I be within and that
I'll gladly serve thee. I'll tame for time thy wife, that thou
mayst have her love to-night, or else I'll lose my life."
"Unless be thou embrace my dear lady," spake then the king, "I
shall be glad, if thou do to her as thou dost list. I could
endure it well, an' thou didst take her life. In sooth she is a
"I pledge upon my troth," quoth Siegfried, "that I will not
embrace her. The fair sister of thine, she is to me above all
maids that I have ever seen."
Gunther believed full well what Siegfried spake.
From the knightly sports there came both joy and woe; but men
forbade the hurtling and the shouting, since now the ladies were
to hie them to the hall. The grooms-in-waiting bade the people
stand aside; the court was cleared of steeds and folk. A bishop
led each of the ladies, as they should go to table in the
presence of the kings. Many a stately warrior followed to the
seats. In fair hope the king sate now full merrily; well he
thought on that which Siegfried had vowed to do. This one day
thought him as long as thirty days, for all his thoughts were
bent upon his lady's love. He could scarce abide the time to
leave the board. Now men let fair Brunhild and Kriemhild, too,
both go to their rest. Ho, what doughty knights were seen to
walk before the queens!
The Lord Siegfried sate in loving wise by his fair wife, in bliss
without alloy. With her snow-white hands she fondled his, till
that he vanished from before her eyes, she wist not when. When
now she no longer spied him, as she toyed, the queen spake to his
followers: "Much this wondereth me, whither the king be gone.
Who hath taken his hands from mine?"
She spake no other word, but he was gone to where he found many
grooms of the chamber stand with lights. These he gan snuff out
in the pages' hands. Thus Gunther knew that it was Siegfried.