Part 2 out of 5
"Many a man lives after hope has grown little; but my good-hap
has departed from me, nor will I suffer myself to be healed, nor
wills Odin that I should ever draw sword again, since this my
sword and his is broken; lo now, I have waged war while it was
"Naught ill would I deem matters," said she, "if thou mightest be
healed and avenge my father."
The king said, "That is fated for another man; behold now, thou
art great with a man-child; nourish him well; and with good heed,
and the child shall be the noblest and most famed of all our kin:
and keep well withal the shards of the sword: thereof shall a
goodly sword be made, and it shall be called Gram, and our son
shall bear it, and shall work many a great work therewith, even
such as eld shall never minish; for his name shall abide and
flourish as long as the world shall endure: and let this be enow
for thee. But now I grow weary with my wounds, and I will go see
our kin that have gone before me."
So Hjordis sat over him till he died at the day-dawning; and then
she looked, and behold, there came many ships sailing to the
land: then she spake to the handmaid --
"Let us now change raiment, and be thou called by my name, and
say that thou art the king's daughter."
And thus they did; but now the vikings behold the great slaughter
of men there, and see where two women fare away thence into the
wood; and they deem that some great tidings must have befallen,
and they leaped ashore from out their ships. Now the captain of
these folks was Alf, son of Hjalprek, king of Denmark, who was
sailing with his power along the land. So they came into the
field among the slain, and saw how many men lay dead there; then
the king bade go seek for the women and bring them thither, and
they did so. He asked them what women they were; and, little as
the thing seems like to be, the bondmaid answered for the twain,
telling of the fall of King Sigmund and King Eylimi, and many
another great man, and who they were withal who had wrought the
deed. Then the king asks if they wotted where the wealth of the
king was bestowed; and then says the bondmaid --
"It may well be deemed that we know full surely thereof."
And therewith she guides them to the place where the treasure
lay: and there they found exceeding great wealth; so that men
deem they have never seen so many things of price heaped up
together in one place. All this they bore to the ships of King
Alf, and Hjordis and bondmaid went them. Therewith these sail
away to their own realm, and talk how that surely on that field
had fallen the most renowned of kings.
So the king sits by the tiller, but the women abide in the
forecastle; but talk he had with the women and held their
counsels of much account.
In such wise the king came home to his realm with great wealth,
and he himself was a man exceeding goodly to look on. But when
he had been but a little while at home, the queen, his mother,
asked him why the fairest of the two women had the fewer rings
and the less worthy attire.
"I deem," she said, "that she whom ye have held of least account
is the noblest of the twain."
He answered: "I too have misdoubted me, that she is little like a
bondwoman, and when we first met, in seemly wise she greeted
noble men. Lo now, we will make trial of the thing."
So on a time as men sat at the drink, the king sat down to talk
with the women, and said: --
"In what wise do ye note the wearing of the hours, whenas night
grows old, if ye may not see the lights of heaven?"
Then says the bondwoman, "This sign have I, that whenas in my
youth I was wont to drink much in the dawn, so now when I no
longer use that manner, I am yet wont to wake up at that very
same tide, and by that token do I know thereof."
Then the king laughed and said, "Ill manners for a king's
daughter!" And therewith he turned to Hjordis, and asked her
even the same question; but she answered --
"My father erst gave me a little gold ring of such nature, that
it groweth cold on my finger in the day-dawning; and that is the
sign that I have to know thereof."
The king answered: "Enow of gold there, where a very bondmaid
bore it! But come now, thou hast been long enow hid from me; yet
if thou hadst told me all from the beginning, I would have done
to thee as though we had both been one king's children: but
better than thy deeds will I deal with thee, for thou shalt be my
wife, and due jointure will I pay thee whenas thou hast borne me
She spake therewith and told out the whole truth about herself:
so there was she held in great honour, and deemed the worthiest
Of the Birth and Waxing of Sigurd Fafnir's-bane.
The tale tells that Hjordis brought forth a man-child, who was
straightly borne before King Hjalprek, and then was the king glad
thereof, when he saw the keen eyes in the head of him, and he
said that few men would be equal to him or like unto him in any
wise. So he was sprinkled with water, and had to name Sigurd, of
whom all men speak with one speech and say that none was ever his
like for growth and goodliness. He was brought up in the house
of King Hjalprek in great love and honour; and so it is, that
whenso all the noblest men and greatest kings are named in the
olden tales, Sigurd is ever put before them all for might and
prowess, for high mind and stout heart; wherewith he was far more
abundantly gifted than any man of the northern parts of the wide
So Sigurd waxed in King Hjalprek's house, and there was no child
but loved him; through him was Hjordis betrothed to King Alf, and
jointure meted to her.
Now Sigurd's foster-father was hight Regin, the son of Hreidmar;
he taught him all manner of arts, the chess play, and the lore of
runes, and the talking of many tongues, even as the wont was with
kings' sons in those days. But on a day when they were together,
Regin asked Sigurd, if he knew how much wealth his father had
owned, and who had the ward thereof; Sigurd answered, and said
that the kings kept the ward thereof.
Said Regin, "Dost thou trust them all utterly?"
Sigurd said, "It is seemly that they keep it till I may do
somewhat therewith, for better they wot how to guard it than I
Another time came Regin to talk to Sigurd, and said --
"A marvellous thing truly that thou must needs be a horse-boy to
the kings, and go about like a running knave."
"Nay," said Sigurd, "it is not so, for in all things I have my
will, and whatso thing I desire is granted me with good will."
"Well, then," said Regin, "ask for a horse of them."
"Yea," quoth Sigurd, "and that shall I have, whenso I have need
Thereafter Sigurd went to the king, and the king said --
"What wilt thou have of us?"
Then said Sigurd, "I would even a horse of thee for my disport."
Then said the king, "Choose for thyself a horse, and whatso thing
else thou desirest among my matters."
So the next day went Sigurd to the wood, and met on the way an
old man, long-bearded, that he knew not, who asked him whither
Sigurd said, "I am minded to choose me a horse; come thou, and
counsel me thereon."
"Well then," said he, "go we and drive them to the river which is
They did so, and drave the horses down into the deeps of the
river, and all swam back to land but one horse; and that horse
Sigurd chose for himself; grey he was of hue, and young of years,
great of growth, and fair to look on, nor had any man yet crossed
Then spake the grey-beard, "From Sleipnir's kin is this horse
come, and he must be nourished heedfully, for it will be the best
of all horses;" and therewithal he vanished away.
So Sigurd called the horse Grani, the best of all the horses of
the world; nor was the man he met other than Odin himself.
Now yet again spake Regin to Sigurd, and said --
"Not enough is thy wealth, and I grieve right sore, that thou
must needs run here and there like s churl's son; but I can tell
thee where there is much wealth for the winning, and great name
and honour to be won in getting of it."
Sigurd asked where that might be, and who had watch and ward over
Regin answered, "Fafnir is his name, and but a little way hence
he lies, on the waste of Gnita-heath; and when thou comest there
thou mayst well say that thou hast never seen more gold heaped
together in one place, and that none might desire more treasure,
though he were the most ancient and famed of all kings."
"Young am I," says Sigurd, "yet know I the fashion of this worm,
and how that none durst go against him, so huge and evil is he."
Regin said, "Nay it is not so, the fashion and the growth of him
is even as of other lingworms, (1) and an over great tale men
make of it; and even so would thy forefathers have deemed; but
thou, though thou be of the kin of the Volsungs, shalt scarce
have the heart and mind of those, who are told of as the first in
all deeds of fame."
Sigurd said, "Yea, belike I have little of their hardihood and
prowess, but thou hast naught to do, to lay a coward's name upon
me, when I am scarce out of my childish years. Why dost thou egg
me on hereto so busily?"
Regin said, "Therein lies a tale which I must needs tell thee."
"Let me hear the same," said Sigurd.
(1) Lingworm -- longworm, dragon.
Regin's tale of his Brothers, and of the Gold called Andvari's
"The tale begins," said Regin. "Hreidmar was my father's name, a
mighty man and z wealthy: and his first son was named Fafnir, his
second Otter, and I was the third, and the least of them all both
for prowess and good conditions, but I was cunning to work in
iron, and silver, and gold, whereof I could make matters that
availed somewhat. Other skill my brother Otter followed, and had
another nature withal, for he was a great fisher, and above other
men herein; in that he had the likeness of an otter by day, and
dwelt ever in the river, and bare fish to bank in his mouth, and
his prey would he ever bring to our father, and that availed him
much: for the most part he kept him in his otter-gear, and then
he would come home, and eat alone, and slumbering, for on the dry
land he might see naught. But Fafnir was by far the greatest and
grimmest, and would have all things about called his.
"Now," says Regin, "there was a dwarf called Andvari, who ever
abode in that force, (1) which was called Andvari's force, in the
likeness of a pike, and got meat for himself, for many fish there
were in the force; now Otter, my brother, was ever wont to enter
into the force, and bring fish aland, and lay them one by one on
the bank. And so it befell that Odin, Loki, and Hoenir, as they
went their ways, came to Andvari's force, and Otter had taken a
salmon, and ate it slumbering upon the river bank; then Loki took
a stone and cast it at Otter, so that he gat his death thereby;
the gods were well content with their prey, and fell to flaying
off the otter's skin; and in the evening they came to Hreidmar's
house, and showed him what they had taken: thereon he laid hands
on them, and doomed them to such ransom, as that they should fill
the otter skin with gold, and cover it over without with red
gold; so they sent Loki to gather gold together for them; he came
to Ran, (2) and got her net, and went therewith to Andvari's
force, and cast the net before the pike, and the pike ran into
the net and was taken. Then said Loki --
"`What fish of all fishes,
Swims strong in the flood,
But hath learnt little wit to beware?
Thine head must thou buy,
From abiding in hell,
And find me the wan waters flame.'
"He answered --
"`Andvari folk call me,
Call Oinn my father,
Over many a force have I fared;
For a Norn of ill-luck,
This life on me lay
Through wet ways ever to wade.'
"So Loki beheld the gold of Andvari, and when he had given up the
gold, he had but one ring left, and that also Loki took from him;
then the dwarf went into a hollow of the rocks, and cried out,
that that gold-ring, yea and all the gold withal, should be the
bane of every man who should own it thereafter.
"Now the gods rode with the treasure to Hreidmar, and fulfilled
the otter-skin, and set it on its feet, and they must cover it
over utterly with gold: but when this was done then Hreidmar came
forth, and beheld yet one of the muzzle hairs, and bade them
cover that withal; then Odin drew the ring, Andvari's loom, from
his hand, and covered up the hair therewith; then sang Loki --
"`Gold enow, gold enow,
A great weregild, thou hast,
That my head in good hap I may hold;
But thou and thy son
Are naught fated to thrive,
The bane shall it be of you both.'
"Thereafter," says Regin, "Fafnir slew his father and murdered
him, nor got I aught of the treasure, and so evil he grew, that
he fell to lying abroad, and begrudged any share in the wealth to
any man, and so became the worst of all worms, and ever now lies
brooding upon that treasure: but for me, I went to the king and
became his master-smith; and thus is the tale told of how I lost
the heritage of my father, and the weregild for my brother."
So spake Regin; but since that time gold is called Ottergild, and
for no other cause than this.
But Sigurd answered, "Much hast thou lost, and exceeding evil
have thy kinsmen been! But now, make a sword by thy craft, such
a sword as that none can be made like unto it; so that I may do
great deeds therewith, if my heart avail thereto, and thou
wouldst have me slay this mighty dragon."
Regin says, "Trust me well herein; and with that same sword shalt
thou slay Fafnir."
(1) Waterfall (Ice. "foss", "fors").
(2) Ran is the goddess of the sea, wife of Aegir. The otter was
held sacred by Norsefolk and figures in the myth and legend
of most races besides; to this day its killing is held a
great crime by the Parsees (Haug. "Religion of the Parsees",
page 212). Compare penalty above with that for killing the
Welsh king's cat ("Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales".
Ed., Aneurin Owen. Longman, London, 1841, 2 vols. 8vo).
Of the Welding together of the Shards of the Sward Gram.
So Regin makes a sword, and gives it into Sigurd's hands. He
took the sword, and said --
"Behold thy smithying, Regin!" and therewith smote it into the
anvil, and the sword brake; so he cast down the brand, and bade
him forge a better.
Then Regin forged another sword, and brought it to Sigurd, who
Then said Regin, "Belike thou art well content therewith, hard
master though thou be in smithying."
So Sigurd proved the sword, and brake it even as the first; then
he said to Regin --
"Ah, art thou, mayhappen, a traitor and a liar like to those
former kin of thine?"
Therewith he went to his mother, and she welcomed him in seemly
wise, and they talked and drank together.
Then spake Sigurd, "Have I heard aright, that King Sigmund gave
thee the good sword Gram in two pieces?"
"True enough," she said.
So Sigurd said, "Deliver them into my hands, for I would have
She said he looked like to win great fame, and gave him the
sword. Therewith went Sigurd to Regin, and bade him make a good
sword thereof as he best might; Regin grew wroth thereat, but
went into the smithy with the pieces of the sword, thinking well
meanwhile that Sigurd pushed his head far enow into the matter of
smithying. So he made a sword, and as he bore it forth from the
forge, it seemed to the smiths as though fire burned along the
edges thereof. Now he bade Sigurd take the sword, and said he
knew not how to make a sword if this one failed. Then Sigurd
smote it into the anvil, and cleft it down to the stock thereof,
and neither burst the sword nor brake it. Then he praised the
sword much, and thereafter went to the river with a lock of wool,
and threw it up against the stream, and it fell asunder when it
met the sword. Then was Sigurd glad, and went home.
But Regin said, "Now whereas I have made the sword for thee,
belike thou wilt hold to thy troth given, and wilt go meet
"Surely will I hold thereto," said Sigurd, "yet first must I
avenge my father."
Now Sigurd the older he grew, the more he grew in the love of all
men, so that every child loved him well.
The prophecy of Grifir.
There was a man hight Grifir,(1) who was Sigurd's mother's
brother, and a little after the forging of the sword Sigurd went
to Grifir, because he was a man who knew things to come, and what
was fated to men: of him Sigurd asked diligently how his life
should go; but Grifir was long or he spake, yet at the last, by
reason of Sigurd's exceeding great prayers, he told him all his
life and the fate thereof, even as afterwards came to pass. So
when Grifir had told him all even as he would, he went back home;
and a little after he and Regin met.
Then said Regin, "Go thou and slay Fafnir, even as thou hast
given thy word."
Sigurd said, "That work shall be wrought; but another is first to
be done, the avenging of Sigmund the king and the other of my
kinsmen who fell in that their last fight."
(1) Called "Gripir" in the Edda.
Of Sigurd's Avenging of Sigmund his Father.
Now Sigurd went to the kings, and spake thus --
"Here have I abode a space with you, and I owe you thanks and
reward, for great love and many gifts and all due honour; but now
will I away from the land and go meet the sons of Hunding, and do
them to wit that the Volsungs are not all dead; and your might
would I have to strengthen me therein."
So the kings said that they would give him all things soever that
he desired, and therewith was a great army got ready, and all
things wrought in the most heedful wise, ships and all war-gear,
so that his journey might be of the stateliest: but Sigurd
himself steered the dragon-keel which was the greatest and
noblest; richly wrought were their sails, and glorious to look
So they sail and have wind at will; but when a few days were
overpast, there arose a great storm on the sea, and the waves
were to behold even as the foam of men's blood; but Sigurd bade
take in no sail, howsoever they might be riven, but rather to lay
on higher than heretofore. But as they sailed past the rocks of
a ness, a certain man hailed the ships, and asked who was captain
over that navy; then was it told him that the chief and lord was
Sigurd, the son of Sigmund, the most famed of all the young men
who now are.
Then said the man, "Naught but one thing, certes do all say of
him, that none among the sons of kings may be likened unto him;
now fain were I that ye would shorten sail on some of the ships,
and take me aboard."
Then they asked him of his name, and he sang --
"Hnikar I hight,
When I gladdened Huginn,
And went to battle,
Bright son of Volsung;
Now may ye call
The carl on the cliff top,
Feng or Fjolnir:
Fain would I with you."
They made for land therewith, and took that man aboard.
Then quoth Sigurd,(1) as the song says --
"Tell me this, O Hnikar,
Since full well thou knowest
Fate of Gods, good and ill of mankind,
What best our hap foresheweth,
When amid the battle
About us sweeps the sword edge."
Quoth Hnikar --
"Good are many tokens
If thereof men wotted
When the swords are sweeping:
Fair fellow deem I
The dark-winged raven,
In war, to weapon-wielder.
"The second good thing:
When abroad thou goest
For the long road well arrayed,
Good if thou seest
Two men standing,
Fain of fame within the forecourt.
"A third thing:
The wolf a howling
Abroad under ash boughs;
Good hap shalt thou have
Dealing with helm-staves,
If thou seest these fare before thee.
"No man in fight
His face shall turn
Against the moon's sister
For he winneth battle
Who best beholdeth
Through the midmost sword-play,
And the sloping ranks best shapeth.
"Great is the trouble
Of foot ill-tripping,
When arrayed for fight thou farest,
For on both sides about
Are the Disir (2) by thee,
Guileful, wishful of thy wounding.
"Fair-combed, well washen
Let each warrior be,
Nor lack meat in the morning,
For who can rule
The eve's returning,
And base to fall before fate grovelling."
Then the storm abated, and on they fared till they came aland in
the realm of Hunding's sons, and then Fjolnir vanished away.
Then they let loose fire and sword, and slew men and burnt their
abodes, and did waste all before them: a great company of folk
fled before the face of them to Lyngi the King, and tell him that
men of war are in the land, and are faring with such rage and
fury that the like has never been heard of; and that the sons of
King Hunding had no great forecast in that they said they would
never fear the Volsungs more, for here was come Sigurd, the son
of Sigmund, as captain over this army.
So King Lyngi let send the war-message all throughout his realm,
and has no will to flee, but summons to him all such as would
give him aid. So he came against Sigurd with a great army, he
and his brothers with him, and an exceeding fierce fight befell;
many a spear and many an arrow might men see there raised aloft,
axes hard driven, shields cleft and byrnies torn, helmets were
shivered, skulls split atwain, and many a man felled to the cold
And now when the fight has long dured in such wise, Sigurd goes
forth before the banners, and has the good sword Gram in his
hand, and smites down both men and horses, and goes through the
thickest of the throng with both arms red with blood to the
shoulder; and folk shrank aback before him wheresoever he went,
nor would either helm or byrny hold before him, and no man deemed
he had ever seen his like. So a long while the battle lasted,
and many a man was slain, and furious was the onset; till at last
it befell, even as seldom comes to hand, when a land army falls
on, that, do whatso they might, naught was brought about; but so
many men fell of the sons of Hunding that the tale of them may
not be told; and now whenas Sigurd was among the foremost, came
the sons of Hunding against him, and Sigurd smote therewith at
Lyngi the king, and clave him down, both helm and head, and mail-
clad body, and thereafter he smote Hjorward his brother atwain,
and then slew all the other sons of Hunding who were yet alive,
and the more part of their folk withal.
Now home goes Sigurd with fair victory won, and plenteous wealth
and great honour, which he had gotten to him in this journey, and
feasts were made for him against he came back to the realm.
But when Sigurd had been at home but a little, came Regin to talk
with him, and said --
"Belike thou wilt now have good will to bow down Fafnir's crest
according to thy word plighted, since thou hast thus revenged thy
father and the others of thy kin."
Sigurd answered, "That will we hold to, even as we have promised,
nor did it ever fall from our memory."
(1) This and verses following were inserted from the "Reginsmal"
by the translators.
(2) "Disir", sing. "Dis". These are the guardian beings who
follow a man from his birth to his death. The word
originally means sister, and is used throughout the Eddaic
poems as a dignified synonym for woman, lady.
Of the Slaying of the Worm Fafnir.
Now Sigurd and Regin ride up the heath along that same way
wherein Fafnir was wont to creep when he fared to the water; and
folk say that thirty fathoms was the height of that cliff along
which he lay when he drank of the water below. Then Sigurd spake
"How sayedst thou, Regin, that this drake (1) was no greater than
other lingworms; methinks the track of him is marvellous great?"
Then said Regin, "Make thee a hole, and sit down therein, and
whenas the worm comes to the water, smite him into the heart, and
so do him to death, and win thee great fame thereby."
But Sigurd said, "What will betide me if I be before the blood of
Says Regin, "Of what avail to counsel thee if thou art still
afeard of everything? Little art thou like thy kin in stoutness
Then Sigurd rides right over the heath; but Regin gets him gone,
But Sigurd fell to digging him a pit, and whiles he was at that
work, there came to him an old man with a long beard, and asked
what he wrought there, and he told him.
Then answered the old man and said, "Thou doest after sorry
counsel: rather dig thee many pits, and let the blood run
therein; but sit thee down in one thereof, and so thrust the
worm's heart through."
And therewithal he vanished away; but Sigurd made the pits even
as it was shown to him.
Now crept the worm down to his place of watering, and the earth
shook all about him, and he snorted forth venom on all the way
before him as he went; but Sigurd neither trembled nor was adrad
at the roaring of him. So whenas the worm crept over the pits,
Sigurd thrust his sword under his left shoulder, so that it sank
in up to the hilts; then up leapt Sigurd from the pit and drew
the sword back again unto him, and therewith was his arm all
bloody, up to the very shoulder.
Now when that mighty worm was ware that he had his death-wound,
then he lashed out head and tail, so that all things soever that
were before him were broken to pieces.
So whenas Fafnir had his death-wound, he asked "Who art thou?
And who is thy father? And what thy kin, that thou wert so hardy
as to bear weapons against me?"
Sigurd answered, "Unknown to men is my kin. I am called a noble
beast: (2) neither father have I nor mother, and all alone have I
Said Fafnir, "Whereas thou hast neither father nor mother, of
what wonder weft thou born then? But now, though thou tellest me
not thy name on this my death-day, yet thou knowest verily that
thou liest unto me."
He answered, "Sigurd am I called, and my father was Sigmund."
Says Fafnir, "Who egged thee on to this deed, and why wouldst
thou be driven to it? Hadst thou never heard how that all folk
were adrad of me, and of the awe of my countenance? But an eager
father thou hadst, O bright eyed swain!"
Sigurd answered, "A hardy heart urged me on hereto, and a strong
hand and this sharp sword, which well thou knowest now, stood me
in stead in the doing of the deed. `Seldom hath hardy eld a
Fafnir said, "Well, I wot that hadst thou waxed amid thy kin,
thou mightest have good skill to slay folk in thine anger; but
more of a marvel is it, that thou, a bondsman taken in war,
shouldst have the heart to set on me, `for few among bondsmen
have heart for the fight.'"
Said 8igurd, "Wilt thou then cast it in my teeth that I am far
away from my kin? Albeit I was a bondsman, yet was I never
shackled. God wot thou hast found me free enow."
Fafnir answered, "In angry wise dost thou take my speech; but
hearken, for that same gold which I have owned shall be thy bane
Quoth Sigurd, "Fain would we keep all our wealth til that day of
days; yet shall each man die once for all."
Said Fafnir, "Few things wilt thou do after my counsel, but take
heed that thou shalt be drowned if thou farest unwarily over the
sea; so bide thou rather on the dry land for the coming of the
Then said Sigurd, "Speak, Fafnir, and say, if thou art so
exceeding wise, who are the Norns who rule the lot of all
Fafnir answers, "Many there be and wide apart; for some are of
the kin of the Aesir, and some are of Elfin kin, and some there
are who are daughters of Dvalin."
Said Sigurd, "How namest thou the holm whereon Surt (3) and the
Aesir mix and mingle the water of the sword?"
"Unshapen is that holm hight," said Fafnir.
And yet again he said, "Regin, my brother, has brought about my
end, and it gladdens my heart that thine too he bringeth about;
for thus will things be according to his will."
And once again he spake, "A countenance of terror I bore up
before all folk, after that I brooded over the heritage of my
brother, and on every side did I spout out poison, so that none
durst come anigh me, and of no weapon was I adrad, nor ever had I
so many men before me, as that I deemed myself not stronger than
all; for all men were sore afeard of me."
Sigurd answered and said, "Few may have victory by means of that
same countenance of terror, for whoso comes amongst many shall
one day find that no one man is by so far the mightiest of all."
Then says Fafnir, "Such counsel I give thee, that thou take thy
horse and ride away at thy speediest, for ofttimes it fails out
so, that he who gets a death-wound avenges himself none the
Sigurd answered, "Such as thy redes are I will nowise do after
them; nay, I will ride now to thy lair and take to me that great
treasure of thy kin."
"Ride there then," said Fafnir, "and thou shalt find gold enow to
suffice thee for all thy life-days; yet shall that gold be thy
bane, and the bane of every one soever who owns it."
Then up stood Sigurd, and said, "Home would I ride and lose all
that wealth, if I deemed that by the losing thereof I should
never die; but every brave and true man will fain have his hand
on wealth till that last day that thou, Fafnir, wallow in the
death-pain til Death and Hell have thee."
And therewithal Fafnir died.
(1) Lat. "draco", a dragon.
(2) "Unknown to men is my kin." Sigurd refusing to tell his
name is to be referred to the superstition that a dying man
could throw a curse on his enemy.
(3) Surt; a fire-giant, who will destroy the world at the
Ragnarok, or destruction of all things. Aesir; the gods.
Of the Slaying of Regin, Son of Hreidmar.
Thereafter came Regin to Sigurd, and said, "Hail, lord and
master, a noble victory hast thou won in the slaying of Fafnir,
whereas none durst heretofore abide in the path of him; and now
shall this deed of fame be of renown while the world stands
Then stood Regin staring on the earth a long while, and presently
thereafter spake from heavy-mood: "Mine own brother hast thou
slain, and scarce may I be called sackless of the deed."
Then Sigurd took his sword Gram and dried it on the earth, and
spake to Regin --
"Afar thou faredst when I wrought this deed and tried this sharp
sword with the hand and the might of me; with all the might and
main of a dragon must I strive, while thou wert laid alow in the
heather-bush, wotting not if it were earth or heaven."
Said Regin, "Long might this worm have lain in his lair, if the
sharp sword I forged with my hand had not been good at need to
thee; had that not been, neither thou nor any man would have
prevailed against him as at this time."
Sigurd answers, "Whenas men meet foes in fight, better is stout
heart than sharp sword."
Then said Regin, exceeding heavily, "Thou hast slain my brother,
and scarce may I be sackless of the deed."
Therewith Sigurd cut out the heart of the worm with the sword
called Ridil; but Regin drank of Fafnir's blood, and spake,
"Grant me a boon, and do a thing little for thee to do. Bear the
heart to the fire, and roast it, and give me thereof to eat."
Then Sigurd went his ways and roasted it on a rod; and when the
blood bubbled out he laid his finger thereon to essay it, if it
were fully done; and then he set his finger in his mouth, and lo,
when the heart-blood of the worm touched his tongue, straightway
he knew the voice of all fowls, and heard withal how the wood-
peckers chattered in the brake beside him --
"There sittest thou, Sigurd, roasting Fafnir's heart for another,
that thou shouldest eat thine ownself, and then thou shouldest
become the wisest of all men."
And another spake: "There lies Regin, minded to beguile the man
who trusts in him."
But yet again said the third, "Let him smite the head from off
him then, and be only lord of all that gold."
And once more the fourth spake and said, "Ah, the wiser were he
if he followed after that good counsel, and rode thereafter to
Fafnir's lair, and took to him that mighty treasure that lieth
there, and then rode over Hindfell, whereas sleeps Brynhild; for
there would he get great wisdom. Ah, wise he were, if he did
after your redes, and bethought him of his own weal; `for where
wolf's ears are, wolf's teeth are near.'"
Then cried the fifth: "Yea, yea, not so wise is he as I deem him,
if he spareth him whose brother he hath slain already."
At last spake the sixth: "Handy and good rede to slay him, and be
lord of the treasure!"
Then said Sigurd, "The time is unborn wherein Regin shall be my
bane; nay, rather one road shall both these brothers fare."
And therewith he drew his sword Gram and struck off Regin's head.
Then heard Sigurd the wood-peckers a-singing, even as the song
For the first sang:
"Bind thou, Sigurd,
The bright red rings!
Not meet it is
Many things to fear.
A fair may know I,
Fair of all the fairest
Girt about with gold,
Good for thy getting."
And the second:
"Green go the ways
Toward the hall of Giuki
That the fates show forth
To those who fare thither;
There the rich king
Reareth a daughter;
Thou shalt deal, Sigurd,
With gold for thy sweetling."
And the third:
"A high hall is there
Reared upon Hindfell,
Without all around it
Sweeps the red flame aloft.
Wise men wrought
That wonder of halls
With the unhidden gleam
Of the glory of gold."
Then the fourth sang:
"Soft on the fell
A shield-may sleepeth
The lime-trees' red plague
Playing about her:
The sleep-thorn set Odin
Into that maiden
For her choosing in war
The one he willed not.
"Go, son, behold
That may under helm
Whom from battle
From her may not turn
The torment of sleep.
Dear offspring of kings
In the dread Norns' despite."
Then Sigurd ate some deal of Fafnir's heart, and the remnant he
kept. Then he leapt on his horse and rode along the trail of the
worm Fafnir, and so right unto his abiding-place; and he found it
open, and beheld all the doors and the gear of them that they
were wrought of iron: yea, and all the beams of the house; and it
was dug down deep into the earth: there found Sigurd gold
exceeding plenteous, and the sword Rotti; and thence he took the
Helm of Awe, and the Gold Byrny, and many things fair and good.
So much gold he found there, that he thought verily that scarce
might two horses, or three belike, bear it thence. So he took
all the gold and laid it in two great chests, and set them on the
horse Grani, and took the reins of him, but nowise will he stir,
neither will he abide smiting. Then Sigurd knows the mind of the
horse, and leaps on the back of him, and smites and spurs into
him, and off the horse goes even as if he were unladen.
(1) The Songs of the Birds were inserted from "Reginsmal" by the
Of Sigurd's Meeting with Brynhild on the Mountain.
By long roads rides Sigurd, till he comes at the last up on to
Hindfell, and wends his way south to the land of the Franks; and
he sees before him on the fell a great light, as of fire burning,
and flaming up even unto the heavens; and when he came thereto,
lo, a shield hung castle before him, and a banner on the topmost
thereof: into the castle went Sigurd, and saw one lying there
asleep, and all-armed. Therewith he takes the helm from off the
head of him, and sees that it is no man, but a woman; and she was
clad in a byrny as closely set on her as though it had gown to
her flesh; so he rent it from the collar downwards; and then the
sleeves thereof, and ever the sword bit on it as if it were
cloth. Then said Sigurd that over-long had she lain asleep; but
she asked --
"What thing of great might is it that has prevailed to rend my
byrny, and draw me from my sleep?"
Even as sings the song (1)
"What bit on the byrny,
Why breaks my sleep away,
Who has turned from me
My wan tormenting?"
"Ah, is it so, that here is come Sigurd Sigmundson, bearing
Fafnir's helm on his head and Fafnir's bane in his hand?"
Then answered Sigurd --
With Sigurd's sword
E'en now rent down
The raven's wall."
"Of the Volsung's kin is he who has done the deed; but now I have
heard that thou art daughter of a mighty king, and folk have told
us that thou wert lovely and full of lore, and now I will try the
Then Brynhild sang --
"Long have I slept
And slumbered long,
Many and long are the woes of mankind,
By the might of Odin
Must I bide helpless
To shake from off me the spells of slumber.
"Hail to the day come back!
Hail, sons of the daylight!
Hail to thee, dark night, and thy daughter!
Look with kind eyes a-down,
On us sitting here lonely,
And give unto us the gain that we long for.
"Hail to the Aesir,
And the sweet Asyniur! (2)
Hail to the fair earth fulfilled of plenty!
Fair words, wise hearts,
Would we win from you,
And healing hands while life we hold."
Then Brynhild speaks again and says, "Two kings fought, one hight
Helm Gunnar, an old man, and the greatest of warriors, and Odin
had promised the victory unto him; but his foe was Agnar, or
Audi's brother, and so I smote down Helm Gunnar in the fight; and
Odin, in vengeance for that deed, stuck the sleep-thorn into me,
and said that I should never again have the victory, but should
be given away in marriage; but there against I vowed a vow, that
never would I wed one who knew the name of fear."
Then said Sigurd, "Teach us the lore of mighty matters!"
She said, "Belike thou cannest more skill in all than I; yet will
I teach thee; yea, and with thanks, if there be aught of my
cunning that will in anywise pleasure thee, either of runes or of
other matters that are the root of things; but now let us drink
together, and may the Gods give to us twain a good day, that thou
mayst win good help and fame from my wisdom, and that thou mayst
hereafter mind thee of that which we twain speak together."
Then Brynhild filled a beaker and bore it to Sigurd, and gave him
the drink of love, and spake --
"Beer bring I to thee,
Fair fruit of the byrnies' clash,
Mixed is it mightily,
Mingled with fame,
Brimming with bright lays
And pitiful runes,
Wise words, sweet words,
Speech of great game.
"Runes of war know thou,
If great thou wilt be!
Cut them on hilt of hardened sword,
Some on the brand's back,
Some on its shining side,
Twice name Tyr therein.
"Sea-runes good at need,
Learnt for ship's saving,
For the good health of the swimming horse;
On the stern cut them,
Cut them on the rudder-blade
And set flame to shaven oar:
Howso big be the sea-hills,
Howso blue beneath,
Hail from the main then comest thou home.
"Word-runes learn well
If thou wilt that no man
Pay back grief for the grief thou gavest;
Wind thou these,
Weave thou these,
Cast thou these all about thee,
At the Thing,
Where folk throng,
Unto the full doom faring.
"Of ale-runes know the wisdom
If thou wilt that another's wife
Should not bewray thine heart that trusteth:
Cut them on the mead-horn,
On the back of each hand,
And nick an N upon thy nail.
"Ale have thou heed
To sign from all harm
Leek lay thou in the liquor,
Then I know for sure
Never cometh to thee,
Mead with hurtful matters mingled.
"Help-runes shalt thou gather
If skill thou wouldst gain
To loosen child from low-laid mother;
Cut be they in hands hollow,
Wrapped the joints round about;
Call for the Good-folks' gainsome helping.
"Learn the bough-runes wisdom
If leech-lore thou lovest;
And wilt wot about wounds' searching
On the bark be they scored;
On the buds of trees
Whose boughs look eastward ever.
"Thought-runes shalt thou deal with
If thou wilt be of all men
Fairest-souled wight, and wisest,
These first cut
These first took to heart high Hropt.
"On the shield were they scored
That stands before the shining God,
On Early-waking's ear,
On All-knowing's hoof,
On the wheel which runneth
Under Rognir's chariot;
On Sleipnir's jaw-teeth,
On the sleigh's traces.
"On the rough bear's paws,
And on Bragi's tongue,
On the wolfs claws,
And on eagle's bill,
On bloody wings,
And bridge's end;
On loosing palms,
And pity's path:
"On glass, and on gold,
And on goodly silver,
In wine and in wort,
And the seat of the witch-wife;
On Gungnir's point,
And Grani's bosom;
On the Norn's nail,
And the neb of the night-owl.
"All these so cut,
Were shaven and sheared,
And mingled in with holy mead,
And sent upon wide ways enow;
Some abide with the Elves,
Some abide with the Aesir,
Or with the wise Vanir,
Some still hold the sons of mankind.
"These be the book-runes,
And the runes of good help,
And all the ale-runes,
And the runes of much might;
To whomso they may avail,
They are wholesome to have:
Thrive thou with these then.
When thou hast learnt their lore,
Till the Gods end thy life-days.
"Now shalt thou choose thee
E'en as choice is bidden,
Sharp steel's root and stem,
Choose song or silence;
See to each in thy heart,
All hurt has been heeded."
Then answered Sigurd --
"Ne'er shall I flee,
Though thou wottest me fey;
Never was I born for blenching,
Thy loved rede will I
Hold aright in my heart
Even as long as I may live."
(1) The stanzas on the two following pages were inserted here
from "Sigrdrifasmal" by the translators.
More Wise Words of Brynhild.
Sigurd spake now, "Sure no wiser woman than thou art one may be
found in the wide world; yea, yea, teach me more yet of thy
She answers, "Seemly is it that I do according to thy will, and
show thee forth more redes of great avail, for thy prayer's sake
and thy wisdom ;" and she spake withal --
"Be kindly to friend and kin, and reward not their trespasses
against thee; bear and forbear, and win for thee thereby long
enduring praise of men.
"Take good heed of evil things: a may's love, and a man's wife;
full oft thereof doth ill befall!
"Let not thy mind be overmuch crossed by unwise men at thronged
meetings of folk; for oft these speak worse than they wot of;
lest thou be called a dastard, and art minded to think that thou
art even as is said; slay such an one on another day, and so
reward his ugly talk.
"If thou farest by the way whereas bide evil things, be well ware
of thyself; take not harbour near the highway, though thou be
benighted, for oft abide there ill wights for men's bewilderment.
"Let not fair women beguile thee, such as thou mayst meet at the
feast, so that the thought thereof stand thee in stead of sleep,
and a quiet mind; yea, draw them not to thee with kisses or other
sweet things of love.
"If thou hearest the fool's word of a drunken man, strive not
with him being drunk with drink and witless; many a grief, yea,
and the very death, groweth from out such things.
"Fight thy foes in the field, nor be burnt in thine house.
'Never swear thou wrongsome oath; great and grim is the reward
for the breaking of plighted troth.
"Give kind heed to dead men, -- sick-dead, Sea-dead, or ~word-
dead; deal heedfully with their dead corpses.
"Trow never in him for whom thou hast slain father, brother, or
whatso near kin, yea, though young he be; `for oft waxes wolf in
"Look thou with good heed to the wiles of thy friends; but little
skill is given to me, that I should foresee the ways of thy life;
yet good it were that hate fell not on thee from those of thy
Sigurd spake, "None among the sons of men can be found wiser than
thou; and thereby swear I, that thee will I have as my own, for
near to my heart thou liest."
She answers, "Thee would I fainest choose, though I had all men's
sons to choose from."
And thereto they plighted troth both of them.
Of the Semblance and Array of Sigurd Fafnir's bane. (1)
Now Sigurd rides away; many-folded is his shield, an blazing with
red gold, and the image of a dragon is drawn thereon; and this
same was dark brown above, and bright red below; and with even
such-like image was adorned helm, and saddle, and coat-armour;
and he was clad in the golden byrny, and all his weapons were
Now for this cause was the drake drawn on all his weapons, that
when he was seen of men, all folk might know who went there; yea,
all those who had heard of his slaying of that great dragon, that
the Voerings call Fafnir, and for that cause are his weapons
gold-wrought, and brown of hue, and that he was by far above
other men in courtesy and goodly manners, and well-nigh in all
things else; and whenas folk tell of all the mightiest champions,
and the noblest chiefs, then ever is he named the foremost, and
his name goes wide about on all tongues north of the sea of the
Greek-lands, and even so shall it be while the world endures.
Now the hair of this Sigurd was golden-red of hue, fair of
fashion, and falling down in great locks; thick and short was his
beard, and of no other colour, high-nosed he was, broad and high-
boned of face; so keen were his eyes, that few durst gaze up
under the brows of him; his shoulders were as broad to look on as
the shoulders of two; most duly was his body fashioned betwixt
height and breadth, and in such wise as was seemliest; and this
is the sign told of his height, that when he was girt with his
sword Gram, which same was seven spans long, as he went through
the full-grown rye-fields, the dew-shoe of the said sword smote
the ears of the standing corn; and, for all that, ;~greater was
his strength than his growth: well could he wield sword, and cast
forth spear, shoot shaft, and hold shield, bend bow, back horse,
and do all the goodly deeds that he learned in his youth's days.
Wise he was to know things yet undone; and the voice of all fowls
he knew, wherefore few things fell on him unawares.
Of many words he was and so fair of speech withal, that
whensoever he made it his business to speak, he never left
speaking before that to all men it seemed full sure, that no
otherwise must the matter be than as he said.
His sport and pleasure it was to give aid to his own folk, and to
prove himself in mighty matters, to take wealth from his
unfriends, and give the same to his friends.
Never did he lose heart, and of naught was he adrad.
(1) This chapter is nearly literally the same as chapter 166 of
the "Wilkinasaga"; Ed.: Perinskiold, Stockholm, 1715.
Sigurd comes to Hlymdale.
Forth Sigurd fides till he comes to a great and goodly dwelling,
the lord whereof was a mighty chief called Heimir; he had to wife
a sister of Brynhild, who was hight Bekkhild, because she had
bidden at home, and learned handicraft, whereas Brynhild fared
with helm and byrny, unto the wars, wherefore was she called
Heimir and Bekkhild had a son called Alswid, the most courteous
Now at this stead were men disporting them abroad, but when they
see the man riding thereto, they leave their play to wonder at
him, for none such had they ever seen erst, so they went to meet
him, and gave him good welcome. Alswid bade him abide and have
such things at his hands as he would; and he takes his bidding
blithesomely; due service withal was established for him; four
men bore the treasure of gold from off the horse, and the fifth
took it to him to guard the same; therein were many things to
behold, things of great price, and seldom seen; and great game
and joy men had to look on byrnies and helms, and mighty rings,
and wondrous great golden stoups, and all kinds of war weapons.
So there dwelt Sigurd long in great honour holden; and tidings of
that deed of fame spread wide through all lands, of how he had
slain that hideous and fearful dragon. So good joyance had they
there together, and each was leal to other; and their sport was
in the arraying of their weapons, and the shafting of their
arrows, and the flying of their falcons.
Sigurd sees Brynhild at Hlymdale.
In those days came home to Heimir, Brynhild, his foster daughter,
and she sat in her bower with her maidens, and could do more
skill in handycraft than other women; she sat, overlaying cloth
with gold, and sewing therein the great deeds which Sigurd had
wrought, the slaying of the Worm, and the taking of the wealth of
him, and the death of Regin withal.
Now tells the tale, that on a day Sigurd rode into the wood with
hawk, and hound, and men thronging; and whenas he came home his
hawk flew up to a high tower and sat him down on a certain
window. Then fared Sigurd after his hawk, and he saw where sat a
fair woman, and knew that it was Brynhild, and he deems all
things he sees there to be worthy together, both her fairness,
and the fair things she wrought: and therewith he goes into the
hall, but has no more joyance in the games of the men folk.
Then spake Alswid, "Why art thou so bare of bliss; this manner of
thine grieveth us thy friends; why then wilt thou not hold to thy
gleesome ways? Lo, thy hawks pine now, and thy horse Grani
droops; and long will it be ere we are booted thereof?"
Sigurd answered, "Good friend, hearken to what lies on my mind;
for my hawk flew up into a certain tower; and when I came thereto
and took him, lo there I saw a fair woman, and she sat by a
needlework of gold, and did thereon, my deeds that are passed,
and my deeds that are to come,"
Then said Alswid, "Thou has seen Brynhild, Budli's daughter, the
greatest of great women."
"Yea, verily," said Sigurd; "but how came she hither?"
Aswid answered, "Short space there was betwixt the coming hither
of the twain of you."
Says Sigurd, "Yea, but a few, days agone I knew her for the best
of the world's women."
Alswid said, "Give not all thine heed to one woman, being such a
man as thou art; ill life to sit lamenting for what we may not
"I shall go meet her," says Sigurd, "and get from her love like
my love, and give her a gold ring in token thereof."
Alswid answered, "None has ever yet been known whom she would let
sit beside her, or to whom she would give drink; for ever will
she hold to warfare and to the winning of all kinds of fame."
Sigurd said, "We know not for sure whether she will give us
answer or not, or grant us a seat beside her."
So the next day after, Sigurd went to the bower, but Alswid stood
outside the bower door, fitting shafts to his arrows.
Now Sigurd spake, "Abide, fair and hale lady, -- how farest
She answered, "Well it fares; my kin and my friends live yet: but
who shall say what goodhap folk may bear to their life's end?"
He sat him down by her, and there came in four damsels with great
golden beakers, and the best of wine therein; and these stood
before the twain.
Then said Brynhild, "This seat is for few, but and if my father
He answered, "Yet is it granted to one that likes me well."
Now that chamber was hung with the best and fairest of hanging,
and the floor thereof was all covered with cloth.
Sigurd spake, "Now has it come to pass even as thou didst
"O be thou welcome here!" said she, and arose there with, and the
four damsels with her, and bore the golden beaker to him, and
bade him drink; he stretched oui his hand to the beaker, and took
it, and her hand withal, and drew her down beside him; and cast
his arms round about her neck and kissed her, and said --
"Thou art the fairest that was ever born!"
But Brynhild said, "Ah, wiser is it not to cast faith and troth
into a woman's power, for ever shall they break that they have
He said, "That day would dawn the best of days over our heads
whereon each of each should be made happy."
Brynhild answered, "It is not fated that we should abide
together; I am a shield-may, and wear helm on head even as the
kings of war, and them full oft I help, neither is the battle
become loathsome to me."
Sigurd answered, "What fruit shall be of our life, if we live not
together: harder to bear this pain that lies hereunder, than the
stroke of sharp sword."
Brynhild answers, "I shall gaze on the hosts of the war kings,
but thou shalt wed Gudrun, the daughter of Giuki."
Sigurd answered, "What king's daughter lives to beguile me?
Neither am I double-hearted herein; and now I swear by the Gods
that thee shall I have for mine own, or no woman else.
And even suchlike wise spake she.
8igurd thanked her for her speech, and gave her a gold ring, and
now they swore oath anew, and so he went his ways to his men, and
is with them awhile in great bliss.
Of the Dream of Gudrun, Giuki's daughter.
There was a king hight Giuki, who ruled a realm south of the
Rhine; three sons he had, thus named: Gunnar, Hogni, and Guttorm,
and Gudrun was the name of his daughter, the fairest of maidens;
and all these children were far before all other king's children
in all prowess, and in goodliness and growth withal; ever were
his sons at the wars and wrought many a deed of fame. But Giuki
had wedded Grimhild the Wise-wife.
Now Budli was the name of a king mightier than Giuki, mighty
though they both were: and Atli was the brother of Brynhild: Atli
was a fierce man and a grim, great and black to look on, yet
noble of mien withal, and the greatest of warriors. Grimhild was
a fierce-heart woman.
Now the days of the Giukings bloomed fair, and chiefly because of
those children, so far before the sons of men.
On a day Gudrun says to her mays that she may have no joy of
heart; then a certain woman asked her wherefore her joy was
She answered, "Grief came to me in my dreams, therefore is there
sorrow in my heart, since thou must needs ask thereof."
"Tell it me, then, thy dream," said the woman, "for dreams oft
forecast but the weather."
Gudrun answers, "Nay, nay, no weather is this; I dreamed that I
had a fair hawk on my wrist, feathered with feathers of gold."
Says the woman, "Many have heard tell of thy beauty, thy wisdom,
and thy courtesy; some king's son abides thee, then."
Gudrun answers, "I dreamed that naught was so dear to me as this
hawk, and all my wealth had I cast aside rather than him."
The woman said, "Well, then, the man thou shalt have will be of
the goodliest, and well shalt thou love him."
Gudrun answered, "It grieves me that I know not who he shall be;
let us go seek Brynhild, for she belike will wot thereof."
So they arrayed them in gold and many a fair thing, and she went
with her damsels till they came to the hall of Brynhild, and that
hall was dight with gold, and stood on a high hill; and whenas
their goings were seen, it was told Brynhild, that a company of
women drove toward the burg in gilded waggons.
"That shall be Gudrun, Giuki's daughter," says she: "I dreamed of
her last night; let us go meet her! No fairer woman may come to
So they went abroad to meet them, and gave them good greeting,
and they went into the goodly hall together; fairly painted it
was within, and well adorned with silver vessel; cloths were
spread under the feet of them, and all folk served them, and in
many wise they sported.
But Gudrun was somewhat silent.
Then said Brynhild, "Ill to abash folk of their mirth; prithee do
not so; let us talk together for our disport of mighty kings and
their great deeds."
"Good talk," says Gudrun, "let us do even so; what kings deemest
thou to have been the first of all men?"
Brynhild says, "The sons of Haki, and Hagbard withal; they
brought to pass many a deed of fame in the warfare."
Gudrun answers, "Great men certes, and of noble fame! Yet Sigar
took their one sister, and burned the other, house and all; and
they may be called slow to revenge the deed; why didst thou not
name my brethren who are held to be the first of men as at this
Brynhild says, "Men of good hope are they surely though but
little proven hitherto; but one I know far before them, Sigurd,
the son of Sigmund the king; a youngling was he in the days when
he slew the sons of Hunding, and revenged his father, and Eylimi,
his mother's father."
Said Gudrun, "By what token tellest thou that?"
Brynhild answered, "His mother went amid the dead and found
Sigmund the king sore wounded, and would bind up his hurts; but
he said he grew over old for war; and bade her lay this comfort
to her heart, that she should bear the most famed of sons; and
wise was the wise man's word therein: for after the death of King
Sigmund, she went to King Alf, and there was Sigurd nourished in
great honour, and day by day he wrought some deed of fame, and is
the man most renowned of all the wide world."
Gudrun says, "From love hast thou gained these tidings of him;
but for this cause came I here, to tell thee dreams of mine which
have brought me great grief."
Says Brynhild, "Let not such matters sadden thee: abide with thy
friends who wish thee blithesome, all of them!"
"This I dreamed," said Gudrun, "that we went, a many of us in
company, from the bower, and we saw an exceeding great hart, that
far excelled all other deer ever seen, and the hair of him was
golden; and this deer we were all fain to take, but I alone got
him; and he seemed to me better than all things else; but
sithence thou, Byrnhild, didst shoot and slay my deer even at my
very knees, and such grief was that to me that scarce might I
bear it; and then afterwards thou gavest me a wolf-cub, which
besprinkled me with the blood of my brethren."
Brynhild answers, "I will arede thy dream, even as things shall
come to pass hereafter; for Sigurd shall come to thee, even he
whom I have chosen for my well-beloved; and Grimhild shall give
him mead mingled with hurtful things, which shall cast us all
into mighty strife. Him shalt thou have, and him shalt thou
quickly miss; and Atli the king shalt thou wed; and thy brethren
shalt thou lose, and slay Atli withal in the end."
Dudrun answers, "Grief and woe to know that such things shall
And therewith she and hers get them gone home to King Giuki.
Now Sigurd goes his ways with all that great treasure, and in
friendly wise he departs from them; and on Grani he rides with
all his war-gear and the burden withal; and thus he rides until
he comes to the hall of King Giuki; there he rides into the burg,
and that sees one of the king's men, and he spake withal --
"Sure it may be deemed that here is come one of the Gods, for his
array is all done with gold, and his horse is far mightier than
other horses, and the manner of his weapons is most exceeding
goodly, and most of all the man himself far excels all other men
So the king goes out with his court and greets the man, and asks
"Who art thou who thus ridest into my burg, as none has durst
hitherto without the leave of my sons?"
He answered, "I am called Sigurd, son of King Sigmund."
Then said King Giuki, "Be thou welcome here then, and take at our
hands whatso thou wiliest."
So he went into the king's hall, and all men seemed little beside
him, and all men served him, and there he abode in great joyance.
Now oft they all ride abroad together, Sigurd and Gunnar and
Hogni, and ever is Sigurd far the foremost of them, mighty men of
their hands though they were.
But Grimhild finds how heartily Sigurd loved Brynhild, and how
oft he talks of her; and she falls to thinking how well it were,
if he might abide there and wed the daughter of King Giuki, for
she saw that none might come anigh to his goodliness, and what
faith and goodhelp there was in him, and how that he had more
wealth withal than folk might tell of any man; and the king did
to him even as unto his own sons, and they for their parts held
him of more worth than themselves.
So on a night as they sat at the drink, the queen arose, and went
before Sigurd, and said --
"Great joy we have in thine abiding here, and all good things
will we put before thee to take of us; lo now, take this horn and
So he took it and drank, and therewithal she said, "Thy father
shall be Giuki the king, and I shall be thy mother, and Gunnar
and Hogni shall be thy brethren, and all this shall be sworn with
oaths each to each; and then surely shall the like of you never
be found on earth."
Sigurd took her speech well, for with the drinking of that drink
all memory of Brynhild departed from him. So there he abode
And on a day went Grimhild to Giuki the king, and cast her arms
about his neck, and spake --
"Behold, there has now come to us the greatest of great hearts
that the world holds; and needs must he be trusty and of great
avail; give him thy daughter then, with plenteous wealth, and as
much of rule as he will; perchance thereby he will be well
content to abide here ever."
The king answered, "Seldom does it befall that kings offer their
daughters to any; yet in higher wise will it be done to offer her
to this man, than to take lowly prayers to her from others."
On a night Gudrun pours out the drink, and Sigurd beholds her how
fair she is and how full of all courtesy.
Five seasons Sigurd abode there, and ever they passed their days
together in good honour and friendship.
And so it befell that the king held talk together, and Giuki said
"Great good thou givest us, Sigurd, and with exceeding strength
thou strengthenest our realm."
Then Gunnar said, "All things that may be will we do for thee, so
thou abidest here long; both dominion shall thou have, and our
sister freely and unprayed for, whom another man would not get
for all his prayers."
Sigurd says, "Thanks have ye for this wherewith; ye honour me,
and gladly will I take the same."
Therewith they swore brotherhood together, and to be even as if
they were children of one father and one mother; and a noble
feast was holden, and endured many days, and Sigurd drank at the
wedding of him and Gudrun; and there might men behold all manner
of game and glee, and each day the feast was better and better.
Now fare these folk wide over the world, and do many great deeds,
and slay many kings' sons, and no man has ever done such works of
prowess as did they; then home they come again with much wealth
won in war.
Sigurd gave of the serpent's heart to Gudrun, and she ate
thereof, and became greater-hearted, and wiser than ere before:
and the son of these twain was called Sigmund.
Now on a time went Grimhild to Gunnar her son, and spake --
"Fair blooms the life and fortune of thee, but for one thing
only, and namely whereas thou art unwedded; go woo Brynhild; good
rede is this, and Sigurd will ride with thee."
Gunnar answered, "Fair in she certes, and I am fain enow to win
her;" and therewith he tells his father, and his brethren, and
Sigurd, and they all prick him on to that wooing.
The Wooing of Brynhild.
Now they array them joyously for their journey, and ride over
hill and dale to the house of King Budli, and woo his daughter of
him; in a good wise he took their speech, if so be that she
herself would not deny them, but he said withal that so high-
minded was she, that that man only might wed her whom she would.
Then they ride to Hlymdale, and there Heimir gave them good
welcome; so Gunnar tells his errand; Heimir says, that she must
needs wed but him whom she herself chose freely; and tells them
how her abode was but a little way thence, and that he deemed
that him only would she have who should ride through the flaming
fire that was drawn round about her hall; so they depart and come
to the hall and the fire, and see there a castle with a golden
roof-ridge, and all round about a fire roaring up.
Now Gunnar rode on Goti, but Hogni on Holkvi, and Gunnar smote
his horse to face the fire, but he shrank aback.
Then said Sigurd, "Why givest thou back, Gunnar?"
He answered, "The horse will not tread this fire; but lend me thy
"Yea, with all my good will," says Sigurd.
Then Gunnar rides him at the fire, and yet nowise will Gram stir,
nor may Gunnar any the more ride through that fire. So now they
change semblance, Gunnar and Sigurd, even as Grimhild had taught
them; then Sigurd in the likeness of Gunnar mounts and rides,
Gram in his hand, and golden spurs on his heels; then leapt Grani
into the fire when he felt the spurs; and a mighty roar arose as
the fire burned ever madder, and the earth trembled, and the
flames went up even unto the heavens, nor had any dared to ride
as he rode, even as it were through the deep mirk.
But now the fire sank withal, and he leapt from his horse and
went into the hall, even as the song says --
"The flame flared at its maddest,
Earth's fields fell a-quaking
As the red flame aloft
Licked the lowest of heaven.
Few had been fain,
Of the rulers of folk,
To ride through that flame,
Or athwart it to tread.
"Then Sigurd smote
Grani with sword,
And the flame was slaked
Before the king;
Low lay the flames
Before the fain of fame;
Bright gleamed the array
That Regin erst owned.
Now when Sigurd had passed through the fire, he came into a
certain fair dwelling, and therein sat Brynhild.
She asked, "What man is it?"
Then he named himself Gunnar, son of Giuki, and said -- "Thou art
awarded to me as my wife, by the good will and word of thy father
and thy foster-father, and I have ridden through the flame of thy
fire, according to thy that thou hast set forth."
"I wot not clearly," said she, "how I shall answer thee."
Now Sigurd stood upright on the hall floor, and leaning on the
hilt of his sword, and he spake to Brynhild --
"In reward thereof, shall I pay thee a great dower in gold and
She answered in heavy mood from her seat, whereas she sat like
unto swan on billow, having a sword in her hand and a helm on her
head, and being clad in a byrny, "O Gunnar," she says, "speak not
to me of such things unless thou be the first and best of all
men; for then shall thou slay those my wooers, if thou hast heart
thereto; I have been in battles with the king of the Greeks, and
weapons were stained with red blood, and for such things still I
He answered, "Yea, certes many great deeds hast thou done; but
yet call thou to mind thine oath, concerning the riding through
of this fire, wherein thou didst swear that thou wouldst go with
the man who should do this deed."
So she found that he spoke but the sooth, and she paid heed to
his words, and arose, and greeted him meetly, and he abode there
three nights, and they lay in one bed together; but he took the
sword Gram and laid it betwixt them: then she asked him why he
laid it there; and he answered, that in that wise must he needs
wed his wife or else get his bane.
Then she took from off her the ring Andvari's loom, which he had
given her aforetime, and gave it to him, but he gave her another
ring out of Fafnir's hoard.
Thereafter he rode away through the same fire unto his Fellows,
and he and Gunnar changed semblances again, and rode unto
Hlymdale, and told how it had gone with them.
That same day went Brynhild home to her foster-father, and tells
him as one whom she trusted, how that there had come a king to
her; "And he rode through my flaming fire, and said he was come
to woo me, and named himself Gunnar; but I said that such a deed
might Sigurd alone have done, with whom I plighted troth on the
mountain; and he is my first troth-plight, and my well-beloved."
Heimir said that things must needs abide even as now they had now
come to pass.
Brynhild said, "Aslaug the daughter of me and Sigurd shall be
nourished here with thee."
Now the kings fare home, but Brynhild goes to her father;
Grimhild welcomes the kings meetly, and thanks Sigurd for his
fellowship; and withal is a great feast made, and many were the
guests thereat; and thither came Budli the King with his daughter
Brynhild, and his son Atli, and for many days did the feast
endure: and at that feast was Gunnar wedded to Brynhild: but when
it was brought to an end, once more has Sigurd memory of all the
oaths that he sware unto Brynhild, yet withal he let all things
abide in rest and peace.
Brynhild and Gunnar sat together in great game and glee, and
drank goodly wine.
How the Queens held angry converse together at the Bathing.
On a day as the Queens went to the river to bathe them, Brynhild
waded the farthest out into the river; then asked Gudrun what
that deed might signify.
Brynhild said, "Yea, and why then should I be equal to thee in
this matter more than in others? I am minded to think that my
father is mightier than thine, and my true love has wrought many
wondrous works of fame, and hath ridden the flaming fire withal,
while thy husband was but the thrall of King Hjalprek."
Gudrun answered full of wrath, "Thou wouldst be wise if thou
shouldst hold thy peace rather than revile my husband: lo now,
the talk of all men it is, that none has ever abode in this world
like unto him in all matters soever; and little it beseems thee
of all folk to mock him who was thy first beloved: and Fafnir he
slew, yea, and he rode thy flaming fire, whereas thou didst deem
that he was Gunnar the King, and by thy side he lay, and took
from thine hand the ring Andvari's-loom; -- here mayst thou well
Then Brynhild saw the ring and knew it, and waxed as wan as a
dead woman, and she went home and spake no word the evening long.
So when Sigurd came to bed to Gudrun she asked him why Brynhild's
joy was so departed.
He answered, "I know not, but sore I misdoubt me that soon we
shall know thereof overwell."
Gudrun said, "Why may she not love her life, having wealth and
bliss, and the praise of all men, and the man withal that she
"Ah, yea!" said Sigurd, "and where in all the world was she then,
when she said that she deemed she had the noblest of all men, and
the dearest to her heart of all?"
Gudrun answers, "Tomorn will I ask her concerning this, who is
the liefest to her of all men for a husband."
Sigurd said, "Needs must I forbid thee this, and full surely wilt
thou rue the deed if thou doest it."
Now the next morning they sat in the bower, and Brynhild was
silent; then spake Gudrun --
"Be merry, Brynhild! Grievest thou because of that speech of
ours together, or what other thing slayeth thy bliss?"
Brynhild answers, "With naught but evil intent thou sayest this,
for a cruel heart thou hast."
"Say not so," said Gudrun; "but rather tell me all the tale."
Brynhild answers, "Ask such things only as are good for thee to
know -- matters meet for mighty dames. Good to love good things
when all goes according to thy heart's desire!"
Gudrun says, "Early days for me to glory in that; but this word
of thine looketh toward some foreseeing. What ill dost thou
thrust at us? I did naught to grieve thee."
Brynhild answers, "For this shalt thou pay, in that thou hast got
Sigurd to thee, -- nowise can I see thee living in the bliss
thereof, whereas thou hast him, and the wealth and the might of
But Gudrun answered, "Naught knew I of your words and vows
together; and well might my father look to the mating of me
without dealing with thee first."
"No secret speech had we," quoth Brynhild, "though we swore oath
together; and full well didst thou know that thou wentest about
to beguile me; verily thou shalt have thy reward!"
Says Gudrun, "Thou art mated better than thou are worthy of; but
thy pride and rage shall be hard to slake belike, and there for
shall many a man pay."
"Ah, I should be well content," said Brynhild, "if thou hadst not
the nobler man!"
Gudrun answers, "So noble a husband hast thou, that who knows of
a greater king or a lord of more wealth and might?"
Says Brynhild, "Sigurd slew Fafnir, and that only deed is of more
worth than all the might of King Gunnar."
(Even as the song says) --
"The worm Sigurd slew,
Nor ere shall that deed
Be worsened by age
While the world is alive.
But thy brother the King
Never durst, never bore
The flame to ride down
Through the fire to fare."
Gudrun answers, "Grani would not abide the fire under Gunnar the
King, but Sigurd durst the deed, and thy heart may well abide
without mocking him."
Brynhild answers, "Nowise will I hide from thee that I deem no
good of Grimhild."
Says Gudrun, "Nay, lay no ill words on her, for in all things she
is to thee as to her own daughter."
"Ah," says Brynhild, "she is the beginning of all this hale that
biteth so; an evil drink she bare to Sigurd, so that he had no
more memory of my very name."
"All wrong thou talkest; a lie without measure is this," quoth
Brynhild answered, "Have thou joy of Sigurd according to the
measure of the wiles wherewith ye have beguiled me! Unworthily
have ye conspired against me; may all things go with you as my
Gudrun says, "More joy shall I have of him than thy wish would
give unto me: but to no man's mind it came, that he had aforetime
his pleasure of me; nay not once."
"Evil speech thou speakest," says Brynhild; "when thy wrath runs
off thou wilt rue it; but come now, let us no more cast angry
words one at the other!"
Says Gudrun, "Thou wert the first to cast such words at me, and
now thou makest as if thou wouldst amend it, but a cruel and hard
heart abides behind."
"Let us lay aside vain babble," says Brynhild. "Long did I hold
my peace concerning my sorrow of heart, and, lo now, thy brother
alone do I love; let us fall to other talk."
Gudrun said, "Far beyond all this doth thine heart look."
And so ugly ill befell from that going to the river, and that
knowing of the ring, wherefrom did all their talk arise.
Of Brynhild's great Grief and Mourning.
After this talk Brynhild lay a-bed, and tidings were brought to
King Gunnar that Brynhild was sick; he goes to see her thereon,
and asks what ails her; but she answered him naught, but lay
there as one dead: and when he was hard on her for an answer, she
"What didst thou with that ring that I gave thee, even the one
which King Budli gave me at our last parting, when thou and King
Giuki came to him and threatened fire and the sword, unless ye
had me to wife? Yea, at that time he led me apart, and asked me
which I had chosen of those who were come; but I prayed him that
I might abide to ward the land and be chief over the third part
of his men; then were there two choices for me to deal betwixt
either that I should be wedded to him whom he would, or lose all
my weal and friendship at his hands; and he said withal that his
friendship would be better to me than his wrath: then I bethought
me whether I should yield to his will, or slay many a man; and
therewithal I deemed that it would avail little to strive with
him, and so it fell out, that I promised to wed whomsoever should
ride the horse Grani with Fafnir's Hoard, and ride through my
flaming fire, and slay those men whom I called on him to slay,
and now so it was, that none durst ride, save Sigurd only,
because he lacked no heart thereto; yea, and the Worm he flew,
and Regin, and five kings beside; but thou, Gunnar, durst do
naught; as pale as a dead man didst thou wax, and no king thou
art, and no champion; so whereas I made a vow unto my father,
that him alone would I love who was the noblest man alive, and
that this is none save Sigurd, lo, now have I broken my oath and
brought it to naught, since he is none of mine, and for this
cause shall I compass thy death; and a great reward of evil
things have I wherewith to reward Grimhild; -- never, I wot, has
woman lived eviler or of lesser heart than she."
Gunnar answered in such wise that few might hear him, "Many a
vile word hast thou spoken, and an evil-hearted woman art thou,
whereas thou revilest a woman far better than thou; never would
she curse her life as thou dost; nay, nor has she tormented dead
folk, or murdered any; but lives her life well praised of all."
Brynhild answered, "Never have I dwelt with evil things privily,
or done loathsome deeds; -- yet most fain I am to slay thee."
And therewith would she slay King Gunnar, but Hogni laid her in
fetters; but then Gunnar spake withal --
"Nay, I will not that she abide in fetters."
Then said she, "Heed it not! For never again seest thou me glad
in thine hall, never drinking, never at the chess-play, never
speaking the words of kindness, never over-laying the fair cloths
with gold, never giving thee good counsel; -- ah, my sorrow of
heart that I might not get Sigurd to me!"
Then she sat up and smote her needlework, and rent it asunder,
and bade set open her bower doors, that far away might the
wailings of her sorrow be heard; then great mourning and
lamentation there was, so that folk heard far and wide through
Now Gudrun asked her bower-maidens why they sat so joyless and
downcast. "What has come to you, that ye fare ye as witless
women, or what unheard-of wonders have befallen you?"
Then answered a waiting lady, hight Swaflod, "An untimely, an
evil day it is, and our hall is fulfilled of lamentation."
Then spake Gudrun to one of her handmaids, "Arise, for we have
slept long; go, wake Brynhild, and let us fall to our needlework
and be merry."
"Nay, nay," she says, "nowise may I wake her, or talk with her;
for many days has she drunk neither mead nor wine; surely the