Fragment of a Sigurth Lay: Brot af Sigurþarkviðu

This is meant to follow “The Great Lacuna”.

“Both poems deal with the central theme of the Sigurth legend-in the main, the hero’s stay at Gjúki’s court, the winning and betrayal of Brynhild, her quarrel with Guthrún, Brynhild’s instigation of Sigurth’s death, and Guthrún’s lament-so that we have a parallel treatment, as in the cases of “Helgakviða” I and II and “Atlakviða” and “Atlamál.” As in most of the lays following, a knowledge of the story is assumed. The poet is interested chiefly in the emotions aroused (here, especially in Brynhild’s breast) by the tragic situation. In other words, these lays are dramatic lyrics with an epic frame.”


Hogni said:

“What hateful harm     hath he done thee,

that Sigmund’s son     thou slain would’st have?”

 

Gunnar said:

“To me hath Sigurth     oft sworn dear oaths,

hath sworn dear oaths     which all were false;

and then betrayed me     the trusted one-

he ought not have been-     in all these oaths.”

 

Hogni said:

“Envious Brynhild     to evil deed

in hate did whet thee,     much harm to do:

begrudges Guthrún     her goodly husband,

and also thee,     in her arms to lie.”

 

Some a wolf did steak,     some a worm did bake,

of the grim beast gave they     Guthorm to eat

ere, eager to evil,     the angry men

on highborn hero     their hands could lay.

 

Slain was Sigurth     south of the Rhine.

A raven on tree     had wrathfully cawed:

“Atli’s sword blade     your blood will redden,

your mainsworn oaths     will murder you.”

 

Without stood Guthrún,     Gjúki’s daughter.

These words the first     fell from her lips:

“Where lingers Sigurth,     the leader of men,

since all my kin     are come before him?”

 

To which Hogni only     did answer make:

“With our swords we sundered     Sigurth’s body;

now stands the grey steed     by stricken hero.”

 

Then quoth Brynhild,     Buthli’s daughter:

“May ye fearless now     hold folklands and arms:

would Sigurth alone     have had sway over all

if but little longer     his life he had held.

 

“Unseeming were it     if sway he had

over Gjúki’s gold     and Gothic hosts,

and to fend him from foes     five sons begat,

swordplay-eager     young athelings.”

 

Laughed then Brynhild-     her bower rang-

one time only,     out of inmost heart:

“Log may ye live     to rule lands and thanes,

ye twain who felled     the foremost hero.”

 

Then quoth Guthrún,     Gjúki’s daughter:

“With fey mouth say’st thou     foul words many:

let trolls Gunnar take     who betrayed Sigurth!

Thy thoughts bloodthirsty     crave threefold revenge.”

 

Deep the men drank-     the dark night came-

many welcome words     then warmed their hearts.

By sleep then summoned     all slept in their beds,

but Gunnar only     of all did wake.

 

Much gan mutter,     and move his feet,

gan bethink him,     the thanes’ leader,

what on greenwood tree     the twain had said,

raven and hawk,     when home they rode.

 

Awoke Brynhild,     Buthli’s daughter,

the queenly woman,     ere coming of day:

“Whet me or let me,     the harm is done now,

whether I say my sorrow     or cease therewith.”

 

Were silent all     when said these words

fair-browed Brynhild,     nor fathomed her speech,

when wailing wept     the woman the deeds

which laughing she     had led them to do.

 

Brynhild said:

“Me dreamed, Gunnar,     a gruesome dream,

that chill our chamber     and cheerless my bed;

but thou didst ride     bereft of joy,

fastened with fetters,     into foemen’s throng.

 

“Thus shall be stricken     the strength of the Niflungs,

the mainsworn kin     unmindful of oaths.

 

“Forgettest, Gunnar,     altogether

how your blood ye both     did blend under sward?

Him now hast thou     with hate requited,

and foully felled,     who foremost made thee.

 

“Was seen fully,     when Sigurth rode

through flickering flame     to fetch me thence,

how the high hero     had held before

the oaths he sware     to serve the king:

 

“His wand-of-wounds,     all wound with gold,

the trothful king     betwixt us laid;

in hot fire wholly     was hardened Gram,

its blade blazoned     with bitter poison.”

 

Of Sigurth’s Death

“In this lay we are told about Sigurth’s death, and that he was slain in such wise, as though they had slain him out of doors; but others say that they slew him while asleep in his bed. But German men have it that he was felled in the forest, and in “The Old Song of Guthrún” we are told that Sigurth was slain while on his way to the Thing with the sons of Gjúki; but all are at one in saying that they overcame him by treachery and killed him while lying down and unawares.”

The Great Lacuna

This piece is connected to the lays I have been posting recently, but unfortunately in “The Lay of Sigrdrífa” there is a part after Stanza 31, line 2 where eight pages are missing and I do not know whether or to what extent that may have affected “The Great Lacuna”. “The Lay of Sigrdrífa” itself was pieced together both from several paper manuscripts “of unknown source” and from the paraphrase of the Vǫlsunga saga.


 

(“Gunnar attempts vainly to ride through the wall of flames. Then Sigurth urges on his steed Grani…”)

 

The flickering flames     upflared to the skies,

the earth quivered     with awful fire;

but few then dared     of the fold-warders

to ride through the fire     unflinchingly.

 

His Grani Sigurth     with sword did urge:

the fire was quenched     before the king,

the flames bated     before the bold one,

the byrnie glistered,     by Regin given.

 

(“On the morrow after their quarrel Guthrún endeavors to reconcile Brynhild and to convince her that her husband Gunnar is second to no one; but Brynhild answers that it was Sigurth who slew the dragon and that this weighs more heavily with her than all of Gunnar’s power…”)

 

“Will not ever after     on earth be forgotten

how Sigurth slew     the grim serpent;

but thy brother     brooked in nowise

to ride through the fire     unflinchingly.”

 

(“Brynhild rejects all attempts on the part of Sigurth to console her…”)

 

From the talk turned him     the trusted thane,

the son of Sigmund,     sorrowing greatly

at his sides so that     his sark did rive,

of iron woven,     on the atheling.

Update

This was a bit of a difficult decision for me to make, but I have decided to change my posting frequency to every other week rather than every single week. Let’s just say that a certain someone explained to me that I need to make more compromises and that led to the decision that I need to spend more time with him. I have plenty of posts up already, so people shouldn’t be too affected. It’ll be okay. It is a simple exercise of what one might call “walking the talk”, so even though the frequency of my posts will decrease, I will still be working on the maintenance of the perpetuation of a European Europe.

This will be starting after next week, so I will still be posting this upcoming Monday.

 

The Lay of Sigrdrífa: Sigrdrífumál

Another continuation in the same vein as the last two… You’d think I’d look into these things ahead of time, and I usually do, but this time I didn’t. It’s okay though. I was thinking of posting a bunch of these anyway due to the fact that not everyone can find a copy of the Poetic Edda.

Oh, this post has more notes. They are italicized in parentheses.


 

Sigurth rode over Hindar Fell and made his way South to Frankland. On the fell he saw a bright light, as though a fire were burning there, and it shone to very heaven. When he drew near, he found there a wall of shields, and a banner loomed above it. He entered into this wall of shields ad saw that in it slept some one in full war weeds. Sigurth first lifted the helmet off the sleeper’s head, and then he saw that it was a woman. Her coat of mail was tight about her as though it were grown to the flesh. With his sword Gram he slit the byrnie, from the neck down, and also both sleeves, and took it off.

 

Then she awoke and sate up, and beheld Sigurth, and said:

“What slit my byrnie?     How was broken my sleep?

Who lifted from me     the leaden weight?”

 

He answered:

“‘Tis Sigmund’s bairn-     on Fáfnir’s body

ravens batten-     ’tis Sigurth’s brand.”

 

She said:

“Hail to thee, day!     Hail, ye day’s sons!

^^^Hail, night and daughter of night!

With blithe eyes look     on both of us:

^^^send to those sitting here speed!

 

“Hail to you, gods!     Hail, goddesses!

^^^Hail, earth that givest to all!

Goodly spells and speech     bespeak we from you,

^^^and healing hands, in this life.”

 

Sigurth sate him down and asked her name. She said her name was Sigrdrífa and that she was a valkyrie. She said that twain kings had fought.

 

“Was Hjalmgunnar hight     a hoary warrior;

had Valfather vowed     victory to him.

Was the other Agnar,     Autha’s brother,

to whom none ever     help had given.”

 

Sigrdrífa felled Hjalmgunnar in the battle, but Óthin in revenge pricked her with the sleep-thorn and said that she should never henceforth fight in battle, but be wedded. “But I too made a vow that I should never be wedded unto a man who knew fear.” (Then took she a horn full of mead and gave it to him, to bind him to her.)

 

She said:

“Long was my slumber,     asleep was I long,

^^^long to the luckless is life:

’tis Valfather’s will     that wake I could not,

^^^nor rid me of runes of sleep.”

 

Then Sigurth asked that she teach him wisdom, if so it be that she had knowledge from all the worlds.

 

Sigrdrífa said:

“Ale I bring thee,     thou oak-of-battle,

with strength i-blent     and brightest honor;

’tis mixed with magic     and mighty songs,

with goodly spells,     with-speeding runes.

 

“Learn victory runes     if thou victory wantest,

^^^and have them on thy sword’s hilt-

on thy sword’s hilt some,     on thy sword’s guard some,

^^^and call twice upon Týr.

 

“Learn ale runes eke,     lest other man’s wife

^^^betray thee who trusted in her:

on thy beer horn scratch it,     and the back of thy hand,

^^^and the Nauth rune on thy nails.

 

“Thy beaker bless     to banish fear,

^^^and cast a leek in thy cup:

then know I that never     thou needest fear

^^^that bale in thy beer there be.

 

“Learn help runes eke,     if help thou wilt

^^^a woman to bring forth her babe:

on thy palms wear them     and grasp her wrists,

^^^and ask the dísir’s aid.

 

“Learn sea runes eke     if save thou wilt

^^^the sail-steeds on the sea:

on the bow scratch them,     and on rudder blade,

^^^and etch them with fire in the oars:

howe’er beetling the billows     and black the deep,

^^^yet comest thou safe from the sea.

 

“Limb runes learn thou,     if a leech would’st be,

^^^and wishest wounds to heal:

on the bark scratch them     of bole in the woods

^^^whose boughs bend to the east.

 

“Speech runes learn thou,     to spite no one,

^^^lest out of hate he harm thee:

these wind thou,     these weave thou,

^^^and gather them all together

when men to moot     are met at the Thing,

^^^and all Thing-men are there.

 

“Mind runes learn thou     if among men thou wilt

^^^be wiser than any wight:

them did guess,     them did grave,

^^^them did hit upon Hrópt.

 

“… …. ..     ….. … ….

made of the sap     which seeped in drops

^^^out of Heithdraupnir’s head,

^^^out of Hoddrofnir’s horn.

 

“On the brink stood he     with Brímir, the sword;

^^^on his head he had a helm:

^^^then muttered Mímir’s head

^^^wisely first this word,

^^^and sooth said of this:

 

“Said on the shield graven     before the shining god which stands,

on Árvakr’s ear,     and on Alsvith’s hoof,

on the wheel which turns     ‘neath (Hrungnir’s bane’s) wain,

on Sleipnir’s teeth,     and on the sleigh’s strap bands,

 

“On the paw of the bear     and on Bragi’s tongue,

on the old wolf’s claw     and on the eagle’s beak,

on the bloody wings     and on the bridge’s head,

on the midwife’s hand     and on the healing spoor,

 

“On glass and on gold     and on good luck token,

in wine and in wort     and on wonted seat,

on Gungnir’s point     and on Grani’s breast,

on the norn-nail eke     and the night owl’s beak.

 

“Off were scraped all     which on were scratched,

^^^and mixed with the holy mead,

^^^and sent about and abroad.

The Æsir have them,     the alfs have them,

^^^and some the wise Vanir have

^^^and some, mortal men.

 

“These beech runes be,     and birth runes, too,

^^^and all ale runes,

^^^and mighty, magic runes:

for whoe’er unspoilt,     and unspilt, eke,

^^^for his help will have them:

^^^gain he who grasps them,

^^^till draws near the doom of the gods!

 

“Now shalt thou choose,     since choice thou hast,

^^^hero ‘neath shining helm,

to say or naught say:     with thyself rests it!

^^^Meted out is all evil.”

 

Sigurth said:

“Flee I shall not     though fey I know me:

^^^since a babe my breast knew no fear.

Thy loving counsel     I lief would have

^^^as long as my life doth last.”

 

(“Sigurth’s reply: he will not flee the early death which she has, in stanzas probably lost, foretold would result from their union. Vǫlsunga saga, Chap. 21, has kept the gist of at least two other stanzas: ” ‘Wiser woman liveth not in the world than thou art… and this swear I, that I shall wed thee, for thou art after my wish.’ She answered: ‘Thee would I have though I had choice among all men.’ And that pledged they each other with oaths.” These stanzas no doubt formed the conclusion of the original poem. Sigurth’s words seem to have suggested the later addition of the remaining gnomic stanzas.”)

 

Sigrdrífa said:

“This counsel I first:     of kinsmen of thine

^^^at no time fall thou foul:

curb thy revenge,     though cause there be:

^^^’twill boot thy dying day.

 

“This other I counsel,     that oath thou swear not

^^^but thou tell the truth:

for baleful doom     follows breach of truce;

^^^ill fares the breaker of oaths.

 

“This third I counsel,     that at Thing thou never

^^^bandy words with witless wight;

for unwise man     full often says

^^^worser words than he knows.

 

“‘This well nowise     if naught thou say’st:

^^^a craven thou’lt be called;

^^^{or taunted that true the charge.

^^^Fickle is homemade fame,

^^^but good it be gotten.}

make away with him     when he waiteth him not,

^^^and reward thus the wicked lie.

 

(“{or taunted… be gotten}” These bracketed lines may have been a later addition. “make away… wicked lie.” is accepting Gering’s emendation.)

 

“That fourth I counsel,     if foul witch live

^^^by the way thou wishest to fare:

to go on is better     than be her guest,

^^^though that the night be near.

 

“Foresight is needful     to the sons of men,

^^^where’er in the fray they fight;

oft harmful hags     do haunt the way,

^^^who dull both weapon and wit.

 

“That counsel I fifth:     though fair women,

^^^and brow-white, sit on bench:

let the silver-dight one     not steal thy sleep,

^^^nor lure thou women to love!

 

“That counsel I sixth:     though swaggering speech

^^^and unkind be made o’er the cups:

with drunken warriors     no words thou bandy,

^^^for wine steals many a one’s wits.

 

“Quarrels and ale     have often brought

^^^sorrow to sons of men-

foul death to some,     ill fate to others:

^^^much woe is wrought in the world.

 

“That counsel I seventh:     if for cause thou fight

^^^against stouthearted heroes:

’tis better to battle     than be burned alive

^^^within his own house and home.

 

“That counsel I eighth,     to keep thee from evil,

^^^nor dally with dastardly deeds;

no maiden mar thou,     nor married woman

^^^lure thou to love with thee.

 

“That counsel I ninth,     that corpses thou bury,

^^^wheresoe’er on earth thou find them-

whether sickness slew them,     or in the sea they drowned,

^^^or whether thy fell in fight.

 

(I have left out a stanza here that was a later interpolation added by Christians. However, I am including this note of them having added it to remind us all of how followers of Judeo-Christian religions *SPIT* damage and destroy the European religion and culture. They also destroy the European species, but that would be far too off-topic to discuss right now.)

 

“That counsel I tenth,     that thou trust never

^^^oath of an outlaw’s son;

whether art his brother’s bane,     or felled his father:

a wolf oft sleeps     in his son, though young,

^^^and glad of the gold though he be.

 

“Seldom sleepeth     the sense of wrong

^^^nor, either, hate and heartache.

Both his wits and weapons     a warrior needs

^^^who would fain be foremost among folk.

 

“That counsel I eleventh:     to keep thee from evil,

^^^whence’er it may threaten thee:

not long the lord’s     life, I ween me.

^^^Have fateful feuds arisen.”

The Lay of Fáfnir: Fáfnismál

It is believed that this lay is a continuation of the one I recently posted called “The Lay of Regin: Reginsmál”. I feel it would be appropriate to continue the storyline. I was originally thinking of posting something else, but I wanted to do this first. Some of you are having flashbacks to when I was posting those lists of Edda names. That is fair, but at least this should be more interesting. This will again be a transcription rather than a summary.

Also: I will again be using the “^^^” symbols to force certain lines to the right for accuracy.

 

By the bye, near the end where there are seven birds speaking, it has been suggested that there were originally only three birds and the lines were later split and given to seven distinct individuals instead.


Then fared Sigurth home to Hjálprek; but Regin egged on Sigurth to slay Fáfnir. Sigurth and Regin went up to the Gnita Heath and found there the tracks of Fáfnir where it was his wont to go for water. There Sigurth dug a great ditch and hid himself in it. Now when Fáfnir left his lair on the gold, he spewed poison, and it flowed from above on Sigurth’s head. But when Fáfnir crept over the ditch, Sigurth thrust his sword into the dragon’s heart. Fáfnir shook himself and beat (the ground) with his head and his tail. Sigurth leapt out of the ditch,  and then they saw one another.

 

Fáfnir said:

“Thou fellow bold,     what thy father’s kin?

^^^Youth, from what house dost hail?

With Fáfnir’s blood     thy brand is red;

^^^in my heart standeth thy steel.”

 

Sigurth withheld his name; for it was the belief in olden times that the words of a doomed man had great might, if he cursed his foe by name.

 

He said:

“Stag I am hight;     homeless I wandered;

^^^I am a motherless man;

no father had I     as folks do else:

^^^ever fare I unfriended.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“If a father thou had’st not     as folks do else,

^^^how wast thou, boy, then born?

(Not knowing thy name,     though now I die,

^^^I little doubt thou liest.)”

 

Sigurth said:

“My forefathers     to fame are known,

^^^of myself I say the same:

Sigurth thou see’st here,     was Sigmund my father;

^^^thou know’st now whose sword smote thee.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“Who whetted thee,     and why didst wish

^^^to seek, Sigurth, my life?

Thou keen-eyed boy,     thou had’st bold father,

^^^(such daring deed to do.)”

 

Sigurth said:

“My hands did help     as my heart did whet,

^^^and eke my bitter brand;

brisk will not be     as bearded man

^^^who was afraid when fledged.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“If haply ‘mong kinsmen     thou had’st grown up,

^^^thou bold in battle would’st be;

but unfree art,     nor thy own master,

^^^and ay are fearful the fettered.”

 

Sigurth said:

“Since far I am, Fáfnir, from my father’s kin

^^^thou scornfully scoffest at me:

no bondsman am I,     as babe though taken:

^^^unfettered thou feltest me now.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“But words of hate     to hear thou weenest;

^^^yet I tell thee this for truth:

the glistening gold     and the glow-red hoard,

^^^the rings thy bane will be.”

 

Sigurth said:

“For wealth doth wish     each wight that’s born,

^^^to have till the day of death;

sometime, forsooth,     shall each son of man

^^^fare hence to Hel.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“The norns’ doom     before the nesses threatens:

^^^a fool’s fate will be thine;

in the water will drown     in the wind who rows:

^^^all spells death to the doomed one.”

 

Sigurth said:

“Say now, Fáfnir,     for sage thou art,

^^^and much learned in lore:

which norns are near     when need there is

^^^to help mothers give birth to their babes?”

 

Fáfnir said:

“Of unlike issue     are the ilks of norns,

^^^nor of the same sib:

of Æsir kin some,     of alf kin others,

and some are Dvalin’s daughters.”

 

Sigurth said:

“Say now, Fáfnir,     for sage thou art,

^^^and much learned in lore:

how that holm is hight     where the holy gods

^^^and Surt will meet in swordplay?”

 

Fáfnir said:

“‘Tis Óskopnir hight;     there all the gods

^^^will unsheath their shining swords;

Bifrost will break,     on that bridge when they ride;

^^^their steeds will swim the stream.

 

“With the Helm of Fear     I affrighted men

^^^while I lay on the hated hoard;

for the might of all men     a match I weened me,

^^^nor e’er worthy foeman found.”

 

Sigurth said:

“The Helm of Fear     hideth no one,

^^^when bold men bare their swords;

when many are met     to match their strength,

^^^’twill be found that foremost is no one.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“I spewed venom     as I sprawled on the hoard

^^^of my father’s gleaming gold;

(by noon or night     no one neared me,

^^^no weapons nor wiles I feared).”

 

Sigurth said:

“Thou hateful worm,     great hissing thou madest,

^^^on thy gold grimly brooding;

but harder grow     the hearts of men

^^^if that helm they have.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“Hear thou, Sigurth,     and heed it well:

^^^ride thou home from hence:

the glistening gold     and the glow-red hoard,

^^^the rings thy bane will be.”

 

Sigurth said:

“Warning thou’st given;     now wot that I ride

^^^to the gold hoarded on heath;

but thou, Fáfnir,     shalt flounder in death

^^^till Hel harbor thee.”

 

Fáfnir said:

“Regin betrayed me,     will betray thee too,

^^^will be the bane of us both;

Fáfnir is doomed     to die full soon,

^^^greater thy might was than mine.”

 

Regin had taken himself off, the while Sigurth slew Fáfnir, and showed himself again when Sigurth was wiping the blood from his sword.

 

He said:

“Hail now, Sigurth,     thou hast slain Fáfnir:

^^^well hast thou won the day;

of all the men     on earth that walk

^^^I call thee bravest born.”

 

Sigurth said:

“When men are met     to match their thews,

^^^who knows who is bravest born?

Full many are brave     who brand never reddened

^^^in the blood from foeman’s breast.”

 

Regin said:

“Glad art, Sigurth,     hast slain thy foe,

^^^and driest now Gram on the grass;

my own brother     thy brand did slay,

^^^yet had I a hand in his death.”

 

Sigurth said:

“Afar thou wert     while in Fáfnir’s blood

^^^I reddened my slaughterous sword;

my strength I strained     to strive with the worm,

^^^whilst thou in the heather didst hide.”

 

Regin said:

“Long had lived     in his lair on heath

^^^that age-old etin,

if the sword thou had’st not     which myself did make,

^^^the blade which bites so sore.”

 

Sigurth said:

“Courage is better     than keenest steel,

^^^when bold men bare their brands;

oft beheld I     wholehearted swain

^^^with dull sword win his way.

 

“The fearless ay,     but the fearful nowise,

^^^will fare the better in fray;

to be glad is better     than of gloomy mind,

^^^whether fair or foul betide.

 

“Thy rede was it     that ride I should

^^^over high mountains hither;

Fáfnir still held     his hoard and life,

^^^had’st thou not egged me on.”

 

Then Regin went up to Fáfnir and cut out his heart with the sword which is hight Rithil; and then he drank the blood which flowed from the wound.

 

He said:

“Sit now, Sigurth-     I shall sleep the while-

^^^and hold Fáfnir’s heart o’er the fire;

for this morsel     I mean to eat

^^^after gulping this gory drink.”

 

Sigurth took Fáfnir’s heart and steaked it on a spit. When he thought it was done, and the blood ran foaming out of the heart, he touched it with his finger to see whether it were fully done; he burned himself and stuck his finger in his mouth. But when Fáfnir’s heartblood touched his tongue, he understood the speech of birds. He overheard some titmice speaking in the bushes.

 

One titmouse said:

“There sits Sigurth,     all smeared with blood,

and Fáfnir’s heart     he holds over the fire;

wise would be     the war leader

if the hated worm’s     bright heart he ate.”

 

A second said:

“There lies Regin,     and racks his brain,

would betray the boy     who trusts in him,

and take him to task     in tricky ways;

would the base one now     his brother avenge.”

 

A third said:

“Hew off the head     of the hoary wizard!

^^^let him fare to Hel from hence;

then lord art alone     of the lustrous gold,

^^^of the heapèd hoard of Fáfnir.”

 

A fourth said:

“Crafty were he     and keen of mind,

if ear he gave     to us sisters-

took heed for himself     and the hawks gladdened:

look out for the wolf     when his ears ye see!”

 

A fifth said:

“Crafty were not     the king’s offspring-

as ought to be     armed men’s leader-

if he let scot-free     escape the brother,

when he Fáfnir first     felled with the sword.”

 

A sixth said:

“Witless were then     the warlike hero

^^^if he spared his fell foeman;

Regin lies there     who has lied to him:

^^^let him guard against his guile!”

 

A seventh said:

“Cut off the head     of the cold etin,

^^^and take his red-gold rings;

of Fáfnir’s hoard then,     on the heath where it lies,

^^^the only owner wilt be.”

 

Sigurth said:

“‘Tis not written that Regin     shall wreak him on me,

^^^and ever be my bane;

for both brothers     shall by my hand

^^^full soon fare hence to Hel.”

 

Sigurth hewed off Regin’s head. Then he ate Fáfnir’s heart, and drank the blood of both Regin and Fáfnir.

 

Then heard Sigurth what the titmice said (further):

“Gather now, Sigurth,     the golden rings-

to flinch in fear     befits not a king:

a maiden I know,     of many most fair,

in golden weeds:     a wife for thee.

 

“Green are the paths     to Gjúki’s hall-

fate doth further     the fearless man;

that folk-king hath     a fair daughter:

with the gold, Sigurth,     mayst thou gain her hand.”

 

“A high hall standeth     on Hindar Fell,

all enfolded is it     by fire without;

cunning craftsmen     this castle builded

of the glistening     gold of rivers.

 

“A valkyrie rests     on the rock in sleep,

flickering fire     flames about her;

with the sleep-thorn Ygg     her erst did prick:

other heroes she felled     than he had willed.

 

“There mayst thou see     the maiden helm-decked

who steered from battle     the steed Vingskornir;

nor mayst Sigrdrífa     from sleep awaken,

that know thou, Skjoldung,     but by norns’ stern doom.”

 

Sigurth followed Fáfnir’s tracks till he came upon his lair, and found it open. The doors and doorposts were of iron. Of iron, too, were all posts in the house, and the whole was let into the ground. There found Sigurth a great hoard of gold, and filled two chests with it. He took from thence the Helm of Terror, and a gold byrnie, and the sword Hrotti, and many other things of great worth, and loaded Grani therewith; but the steed would not stir before Sigurth got on his back too.

The Lay of Regin: Reginsmál

There is some doubt as to whether this was the original “shape” of the lay, but there has at least been speculation that the original version was made some time before the year 1000. Anyway, credit goes to whom credit is due, and if the second statement above is true then that person may well have been dead for approximately 1000 years because that person is not me. On a related subject, the wording you are soon to see (not including the notes in italics I added) is one of the reasons why I usually summarize these things for people instead of transcribing them.

Before we begin, allow me to explain about the “^^^” symbols. The original spacing does not show up when I put spaces at the beginning of the line, so I have added these symbols to force certain lines further to the right for accuracy. Is that bull-headed of me? Perhaps. But having more accurate spacing makes it worth it.


 

Sigurth went to Hjálprek’s stud and chose for himself a horse, which later bore the name of Grani. At that time had come to Hjálprek’s court Regin, the son of Hreithmar. He was more skilled in crafts than any other man. He was a dwarf in size, wise and cruel, and a wizard. Regin fostered up Sigurth, taught him, and loved him greatly. He told Sigurth about his own forbears and of how, once upon a time, Óthin and Hœnir and Loki had come to the waterfall of Andvari. In that waterfall there were many fish. A dwarf named Andvari dwelled in it in the shape of a pike and got food for himself there. “Otr was the name of our brother,” said Regin, “and he often came to the waterfall in the shape of an otter. He had caught a salmon and was eating it with half-closed eyes. Then Loki threw a stone at him and killed him. The gods thought they had made a lucky catch and flayed the otter. That same evening they came to Hreithmar for night quarters and showed him their bag. Then we bound them and laid on them as a ransom to stuff the otterskin, and also to cover it on the outside, with red gold. Then they sent Loki to fetch the gold. He went to Rán and borrowed her net. Then he fared to the waterfall of Andvari and cast the net for the pike, and it leapt into the net.”

 

Then said Loki:

“What fish is this     in the flood that swims

^^^and cannot keep him from harm?

To Hel’s dark hall     art headed now,

^^^but thou fetch me the fire-of-the-flood.”

 

Andvari said:

“I am Andvari hight,     is Óin my father,

^^^in many a flood have I fared;

in days of yore     was I doomed by norns

^^^in swirling waters to swim.”

 

Loki said:

“Tell me, Andvari,     if on earth thou wilt,

^^^dwarf, live a longer life:

what is the doom     which is dealt to men

^^^who wound each other with words?”

 

Andvari said:

“A heavy doom     is dealt to men

^^^who in Vathgelmir’s waters wade;

he who untruth utters     and on others lies,

^^^long will he linger there.”

 

Loki saw all the gold which Andvari owned. Now when he had given up all the gold but one ring which he kept for himself, Loki took that from him too.

 

The dwarf went into his cave and said:

“The glittering gold     which Gust had owned

the bane shall be     of brothers twain,

and to eight athelings     bring untimely death:

he who holds my hoard     shall e’er hapless be.”

 

The Æsir gave Hreithmar the gold. They stuffed the otterskin with it and raised it on its feet. Then were the gods to heap the gold round about it until it was covered altogether. When that had been done, Hreithmar stepped near and saw one beard hair of the otter, and bade them cover that too. Then Óthin took forth the ring which Andvari had owned and covered up the hair.

 

Loki said:

“The gold thou hast gotten,     but great has been

^^^the worth thou laid’st on my life;

’twill sorrow bring     to thy son and thee,

^^^it will work the bane of you both,”

 

Hreithmar said:

“Gifts thou gavest,     but grudgingly,

^^^nor gavest with whole heart;

but little life     were left to thee,

^^^if aware I had been of this woe.”

 

Loki said:

“Still worse by far-     I ween to know-

^^^is kinsmen’s clash for the gold:

unborn the lords,     I believe, as yet,

^^^on whose life this curse will alight.”

 

Hreithmar said:

“My hoard of gold     to hold I mean

^^^the while my life does last;

not a whit dread I     thy deadly threat:

^^^now hie you home hence!”

 

Fáfnir and Regin asked Hreithmar for their share of the weregild for their brother Otr. But he would not yield it up. Then Fáfnir thrust his sword into his father Hreithmar while he slept.

 

Hreithmar called out to his daughters:

“Lyngheith and Lofnheith!     Know that my life is ended:

^^^much I crave of my kin!”

 

Lyngheith answered:

“Though their father be felled,     few sisters would

^^^seek their brother’s blood.”

 

(The following stanza is said to obviously not fit in properly and seems to be taken from another lay. I will include it to maintain some shred of fluidity, but know that the gist of what it is supposed to mean is that since she does not want to kill her brother to avenge her father, the duty of vengeance falls either to the son Lyngheith bears or, if she would bear a daughter in wedlock rather than a son, to the son that daughter would bear. So basically what we’re seeing here is the beginning of a blood feud.)

Hreithmar said:

[“Wolf-hearted woman,     if in wedlock a son

be not born to thee,     then bear thou a daughter;

give the maid to a man     in thy might need:

will their son then     to thy need see.”]

 

Then Hreithmar died; but Fáfnir took all the gold. Regin asked for his share of the inheritance after his father; but Fáfnir said no to that. Then Regin sought counsel of his sister Lyngheith, how he should win his share.

 

She said:

“Thy kinsman shalt     in kindness ask

^^^thy fee and a fairer mind;

not seeming is it     with the sword thou should’st

^^^ask of Fáfnir thy own.”

 

All this told Regin Sigurth. One day when he came to Regin’s abode, he was greatly welcomed.

 

Regin said:

“Hither has come     the kinsman of Sigmund,

the keen atheling,     to our hall;

hardier he is     than hero tried:

from warlike wolf     I wait me strife.

 

“Foster shall I     the fearless lordling,

now Yngvi’s kinsman     has come to us;

under high heaven     among heroes first,

his fate-thread is spun     to overspread all lands.”

 

Sigurth stayed with Regin. He told Sigurth how Fáfnir lay on the Gnita Heath in the shape of a dragon and had the Helm of Terror, of which all living things are adread.  Regin made Sigurth a sword called Gram, which was so sharp that when he dipped it into the Rhine, and let a flock of wool float down with the stream against it, the flock was cut in two as though it had been water. With this sword did Sigurth cleave asunder Regin’s anvil. Thereafter Regin egged on Sigurth to slay Fáfnir.

 

But Sigurth said:

“Soon would sneer then     the sons of Hunding,

they who ended     Eylimi’s life,

if more keen the king     to crave red gold

than blood for blood     of his father’s banesmen.”

 

King Hjálprek gave Sigurth a fleet and men so that he might avenge his father. A great storm arose when they were weathering a promontory.

 

A man stood on the cliff and said:

“What men ride there     on Rævil’s steeds

the weltering waves,     the wild-tossing sea?

Doth salty sweat     the sea-nags fleck,

will the wave-horses     not weather the storm.”

 

Regin made answer:

“On the sea-trees sit     young Sigurth’s men,

toward Hel bears us     a heavy wind;

over stem and stern     the storm-waves fall,

plunge the roller-horses:     who is it asks?”

 

The man said:

“I was Hnikar hight     when hawks were gladdened,

son of Sigmund,     and slain were many.

Man of the mountain     may’st now call me,

Feng or Fjolnir:     let me fare with you!”

 

They sailed near to the land, and the man came on board. Then the storm abated.

 

Sigurth said:

“Tell me, Hnikar,     for the twain thou know’st:

^^^what be good signs for gods and men;

what bodeth best     on battleground,

^^^the time that swords are swung?”

 

Hnikar said:

“Signs there are many,     if men but knew,

^^^which are good at the swinging of swords:

to doughty hero     the dusky raven’s

^^^flight is a following fair.

 

“Another this:     when outbound art,

^^^and ready art forth to fare,

and beholdest     good heroes twain,

^^^and stouthearted, stand on the path.

 

“A third is this:     if thereafter

^^^a wolf howl in the woods;

good hap thou’lt have     among helmet-bearers,

^^^if first thou see’st them fare.

 

“His foe let no one     fight withershins;

into setting sun     see thou never;

for victory is theirs     whose view is best,

of the war-workers     who in wedges array them.

 

(Regarding the following stanza: the third line is sometimes given as “guileful dísir [female spirits] on either side of thee.”)

 

“Then art thou fey     if thy foot stumbles,

^^^when bound for the swinging of swords.

Will guileful ghosts     glower at thee-

^^^would fain see thee fall.

 

“Combed and clean washed     should keen man be,

^^^and have early eaten his fill;

for unsure is it     where at eve he be:

^^^’tis ill to forego one’s gain.”

 

Sigurth fought a great battle with Lyngvi, the son of Hunding, and his brothers.

 

After the battle Regin said:

“With the bitter brand now     the bloody eagle

was slashed in the back     of Sigmund’s banesman;

bolder in battle     no baron ever

dyed red the earth     and the ravens gladdened.”