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.