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Völsunga Saga

Page 23

Part of the Second Lay of Helgi Hundings-Bane (1)

Helgi wedded Sigrun, and they begate sons together, but Helgi lived not to be old; for Dag, (2) the son of Hogni, sacrificed to Odin, praying that he might avenge his father. So Odin lent Dag his spear, and Dag met Helgi, his brother-in-law, at a place called Fetter-grove, and thrust him through with that spear, and there fell Helgi dead; but Dag rode to Sevafell, and told Sigrun of the news.

     Loth am I, sister
     Of sorrow to tell the,
     For by hard need driven
     Have I drawn on the greeting;
     This morning fell
     In Fetter-grove
     The king well deemed
     The best in the wide world,
     Yea, he who stood
     On the necks of the strong."

SIGRUN: All oaths once sworn Shall bite thee sore, The oaths that to Helgi Once thou swarest At the bright white Water of Lightening, (3) And at the cold rock That the sea runneth over.

May the ship sweep not on That should sweep at its swiftest, Though the wind desired Behind thee driveth! May the horse never run That should run at his most might When from thy foe's face Thou hast most need to flee!

May the sword never bite That thou drawest from scabbard But and if round thine head In wrath it singeth!

Then should meet price be paid For Helgi's slaying When a wolf thou wert Out in the wild-wood, Empty of good things Empty of gladness, With no meat for thy mouth But dead men's corpses!

DAG: With mad words thou ravest, Thy wits are gone from thee, When thou for thy brother Such ill fate biddest; Odin alone Let all this bale loose, Casting the strife-runes 'Twixt friends and kindred.

Rings of red gold Will thy brother give thee, And the stead of Vandil And the lands of Vigdale; Have half of the land For thy sorrow's healing, O ring-arrayed sweetling For thee and thy sons!

SIGRUN: No more sit I happy At Sevafell; At day-dawn, at night Naught love I my life Till broad o'er the people My lord's light breaketh; Till his war-horse runneth Beneath him hither, Well wont to the gold bit -- Till my king I welcome.

In such wise did Helgi Deal fear around To all his foes And all their friends As when the goat runneth Before the wolf's rage Filled with mad fear Down from the fell.

As high above all lords Did Helgi beat him As the ash-tree's glory From the thorn ariseth, Or as the fawn With the dew-fell sprinkled Is far above All other wild things, As his horns go gleaming 'Gainst the very heavens.

A barrow was raised above Helgi, but when he came in Valhall, then Odin bade him be lord of all things there, even as he; so Helgi sang --
     Now shalt thou, Hunding
     For the help of each man
     Get ready the foot-bath,
     And kindle the fire;
     The hounds shalt thou bind
     And give heed to the horses,
     Give wash to the swine
     Ere to sleep thou goest.
A bondmaid of Sigrun went in the evening-tide by Helgi's mound, and there saw how Helgi rode toward it with a great company; then she sang --
     It is vain things' beguilling
     That methinks I behold,
     Or the ending of all things,
     As ye ride, O ye dead men,
     Smiting with spurs
     Your horses' sides?
     Or may dead warriors
     Wend their ways homeward?

THE DEAD: No vain things' beguiling Is that thou beholdest, Nor the ruin of all things; Though thou lookest upon us, Though we smite with spurs Our horses' sides; Rather dead warriors May wend their ways homeward.

(1) Only that part of the song is given which completes the episodes of Helgi Hunding's-bane; the earlier part of the song differs little from the Saga. Back

(2) Hogni, the father of Dar and Sigrun, had been slain by Helgi in battle, and Helgi had given peace to, and taken oaths of Dag. Back

(3) One of the rivers of the under-world. Back

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