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Völsunga Saga

Page 40

The Lay of Hamdir (Part 2)

Forth stretched the ways,
And an ill way they found,
Yea, their sister's son (1)
Hanging slain upon tree --
Wolf-trees by the wind made cold
At the town's westward
Loud with cranes' clatter --
Ill abiding there long!

Din in the king's hall
Of men merry with drink,
And none might hearken
The horses' tramping
Or ever the warders
Their great horn winded.

Then men went forth
To Jormunrek
To tell of the heeding
Of men under helm:
"Give ye good counsel!
Great ones are come hither,
For the wrong of men mighty
Was the may to death trodden."

"Loud Jormunrek laughed,
And laid hand to his beard,
Nor bade bring his byrny,
But with the wine fighting,
Shook his red locks,
On his white shield sat staring,
And in his hand
Swung the gold cup on high.

"Sweet sight for me
Those twain to set eyes on,
Sorli and Hamdir,
Here in my hall!
Then with bowstrings
Would I bind them,
And hang the good Giukings
Aloft on the gallows!"


Then spake Hrothglod
From off the high steps,
Spake the slim-fingered
Unto her son, --
-- For a threat was cast forth
Of what ne'er should fall --
"Shall two men alone
Two hundred Gothfolk
Bind or bear down
In the midst of their burg?"


Strife and din in the hall,
Cups smitten asunder
Men lay low in blood
From the breasts of Goths flowing.

Then spake Hamdir,
The high-hearted:
"Thou cravedst, O king,
From the coming of us,
The sons of one mother,
Amidmost thine hall --
Look on these hands of thine,
Look on these feet of thine,
Cast by us, Jormunrek,
On to the flame!"

Then cried aloud
The high Gods' kinsman (2)
Bold under byrny, --
Roared he as bears roar;
"Stones to the stout ones
That the spears bite not,
Nor the edges of steel,
These sons of Jonakr!"


"Bale, brother, wroughtst thou
By that bag's (3) opening,
Oft from that bag
Rede of bale cometh!
Heart hast thou, Hamdir,
If thou hadst heart's wisdom
Great lack in a man
Who lacks wisdom and lore!"

"Yes, off were the head
If Erp were alive yet,
Our brother the bold
Whom we slew by the way;
The far-famed through the world --
Ah, the fares drave me on,
And the man war made holy,
There must I slay!"

"Unmeet we should do
As the doings of wolves are,
Raising wrong each 'gainst other
As the dogs of the Norns,
The greedy ones nourished
In waste steads of the world.

In strong wise have we fought,
On Goths' corpses we stand,
Beat down by our edges,
E'en as ernes on the bough.
Great fame our might winneth,
Die we now, or to-morrow, --
No man lives till eve
Whom the fates doom at morning."
At the hall's gable-end
Fell Sorli to earth,
But Hamdir lay low
At the back of the houses.

Now this is called the Ancient Lay of Hamdir.

(1) Randver, the son of their sister's husband. Back

(2) Odin, namely. Back

(3) "Bag", his mouth. Back

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