THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS (VOLSUNGA SAGA)
APPENDIX: EXCERPTS FROM THE POETIC EDDA
THE HELL-RIDE OF BRYNHILD
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #29
After the death of Brynhild were made two bales, one for Sigurd, and that was first burned; but Brynhild was burned on the other, and she was in a chariot hung about with goodly hangings.
And so folk say that Brynhild drave in her chariot down along the way to Hell, and passed by an abode where dwelt a certain giantess, and the giantess spake: --THE GIANT-WOMAN "Nay, with my goodwill Never goest thou Through this stone-pillared Stead of mine! More seemly for thee To sit sewing the cloth, Than to go look on The love of another.
"What dost thou, going From the land of the Gauls, O restless head, To this mine house? Golden girl, hast thou not, If thou listest to hearken, In sweet wise from thy hands The blood of men washen?"
BRYNHILD "Nay, blame me naught, Bride of the rock-hall, Though I roved a warring In the days that were; The higher of us twain Shall I ever be holden When of our kind Men make account."
THE GIANT-WOMAN "Thou, O Brynhild, Budli's daughter, Wert the worst ever born Into the world; For Giuki's children Death hast thou gotten, And turned to destruction Their goodly dwelling."
BRYNHILD "I shall tell thee True tale from my chariot, O thou who naught wottest, If thou listest to wot; How for me they have gotten Those heirs of Giuki, A loveless life, A life of lies.
"Hild under helm, The Hlymdale people, E'en those who knew me, Ever would call me.
"The changeful shapes Of us eight sisters, The wise king bade Under oak-tree to bear; Of twelve winters was I, If thou listest to wot, When I sware to the young lord Oaths of love.
"Thereafter gat I Mid the folk of the Goths, For Helmgunnar the old, Swift journey to Hell, And gave to Aud's brother The young, gain and glory; Whereof overwrath Waxed Odin with me.
"So he shut me in shield-wall In Skata grove, Red shields and white Close set around me; And bade him alone My slumber to break Who in no land Knew how to fear.
"He set round my hall, Toward the south quarter, The Bane of all trees Burning aloft; And ruled that he only Thereover should ride Who should bring me the gold O'er which Fafnir brooded.
"Then upon Grani rode The goodly gold-strewer To where my fosterer Ruled his fair dwelling. He who alone there Was deemed best of all, The War-lord of the Danes, Well worthy of men.
"In peace did we sleep Soft in one bed, As though he had been Naught but my brother: There as we lay Through eight nights wearing, No hand in love On each other we laid.
"Yet thence blamed me, Gudrun, Giuki's daughter, That I had slept In the arms of Sigurd; And then I wotted As I fain had not wotted, That they had bewrayed me In my betrothals.
"Ah! For unrest All too long Are men and women Made alive! Yet we twain together Shall wear through the ages, Sigurd and I. -- -- Sink adown, O giant-wife!"