THE STORY OF THE VOLSUNGS (VOLSUNGA SAGA)
APPENDIX: EXCERPTS FROM THE POETIC EDDA
PART OF THE SECOND LAY OF
HELGI HUNDINGS-BANE (1)
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #29
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.DAG: 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."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 --
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.HELGI: 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 --BONDMAID: 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?Then went the bondmaid home, and told Sigrun, and sang --
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.BONDMAID: Go out, Sigrun From Sevafell, If thou listest to look on The lord of thy people! For the mound is uncovered Thither is Helgi come, And his wounds are bleeding, But the king thee biddeth To come and stay That stream of sorrow.So Sigrun went into the mound to Helgi, and sang --SIGRUN: Now am I as fain Of this fair meeting, As are the hungry Hawks of Odin, When they wot of the slaying Of the yet warm quarry, Or bright with dew See the day a-dawning.Bow Sigrun arrayed a bed in the mound, and sang --
Ah, I will kiss My king laid lifeless, Ere thou castest by Thy blood-stained byrny. O Helgi, thy hair Is thick with death's rime, With the dew of the dead Is my love all dripping; Dead-cold are the hands Of the son of Hogni; How for thee, O my king, May I win healing?
HELGI: Thou alone, Sigrun Of Sevafell, Hast so done that Helgi With grief's dew drippeth; O clad in gold Cruel tears thou weepest, Bright May of the Southlands, Or ever thou sleepest; Each tear in blood falleth On the breast of thy lord, Cold wet and bitter-sharp Swollen with sorrow.
Ah, we shall drink Dear draughts and lovely, Though, we have lost Both life and lands; Neither shall any Sing song of sorrow, Though in my breast Be wounds wide to behold: For now are brides In the mound abiding; Kings' daughters sit By us departed.SIGRUN: Here, Helgi, for thee A bed have I dight, Kind without woe, O kin of the Ylfings! To thy bosom, O king, Will I come and sleep soft, As I was wont When my lord was living.So Helgi rode his ways: and the others gat them gone home to the house. But the next night Sigrun bade the bondwoman have heed of the mound. So at nightfall, thenas Sigrun came to the mound, she sang:
HELGI: Now will I call Naught not to be hoped for Early or late At Sevafell, When thou in the arms Of a dead man art laid, White maiden of Hogni, Here in the mound: And thou yet quick, O King's daughter!
Now needs must I ride On the reddening ways; My pale horse must tread The highway aloft; West must I go To Windhelm's bridge Ere the war-winning crowd Hall-crower (4) waketh.SIGRUN: Here now would he come, If to come he were minded; Sigmund's offspring From the halls of Odin. O me the hope waneth Of Helgi's coming; For high on the ash-boughs Are the ernes abiding, And all folk drift Toward the Thing of the dreamland.But a little while lived Sigrun, because of her sorrow and trouble. But in old time folk trowed that men should be born again, though their troth be now deemed but an old wife's dotting. And so, as folk say, Helgi and Sigrun were born again, and at that tide was he called Helgi the Scathe of Hadding, and she Kara the daughter of Halfdan; and she was a Valkyrie, even as is said in the Lay of Kara.
BONDMAID: Be not foolish of heart, And fare all alone To the house of the dead, O Hero's daughter! For more strong and dreadful In the night season Are all dead warriors Than in the daylight.
(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.
(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.
(3) One of the rivers of the under-world.
(4) Hall-crower, "Salgofnir": lit. Hall-gaper, the cock of Valhall.