Sigurd the Volsung

Book II, Pre-Kelmscott Edition, 1876, edited by Stuart Blersch

IX. How Sigurd took to him the Treasure of the Elf Andvari


Now Sigurd eats of the heart that once in the Dwarf-king lay,
The hoard of the wisdom begrudged, the might of the earlier day.
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Then wise of heart was he waxen, but longing in him grew
To sow the seed he had gotten, and till the field he knew.
So he leapeth aback of Greyfell, and rideth the desert bare,
And the hollow slot of Fafnir, that led to the Serpent's lair.
Then long he rode adown it, and the ernes flew overhead,
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And tidings great and glorious of that Treasure of old they said.
So far o'er the waste he wended, and when the night was come
He saw the earth-old dwelling, the dread Gold-wallower's home:
On the skirts of the Heath it was builded by a tumbled stony bent ;
High went that house to the heavens, down 'neath the earth it went.
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Of unwrought iron fashioned for the heart of a greedy king :
'Twas a mountain, blind without, and within was its plenishing
But the Hoard of Andvari the ancient, and the sleeping Curse unseen,
The Gold of the Gods that spared not and the greedy that have been.

Through the door strode Sigurd the Volsung, and the grey moon and the sword
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Fell in on the tawny gold-heaps of the ancient hapless Hoard :
Gold gear of hosts unburied, and the coin of cities dead,
Great spoil of the ages of battle, lay there on the Serpent's bed :
Huge blocks from mid-earth quarried, where none but the Dwarfs have mined,
Wide sands of the golden rivers no foot of man may find
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Lay 'neath the spoils of the mighty and the ruddy rings of yore :
But amidst was the Helm of Aweing that the Fear of earth-folk bore,
And there gleamed a wonder beside it, the Hauberk all of gold,
Whose like is not in the heavens nor has earth of its fellow told :
There Sigurd seeth moreover Andvari's Ring of Gain,
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The hope of Loki's finger, the Ransom's utmost grain;
For it shone on the midmost gold-heap like the first star set in the sky
In the yellow space of even when moon-rise draweth anigh.
Then laughed the Son of Sigmund, and stooped to the golden land,
And gathered that first of the harvest and set it on his hand ;
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And he did on the Helm of Aweing, and the Hauberk all of gold.
Whose like is not in the heavens nor has earth of its fellow told:
Then he praised the day of the Volsungs amid the yellow light,
And he set his hand to the labour and put forth his kingly might;
He dragged forth gold to the moon, on the desert's face he laid
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The innermost earth's adornment, and rings for the nameless made ;
He toiled and loaded Greyfell, and the cloudy war-steed shone
And the gear of Sigurd rattled in the flood of moonlight wan;
There he toiled ana loaded Greyfell, and the Volsung's armour rang
Mid the yellow bed of the Serpent: but without the eagles sang :

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"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd ! let the gold shine free and clear!
For what hath the Son of the Volsungs the ancient Curse to fear?"

"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd ! for thy tale is well begun,
And the world shall be good and gladdened by the Gold lit up by the sun."

"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd, and gladden all thine heart !
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For the world shall make thee merry ere thou and she depart."

"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd ! for the ways go green below,
Go green to the dwelling of Kings, and the halls that the Queen-folk know."

"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd ! for what is there bides by the way,
Save the joy of folk to awaken, and the dawn of the merry day ?"

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"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd ! for the strife awaits thine hand.
And a plenteous war-field's reaping, and the praise of many a land."

"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd ! But how shall storehouse hold
That glory of thy winning and the tidings to be told ?"

Now the moon was dead, and the star-worlds were great on the heavenly plain.
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When the steed was fully laden ; then Sigurd taketh the rein
And turns to the ruined rock-wall that the lair was built beneath,
For there he deemed was the gate and the door of the Glittering Heath,
But not a whit moved Greyfell for aught that the King might do ;
Then Sigurd pondered a while, till the heart of the beast he knew,
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And clad in all his war-gear he leaped to the saddle-stead.
And with pride and mirth neighed Greyfell and tossed aloft his head,
And sprang unspurred o'er the waste, and light and swift he went,
And breasted the broken rampart, the stony tumbled bent ;
And over the brow he clomb, and there beyond was the world,
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A place of many mountains and great crags together hurled.
So down to the west he wendeth, and goeth swift and light,
And the stars are beginning to wane, and the day is mingled with night ;
For full fain was the sun to arise and look on the Gold set free,
And the Dwarf-wrought rings of the Treasure and the gifts from the floor of the sea.

 

 

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