Sigurd the Volsung

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

 

V. Of Gripir's Foretelling

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Now Sigurd backeth Greyfell on the first of the morrow morn,
And he rideth fair and softly through the acres of the corn;
The Wrath to his side is girded, but hid are the edges blue,
As he wendeth his ways to the mountains, and rideth the horse-mead through.
His wide grey eyes are happy, and his voice is sweet and soft,
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As amid the mead-lark's singing he casteth song aloft :
Lo, lo, the horse and the rider! So once maybe it was,
When over the Earth, unpeopled the youngest God would pass;
But never again meseemeth shall such a sight betide.
Till over a world unwrongful new-bom shall Baldur lide.

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So he comes to that ness of the mountains, and Gripir’s garden steep,
That bravely Greyfell breasteth, and adown by the door doth he leap
And his war-gear rattleth upon him; there is none to ask or forbid
As he wendeth the house clear-lighted, where no mote of the dust is hid,
Though the sunlight hath not entered : the walls are clear and bright,
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For they cast back each to other the golden Sigurd's light;
Through the echoing ways of the house bright-eyed he wendeth along,
And the mountain-wind is with him, and the hovering eagles' song;
But no sound of the children of men may the ears of the Volsung hear,
And no sign of their ways in the world, or their will, or their hope or their fear.

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So he comes to the hall of Gripir, and gleaming-green is it built
As the house of under-ocean where the wealth of the greedy is spilt;
Gleaming and green as the sea, and rich as its rock-strewn floor,
And fresh as the autumn morning when the burning of summer is o'er.
There he looks and beholdeth the high-seat, and he sees it strangely wrought.
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Of the tooth of the sea-beast fashioned ere the Dwarf-kind came to nought;
And he looks, and thereon is Gripir, the King exceeding old.
With the sword of his fathers girded, and his raiment wrought of gold;
With the ivory rod in his right-hand, with his left "on the crystal laid,
That is round as the world of men-folk, and after its image made,
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And clear is it wrought to the eyen that may read therein of Fate.
Though little indeed be its sea, and its earth not wondrous great.

There Sigurd stands in the hall, on the sheathfed Wrath doth he lean,
All his golden light is mirrored in the gleaming floor and green;
But the smile in his face upriseth as he looks on the ancient King,
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And their glad eyes meet and their laughter, and sweet is the welcoming :
And Gripir saith :"Hail Sigurd! for my bidding hast thou done.
And here in the mountain-dwelling are two Kings of men alone."

But Sigurd spake : " Hail father! I am girt with the fateful sword
And my face is set to the highway, and I come for thy latest word."

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Said Gripir: "What wouldst thou hearken ere we sit and drink the wine ?"

"Thy word and the Noras’," said Sigurd, " but never a word of mine."

"What sights wouldst thou see," said Gripir, "ere mine hand shall take thine hand?"

"As the Gods would I see," said Sigurd, "though Death light up the land."

What hope wouldst thou hope, O Sigurd, ere we kiss, we twain, and depart?"

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" Thy hope and the Gods'," said Sigurd,"though the grief lie hard on my heart."

Nought answered the ancient wise-one, and not a whit had he stirred
Since the clash of Sigurd's raiment in his mountain-hall he heard;
But the ball that imaged the earth was set in his hand grown old;
And belike it was to his vision, as the wide-world's ocean rolled,
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And the forests waved with the wind, and the com was gay with the lark,
And the gold in its nether places grew up in the dusk and the dark.
And its children built and departed, and its King-folk conquered and went,
As over the crystal image his all-wise face was bent :
For all his desire was dead, and he lived as a God shall live.
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Whom the prayers of the world hath forgotten, and to whom no hand may give:

But there stood the mighty Volsung, and leaned on the hidden Wrath;
As the earliest sun's uprising o'er the sea-plain draws a path
Whereby men sail to the Eastward and the dawn of another day,
So the image of King Sigurd on the gleaming pavement lay.

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Then great in the hall fair-pillared tlie voice of Gripir arose,
And it ran through the glimmering house-ways, and forth to the sunny close;
There mid the birds' rejoicing went the voice of an o'er-wise King
Like a wind of midmost winter come back to talk with spring.

But the voice cried : " Sigurd, Sigurd ! O great, O early born !
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O hope of the Kings first fashioned ! O blossom of the morn !
Short day and long remembrance, fair summer of the North !
One day shall the wom world wonder how first thou wentest forth !

"Arise, O Sigurd, Sigurd ! in the night arise and go,
Thou shalt smite when the day-dawn glimmers through the folds of God-home's foe :

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"There the child in the noon-tide smiteth; the young King rendeth apart,
The old guile by the guile encompassed, the heart made wise by the heart.

"Bind the red rings, O Sigurd; bind up to cast abroad !
That the earth may laugh before thee rejoiced by the Waters' Hoard.

"Ride on, O Sigurd, Sigurd ! for God's word goes forth on the wind,
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And he speaketh not twice over; nor shall they loose that bind :
But the Day and the Day shall loosen, and the Day shall awake and arise,
And the Day shall rejoice with the Dawning, and the wise heart leam of the wise.

"O fair, O fearless, O mighty, how green are the garths of Kings,
How soft are the ways before thee to the heart of their war-farings !

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"How green are the garths of King-folk, how fair is the lily and rose
In the house of the Cloudy People, 'neath the towers of kings and foes !

"Smite now, smite now in the noontide! ride on through the hosts of men !
Lest the dear remembrance perish, and today come not again.

"Is it day?— But the house is darkling — But the hand would gather and hold,
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And the lips have kissed the cloud-wreath, and a cloud the arms enfold.

"In the dusk hath the Sower arisen; in the dark hath he cast the seed,
And the ear is the sorrow of Odin and the wrong, and the nameless need !

"Ah the hand hath gathered and garnered, and empty is the hand,
Though the day be full and fruitful mid the drift of the Cloudy Land !

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"Look, look on the drift of the clouds, how the day and the even doth grow
As the long-forgotten dawning that was a while ago !

"Dawn, dawn, O mighty of men ! and why wilt thou never awake,
When the holy field of the Goth-folk cries out for thy love and thy sake?

"Dawn, now; but the house is silent, and dark is the purple blood
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On the breast of the Queen fair-fashioned; and it riseth up as a flood
Round the posts of the door beloved; and a deed there lieth therein :
The last of the deeds of Sigurd; the worst of the Cloudy Kin —
The slayer slain by the slain within the door and without.
— O dawn as the eve of the birth-day ! O dark world cumbered with doubt !

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"Shall it never be day any more, nor the sun's uprising and growth?
Shall the kings of earth lie sleeping and the war-dukes wander in sloth
Through the last of the winter twilight? is the word of the wise-ones said
Till the five-fold winter be ended and the trumpet waken the dead?

"Short day and long remembrance ! great glory for the earth!
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O deeds of the Day triumphant ! O word of Sigurd's worth !
It is done, and who shall undo it of all who were ever alive?
May the Gods or the high Gods' masters gainst the tale of the righteous strive.
And the deeds to follow after, and all their deeds increase,
Till the uttermost field is foughten, and Baldur riseth in peace!

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"Cry out, O waste, before him ! O rocks of the wilderness, cry !
For tomorn shalt thou see the glory, and the man not made to die !
Cry out, O upper heavens ! O clouds beneath the lift
For the golden King shall be riding high-headed midst the drift :
The mountain waits and the fire; there waiteth the heart of the wise
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Till the earthly toil is accomplished, and again shall the fire arise;
And none shall be nigh in the ending and none by his heart shall be laid,
Save the world that he cherished and quickened, and the Day that he wakened and made."

So died the voice of Gripir from amidst the sunny close,
And the sound of hastening eagles from the mountain's feet arose,
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But the hall was silent a little, for still stood Sigmund's son.
And he heard the words and remembered, and knew them one by one.
Then he turned on the ancient Gripir with eyes that knew no guile
And smiled on the wise of King-folk as the first of men might smile
On the God that hath fashioned him happy; and he spake:

"Hast thou spoken and known
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How there standeth a child before thee and a stripling scarcely grown?
Or hast thou told of the Volsungs, and the gathered heart of these,
And their still unquenched desire for ganjering fame's increase?
E'en so do I hearken thy words : for I wot how they deem it long
Till a man from their seed be arisen to deal with the cumber and wrong.
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Bid me therefore to sit by thy side, for behold I wend on my way,
And the gates swing to behind me, and each day of mine is a day
With deeds in the eve and the morning, nor deeds shall the noontide lack;
To the right and the left none calleth, and no voice crieth aback."

"Come, kin of the Gods," said Gripir, " come up and sit by my side
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That we twain may be glad as the fearless, and they that have nothing to hide:
I have wrought out my will and abide it, and I sit ungrieved and alone,
I look upon men and I help not; to me are the deeds long done
As those of today and tomorrow : for these and for those am I glad;
But the Gods and men are the framers, and the days of my life I have had."

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Then Sigurd came unto Gripir, and he kissed the wise-one's face,
And they sat in the high-seat together, the child and the elder of days;
And they drank of the wine of King-folk, and were joyful each of each,
And spake for a while of matters that are meet for King-folk's speech;
The deeds of men that have been and Kin of the Kings of the earth;
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And Gripir told of the outlands, and the mid- world's billowy girth,
And tales of the upper heaven were mingled with his talk,
And the halls where the Sea-Queen's kindred o'er the gem-strewn pavement walk,
And the innermost parts of the earth, where they lie, the green and the blue.
And the red and the glittering gem-stones that of old the Dwarf-kind knew.

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Long Sigurd sat and marvelled at the mouth that might not lie.
And the eyes no God had blinded, and the lone heart raised on high,
Then he rose from the gleaming high-seat, and the rings of battle rang
And the sheathed Wrath was hearkening and a song of war it sang,
But Sigurd spake unto Gripir :

"Long and lovely are thy days,
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And thy years fulfilled of wisdom, and thy feet on the unhid ways,
And the guileless heart of the great that knoweth not anger nor pain :
So once hath a man been fashioned and shall not be again.
But for me hath been foaled the war-horse, the grey steed swift as the cloud,
And for me were the edges smithied, and the Wrath cries out aloud;
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And a voice hath called from the darkness, and I ride to the Glittering Heath;
To smite on the door of Destruction, and waken the warder of Death."

So they kissed, the wise and the wise, and the child from the elder turned;
And again in the glimmering house- ways the golden Sigurd burned;
He stood outside in the sunlight, and tarried never a deal,
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But leapt on the cloudy Greyfell with the clank of gold and steel,
And he rode through the sinking day to the walls of the kingly stead,
And came to Regin's dwelling when the wind was fallen dead,
And the great sun just departing : then blood-red grew the west,
And the fowl flew home from the sea-mead, and all things sank to rest.

 

 

 

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