III. How Sigurd met Brynhild in Lymdale
So there abideth Sigurd with the Lymdale forest-lords
And a word of the ancient Treasure and Greyfell's gleaming Load ;
And the hearts of men grew eager, and the coming deeds abode.
But warily dealeth Sigurd, and he wends in the woodland fray
As one whose heart is ready and abides a better day :
Where the mighty forest wild-bulls and the lonely wolves abide ;
For as then no other warfare do the lords of Lymdale know,
And the axe-age and the sword-age seem dead a while ago,
And the age of the cleaving of shields, and of brother by brother slain,
But man to man may hearken, and he that soweth reaps.
And hushed is the heart of Fenrir in the wolf-den of the deeps.
Now is it the summer-season, and Sigurd rideth the land,
Betwixt the woodland dwellings and the house of Lymdale's lord ;
And he hearkens Greyfell's going as he wends adown the lea.
And his heart for love is craving, and the deeds he deems shall be ;
And he hears the Wrath's sheath tinkling as he rides the daisies down,
But lo, as he rides the meadows, before him now he sees
A builded burg arising amid the leafy trees,
And a white-walled house on its topmost with a golden roof-ridge done,
And thereon the clustering dove-kind in the brightness of the sun.
So Sigurd stayed to behold it, for the heart within him laughed.
Full oft and over again ; but the falcon heeded it nought,
Nor turned to his kingly wrist-perch, nor the folk of the pigeons sought.
But flew up to a high-built tower, and sat in the window a space,
Crying out like the fowl of Odin when the first of the morning they face,
Much marvelled the Son of Sigmund, and rode to the fruitful close :
For full lovely was it fashioned, and great was the pillared hall.
And fair in its hangings were woven the deeds that Kings befall.
And the merry sun went through it and gleamed in gold and horn ;
But afield or a-fell are its carles, and none labour there that morn,
Or they go in the outer gardens 'twixt the rose and the lily soft :
So saith Sigurd the Volsung, and a door in the comer he spies
With knots of gold fair-carven, and the graver's masteries :
So he lifts the latch and it opens, and he comes to a marble stair,
And he comes to a door at its topmost, and lo, a chamber of Kings,
And his falcon there by the window with all unruffled wings.
But a woman sits on the high-seat with gold about her head,
And e'en as a swan on the billow where the firth and the out-sea meet.
On the dark-blue cloths she sitteth, so fair and softly made
Are her limbs by the linen hidden, and so white is she arrayed.
But a web of gold is before her, and therein by her shuttle wrought
And the crowned queen over Sigmund, and the Helper's pillared hall,
And the golden babe uplifted to the eyes of duke and thrall;
And there was the slender stripling by the knees of the Dwarf-folk's lord,
And the gift of the ancient Gripir, and the forging of the Sword;
And the King by the cooking-fire, and the fowl of the Glittering Heath ;
And there was the headless King-smith and the golden halls of the Worm,
And the laden Greyfell faring through the land of perished storm;
And there was the head of Hindfell, and the flames to the sky-floor driven ;
And there was the wakening woman and the golden Volsung done,
And they twain o'er the earthly kingdoms in the lonely evening sun :
And there were fells and forests, and towns and tossing seas,
And the Wrath and the golden Sigurd for ever blent with these,
In the midst of the peace well-conquered, in the midst of the praising hall.
There Sigurd stood and marvelled, for he saw his deeds that had been,
That the Gods laughed out in the heavens to see the Volsung's seed ;
And the breeze blew in from the summer and over Brynhild's weed,
Till his heart so swelled with the sweetness that the fair word stayed in his mouth,
And a marvel beloved he seemeth, as a ship new-come from the south :
As she marvelled at her gladness, and her love so well beloved.
But at last through the sounds of summer the voice of Sigurd came,
She said : "My kin is joyous, and my house is blooming fair.
He spake: "I have longed, I have wondered if thy heart were well at ease,
"O have thou thanks," said Brynhild, "for thine heart that speaketh kind !
And again she spake in a space; "The road hath been weary and long,
He said: "I have sought, O Brynhild, and found the heart of thine home;
She said : "O welcome hither ! for the heart of the King I knew,
"Unbidden I came," he answered, "yet it is but a little space
She rose from the dark-blue raiment, and trembling there she stood,
Then forth she stepped from the high-seat, and forth from the threshold he came,
But nought of the earth's desire, or the lapse of time they knew.
Then apart, but exceeding nigh, for a little while they stand,
"It is right and meet
He said : "I have cast it away as the tiller casteth the seed,
She said : "That day shall dawn the best of all earthly days
Or else, what fruit of our life-days, what fruit of our death shall be ?
What fruit, save men's remembrance of the grief of thee and me?"
He said : "It is sharper to bear than the bitter sword in the breast.
Said Brynhild : "I bid thee remember the word that I have sworn,
And they kissed and the day grew later and noon failed the golden place.
Ere I forget thy wisdom and thine heart of inmost love,
Lo now, shall I unsay it, though the Gods be great above,
Though my life should last for ever, though I die tomorrow morn,
Though I win the realm of the world, though I sink to the thrall-folk's scorn ?"
She said : "Thou shalt never unsay it, and thy heart is mine indeed :
O deathless fame of Sigurd ! O glory of my lord !
O birth of the happy Brynhild to the measureless reward !"
So they sat as the day grew dimmer, and they looked on days to come,
And deeds in the world arising and the day of better things :
All the earthly exaltation, till their pomp of life should be passed.
And soft on the bosom of God their love should be laid at the last
But when words have a long while failed them, and the night is nigh at hand,
Then Brynhild stooped to the Wrath, and touched the hilts of the sword,
Ere she wound her arms round Sigurd and cherished the lips of her lord :
Then sweet were the tears of Brynhild, and fast and fast they fell,
And the love that Sigurd uttered, what speech of song may tell ?
But he turned and departed from her, and her feet on the threshold abode