XII. Of the exceeding great grief and mourning of Brynhild
And the wall of the mighty mountains, and the sheep-fed slopes beneath,
And the horse-fed plain and the river, and the acres of the wheat,
And the herbs of bane and of healing, and the garden hedges sweet ;
It shines on the sea and the shepherd, and the husbandman's desire ;
And in Gudrun's bower it shineth, and seeth small joy therein.
For hushed the fair-clad maidens the work of women win ;
Then Gudrun looketh about her, and she saith :
"Why sit ye so,
That I hearken but creak of the loom-stock and the battens' homeward blow?
Are the Niblungs fled from the batlle, is their war-host overcome ?
Have the Norns given forth their shaming? have they fallen in the fight ?
Yet the sun shines notwithstanding, and the world around is bright."
Then answered a noble woman, and the wise of maids was she :
Yet with woe that the world shall hearken the glorious house is filled,
On the hearth of all men hallowed the cup of joy is spilled.
— A dread, an untimely hour, an exceeding evil day !"
Then the wife of Sigurd answered : "Arise and go thy way
For that long have we slept and slumbered, and the deedless night is passed :
Bid her wake to the deeds of queen-folk, and be glad as the world-queens are
When they look on the people that loves them, and thrust all trouble afar.
Let her foster her greatness and glory, and the fame no ages forget.
Then arose the light-foot maiden : but she stayed and spake by the door:
That the wrath of the Gods is upon her for ancient deeds unseen."
Nought answered the white-armed Gudrun, but the fear in her soul arose,
And sought the King of the Niblungs by hall and chamber and stair,
And bright was the pure mid-morning and the wind was fresh and fair.
So she came on her brother Gunnar, as he sat apart and alone,
On his knees was the breadth of the sunshine, and thereon lay the edges pale,
The war-flame of the Niblungs, the sword that his right hand knew:
White was the fear on her lips, and hard at her heart it drew,
Then Gunnar answered her word, but his words were heavy and slow :
And no deed for his hand he knoweth, or to do or to leave undone."
Wan-faced from before him she fled, and she went with hurrying feet,
She sickened, and said : "What dost thou? what then is the day and the deed,
"It is good, my sister," said Hogni, "to abide in the harness of war
Bide thou and behold things fated ! Hast thou learned how men may teach
The stars in their ordered courses, or lead the Norns with speech ?"
She stood and trembled before him, nor durst she long behold
And the speech on her lips was ready, till the chill fear made it nought;
For apart and alone was he sitting in all his war-gear clad
And Fafnirs Helm of Aweing, and Regin's Wrath he had,
And over the breast of Sigurd was the Hauberk all of gold
But he set her down beside him and said : "What fearest thou then ?
She cried: "The Helm and the Sword, and the golden guard of thy breast !"
"So oft, O wife," said Sigurd, "is a war-king clad the best
Thus men wreathe round the beaker whence the wine shall be soon poured out.
But fear thou not overmuch, for the end is not today ;
And hope thou little indeed, for not long shall the sword delay :
But speak, O daughter of Giuki, for thy lips scarce held the word
The Light that hath lain in the Branstock, the hope of the Volsung tree,
The Sunderer, the Deliverer, the torch of days to Be."
She sighed ; for her heart was heavy for the days but a while agone,
To the heart of the Niblung glory : but fear thrust on, and she said :
"O my lord, O Sigurd the mighty, an evil day is this,
A chill, an untimely hour for the blooming of our bliss !
Go in to my sister Brynhild, and tell her of very sooth
"The hour draws nigh," said Sigurd, "for I know of the speech and the word
But now depart, I pray thee, and leave thy lord alone :
Heavy and hard shall it be, for a season shall it endure,
But the grief and the sorrow shall perish, and the fame of the Gods is sure."
Yet she sat by his side and spake not, and a while at his glory she gazed,
And she durst not question or touch him, and at last she rose from his side,
And gat her away soft-footed, and wandered far and wide
Through the house and the Burg of the Niblungs; yet durst she never more
Go look on the Niblung Brethren as they sat in their harness of war.
But the morn to the noon hath fallen, and the afternoon to the eve,
But pale is the Helm of Aweing, and wan are the ruddy rings :
So whiles in a city forsaken ye see the shapes of kings,
And the lips that the carvers wrought, while their words were remembered and known,
And the brows men trembled to look on in the long-enduring stone,
But now are they hidden marvels to the wise and the master of lore.
And he nameth them not, nor knoweth, and their fear is faded away.
E'en so sat Sigurd the Volsung till the night waxed moonless and grey,
Then reddened the Burg of the Niblungs,and the walls of the ancient folk,
And a wind came down from the mountains and the living things awoke
And cried out for need and rejoicing ; till, lo, the rim of the sun
Showed over the eastern ridges, and the new day was begun ;
And the spears on the ramparts glistered and the windows blazed withal,
And the sunlight flooded the courts, and throughout the chambers streamed :
Then bright as the flames of the heaven the Helm of Aweing gleamed,
Then clashed the red rings of the Treasure, as Sigurd stood on his feet.
And there in the earliest morning while the lords of the Niblungs lie
'Twixt light sleep and awakening they hear the clash go by,
And their dreams are of happy battle, and the songs that follow fame,
And the hope of the Gods accomplished, and the tales of the ancient name
But on to the chamber of Brynhild alone in the morning he goes
"Awake, arise, O Brynhild ! for the house is smitten through
She spake: "Art thou come to behold me? thou, the mightiest and the worst
He said : "It is I that awake thee, and I give thee the life and the days
She cried : "O the gifts of Sigurd ! — Ah why didst thou cast me aside,
Where thou ridest forth to the battle and the dead hope dulleth thy light.
And with shame thy hand is cumbered when the sword is uplifted to smite ?
O Sigurd, what hast thou done, that the gifts are cast aback ?
— O nay, no life of repentance ! — but the bitter sword and the wrack !"
"O Brynhild, live !" said the Volsung, "for what shall the world be then
She said: "Woe worth the while for the word that hath come from thy mouth !
"It is truer to tell," said Sigurd, "that mine heart in thy love was enwrapped
And the snare for our feet fore-ordered from whence they shall never be freed.
But for me, in the net I awakened and the toils that unwitting I wove,
And no tongue may tell of the sorrow that I had for thy wedded love :
But I dwelt in the dwelling of kings ; so I thrust its seeming apart
That we dwelt in one house together, though a stranger's house it were."
"O late, and o'erlate!" cried Brynhild — "may the dead folk hearken and hear?
And she heard the words of Hindfell and the oath of the earlier day,
Then once again spake Sigurd, once only and no more :
And his eyes were the eyes of Odin, and his face was the hope of the world,
And his voice was the thunder of even when the bolt o'er the mountains is hurled :
The fairest of all things fashioned he stood 'twixt life and death,
And the Wrath of Regin rattled, and the rings of the Glittering Heath,
As he cried :
That no hand on the earth may hinder what my hand would fashion and do :
And what God or what man shall gainsay it if our love be greater than these.
The pride and the glory of Sigurd, and the latter days' increase ?
O live, live, Brynhild beloved ! and thee on the earth will I wed,
But so swelled the heart within him as he cast the speech abroad.
"I will not wed thee, Sigurd, nor any man alive."
Then Sigurd goes out from before her; and the winds in the wall-nook strive,
So he comes to his kingly chamber, and there sitteth Gudrun alone,
And the fear in her soul is minished,but the love and the hatred are grown :
She is wan as the moonlit midnight; but her heart is cold and proud,
And she asketh him nought of Brynhild, and nought he speaketh aloud.