XIV. Of the mighty Grief of Gudrun over Sigurd dead
Of old in the days past over was Gudrun blent with the dead.
And they rose one after other, and before the Queen they went ;
Men ancient, men mighty in battle, men sweet of speech were there,
And they loved her, and entreated, and spake good words to hear :
But no tears and no lamenting in Gudrun's heart would strive
Now there were the King-folk's daughters, and wives of the Earls of war,
And she said :
"O heavyhearted, they slew my King from me :
Look up, O child of the Niblungs, and hearken mournful things
Of the woes of living man-folk and the daughters of the Kings !
Dead now is the last of my brethren; to the dead my sister went;
On the earth am I living loveless, long past are the happy days,
They lie with things departed and vain and foolish praise.
And the hopes of hapless people : yet I sit with the people's lords
When men are hushed to hearken the least of all my words.
Save to wear down lamentation, and make all sorrow nought ?"
No word of woe gat Gudrun, nor had she will to weep,
Then troth-plight maids forsaken, and never-wedded ones,
If the Queens of men shall tremble, and the God-kin faint and fail?"
No voice gat Gudrun's sorrow, no care she had to weep ;
Then spake a Queen of Welshland, and Herborg hight was she :
And I bided their returning by the sea-washed bitter shore :
But the winds and death played with them, o'er the wide sea swept the wave.
The billows beat on the bulwarks and took what the battle gave :
Alone I sang above them, alone I dight their gear
Nor wakened spring from winter ere I left those early dead ;
With bound hands and shameful body I went as the sea-thieves led :
Now I sit by the hearth of a stranger; nor have I weal nor woe.
Save the hope of the Niblung masters and the sorrow of a foe."
No wailing word gat Gudrun, no thought she had to weep
Then arose a maid of the Niblungs, and Gullrond was her name,
And she said : "O foster-mother, O wise in the wisdom of old,
Hast thou spoken a word to the dead, and known them hear and behold?
E'en so is this word thou speakest, and the counsel of thy face."
All heed gave the maids and the warriors, and hushed was the spear-thronged place,
From the lips that had holpen the people, and the eyes that had gladdened the day;
She set her hand unto Sigurd, and turned the face of the dead
To the moveless knees of Gudrun, and again she spake and said :
"O Gudrun, look on thy loved-one ; yea, as if he were living yet
Then Gudrun's eyes fell on it, and she saw the bright-one's hair
Seemed all she once had cherished from that which near her lay ;
She gazed, and it craved no pity, and therein was nothing sad,
Therein was clean forgotten the hope that Sigurd had :
Then she looked around and about her, as though her friend to find,
And she turned to the King beneath her and raised her hands on high.
And fell on the body of Sigurd with a great and bitter cry ;
All else in the house kept silence, and she as one alone
Spared not in that kingly dwelling to wail aloud and moan ;
While the restless birds in the wall-nook their song to the green leaves sent;
And the geese in the home-mead wandering clanged out beneath the sun ;
For now was the day's best hour, and its loveliest tide begun.
Long Gudrun lay on Sigurd, and her tears fell fast on the floor
Till she heard a wail anigh her and how Gullrond wept beside,
Then she knew the voice of her pity, and rose upright and cried :
"O ye, e'en such was my Sigurd among these Giuki's sons.
As the gem on the gold band's midmost when the council cometh to pass.
And the King is lit with its glory, and the people wonder and praise.
— O people, Ah thy craving for the least of my Sigurd's days !
O wisdom of my Sigurd ! how oft I sat with thee,
O might of my love, my Sigurd ! how oft I sat by thy side,
And was praised for the loftiest woman and the best of Odin's pride !
But now am I as little as the leaf on the lone tree left.
When the winter wood is shaken and the sky by the North is cleft"
Then her speech grew wordless wailing, and no man her meaning knew ;
But she felt the place fallen silent, and the speechless anger set
On her own chill, bitter sorrow ; and the eyes of the women met,
And they stood in the hall together, as they stood that while ago,
When they twain in Brynhild's dwelling of days to come would know :
As Brynhild spake :
"Thou woman, shall thine eyes be wet alone ?
Shalt thou weep and speak in thy glory, when I may weep no more.
When I speak, and my speech is as silence to the man that loved me sore?"
Then folk heard the woe of Gudrun, and the bitterness of hate :
And Kings in gold arrayed them, and all men the joy might hear,
As Greyfell neighed in the forecourt the world's delight to bear.
And my brethren shook the world-ways as they rode to Brynhild's bower,
— An ill day — an evil woman — a most untimely hour !"
But she wailed : "The seat is empty, and empty is the bed,
And the rings that ye swore the oath on ! yea, if all avengers die,
May Earth, that ye bade remember, on the blood of Sigurd cry !
Be this land as waste as the troth plight that the lips of fools have sworn !
May it rain through this broken hall-roof, and snow on the hearth forlorn !
Yea, may I be a mock for the idle if my feet come ever aback,
If my heart think kind of the chambers, if mine eyes shall yearn to behold
The fair-built house of my fathers, the house beloved of old !"
Then she waileth out before them, and hideth her face from the day,
And forth from the Hall of the Niblungs, and forth from the Burg is she gone,
And forth from the holy dwellings, and a long way forth alone.
Till she comes to the lonely wood-waste, the desert of the deer
By the feet of the lonely mountains, that no man draweth anear ;
And folding the hands and forgetting a merrier thing than strife;
And for long and long thereafter no man of Gudrun knows,
Nor who are the friends of her life-days, nor whom she calleth her foes.
But how great in the hall of the Niblungs is the voice of weeping and wail !
Then they wend one after other to the sleep that all men win.
Till few are the hall-abiders, and the moon is white therein.
And no sound in the house may ye hearken save the ernes that stir o'erhead.
And the far-off wail o'er Guttorm and the wakeners o'er the dead :
A-gaze on the wound of Sigurd, nor moveth foot nor hand,
Nor speaketh word to any, of them that come or go
Round the evil deed of the Niblungs and the comer-stone of woe.