Sigurd the Volsung

Description of Manuscripts and Revisions

Karl Anderson

Description of Manuscripts and Manuscript Revisions, from Anderson, Karl. "Scandinavian Elements in the Works of William Morris." Diss., Harvard University, 194, 244-59.

Description of Manuscripts (244-45; footnotes collapsed into text)

In the British Museum, London, are deposited three manuscripts of Morris’s Sigurd the Volsung: two of them, Add 27497 and Add 27498, are quarto notebooks, presenting approximately the last third of the first version of the poem, together with numerous revisions at the close of the last volume; the third, Eg 866, is a folio volume, containing the final draft of the complete work, with several revised passages at the end.2 The greater part of the poem appears in these manuscripts in the same form as in the printed text, except of course for occasional minor, verbal changes; there are seven passages, however, each one dealing with one of the crucial moments of the story, which have been extensively revised and in parts even completely rewritten in the manuscript.

The two quarto manuscripts are bound in three-quarter dark-brown leather. On the back of the first one is pasted a slip of paper bearing the words “Sigurd. MS. of First Essay,” and below this paper are imprinted in gilt the words “Brit. Mus. Add. 37, 497.” On the inside of the front cover, at the top, we find the note “From the Library of Ch: Fairfax Murray” on a slip or paper which has been pasted in, and below this tag the number “37,497” is stamped. In the lower left-hand corner of the inside of the front cover there is pasted a slip of paper with the statement “From the Library of Laurence W. Hodson, Compton Hall, Near Wolverhampton”; just above this tag is written in pencil the number “449.b.” On the opposite page, the recto of the first flyleaf, the words “Presented by C. Fairfax Murray Esq 11 May, 1907” have been written in ink. Below this note is the stamp of the British Museum.

In this manuscript each sheet, instead of each page, is numbered. The writing begins on the verso of the first flyleaf in the middle of the final scene between Sigurd and Brynhild, continues on the second flyleaf, and runs on to the top of page 62. At this point Morris turned the book around, and beginning on what was originally the last flyleaf, numbered 91, he wrote backwards to page 62, ending with what is line 25 on page 279 of Volume XII of the Collected Works. On the recto of the second flyleaf at the end is written in pencil, “11+91.ff. May. 1907. C. B. Examined by C. J. C.”

Morris seems to have written out the material in this book very hurriedly. He wrote in pencil, using sometimes only the right-hand page, at other times both sides of each sheet. The pages are ruled, with 23 lines on a page, but he very seldom wrote on the lines, getting on the average 14 or 15 long lines of poetry on each page. There is scarcely any punctuation in the manuscript; he did, however, usually begin each line with a capital.

The other quarto manuscript, Add. 37, 498, is similar in form to the one just discussed. On the inside of the front cover and on the recto of the first flyleaf are some notes in prose pertaining to the final meeting between Sigurd and Brynhild. On the verso of the first flyleaf are pasted two slips of paper, one stating that the book is “From the Library of Ch: Fairfax Murray,” the other that it is “From [line illegible] [245] As in the other, manuscript, the pages in the body of the book are ruled, with 23 lines on a page, and each sheet, instead of each page, is numbered. The writing begins on the first paper with ruled lines, which is numbered “1,” and runs on to the last page of this type, which bears the number “87.” On the recto of the second flyleaf at the end is written in pencil “v + 88 ff May 1907. A. J. W. Examined by P. W. B.” At the top of the verso of this flyleaf the number “37, 498” is stamped. On the inside of the back cover Morris has written “William Morris 26 Queen Sq: Bloomsbury W. C. Whoever finds this book and brings it to the owner at the above address will receive a reward of 1₺ (one pound).” In the main he wrote only on the right-hand pages in this manuscript, and so when he had come to the end of the book, he turned it around and began writing from what originally the back toward the front; he continued to write in this way until he had reached page 43b. The section of the poem written out in this manuscript extends from what is line 26 on page 279 of Volume XII of the Collected Works to the end of the whole poem.

The folio manuscript of Sigurd is bound in half-leather, light brown in color; the covers are of wood. On the back are the words “Sigurd the Volsun By William Morris MS. Brit. Mus. Eg. 2866(F).” On the inside of the front cover, in the lower left-hand corner, there is pasted a slip of paper bearing the note “From the Library of Laurence W. Hodson, Compton Hall, near Wolverhampton”; above this tag is written the number “526.h.” On the recto of the first flyleaf we find in the upper right-hand corner the number “66A,” and in the middle of the page the words “Brit. Mus. Egerton MS. 2866 (F.) Purchased of L. B. Hodson Esq. 17 Jan. 1907.” There are three more flyleaves; they are all blank.

In the main part of the manuscript the pages are ruled, with 34 lines on a page. Morris has written the poem out in ink, using the right-hand pages only; in the main he succeeded in getting 34 complete lines of poetry on each page, for as a rule he wrote the last two or three words in each verse between the lines instead of on a separate line. The pages have been numbered twice, the original number having become incorrect because of omissions and additions of pages here and there. According to the final numbering, the poem runs from page 1 to page 355. After the conclusion of the poem, we find ten more pages, these pages consisting of cancelled versions of various scenes in the tale; this material comes to and end on page 366. Then follow four flyleaves. On the recto of the first of these is written “1X + 3bb folios Examd by P. W. B. March ’07.”

Description of Revisions (244-59; click here for version with footnotes at end)

The greater part of the poem appears in these manuscripts in the same form as in the printed text, except of course for occasional minor, verbal changes; there are seven passages, however, each one dealing with one of the crucial moments of the story, which have been extensively revised and in parts even completely rewritten in the manuscript.

In her Preface to Volume  [246] Twelve of Collected Works,1 and in her William Morris: Artist Writer Socialist,2 Miss Morris refers briefly to some of these revisions and discusses one -  the rewriting of the account of the final meeting between Sigurd and Brynhild – in detail, quoting the greater part of the early version of this scene. The other revisions also, it seems to me, are very interesting and deserve careful consideration, for they all throw light on the steps in the evolution of the poem in Morris’s mind and on the aims he kept before himself in writing the tale.

The first of these revisions, the reworking of the account of the birth of Sigurd, is chiefly interesting because it shows in a very striking manner the extent to which Morris improved the poem, from a literary point of view, in the course of rewriting certain sections.3 One of the loveliest passages in the whole work, as we have it in printed text, is the dialogue between King Elf and the women who come to show him the new-born babe;4 this scene, with its very effective suspense and climax, is entirely missing in the original version. There the child is presented to Kind Elf without any introductory comment, and he arises and delivers a long speech


1.     Pages xxiv-xx.

2.     I, 478-492.

3.     The earlier version is found in Manuscript Eg 2866, pages 73, 74, 72, and 78, 1.1, these cancelled pages being scattered among the sheets containing the rewritten account; the revised passage, which is written out in Manuscript Eg. 2866, pages 70, 71, 75, 76, and 77 and in Manuscript Add 37497, pages 90b-82b, is the same as that in the printed text (see Collected Works, XII, 62, 1.31 – 67, 1.4).

4.   Collected Works, XII, 63, 1.31 – 65, 1.13.


summarizing the early history of the Volsung family; the account given here of Sigi, Rerir, and the birth of King Volsung is found at the very beginning of the Vőlsunga saga,1 but Morris had omitted it at this point in his own version of the tale. When Morris rewrote this scene, he struck out this speech of King Elf; the only mention of the early Volsungs in the revised version occurs in the twelve-line account, at the end of this section, of the songs of the minstrels, in the course of which Sigi and Rerir are merely named.2 Perhaps Morris felt that this long speech with its indirect references to the early Volsungs would not only be unintelligible and therefore tedious to the majority of his readers, who would very likely be unacquainted with the Vőlsunga saga itself, but would also retard the action of the story too much at this significant moment. There can be no doubt that the dialogue which replaced it, with its air of unrestrained joy mingled with wonder and awe at the event which has just taken place, is far more effective.

In Manuscript Eg 2866 there is also found an early version of Sigurd’s fight with Fafnir on the Glittering Heath;3 in revising this description, Morris not only improved the passage as poetry but he also completely altered the details of the story itself. In the


1.     Collected Works, VII, 291-294.

2.     Ibid., XII, 66, 1.23 – 67, 1.2.

3.     The cancelled version is found in Manuscript Eg 2866, pages 123 (last 3 lines), 130, 131, and 132, 11.1-25. The revised account is given in Manuscript Eg 2866 on pages 124-129, and in Manuscript Add 37497, pages 53 – 62; in the printed text it appears in Collected Works, XII, 108, 1.15 – 112, 1.22.


revised account Sigurd meets Odin as soon as he arrives on the glittering Heath, and Odin instructs him to dig a pit in the path of the serpent and to conceal himself therein; Sigurd follows the directions, and when Fafnir glides over the pit, the hero thrusts his sword into the monster’s heart, giving him his death wound; then ensues a dialogue between Sigurd and Fafnir, in which the latter foretells the future. In this version Morris follows substantially the story given in the Vőlsunga saga.1 In the earlier account, however, there is no mention of Odin; Sigurd does not construct a pit, but fights with Fafnir entirely on the surface of the ground; and the serpent dies without speaking. It is difficult to perceive what reason Morris could have had for originally presenting the story in this form. It seems almost impossible that he could have forgotten the method in which Sigurd killed the dragon and the conversation which he had with Fafnir that morning, for both these features are unusual and they are found not only in the Vőlsunga saga but also in “Fáfnismál”2; on the other hand, it seems very unlikely that Morris


1.     See Collected Works, VII, 3328-331. The account given in the Vőlsunga saga differs slightly from Morris’s revised passage, for according to the Vőlsunga saga it is Regin who advises Sigurd to dig a pit in which to lie in wait or Fafnir, and Odin, when he appears later, instructs the young hero to prepare several pits, into which Fafnir’s blood may run.

2.     For the reference to the account of this episode in the Vőlsunga saga, see above, note 1; for the account in “Fáfnismál,” see Sa͜emundar Edda, ed. Grundtvig, pp. 110-112. In “Fáfnismál,” as in the Vőlsunga saga, we are told that Sigurd killed Fafnir by attacking him from a pit and that as Fafnir died, he conversed with Sigurd, but in “Fáfnismál” it is not related that Sigurd met Odin, as in the Vőlsunga saga.


could have remembered these details, and that he could have omitted them deliberately. Miss May Morris, speaking of this passage, says that in the early form Fafnir is “a blind force of Hatred, dying without speech”; that Morris seems to have been afraid that if he left the scene in this form his readers might misunderstand the significance of this episode and might “attribute the slaying of Fafnir to small human things, as the hatred of Regin”; and that he therefore rewrote this section, introducing Odin and “the wonderful death-dialogue.”1 That the version in the printed text is superior is obvious; Morris’s motives for presenting the episode in the first form are, however, by no means clear.

The account of Sigurd’s drinking of Grimhild’s magic potion, as a result of which he forgets Brynhild and marries Gudrun, also appears in a different form in one of the manuscripts.2 The early version of this episode differs considerably from the revised account, but in rewriting this scene Morris in the main simply expanded his original description without changing the actual facts of the story. In only two cases, in fact, do the two passages disagree in the details


1.     These comments are found in the Collected Works, XII, xxv-xxvi.

2.     The original passage is given in Manuscript Eg 2866 on pages 191 (last 3 lines), 192, 193, and 198, 11.1-8. The revised account, with the exception of 11.1-8 on p. 168 of Collected Works, XII, is written out in Manuscript Eg 2866 on pages 194-197, and, in a somewhat different form, in Manuscript Add 37497 on pages 68b-62b; the printed version of this passage is to be found in Collected Works, XII, 166, 1.11 – 170, 1.2.


of the action itself, and neither one of these two changes is significant: in the original version, Sigurd, after drinking Grimhild’s cup, broods in silence for a moment, and then strides out of the hall while the feasters sit bewildered, but in the printed account Sigurd remains in the hall throughout the evening, his silence throwing a hush on the rest of the company, and he does not set out on his ride until the others are departing from the feast and going to bed; moreover, at first Morris represented Sigurd as visiting Brynhild’s home twice during his ride, once during the night and again the following morning, but in the rewritten account he mention only one visit to the burg of Brynhild. Both these changes, as I have already stated, are without importance. Moreover, the question whether the first or the revised description follows the original account more closely in these respects does not arise, for both versions are entirely Morris’s own; the Vőlsunga saga, the only one of his sources that mentions Grimhild’s potion of forgetfulness, merely states that Sigurd drank the cup Grimhild offered him and then forgot Brynhild.1 As I stated above, the main difference between the original and the revised account of this scene lies in the length of the two, but


1.  Collected Works, VII, 350.


this difference in length is important, for in the additional material found in the later version Morris seems definitely to be striving to impress upon his readers the significance of the event he is describing. He first presents a long Homeric simile, in fourteen lines, comparing the silence that came over the Niblungs after Sigurd had drunk Grimhild’s cup and his face had become stern and moody to the hush that might fall on a group of feasters on a beautiful summer day when the eastern sky suddenly becomes murky with an approaching thunder-storm. He then relates that a short time after Sigurd drained the cup, marvelous flames leaped up around the hall where Bryynhild sat dreaming of the Volsung hero. Finally he describes how Grimhild called for music to drive away the melancholy and gloom that had settled on the Niblung warriors, and how the music of the harp went unheeded by the men who could do nothing but gaze upon the face of Sigurd and long for the sunny morning. Very likely Morris rewrote the scene, keeping Sigurd in the hall throughout the feast and introducing this additional material illustrating the intensity of his gloom because he felt that if he left the scene in its original form his readers might fail to realize the tremendous influence Grimhild’s magic potion was destined to have upon the remaining days of Sigurd and the Niblungs.

The fourth important revision, that of the scene between Brynhild and Sigurd after the quarreling of Brynhild and Gudrun, has been fully discussed by Miss May Morris in the Preface to Volume


Twelve of the Collected Works.1 She there points out that the most striking difference between the first and the revised version is the elimination in the latter of “the note of human tenderness and suffering” that Morris had originally introduced into the scene; she thinks that her father rejected the first version of this episode because it was out “of scale with the epic place” of the whole poem.2

In my summary of Bartel’s study of the sources of Morris’s Sigurd the Volsung, I have already pointed out that the last part of the poem shows the influence of the Nibelungenlied to a marked degree.3 In the Vőlsunga saga Atli, soon after his marriage to Gudrun, begins to long to possess the treasure of the Niblungs, and he invites Gunnar and Hogni to a feast in his hall in order that he may have an opportunity to fall upon them with a superior force and overcome them and so gain the gold; Gudrun, suspecting her husband’s designs, ties to warn her brothers against accepting the invitation.4 In Morris’s poem, however, the destruction of the Niblung kings by Atli is the deliberate work of Gudrun; even after she has been married to Atli, she does not forget her brothers’ murder of Sigurd, and in order to obtain revenge, she stirs up her second husband’s desire for the Niblung gold and induces him to bid Gunnar and Hogni come and


 1.     Pages xxiv-xxix.

2.     Page xxvi.

3.     See above, page 237.

4.     Collected Works, VII, 379-381.


visit him, so that he may bring them into his power.1 Morris’s Gudrun, therefore, shows a closer resemblance to Kriemhild of the Nibelungenlied than to Gudrun of the Vőlsunga saga.2 That Morris is to depart from the Norse story in his portrayal of Gudrun is first revealed to us in the scene in which Grimhild, Gunnar, and Hogni come to the home of Queen Thora for the purpose of inducing Gudrun to accept Atli’s suit for her hand in marriage.3 In the Vőlsunga saga and in “Guðrúnarkviða II” we are told that when Gudrun drank the magic cup of forgetfulness she lost all memory of Sigurd’s murder;4 but in Morris’s Sigurd the Volsung we read that

many a thing she forgat
But never the day of her sorrow, and of how o’er Sigurd she sat.5

In one of the manuscripts, Add 37498,6 is found an early version of this scene which is very interesting, for in this account Morris places much greater stress on Gudrun’s recollection of the slaying of her husband, and he seems to hint that it was simply because of the possibility that she might receive aid from Atli in obtaining


1.  Collected Works, XII, 255-257.

2.  For the corresponding passage in the Nibelungenlied, see Das Nibelungenlied, ed. Karl Bartsch (9th ed. ; Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1931), pp. 236-241.

3.  Collected Works, XII, 250, 1.13 – 253, 1.2.

4.  See ibid., VII, 377 and Sa͜emundar Edda, ed. Grundtvig, p. 140.

5.  Collected Works, XII, 252. Morris’s use of the clause “how o’er Sigurd she sat” at the end of this quotation, it should be noted, was almost certainly influenced by the first sentence of the prose passage at the beginning of “Guðrúnarkviða I”: “Guðrún sat yfir Sigur ði dauðom.” See also ibid. , stanza 1, 1.2.

6. The rejected passage is found in Manuscript Add 37498, pages 61, 62, 63, 63b, 64, 64b, and 65, 11.1-3; these 63 lines are replaced by 10 lines in the revised version (in Collected Works, XII, 252, 1.33-….) (Please note the rest is cut off from the bottom of the page)


revenge that Gudrun finally accepted his suit. In writing this first account Morris may have definitely had in mind the corresponding scene in the Nibelungenlied; there Kriemhild is at first utterly opposed to Etzel’s offer, but consents when Rűedegêr swears that he and his men will do their utmost to help her obtain revenge for the loss of Siegfried if she marries Ezel.1 It is also interesting to note that in this early version Gudrun does not make her decision on the first day, as she does in the Vőlsunga saga, but thinks about it during the night and decides on her answer the next morning, just as in the Nibelungenlied.

Perhaps the early version of this scene, with its resemblances to the Nibelungenlied, may be taken as an indication that Morris originally intended to make the whole ending of his poem much more like the German epic than it actually is. He may at first have planned to make Gudrun more like Kriemhild, - a cruel, heartless woman who would stop at nothing in her craving for revenge; as he proceeded with his story, this portrayal of Gudrun may have become distasteful to him, and he may also have come to realize that it was not necessary to make Gudrun such an inhuman woman as Kriemhild in order to bind the conclusion of the tale into closer unity with the preceding episode, than was the case in the Vőlsunga saga, by making the death of Gunnar and Hogni in the land of Atli the result


1.  Das Nibelungenlied, ed. Bartsch, pp. 209-216.


of Gudrun’s desire for revenge for Sigurd’s death. In the description of the fight in Atli’s hall, Morris’s Gudrun of course shows a closer resemblance to Kriemhild than to the Norse Gudrun, but she is far from being the fiendlike creature that Kriemhild is; in Morris’s poem Gudrun watches the capture of her brothers but remains a passive spectator throughout the scene;1 in the corresponding passage in the Nibelungenlied, however, Kriemhild passionately urges her men to attack her brothers again and again, and when Hagen and Gunther are finally captured and brought before her, she slays Hagen with her own hand.2 Perhaps it was in order to make the scene in Queen Thora’s home more consistent with this later softening of Gudrun’s character that Morris rewrote his first version of the fetching of Gudrun, removing the emphasis on her undying hatred for her brothers and omitting any hint that, like Kriemhild, she consented to marry Atli merely because of her hope of thereby securing her revenge.

Very interesting also is the early version of Gunnar’s song in the snake-pit, found in manuscript Eg 2566.3 Both the original and revised accounts are entirely Morris’s invention, for his Norse

 1. Collected Works, XII, 76-286.

2. Das Nibelungenlied, ed. Bartsch, pp. 297-399.

3. The original version is given in Manuscript Eg 2866, pages 343. 11.24-34. 345. And 347, 11.1-16. The revised version is found in Manuscript Eg 2866, pages 344, 345, 11.15-24, and 346, and, with minor differences, in Manuscript Add 37497, pages 26 -32; in the printed text it occurs in Collected Works, XII, 297, 1.3 – 299, 1.15.


sources merely state that Gunnar sang so sweetly in the pit that he lulled to sleep all the adders except one, this one stinging him to death.1 Nevertheless, Morris’s two descriptions of the scene differ radically. In the early version, the first part of Gunnar’s song consists of rather vague and colorless allusions to his past life; in the second half the Niblung hero sings of his approach to Valhalla as he dies. In the second version, however, when Gunnar is thrown into the snake-pit, he breaks the silence of this last night that he is alive by raising his voice and singing of the glory of the creation of earth and of man. As he feels his end approaching, he sings in a more subdued tone of his own life on this earth, not, however, referring to past events, as in the first version, but dwelling upon the joy he has always felt in this glorious world, and solacing himself, as he dies, with the thought that he has always lived nobly and bravely, without complaining and without questioning the plans of the gods. In the original version Gunnar is clearly much more human than in the second: having come face to face with death, he lingers lovingly on the happy scenes of his past. In the revised account, the personal element is minimized: Gunnar’s thoughts turn away from himself and go back to the dawn of the world, and he deals with the vast conceptions of the origin of the universe; when he speaks of himself, it is the god-like, not the human, side of his character that he shows. Certainly this second account harmonizes


1.  See Collected Works, VII, 388 and Edda, ed. Finnur Jónnson (2nd ed.; Copenhagen, 1926), p. 106.


much more fully than the first with the nobility, dignity, and sustained grandeur of the poem as a whole; it is not at all unlikely that Morris cancelled the first version and substituted in its place the passage in the printed text for the very purpose of making this scene contribute to the heroic tone he was trying to impart to his whole tale.

Less interesting but demanding a few words of comment is the last revision, which comes at the very close of the whole poem. The original conclusion, found in manuscript Add 37497, is somewhat longer, more diffuse in its effect, and considerably weaker than the ending given in the printed text;1 in this first account, after Gudrun has thrust a sword into Atli and fled, the poem runs on for forty-nine lines, but in the revised version there are only twenty-six lines from that point to the end. The additional material in the earlier description consists mainly of an account of the glorious time that is to come when Balder returns to the earth; then it will be known, says the poet, what happened after Gudrun leaped into the waves, and then men will tenderly recall the whole tragic story of the Volsungs and Niblungs as well as the tragedy of other men who fought nobly and bravely though doomed to defeat. The whole passage seems particularly lacking inspiration; it was apparently composed very hurriedly, for some of the lines are metrically faulty, and


 1.     The rejected passage is given in Manuscript Add 37497, pages 43 (last 2 lines), 43b, 44, 45, 46, and 47, 11.1-4; the corresponding passage in the printed text is found in Collected Works, XII, 306, 11.5-35.


others, because of omissions and other mistakes Morris made in writing out his thoughts, are unintelligible as they stand. Much more effective is the terse account given in the revised version: here the poet merely states that Gudrun leaped into the sea, and he professes ignorance of what happened thereafter; he concludes the whole work with a brief summary, in eight lines, of the theme of his tale, emphasizing the divine origin of his hero, Sigurd the Volsung.

An examination of the major revisions that Morris made in writing out Sigurd the Volsung throws much light then, as I have indicated in the foregoing discussion, on the principles that he had in mind in composing the poem. In the first place, his alterations make it clear that he was very eager to impart to the tale, as far as possible, a tone of dignity, grandeur, and majesty, - in short, to give it true epic proportions. Sometimes, in the course of writing out the story, he was so deeply moved by the suffering and tragic fate of his characters that he momentarily forgot the heroic atmosphere for which he was seeking, and introduced into the poem a sympathetic and tender portrayal of their sorrow; two of the major revisions which I have discussed, one treating the final meeting of Brynhild and Sigurd and the other dealing with the death of Gunnar in King Atli’s snake-pit, are devoted to the cancellation of such infusions of sentiment and to the substitution, in their place of more objective treatments. In the case of the first of these two revisions, we find that Morris was willing to sacrifice a passage of infinite tenderness and beauty for the sake of preserving the heroic tone of [259] the whole. Moreover, it was evidently for the same reason that he rejected the original ending of the whole poem. In the first draft, as I have already pointed out, the conclusion is rather weak because it is unduly lengthy and lacks unity of effect; furthermore, in that version Morris introduces a personal note, for he dwells on the happy time to come, when a new world will be created and Balder will return to life, and says that then it will be pleasant to recall this and other tales of tragedy and woe. In the revised form of the poem he has completely cancelled this original ending, and has inserted in its place a passage which is characterized by terseness and conciseness and which is entirely objective in point of view.

Furthermore, the revisions Morris made indicate that he realized that the Old Norse story he was retelling had a rather complicated and involved plot, which his modern English readers would perhaps find hard to follow, for in several of the revisions which he made in the original draft of the poem he seems to striving to render the story more readily intelligible by bringing into clear relief the main incidents in the tale and by emphasizing the unity of the whole. Thus, in the first version of Sigurd’s fight with Fafnir, Morris for some unaccountable reason neglected to mention Sigurd’s conversation with the dying Fafnir, but in the rewritten form he presents a full account of this dialogue; the inclusion of this part of the scene is very important if we are to understand the later development of the story, for in this passage we are told of the curse resting on Fafnir’s gold and this curse, with its effect on all possessors of the gold, is the central theme of the whole story. Similarly, as I have already [260] pointed out, the account of Sigurd’s drinking of Grimhild’s cup of forgetfulness was originally much shorter than it is in the printed text; probably Morris developed this scene more fully in the rewritten version so that his readers would not overlook the importance of this episode.

It is also possible that in the scene describing the birth of Sigurd, Morris omitted in the final draft the original speech of King Elf, in which he summarized the early history of the Volsungs, for the reason that he was afraid that these brief and indirect references to events in the lives of Sigurd’s ancestors, all of whom are of distinctly minor importance for the story as a whole, would be confusing to his readers. Finally, several of the revisions show that Morris was endeavoring to add spontaneity and vigor to his account in order to prevent the dignified and exalted style of the poem from becoming dull; two of the most effective passages in the whole poem, one containing the dialogue between King Elf and the nurses of the baby Sigurd and the other presenting the conversation between Sigurd and Fafnir, were added by Morris in revising the first draft, as I have already indicated.

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