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The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs

The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs
Category: Völsunga saga
Title: The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs
Release Date: 2006-05-06
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
Count views: 22
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THE STORY OF SIGURDTHE VOLSUNG AND THEFALL OF THE NIBLUNGS

BY WILLIAM MORRIS

EIGHTH IMPRESSION

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK AND BOMBAY
1904

All rights reserved


[Pg v]

CONTENTS.

Book I.

SIGMUND.

  • PAGE
  • Of the dwelling of King Volsung, and the wedding of Signy hisdaughter1
  • How the Volsungs fared to the Land of the Goths, and of the fall ofKing Volsung12
  • Of the ending of all Volsung's Sons save Sigmund only and of how heabideth in the wild wood19
  • Of the birth and fostering of Sinfiotli, Signy's Son26
  • Of the slaying of Siggeir the Goth-king39
  • How Sigmund cometh to the Land of the Volsungs again, and of thedeath of Sinfiotli his Son47
  • Of the last battle of King Sigmund, and the death of him55
  • How King Sigmund the Volsung was laid in mound on the sea-side ofthe Isle-realm63
  • How Queen Hiordis is known; and how she abideth in the house ofElf the Son of the Helper66

Book II.

[Pg vi]

REGIN.

  • Of the birth of Sigurd the Son of Sigmund69
  • Sigurd getteth to him the horse that is called Greyfell75
  • Regin telleth Sigurd of his kindred, and of the Gold that was accursedfrom ancient days81
  • Of the forging of the Sword that is called The Wrath of Sigurd101
  • Of Gripir's Foretelling108
  • Sigurd rideth to the Glittering Heath115
  • Sigurd slayeth Fafnir the Serpent121
  • Sigurd slayeth Regin the Master of Masters on the Glittering Heath127
  • How Sigurd took to him the Treasure of the Elf Andvari132
  • How Sigurd awoke Brynhild upon Hindfell134

Book III.

BRYNHILD.

  • Of the Dream of Gudrun the Daughter of Giuki148
  • How the folk of Lymdale met Sigurd the Volsung in the woodland158
  • How Sigurd met Brynhild in Lymdale162
  • Of Sigurd's riding to the Niblungs168
  • Of Sigurd's warfaring in the company of the Niblungs, and of hisgreat fame and glory177[Pg vii]
  • Of the Cup of evil drink that Grimhild the Wise-wife gave to Sigurd184
  • Of the Wedding of Sigurd the Volsung195
  • Sigurd rideth with the Niblungs, and wooeth Brynhild for KingGunnar204
  • How Brynhild was wedded to Gunnar the Niblung221
  • Of the Contention betwixt the Queens228
  • Gunnar talketh with Brynhild240
  • Of the exceeding great grief and mourning of Brynhild245
  • Of the slaying of Sigurd the Volsung252
  • Of the mighty Grief of Gudrun over Sigurd dead262
  • Of the passing away of Brynhild268

Book IV.

GUDRUN.

  • King Atli wooeth and weddeth Gudrun276
  • Atli biddeth the Niblungs to him287
  • How the Niblungs fare to the Land of King Atli297
  • Atli speaketh with the Niblungs309
  • Of the Battle in Atli's Hall316
  • Of the Slaying of the Niblung Kings323
  • The Ending of Gudrun338

[Pg 1]

THE STORYOFSIGURD THE VOLSUNGAND THEFALL OF THE NIBLUNGS.

BOOK I.

SIGMUND.

in this book is told of the earlier days of the volsungs, and ofsigmund the father of sigurd, and of his deeds, and of howhe died while sigurd was yet unborn in his mother's womb.

Of the dwelling of King Volsung, and the wedding of Signy his daughter.

There was a dwelling of Kings ere the world was waxen old;
Dukes were the door-wards there, and the roofs were thatched with gold;
Earls were the wrights that wrought it, and silver nailed its doors;
Earls' wives were the weaving-women, queens' daughters strewed its floors,
And the masters of its song-craft were the mightiest men that cast
The sails of the storm of battle adown the bickering blast.
There dwelt men merry-hearted, and in hope exceeding great
Met the good days and the evil as they went the way of fate:
There the Gods were unforgotten, yea whiles they walked with men.
Though e'en in that world's beginning rose a murmur now and again
Of the midward time and the fading and the last of the latter days,
[Pg 2]And the entering in of the terror, and the death of the People's Praise.
Thus was the dwelling of Volsung, the King of the Midworld's Mark,
As a rose in the winter season, a candle in the dark;
And as in all other matters 'twas all earthly houses' crown,
And the least of its wall-hung shields was a battle-world's renown,
So therein withal was a marvel and a glorious thing to see,
For amidst of its midmost hall-floor sprang up a mighty tree,
That reared its blessings roofward, and wreathed the roof-tree dear
With the glory of the summer and the garland of the year.
I know not how they called it ere Volsung changed his life,
But his dawning of fair promise, and his noontide of the strife,
His eve of the battle-reaping and the garnering of his fame,
Have bred us many a story and named us many a name;
And when men tell of Volsung, they call that war-duke's tree,
That crownèd stem, the Branstock; and so was it told unto me.
So there was the throne of Volsung beneath its blossoming bower.
But high o'er the roof-crest red it rose 'twixt tower and tower,
And therein were the wild hawks dwelling, abiding the dole of their lord;
And they wailed high over the wine, and laughed to the waking sword.
Still were its boughs but for them, when lo on an even of May
Comes a man from Siggeir the King with a word for his mouth to say:
"All hail to thee King Volsung, from the King of the Goths I come:
He hath heard of thy sword victorious and thine abundant home;
He hath heard of thy sons in the battle, the fillers of Odin's Hall;
And a word hath the west-wind blown him, (full fruitful be its fall!)
A word of thy daughter Signy the crown of womanhood:
Now he deems thy friendship goodly, and thine help in the battle good,
And for these will he give his friendship and his battle-aid again:
But if thou wouldst grant his asking, and make his heart full fain,
Then shalt thou give him a matter, saith he, without a price,
[Pg 3]—Signy the fairer than fair, Signy the wiser than wise."
Such words in the hall of the Volsungs spake the Earl of Siggeir the Goth,
Bearing the gifts and the gold, the ring, and the tokens of troth.
But the King's heart laughed within him and the King's sons deemed it good;
For they dreamed how they fared with the Goths o'er ocean and acre and wood,
Till all the north was theirs, and the utmost southern lands.
But nought said the snow-white Signy as she sat with folded hands
And gazed at the Goth-king's Earl till his heart grew heavy and cold,
As one that half remembers a tale that the elders have told,
A story of weird and of woe: then spake King Volsung and said:
"A great king woos thee, daughter; wilt thou lie in a great king's bed,
And bear earth's kings on thy bosom, that our name may never die?"
A fire lit up her face, and her voice was e'en as a cry:
"I will sleep in a great king's bed, I will bear the lords of the earth,
And the wrack and the grief of my youth-days shall be held for nothing worth."
Then would he question her kindly, as one who loved her sore,
But she put forth her hand and smiled, and her face was flushed no more
"Would God it might otherwise be! but wert thou to will it not,
Yet should I will it and wed him, and rue my life and my lot."
Lowly and soft she said it; but spake out louder now:
"Be of good cheer, King Volsung! for such a man art thou,
That what thou dost well-counselled, goodly and fair it is,
And what thou dost unwitting, the Gods have bidden thee this:
So work all things together for the fame of thee and thine.
And now meseems at my wedding shall be a hallowed sign,
That shall give thine heart a joyance, whatever shall follow after."
[Pg 4]She spake, and the feast sped on, and the speech and the song and the laughter
Went over the words of boding as the tide of the norland main
Sweeps over the hidden skerry, the home of the shipman's bane.
So wendeth his way on the morrow that Earl of the Gothland King,
Bearing the gifts and the gold, and King Volsung's tokening,
And a word in his mouth moreover, a word of blessing and hail,
And a bidding to King Siggeir to come ere the June-tide fail
And wed him to white-hand Signy and bear away his bride,
While sleepeth the field of the fishes amidst the summer-tide.
So on Mid-Summer Even ere the undark night began
Siggeir the King of the Goth-folk went up from the bath of the swan
Unto the Volsung dwelling with many an Earl about;
There through the glimmering thicket the linkèd mail rang out,
And sang as mid the woodways sings the summer-hidden ford:
There were gold-rings God-fashioned, and many a Dwarf-wrought sword,
And many a Queen-wrought kirtle and many a written spear;
So came they to the acres, and drew the threshold near,
And amidst of the garden blossoms, on the grassy, fruit-grown land,
Was Volsung the King of the Wood-world with his sons on either hand;
Therewith down lighted Siggeir the lord of a mighty folk,
Yet showed he by King Volsung as the bramble by the oak,
Nor reached his helm to the shoulder of the least of Volsung's sons.
And so into the hall they wended, the Kings and their mighty ones;
And they dight the feast full glorious, and drank through the death of the day,
Till the shadowless moon rose upward, till it wended white away;
Then they went to the gold-hung beds, and at last for an hour or twain
Were all things still and silent, save a flaw of the summer rain.
But on the morrow noontide when the sun was high and bare,
More glorious was the banquet, and now was Signy there,
And she sat beside King Siggeir, a glorious bride forsooth;
[Pg 5]Ruddy and white was she wrought as the fair-stained sea-beast's tooth,
But she neither laughed nor spake, and her eyes were hard and cold,
And with wandering side-long looks her lord would she behold.
That saw Sigmund her brother, the eldest Volsung son,
And oft he looked upon her, and their eyes met now and anon,
And ruth arose in his heart, and hate of Siggeir the Goth,
And there had he broken the wedding, but for plighted promise and troth.
But those twain were beheld of Siggeir, and he deemed of the Volsung kin,
That amid their might and their malice small honour should he win;
Yet thereof made he no semblance, but abided times to be
And laughed out with the loudest, amid the hope and the glee.
And nought of all saw Volsung, as he dreamed of the coming glory,
And how the Kings of his
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