Courtesy of Others ~
Sigrun and Helgi
Poetic form: Fornyršislag (Old Meter)
Helgi was the son of Sigmund, and a
great warrior. To win Sigrun he defeated in battle and killed her father,
King Hunding and eight of his sons, sparing only Dęg for his sister's sake.
Later Dęg killed Helgi,
and was cursed by Sigrun, who wept continuously over the death of her husband.
Sigrun's maid was passing Helgi's burial mound and saw Helgi, with a large
following, ride into it.
The maid said:
What sight is this
that seems a dream,
Dead men riding, or Ragnarok?
Spurring your horses, hastening by,
Or to their hearths do heroes return?
No dream to make you doubt your eyes,
Nor world's end, though us you see,
Spurring our horses, hastening by.
Nor to their hearths may heroes return.
The maiden returned home and told
Come out, Sigrun of Sevafioll
If you'd meet
the master of folk;
The hill is open; Helgi has come,
With weeping wounds waits you there
That you may staunch the streaming blood.
Sigrun entered the mound and said to
As glad I am
to greet you here
As Odin's hawks, by hunger stirred
At slaughter's stench, and still-warm flesh,
Or when, dew-drenched, the dawn they see.
Let me kiss
the dead king first
Ere bloodly mail-coat you cast aside.
Helgi, your hair is heavy with
With dew of the slain, soaked you are,
Cold are the hands of Hogni's son;
How is there, lord, healing for that?
By you, Sigrun of Sevafioll
Is Helgi soaked in sorrow-dew.
Gold-wearer, your weeping is cruel;
Before you sleep, bright southern maid,
Blood-tears wet the breast of your lord
With ice and fire, a festering grief.
Of this rare drink a draught we'll share.
Though life and land are lost to me,
Let no man sing sad songs
Though on my breast are bleeding wounds,
For now our brides to the barrow come,
Women admired with we, the dead.
Sigrun prepared a bed in the mound:
Here I've made you, Helgi, a bed,
Free from care, kin of
There sleeping to lie, lord, in your arms,
As once I lay
with the living king.
Nothing, I say,
will now seem strange
Soon or late
When you are clasped in corpse's arms,
So white, in the howe, Hogni's child,
The quick with the dead, daughter of kings.
Now I must ride
the reddening way
On a pale horse through paths of sky,
Westward bound to Windhelm bridge
Ere Salgofnir wakes the warrior band.
Then Helgi and his men rode away, and
the women returned home. The next evening
Sigrun had the maid keep watch at the mound. When Sigrun came at sunset she
Were he coming,
he would by now,
Sigmund's heir, from Odin's hall.
Small hope remains that he will come,
Now eagles roost on ash's limbs,
And all are gone to the gathering of dreams.
Mad you'd be
to make your way
King's daughter, to a corpse's house.
The dead become more dangerous far
When darkness falls than in full day.
Sigrun died soon after of sorrow and
grief. It was thought in olden times that people were reborn,
but now we consider it "an old wive's tale" that people are born
again. It is said that Helgi and Sigrun
were born again, he as Helgi Haddingjaskati, and she as Kara, daughter of
as it is told in "The Lay of Kara," and she was a Valkyrie.
Jack“s translation from Helgakviša Hundingsbana II (The Second Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer),
from the Poetic Edda.
site, including the
medieval rune poems and modern rune poems by various authors.
of Fools - Jack Hart“s Poetry Magazine. Submissions
Image: "Hundingbane“s Return
to Valhal", Ernest Wallcousins (1883-1976), painter and illustrator.
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