"And were there yet none other / than Hagen, warrior-knight, He with such haughty bearing / is wont to show his might, That I do fear right sorely / that sad our end may be, If we set out with purpose / to win the stately maid for thee."
"Shall we by that be hindered?" / outspake Siegfried then; "Whate'er in friendly fashion / I cannot obtain I'll yet in other manner / take that, with sword in hand. I trow from them I'll further / wrest both their vassals and their land."
"I grieve to hear thy purpose," / said Siegmund the king; "If any one this story / unto the Rhine should bring, Then durst thou never after / within that land be seen. Gunther and Gernot, / —well known to me they long have been.
"By force, however mighty, / no man can win the maid," Spake King Siegmund further, / "to me hath oft been said. But if with knightly escort / thither thou wilt ride, Good friends—an have we any— / shall soon be summoned to thy side."
"No wish," then answered Siegfried, / "it ever was of mine, That warrior knights should follow / with me unto the Rhine As if arrayed for battle: / 'twould make my heart full sad, To force in hostile manner / to yield to me the stately maid.
"By my own hand—thus only— / trust I to win my bride; With none but twelve in company / to Gunther's land I'll ride. In this, O royal father, / thy present help I pray." Gray and white fur raiment / had his companions for the way.
Siegelind his mother / then heard the story too, And grieved she was on hearing / what her dear son would do, For she did fear to lose him / at hands of Gunther's men. Thereat with heart full heavy / began to weep the noble queen.
Then came forth Sir Siegfried / where the queen he sought, And to his weeping mother / thus gently spake his thought: "No tear of grief thou shouldest / ever shed for me, For I care not a tittle / for all the warriors that be.
"So help me on my journey / to the land of Burgundy, And furnish such apparel / for all my knights and me, As warriors of our station / might well with honor wear. Then I in turn right truly / to thee my gratitude will swear."
"Since thou wilt not give over," / Siegelind then replied, "My only son, I'll help thee / as fits thee forth to ride, With the best apparel / that riders ever wore, Thee and thy companions: / ye shall of all have goodly store."
Then bowed the youthful Siegfried / the royal dame before, And said: "Upon the journey / will I take no more, But twelve good knights only: / for these rich dress provide, For I would know full gladly / how 't doth with Kriemhild betide."
Then sat at work fair women / by night and eke by day, And rest indeed but little / from busy toil had they, Until they had made ready / the dress Siegfried should wear. Firm bent upon the journey, / no other counsel would he hear.
His father bade a costly / garb for him prepare, That leaving Siegmund's country / he the same might wear. For all their glittering breastplates / were soon prepared beside, And helmets firmly welded, / and shining shields long and wide.
Then fast the day grew nearer / when they should thence depart. Men and likewise women / went sorrowing in heart, If that they should ever / see more their native land. With full equipment laden / the sumpter horses there did stand.
Their steeds were stately, furnished / with trappings rich with gold; It were a task all bootless / to seek for knights more bold Than were the gallant Siegfried / and his chosen band. He longed to take departure / straightway for Burgundian land.
Leave granted they with sadness, / both the king and queen, The which to turn to gladness / sought the warrior keen, And spake then: "Weep ye shall not / at all for sake of me, Forever free from doubtings / about my safety may ye be."
Stern warriors stood there sorrowing, / —in tears was many a maid. I ween their hearts erred nothing, / as sad forebodings said That 'mongst their friends so many / thereby were doomed to die. Good cause had they to sorrow / at last o'er all their misery.
Upon the seventh morning / to Worms upon the strand Did come the keen knights riding. / Bright shone many a band Of gold from their apparel / and rich equipment then; And gently went their chargers / with Siegfried and his chosen men.
New-made shields they carried / that were both strong and wide And brightly shone their helmets / as thus to court did ride Siegfried the keen warrior / into King Gunther's land. Of knights before was never / beheld so richly clad a band.
The points of their long scabbards / reached down unto the spur, And spear full sharply pointed / bore each chosen warrior. The one that Siegfried carried / in breadth was two good span, And grimly cut its edges / when driven by the fearless man.
Reins with gold all gleaming / held they in the hand, The saddle-bands were silken. / So came they to the land. On every side the people / to gape at them began, And also out to meet them / the men that served King Gunther ran.
Gallant men high-hearted, / knight and squire too, Hastened to receive them, / for such respect was due, And bade the guests be welcome / unto their master's land. They took from them their chargers, / and shields as well from out the hand.
Then would they eke the chargers / lead forth unto their rest; But straight the doughty Siegfried / to them these words addressed: "Yet shall ye let our chargers / stand the while near by; Soon take we hence our journey; / thereon resolved full well am I.
"If that be known to any, / let him not delay, Where I your royal master / now shall find, to say,— Gunther, king so mighty / o'er the land of Burgundy." Then told him one amongst them / to whom was known where that might be:
"If that the king thou seekest, / right soon may he be found. Within that wide hall yonder / with his good knights around But now I saw him sitting. / Thither do thou repair, And thou may'st find around him / many a stately warrior there."
Now also to the monarch / were the tidings told, That within his castle / were knights arrived full bold, All clad in shining armor / and apparelled gorgeously; But not a man did know them / within the land of Burgundy.
Thereat the king did wonder / whence were come to him These knights adventure seeking / in dress so bright and trim, And shields adorned so richly / that new and mighty were. That none the thing could tell him / did grieve him sorely to hear.
Outspake a knight then straightway, / Ortwein by name was he, Strong and keen as any / well was he known to be: "Since we of them know nothing, / bid some one quickly go And fetch my uncle Hagen: / to him thou shalt the strangers show.
"To him are known far kingdoms / and every foreign land, And if he know these strangers / we soon shall understand." The king then sent to fetch him: / with his train of men Unto the king's high presence / in stately gear went he then.
What were the king's good pleasure, / asked Hagen grim in war. "In the court within my castle / are warriors from afar, And no one here doth know them: / if them thou e'er didst see In any land far distant, / now shalt thou, Hagen, tell to me."
"That will I do, 'tis certain."— / To a window then he went, And on the unknown strangers / his keen eye he bent. Well pleased him their equipment / and the rich dress they wore, Yet ne'er had he beheld them / in land of Burgundy before.
He said that whencesoever / these knights come to the Rhine, They bear a royal message, / or are of princely line. "Their steeds are so bedizened, / and their apparel rare: No matter whence they journey, / high-hearted men in truth they are."
Further then spake Hagen: / "As far as goes my ken, Though I the noble Siegfried / yet have never seen, Yet will I say meseemeth, / howe'er the thing may be, This knight who seeks adventure, / and yonder stands so proud, is he.
"'Tis some new thing he bringeth / hither to our land. The valiant Nibelungen / fell by the hero's hand, Schilbung and Nibelung, / from royal sire sprung; Deeds he wrought most wondrous / anon when his strong arm he swung.
"As once alone the hero / rode without company, Found he before a mountain / —as hath been told to me— With the hoard of Nibelung / full many stalwart men; To him had they been strangers / until he chanced to find them then.
"The hoard of King Nibelung / entire did they bear Forth from a mountain hollow. / And now the wonder hear, How that they would share it, / these two Nibelung men. This saw the fearless Siegfried, / and filled he was with wonder then.
"He came so near unto them / that he the knights espied, And they in turn him also. / One amongst them said: 'Here comes the doughty Siegfried, / hero of Netherland.' Since 'mongst the Nibelungen / strange wonders wrought his mighty hand.
"Right well did they receive him, / Schilbung and Nibelung, And straight they both together, / these noble princes young, Bade him mete out the treasure, / the full valorous man, And so long time besought him / that he at last the task began.
"As we have heard in story, / he saw of gems such store That they might not be laden / on wagons full five score; More still of gold all shining / from Nibelungenland. 'Twas all to be divided / between them by keen Siegfried's hand.
"Then gave they him for hire / King Nibelung's sword. And sooth to say, that service / brought them but small reward, That for them there performed / Siegfried of dauntless mood. His task he could not finish; / thereat they raged as were they wood.
"They had there of their followers / twelve warriors keen, And strong they were as giants: / what booted giants e'en? Them slew straightway in anger / Siegfried's mighty hand, And warriors seven hundred / he felled in Nibelungenland
"With the sword full trusty, / Balmung that hight. Full many a youthful warrior / from terror at the sight Of that deadly weapon / swung by his mighty hand Did render up his castle / and pledge him fealty in the land.
"Thereto the kings so mighty, / them slew he both as well. But into gravest danger / through Alberich he fell, Who thought for his slain masters / vengeance to wreak straightway, Until the mighty Siegfried / his wrath with strong arm did stay.
"Nor could prevail against him / the Dwarf, howe'er he tried. E'en as two wild lions / they coursed the mountainside, Where he the sightless mantle / from Alberich soon won. Then Siegfried, knight undaunted, / held the treasure for his own.
 This is the tarnkappe, a cloak that made the wearer invisible, and also gave him the strength of twelve men.
"Who then dared join the struggle, / all slain around they lay. Then he bade the treasure / to draw and bear away Thither whence 'twas taken / by the Nibelungen men. Alberich for his valor / was then appointed Chamberlain.
"An oath he had to swear him, / he'd serve him as his slave; To do all kinds of service / his willing pledge he gave"— Thus spake of Tronje Hagen— / "That has the hero done; Might as great before him / was never in a warrior known.
"Still know I more about him, / that has to me been told. A dragon, wormlike monster, / slew once the hero bold. Then in its blood he bathed him, / since when his skin hath been So horn-hard, ne'er a weapon / can pierce it, as hath oft been seen.
"Let us the brave knight-errant / receive so courteously That we in nought shall merit / his hate, for strong is he. He is so keen of spirit / he must be treated fair: He has by his own valor / done many a deed of prowess rare."
The monarch spake in wonder: / "In sooth thou tellest right. Now see how proudly yonder / he stands prepared for fight, He and his thanes together, / the hero wondrous keen! To greet him we'll go thither, / and let our fair intent be seen."
"That canst thou," out spake Hagen, / "well in honor do. He is of noble kindred, / a high king's son thereto. 'Tis seen in all his bearing; / meseems in truth, God wot, The tale is worth the hearing / that this bold knight has hither brought."
Then spake the mighty monarch: / "Be he right welcome here. Keen is he and noble, / of fame known far and near. So shall he be fair treated / in the land of Burgundy." Down then went King Gunther, / and Siegfried with his men found he.
The king and his knights with him / received so well the guest, That the hearty greeting / did their good will attest. Thereat in turn the stranger / in reverence bowed low, That in their welcome to him / they did such courtesy bestow.
"To me it is a wonder," / straightway spake the host, "From whence, O noble Siegfried, / come to our land thou dost, Or what here thou seekest / at Worms upon the Rhine." Him the stranger answered: / "Put thou away all doubts of thine.
"I oft have heard the tiding / within my sire's domain, How at thy court resided / —and know this would I fain— Knights, of all the keenest, / —'tis often told me so— That e'er a monarch boasted: / now come I hither this to know.
"Thyself have I heard also / high praised for knightly worth; 'Tis said a nobler monarch / ne'er lived in all the earth. Thus speak of thee the people / in all the lands around. Nor will I e'er give over / until in this the truth I've found.
"I too am warrior noble / and born to wear a crown; So would I right gladly / that thou of me shouldst own That I of right am master / o'er people and o'er land. Of this shall now my honor / and eke my head as pledges stand.
"And art thou then so valiant / as hath to me been told, I reck not, will he nill he / thy best warrior bold, I'll wrest from thee in combat / whatever thou may'st have; Thy lands and all thy castles / shall naught from change of masters save."
The king was seized with wonder / and all his men beside, To see the manner haughty / in which the knight replied That he was fully minded / to take from him his land. It chafed his thanes to hear it, / who soon in raging mood did stand.
"How could it be my fortune," / Gunther the king outspoke, "What my sire long ruled over / in honor for his folk, Now to lose so basely / through any vaunter's might? In sooth 'twere nobly showing / that we too merit name of knight!"
"Nowise will I give over," / was the keen reply. "If peace through thine own valor / thy land cannot enjoy, To me shall all be subject: / if heritage of mine Through thy arm's might thou winnest, / of right shall all hence-forth be thine.
"Thy land and all that mine is, / at stake shall equal lie. Whiche'er of us be victor / when now our strength we try, To him shall all be subject, / the folk and eke the land." But Hagen spake against it, / and Gernot too was quick at hand.
"Such purpose have we never," / Gernot then said, "For lands to combat ever, / that any warrior dead Should lie in bloody battle. / We've mighty lands and strong; Of right they call us master, / and better they to none belong."
There stood full grim and moody / Gernot's friends around, And there as well amongst them / was Ortwein to be found. He spake: "This mild peace-making / doth grieve me sore at heart, For by the doughty Siegfried / attacked all undeserved thou art.
"If thou and thy two brothers / yourselves to help had naught, And if a mighty army / he too had hither brought, I trow I'd soon be able / to make this man so keen His manner now so haughty / of need replace by meeker mien."
Thereat did rage full sorely / the hero of Netherland: "Never shall be measured / 'gainst me in fight thy hand. I am a mighty monarch, / thou a king's serving-knight; Of such as thou a dozen / dare not withstand me in the fight."
For swords then called in anger / of Metz Sir Ortwein: Son of Hagen's sister / he was, of Tronje's line. That Hagen so long was silent / did grieve the king to see. Gernot made peace between them: / a gallant knight and keen was he.
Spake he thus to Ortwein: / "Curb now thy wrathful tongue, For here the noble Siegfried / hath done us no such wrong; We yet can end the quarrel / in peace,—such is my rede— And live with him in friendship; / that were for us a worthier deed."
Then spake the mighty Hagen: / "Sad things do I forebode For all thy train of warriors, / that this knight ever rode Unto the Rhine thus armed. / 'Twere best he stayed at home; For from my masters never / to him such wrong as this had come."
But outspake Siegfried proudly, / whose heart was ne'er dismayed: "An't please thee not, Sir Hagen, / what I now have said, This arm shall give example / whereby thou plain shall see How stern anon its power / here in Burgundy will be."
"Yet that myself will hinder," / said then Gernot. All his men forbade he / henceforth to say aught With such unbridled spirit / to stir the stranger's ire. Then Siegfried eke was mindful / of one most stately maid and fair.
"Such strife would ill befit us," / Gernot spake again; "For though should die in battle / a host of valiant men 'Twould bring us little honor / and ye could profit none." Thereto gave Siegfried answer, / good King Siegmund's noble son:
"Wherefore bides thus grim Hagen, / and Ortwein tardy is To begin the combat / with all those friends of his, Of whom he hath so many / here in Burgundy?" Answer him they durst not, / for such was Gernot's stern decree.
"Thou shalt to us be welcome," / outspake young Giselher, "And all thy brave companions / that hither with thee fare. Full gladly we'll attend thee, / I and all friends of mine." For the guests then bade they / pour out in store of Gunther's wine.
Then spake the stately monarch: / "But ask thou courteously, And all that we call ours / stands at thy service free; So with thee our fortune / we'll share in ill and good." Thereat the noble Siegfried / a little milder was of mood.
Then carefully was tended / all their knightly gear, And housed in goodly manner / in sooth the strangers were, All that followed Siegfried; / they found a welcome rest. In Burgundy full gladly / anon was seen the noble guest.
They showed him mickle honor / thereafter many a day, And more by times a thousand / than I to you could say. His might respect did merit, / ye may full well know that. Scarce a man e'er saw him / who bore him longer any hate.
And when they held their pastime, / the kings with many a man, Then was he ever foremost; / whatever they began, None there that was his equal, / —so mickle was his might— If they the stone were putting, / or hurling shaft with rival knight.
As is the knightly custom, / before the ladies fair To games they turned for pastime, / these knights of mettle rare; Then ever saw they gladly / the hero of Netherland. But he had fixed his fancy / to win one fairest maiden's hand.
In all that they were doing / he'd take a ready part. A winsome loving maiden / he bore within his heart; Him only loved that lady, / whose face he ne'er had seen, But she full oft in secret / of him spake fairest words, I ween.
And when before the castle / they sped in tournament, The good knights and squires, / oft-times the maiden went And gazed adown from casement, / Kriemhild the princess rare. Pastime there was none other / for her that could with this compare.
And knew he she was gazing / whom in his heart he bore, He joy enough had found him / in jousting evermore. And might he only see her, / —that can I well believe— On earth through sight none other / his eyes could such delight receive.
Whene'er with his companions / to castle court he went, E'en as do now the people / whene'er on pleasure bent, There stood 'fore all so graceful / Siegelind's noble son, For whom in love did languish / the hearts of ladies many a one.
Eke thought he full often: / "How shall it ever be, That I the noble maiden / with my own eyes may see, Whom I do love so dearly / and have for many a day? To me is she a stranger, / which sorely grieves my heart to say."
Whene'er the kings so mighty / rode o'er their broad domain, Then of valiant warriors / they took a stately train. With them abroad rode Siegfried, / which grieved those ladies sore: —He too for one fair maiden / at heart a mickle burden bore.
Thus with his hosts he lingered / —'tis every tittle true— In King Gunther's country / a year completely through, And never once the meanwhile / the lovely maid did see, Through whom such joy thereafter / for him, and eke such grief should be.
How Siegfried fought with the Saxons
Now come wondrous tidings / to King Gunther's land, By messengers brought hither / from far upon command Of knights unknown who harbored / against him secret hate. When there was heard the story, / at heart in sooth the grief was great.
Of these I now will tell you: / There was King Luedeger From out the land of Saxons, / a mighty warrior, And eke from land of Denmark / Luedegast the king: Whene'er they rode to battle / went they with mighty following.
Come were now their messengers / to the land of Burgundy, Sent forth by these foemen / in proud hostility. Then asked they of the strangers / what tidings they did bring: And when they heard it, straightway / led them to court before the king.
Then spake to them King Gunther: / "A welcome, on my word. Who 'tis that send you hither, / that have I not yet heard: Now shall ye let me know it," / spake the monarch keen. Then dreaded they full sorely / to see King Gunther's angry mien.
"Wilt them, O king, permit us / the tidings straight to tell That we now have brought thee, / no whit will we conceal, But name thee both our masters / who us have hither sent: Luedegast and Luedeger, / —to waste thy land is their intent.
"Their hate hast thou incurred, / and thou shalt know in sooth That high enraged against thee / are the monarchs both. Their hosts they will lead hither / to Worms upon the Rhine; They're helped by thanes full many— / of this put off all doubts of thine.
"Within weeks a dozen / their march will they begin; And if thy friends be valiant, / let that full quick be seen, To help thee keep in safety / thy castles and thy land: Full many a shield and helmet / shall here be cleft by warrior's hand.
"Or wilt thou with them parley, / so let it quick be known, Before their hosts so mighty / of warlike men come down To Worms upon Rhine river / sad havoc here to make, Whereby must death most certain / many a gallant knight o'ertake."
"Bide ye now the meanwhile," / the king did answer kind, "Till I take better counsel; / then shall ye know my mind. Have I yet warriors faithful, / from these I'll naught conceal, But to my friends I'll straightway / these warlike tidings strange reveal."
The lordly Gunther wondered / thereat and troubled sore, As he the message pondered / in heart and brooded o'er. He sent to fetch grim Hagen / and others of his men, And bade likewise in hurry / to court bring hither Gernot then.
Thus at his word his trusted / advisers straight attend. He spake: "Our land to harry / foes all unknown will send Of men a mighty army; / a grievous wrong is this. Small cause have we e'er given / that they should wish us aught amiss."
"Our swords ward such things from us," / Gernot then said; "Since but the fated dieth, / so let all such lie dead. Wherefore I'll e'er remember / what honor asks of me: Whoe'er hath hate against us / shall ever here right welcome be."
Then spake the doughty Hagen: / "Methinks 'twould scarce be good; Luedegast and Luedeger / are men of wrathful mood. Help can we never summon, / the days are now so few." So spake the keen old warrior, / "'Twere well Siegfried the tidings knew."
The messengers in the borough / were harbored well the while, And though their sight was hateful, / in hospitable style As his own guests to tend them / King Gunther gave command, Till 'mongst his friends he learned / who by him in his need would stand.
The king was filled with sorrow / and his heart was sad. Then saw his mournful visage / a knight to help full glad, Who could not well imagine / what 'twas that grieved him so. Then begged he of King Gunther / the tale of this his grief to know.
"To me it is great wonder," / said Siegfried to the king, "How thou of late hast changed / to silent sorrowing The joyous ways that ever / with us thy wont have been." Then unto him gave answer / Gunther the full stately thane:
"'Tis not to every person / I can the burden say That ever now in secret / upon my heart doth weigh: To well-tried friends and steady / are told our inmost woes." —Siegfried at first was pallid, / but soon his blood like fire up-rose.
He spake unto the monarch: / "To thee I've naught denied. All ills that now do threaten / I'll help to turn aside. And if but friends thou seekest, / of them the first I'll be, And trow I well with honor / till death to serve thee faithfully."
"God speed thee well, Sir Siegfried, / for this thy purpose fair: And though such help in earnest / thy arm should render ne'er, Yet do I joy at hearing / thou art so true to me. And live I yet a season, / right heartily repaid 'twill be.
"Know will I also let thee / wherefore I sorrowing stand. Through messengers from my foemen / have tidings reached my land That they with hosts of warriors / will ride my country o'er; Such thing to us did never / thanes of any land before."
"Small cause is that for grieving," / said then Siegfried; "But calm thy troubled spirit / and hearken to my rede: Let me for thee acquire / honor and vantage too, And bid thou now assemble / for service eke thy warriors true.
"And had thy mighty enemies / to help them now at hand Good thanes full thirty thousand, / against them all I'd stand, Had I but one good thousand: / put all thy trust in me." Then answered him King Gunther: / "Thy help shall full requited be."
"Then bid for me to summon / a thousand of thy men, Since I now have with me / of all my knightly train None but twelve knights only; / then will I guard thy land. For thee shall service faithful / be done alway by Siegfried's hand.
"Herein shall help us Hagen / and eke Ortwein, Dankwart and Sindold, / those trusted knights of thine; And with us too shall journey / Volker, the valiant man; The banner he shall carry: / bestow it better ne'er I can.
"Back to their native country / the messengers may go; They'll see us there right quickly, / let them full surely know, So that all our castles / peace undisturbed shall have." Then bade the king to summon / his friends with all their warriors brave.
To court returned the heralds / King Luedeger had sent, And on their journey homeward / full joyfully they went. King Gunther gave them presents / that costly were and good, And granted them safe convoy; / whereat they were of merry mood.
"Tell ye my foes," spake Gunther, / "when to your land ye come, Than making journeys hither / they better were at home; But if they still be eager / to make such visit here, Unless my friends forsake me, / cold in sooth shall be their cheer."
Then for the messengers / rich presents forth they bore, Whereof in sooth to give them / Gunther had goodly store: And they durst not refuse them / whom Luedeger had sent. Leave then they took immediate, / and homeward joyfully they went.
When to their native Denmark / the messengers returned, And the king Luedegast / the answer too had learned, They at the Rhine had sent him, / —when that to him was told, His wrath was all unbounded / to have reply in words so bold.
'Twas said their warriors numbered / many a man full keen: "There likewise among them / with Gunther have we seen Of Netherland a hero, / the same that Siegfried hight." King Luedegast was grieved, / when he their words had heard aright.
When throughout all Denmark / the tidings quick spread o'er, Then in hot haste they summoned / helpers all the more, So that King Luedegast, / 'twixt friends from far and near, Had knights full twenty thousand / all furnished well with shield and spear.
Then too his men did summon / of Saxony Luedeger, Till they good forty thousand, / and more, had gathered there, With whom to make the journey / 'gainst the land of Burgundy. —At home likewise the meanwhile / King Gunther had sent forth decree
Mighty men to summon / of his own and brothers twain, Who against the foemen / would join the armed train. In haste they made them ready, / for right good cause they had. Amongst them must thereafter / full many a noble thane lie dead.
To march they quick made ready. / And when they thence would fare, The banner to the valiant / Volker was given to bear, As they began the journey / from Worms across the Rhine; Strong of arm grim Hagen / was chosen leader of the line.
With them there rode Sindold / and eke the keen Hunold Who oft at hands of Gunther / had won rewards of gold; Dankwart, Hagen's brother, / and Ortwein beside, Who all could well with honor / in train of noble warriors ride.
"King Gunther," spake then Siegfried, / "stay thou here at home; Since now thy knights so gallant / with me will gladly come, Rest thou here with fair ladies, / and be of merry mood: I trow we'll keep in safety / thy land and honor as we should.
"And well will I see to it / that they at home remain, Who fain would ride against thee / to Worms upon the Rhine. Against them straight we'll journey / into their land so far That they'll be meeker minded / who now such haughty vaunters are."
Then from the Rhine through Hesse / the hosts of knights rode on Toward the land of Saxons, / where battle was anon. With fire and sword they harried / and laid the country waste, So that both the monarchs / full well the woes of war did taste.
When came they to the border / the train-men onward pressed. With thought of battle-order / Siegfried the thanes addressed: "Who now shall guard our followers / from danger in the rear?" In sooth like this the Saxons / in battle worsted never were.
Then said they: "On the journey / the men shall guarded be By the valiant Dankwart, / —a warrior swift is he; So shall we lose the fewer / by men of Luedeger. Let him and Ortwein with him / be chosen now to guard the rear."
Spake then the valiant Siegfried: / "Myself will now ride on, And against our enemies / will keep watch in the van, Till I aright discover / where they perchance may be." The son of fair Queen Siegelind / did arm him then immediately.
The folk he left to Hagen / when ready to depart, And as well to Gernot, / a man of dauntless heart. Into the land of Saxons / alone he rode away, And by his hand was severed / many a helmet's band that day.
He found a mighty army / that lay athwart the plain, Small part of which outnumbered / all those in his own train: Full forty thousand were they / or more good men of might. The hero high in spirit / saw right joyfully the sight.
Then had eke a warrior / from out the enemy To guard the van gone forward, / all armed cap-a-pie. Him saw the noble Siegfried, / and he the valiant man; Each one straight the other / to view with angry mien began.
Who he was I'll tell you / that rode his men before, —A shield of gold all shining / upon his arm he bore— In sooth it was King Luedegast / who there the van did guard. Straightway the noble Siegfried / full eagerly against him spurred.
Now singled out for combat / him, too, had Luedegast. Then full upon each other / they spurred their chargers fast, As on their shields they lowered / their lances firm and tight, Whereat the lordly monarch / soon found himself in sorry plight.
After the shock their chargers / bore the knights so fast Onward past each other / as flew they on the blast. Then turned they deftly backward / obedient to the rein, As with their swords contested / the grim and doughty fighters twain.
When Siegfried struck in anger / far off was heard the blow, And flew from off the helmet, / as if 'twere all aglow, The fiery sparks all crackling / beneath his hand around. Each warrior in the other / a foeman worth his mettle found.
Full many a stroke with vigor / dealt eke King Luedegast, And on each other's buckler / the blows fell thick and fast. Then thirty men discovered / their master's sorry plight: But ere they came to help him / had doughty Siegfried won the fight.
With three mighty gashes / which he had dealt the king Through his shining breastplate / made fast with many a ring. The sword with sharpest edges / from wounds brought forth the blood, Whereat King Luedegast / apace fell into gloomy mood.
To spare his life he begged him, / his land he pledged the knight, And told him straight moreover, / that Luedegast he hight. Then came his knights to help him, / they who there had seen How that upon the vanguard / fierce fight betwixt the twain had been.
After duel ended, / did thirty yet withstand Of knights that him attended; / but there the hero's hand Kept safe his noble captive / with blows of wondrous might. And soon wrought greater ruin / Siegfried the full gallant knight.
Beneath his arm of valor / the thirty soon lay dead. But one the knight left living, / who thence full quickly sped To tell abroad the story / how he the others slew; In sooth the blood-red helmet / spake all the hapless tidings true.
Then had the men of Denmark / for all their grief good cause, When it was told them truly / their king a captive was. They told it to King Luedeger, / when he to rage began In anger all unbounded: / for him had grievous harm been done.
The noble King Luedegast / was led a prisoner then By hand of mighty Siegfried / back to King Gunther's men, And placed in hands of Hagen: / and when they did hear That 'twas the king of Denmark / they not a little joyful were.
He bade the men of Burgundy / then bind the banners on. "Now forward!" Siegfried shouted, / "here shall yet more be done, An I but live to see it; / ere this day's sun depart, Shall mourn in land of Saxons / full many a goodly matron's heart.
"Ye warriors from Rhineland, / to follow me take heed, And I unto the army / of Luedeger will lead. Ere we again turn backward / to the land of Burgundy Helms many hewn asunder / by hand of good knights there shall be."
To horse then hastened Gernot / and with him mighty men. Volker keen in battle / took up the banner then; He was a doughty Fiddler / and rode the host before. There, too, every follower / a stately suit of armor wore.
More than a thousand warriors / they there had not a man, Saving twelve knights-errant. / To rise the dust began In clouds along the highway / as they rode across the fields, And gleaming in the sunlight / were seen the brightly shining shields.
Meanwhile eke was nearing / of Saxons a great throng, Each a broadsword bearing / that mickle was and long, With blade that cut full sorely / when swung in strong right hand. 'Gainst strangers were they ready / to guard their castles and their land.
The leaders forth to battle / led the warriors then. Come was also Siegfried / with his twelve chosen men, Whom he with him hither / had brought from Netherland. That day in storm of battle / was blood-bespattered many a hand.
Sindold and Hunold / and Gernot as well, Beneath their hands in battle / full many a hero fell, Ere that their deeds of valor / were known throughout the host. Through them must many a stately / matron weep for warrior lost.
Volker and Hagen / and Ortwein in the fight Lustily extinguished / full many a helmet's light With blood from wounds down flowing,— / keen fighters every one. And there by Dankwart also / was many a mickle wonder done.
The knights of Denmark tested / how they could weapons wield. Clashing there together / heard ye many a shield And 'neath sharp swords resounding, / swung by many an arm. The Saxons keen in combat / wrought 'mid their foes a grievous harm.
When the men of Burgundy / pressed forward to the fight, Gaping wounds full many / hewed they there with might. Then flowing down o'er saddle / in streams was seen the blood, So fought for sake of honor / these valiant riders keen and good.
Loudly were heard ringing, / wielded by hero's hand, The sharply-cutting weapons, / where they of Netherland Their master followed after / into the thickest throng: Wherever Siegfried led them / rode too those valiant knights along.
Of warriors from Rhine river / could follow not a one. There could be seen by any / a stream of blood flow down O'er brightly gleaming helmet / 'neath Siegfried's mighty hand, Until King Luedeger / before him with his men did stand.
Three times hither and thither / had he the host cut through From one end to the other. / Now come was Hagen too Who helped him well in battle / to vent his warlike mood. That day beneath his valor / must die full many a rider good.
When the doughty Luedeger / Siegfried there found, As he swung high in anger / his arm for blows around And with his good sword Balmung / knights so many slew, Thereat was the keen warrior / filled with grief and anger too.
Then mickle was the thronging / and loud the broadswords clashed, As all their valiant followers / 'gainst one another dashed. Then struggled all the fiercer / both sides the fight to win; The hosts joined with each other: / 'twas frightful there to hear the din.
To the monarch of the Saxons / it had been told before, His brother was a captive, / which grieved his heart right sore. He knew not that had done it / fair Siegelind's son, For rumor said 'twas Gernot. / Full well he learned the truth anon.
King Luedeger struck so mighty / when fierce his anger rose, That Siegfried's steed beneath him / staggered from the blows, But forthwith did recover; / then straight his rider keen Let all his furious mettle / in slaughter of his foes be seen.
There helped him well grim Hagen, / and Gernot in the fray, Dankwart and Volker; / dead many a knight there lay. Sindold and Hunold / and Ortwein, doughty thane, By them in that fierce struggle / was many a valiant warrior slain.
Unparted in storm of battle / the gallant leaders were, Around them over helmet / flew there many a spear Through shield all brightly shining, / from hand of mighty thane: And on the glancing armor / was seen full many a blood-red stain.
Amid the hurly-burly / down fell many a man To ground from off his charger. / Straight 'gainst each other ran Siegfried the keen rider / and eke King Luedeger. Then flew from lance the splinters / and hurled was many a pointed spear.
'Neath Siegfried's hand so mighty / from shield flew off the band. And soon to win the victory / thought he of Netherland Over the valiant Saxons, / of whom were wonders seen. Heigh-ho! in shining mail-rings / many a breach made Dankwart keen!
Upon the shining buckler / that guarded Siegfried's breast Soon espied King Luedeger / a painted crown for crest; By this same token knew he / it was the doughty man, And to his friends he straightway / amid the battle loud began:
"Give o'er from fighting further, / good warriors every one! Amongst our foes now see I / Siegmund's noble son, Of netherland the doughty / knight on victory bent. Him has the evil Devil / to scourge the Saxons hither sent."
Then bade he all the banners / amid the storm let down. Peace he quickly sued for: / 'Twas granted him anon, But he must now a hostage / be ta'en to Gunther's land. This fate had forced upon him / the fear of Siegfried's mighty hand.
They thus by common counsel / left off all further fight. Hacked full many a helmet / and shields that late were bright From hands down laid they weary; / as many as there might be, With stains they all were bloody / 'neath hands of the men of Burgundy.
Each whom he would took captive, / now they had won the fight. Gernot, the noble hero, / and Hagen, doughty knight, Bade bear forth the wounded. / Back led they with them then Unto the land of Burgundy / five hundred stalwart fighting-men.
The knights, of victory cheated, / their native Denmark sought, Nor had that day the Saxons / with such high valor fought, That one could praise them for it, / which caused the warriors pain. Then wept their friends full sorely / at home for those in battle slain.
For the Rhine then laden / they let their armor be. Siegfried, the knight so doughty, / had won the victory With his few chosen followers; / that he had nobly done, Could not but free acknowledge / King Gunther's warriors every one.
To Worms sent Gernot riding / now a messenger, And of the joyous tiding / soon friends at home were ware, How that it well had prospered / with him and all his men. Fought that day with valor / for honor had those warriors keen.
The messenger sped forward / and told the tidings o'er. Then joyfully they shouted / who boded ill before, To hear the welcome story / that now to them was told. From ladies fair and noble / came eager questions manifold,
Who all the fair fortune / of King Gunther's men would know. One messenger they ordered / unto Kriemhild to go. But that was done in secret: / she durst let no one see, For he was 'mongst those warriors / whom she did love so faithfully.
When to her own apartments / was come the messenger Joyfully addressed him / Kriemhild the maiden fair: "But tell me now glad tidings, / and gold I'll give to thee, And if thou tell'st not falsely, / good friend thou'lt ever find in me.
"How has my good brother / Gernot in battle sped, And how my other kinsmen? / Lies any of them dead? Who wrought most deeds of valor? / —That shall thou let me know." Then spake the messenger truly: / "No knight but did high valor show.
"But in the dire turmoil / rode rider none so well, O Princess fair and noble, / since I must truly tell, As the stranger knight full noble / who comes from Netherland; There deeds of mickle wonder / were wrought by doughty Siegfried's hand.
"Whate'er have all the warriors / in battle dared to do, Dankwart and Hagen / and the other knights so true, Howe'er they fought for honor, / 'twas naught but idle play Beside what there wrought Siegfried, / King Siegmund's son, amid the fray.
"Beneath their hands in battle / full many a hero fell, Yet all the deeds of wonder / no man could ever tell, Wrought by the hand of Siegfried, / when rode he 'gainst the foe: And weep aloud must women / for friends by his strong arm laid low.
"There, too, the knight she loved / full many a maid must lose. Were heard come down on helmet / so loud his mighty blows, That they from gaping gashes / brought forth the flowing blood. In all that maketh noble / he is a valiant knight and good.
"Many a deed of daring / of Metz Sir Ortwein wrought: For all was evil faring / whom he with broadsword caught, Doomed to die that instant, / or wounded sore to fall. And there thy valiant brother / did greater havoc work than all
"That e'er in storm of battle / was done by warrior bold. Of all those chosen warriors / let eke the truth be told: The proud Burgundian heroes / have made it now right plain, That they can free from insult / their country's honor well maintain.
"Beneath their hands was often / full many a saddle bare, When o'er the field resounding / their bright swords cut the air. The warriors from Rhine river / did here such victory win That for their foes 'twere better / if they such meeting ne'er had seen.
"Keen the knights of Tronje / 'fore all their valor showed, When with their stalwart followers / against their foes they rode; Slain by the hand of Hagen / must knights so many be, 'Twill long be in the telling / here in the land of Burgundy.
"Sindold and Hunold, / Gernot's men each one, And the valiant Rumold / have all so nobly done, King Luedeger will ever / have right good cause to rue That he against thy kindred / at Rhine dared aught of harm to do.
"And deeds of all most wondrous / e'er done by warrior keen In earliest time or latest, / by mortal ever seen, Wrought there in lusty manner / Siegfried with doughty hand. Rich hostages he bringeth / with him unto Gunther's land.
"By his own strength subdued them / the hero unsurpassed And brought down dire ruin / upon King Luedegast, Eke on the King of Saxons / his brother Luedeger. Now hearken to the story / I tell thee, noble Princess fair.
"Them both hath taken captive / Siegfried's doughty hand. Hostages were so many / ne'er brought into this land As to the Rhine come hither / through his great bravery." Than these could never tidings / unto her heart more welcome be.
"With captives home they're hieing, / five hundred men or mo', And of the wounded dying / Lady shalt thou know, Full eighty blood-stained barrows / unto Burgundian land, Most part hewn down in battle / beneath keen Siegfried's doughty hand.
"Who message sent defiant / unto the Rhine so late Must now as Gunther's prisoners / here abide their fate. Bringing such noble captives / the victors glad return." Then glowed with joy the princess / when she the tidings glad did learn.
Her cheeks so full of beauty / with joy were rosy-red, That passed he had uninjured / through all the dangers dread, The knight she loved so dearly, / Siegfried with doughty arm. Good cause she had for joying / o'er all her friends escaped from harm.
Then spake the beauteous maiden: / "Glad news thou hast told me, Wherefor now rich apparel / thy goodly meed shall be, And to thee shall be given / ten marks of gold as well." 'Tis thus a thing right pleasant / to ladies high such news to tell.
The presents rich they gave him, / gold and apparel rare. Then hastened to the casement / full many a maiden fair, And on the street looked downward: / hither riding did they see Many a knight high-hearted / into the land of Burgundy.
There came who 'scaped uninjured, / and wounded borne along, All glad to hear the greetings / of friends, a joyful throng. To meet his friends the monarch / rode out in mickle glee: In joying now was ended / all his full great anxiety.
Then did he well his warriors / and eke the strangers greet; And for a king so mighty / 'twere nothing else but meet That he should thank right kindly / the gallant men each one, Who had in storm of battle / the victory so bravely won.
Then of his friends King Gunther / bade tidings tell straightway, Of all his men how many / were fallen in the fray. Lost had he none other / than warriors three score: Then wept they for the heroes, / as since they did for many more.
Shields full many brought they / all hewn by valiant hand, And many a shattered helmet / into King Gunther's hand. The riders then dismounted / from their steeds before the hall, And a right hearty welcome / from friends rejoicing had they all.
Then did they for the warriors / lodging meet prepare, And for his guests the monarch / bade full well have care. He bade them take the wounded / and tend them carefully, And toward his enemies also / his gentle bearing might ye see.
To Luedeger then spake he: / "Right welcome art thou here. Through fault of thine now have I / lost many friends full dear, For which, have I good fortune, / thou shall right well atone. God rich reward my liegemen, / such faithfulness to me they've shown."
"Well may'st thou thank them, truly," / spake then Luedeger; "Hostages so noble / won a monarch ne'er. For chivalrous protection / rich goods we offer thee, That thou now right gracious / to us thy enemies shalt be."
"I'll grant you both your freedom," / spake the king again; "But that my enemies surely / here by me remain, Therefor I'll have good pledges / they ne'er shall quit my land, Save at my royal pleasure." / Thereto gave Luedeger the hand.
Sweet rest then found the weary / their tired limbs to aid, And gently soon on couches / the wounded knights were laid; Mead and wine right ruddy / they poured out plenteously: Than they and all their followers / merrier men there none might be.
Their shields all hacked in battle / secure were laid away; And not a few of saddles / stained with blood that day, Lest women weep to see them, / hid they too from sight. Full many a keen rider / home came aweary from the fight.
The host in gentlest manner / did his guests attend: The land around with stranger / was crowded, and with friend. They bade the sorely wounded / nurse with especial care: Whereby the knights high-hearted / 'neath all their wounds knew not despair.
Who there had skill in healing / received reward untold, Silver all unweighed / and thereto ruddy gold For making whole the heroes / after the battle sore. To all his friends the monarch / gave presents rich in goodly store.
Who there again was minded / to take his homeward way They bade, as one a friend doth, / yet a while to stay. The king did then take counsel / how to reward each one, For they his will in battle / like liegemen true had nobly done.
Then outspake royal Gernot: / "Now let them homeward go; After six weeks are over, / —thus our friends shall know— To hold high feast they're bidden / hither to come again; Many a knight now lying / sore wounded will be healed ere then.
Of Netherland the hero / would also then take leave. When of this King Gunther / did tidings first receive, The knight besought he kindly / not yet his leave to take: To this he'd ne'er consented / an it were not for Kriemhild's sake.
A prince he was too noble / to take the common pay; He had right well deserved it / that the king alway And all his warriors held him / in honor, for they had seen What by his arm in battle / bravely had accomplished been.
He stayed there yet a little / for the maiden's sake alone, Whom he would see so gladly. / And all fell out full soon As he at heart had wished it: / well known to him was she. Home to his father's country / joyously anon rode he.
The king bade at all seasons / keep up the tournament, And many a youthful rider / forth to the lists there went. The while were seats made ready / by Worms upon the strand For all who soon were coming / unto the Burgundian land.
In the meantime also, / ere back the knights returned, Had Kriemhild, noble lady, / the tidings likewise learned, The king would hold high feasting / with all his gallant men. There was a mickle hurry, / and busy were fair maidens then
With dresses and with wimples / that they there should wear. Ute, queen so stately, / the story too did hear, How to them were coming / proud knights of highest worth. Then from enfolding covers / were store of dresses rich brought forth.
Such love she bore her children / she bade rich dress prepare, Wherewith adorned were ladies / and many a maiden fair, And not a few young riders / in the land of Burgundy. For strangers many bade she / rich garments eke should measured be.
How Siegfried first saw Kriemhild
Unto the Rhine now daily / the knights were seen to ride, Who there would be full gladly / to share the festive tide. To all that thither journeyed / to the king to show them true, In plenty them were given / steeds and rich apparel too.
And soon were seats made ready / for every noble guest, As we have heard the story, / for highest and for best, Two and thirty princes / at the festival. Then vied with one another / to deck themselves the ladies all.
Never was seen idle / the young Prince Giselher: The guests and all their followers / received full kindly were By him and eke by Gernot / and their men every one. The noble thanes they greeted / as ever 'tis in honor done.
With gold bright gleaming saddles / unto the land they brought, Good store of rich apparel / and shields all richly wrought Unto the Rhine they carried / to that high festival. And joyous days were coming / for the wounded warriors all.
They who yet on couches / lay wounded grievously For joy had soon forgotten / how bitter death would be: The sick and all the ailing / no need of pity had. Anent the days of feasting / were they o'er the tidings glad,
How they should make them merry / there where all were so. Delight beyond all measure, / of joys an overflow, Had in sooth the people / seen on every hand: Then rose a mickle joyance / over all King Gunther's land.
Full many a warrior valiant / one morn at Whitsuntide All gorgeously apparelled / was thither seen to ride, Five thousand men or over, / where the feast should be; And vied in every quarter / knight with knight in revelry.
Thereof the host was mindful, / for he well did understand How at heart right warmly / the hero of Netherland Loved alone his sister, / though her he ne'er had seen, Who praised for wondrous beauty / before all maidens else had been.
Then spake the thane so noble / of Metz Sir Ortwein: "Wilt thou full be honored / by every guest of thine, Then do them all the pleasure / the winsome maids to see, That are held so high in honor / here in the land of Burgundy.
"What were a man's chief pleasure, / his very joy of life, An 't were not a lovely maiden / or a stately wife? Then let the maid thy sister / before thy guests appear." —Brave thanes did there full many / at heart rejoice the rede to hear.
"Thy words I'll gladly follow," / then the monarch said, And all the knights who heard him / ere thereat right glad. Then told was Queen Ute / and eke her daughter fair, That they with maids in waiting / unto the court should soon repair.
Then in well-stored wardrobes / rich attire they sought, And forth from folding covers / their glittering dresses brought, Armbands and silken girdles / of which they many had. And zealous to adorn her / was then full many a winsome maid.
Full many a youthful squire / upon that day did try, By decking of his person, / to win fair lady's eye; For the which great good fortune / he'd take no monarch's crown: They longed to see those maidens, / whom they before had never known.
For her especial service / the king did order then To wait upon his sister / a hundred of his men, As well upon his mother: / they carried sword in hand. That was the court attendance / there in the Burgundian land.
Ute, queen so stately, / then came forth with her: And with the queen in waiting / ladies fair there were, A hundred or over, / in festal robes arrayed. Eke went there with Kriemhild / full many a fair and winsome maid.
Forth from their own apartments / they all were seen to go: There was a mickle pressing / of good knights to and fro, Who hoped to win the pleasure, / if such a thing might be, The noble maiden Kriemhild, / delight of every eye, to see.
Now came she fair and lovely, / as the ruddy sun of morn From misty clouds emerging. / Straight he who long had borne Her in his heart and loved her, / from all his gloom was freed, As so stately there before him / he saw the fair and lovely maid.
Her rich apparel glittered / with many a precious stone, And with a ruddy beauty / her cheeks like roses shone. Though you should wish to do so, / you could not say, I ween, That e'er a fairer lady / in all the world before was seen.
As in a sky all starlit / the moon shines out so bright, And through the cloudlets peering / pours down her gentle light, E'en so was Kriemhild's beauty / among her ladies fair: The hearts of gallant heroes / were gladder when they saw her there.
The richly clad attendants / moved stately on before, And the valiant thanes high-hearted / stood patiently no more, But pressed right eager forward / to see the lovely maid: In noble Siegfried's bosom / alternate joy and anguish swayed.
He thought with heart despairing, / "How could it ever be, That I should win thy favor? / There hoped I foolishly. But had I e'er to shun thee, / then were I rather dead." And oft, to think upon it, / the color from his visage fled.
The noble son of Siegmund / did there so stately stand As if his form were pictured / by good old master's hand Upon a piece of parchment. / All who saw, confessed That he of all good heroes / was the stateliest and the best.
The fair Kriemhild's attendants / gave order to make way On all sides for the ladies, / and willing thanes obey. To see their noble bearing / did every warrior cheer; Full many a stately lady / of gentle manner born was there.
Then outspake of Burgundy / Gernot the valiant knight: "To him who thus has helped thee / so bravely in the fight, Gunther, royal brother, / shalt thou like favor show, A thane before all others; / he's worthy of it well, I trow.
"Let then the doughty Siegfried / unto my sister go To have the maiden's greetings, / —'twill be our profit so. She that ne'er greeted hero / shall greet him courteously, That thus the stately warrior / for aye our faithful friend may be."
The king's knights hastened gladly / upon his high command And told these joyous tidings / to the prince of Netherland. "It is the king's good pleasure / that thou to court shalt go, To have his sister's greetings; / to honor thee 'tis ordered so."
Then was the thane full valiant / thereat soon filled with joy. Yea, bore he in his bosom / delight without alloy At thought that he should straightway / Ute's fair daughter see. Siegfried anon she greeted / in courteous manner lovingly.
As she saw the knight high-hearted / there before her stand, Blushed red and spake the maiden, / the fairest of the land: "A welcome, brave Sir Siegfried, / thou noble knight and good." As soon as he had heard it, / the hearty greeting cheered his mood.
Before her low he bended; / him by the hand took she, And by her onward wended / the knight full willingly. They cast upon each other / fond glances many a one, The knight and eke the maiden; / furtively it all was done.
Whether he pressed friendly / that hand as white as snow From the love he bore her, / that I do not know; Yet believe I cannot / that this was left undone, For straightway showed the maiden / that he her heart had fully won.
In the sunny summer season / and in the month of May Had his heart seen never / before so glad a day, Nor one so fully joyous, / as when he walked beside That maiden rich in beauty / whom fain he'd choose to be his bride.
Then thought many a warrior: / "Were it likewise granted me To walk beside the maiden, / just as now I see, Or to lie beside her, / how gladly were that done!" But ne'er a knight more fully / had gracious lady's favor won.
From all the lands far distant / were guests distinguished there, But fixed each eye was only / upon this single pair. By royal leave did Kriemhild / kiss then the stately knight: In all the world he never / before had known so rare delight.
Then full of strange forebodings, / of Denmark spake the king: "This full loving greeting / to many woe will bring, —My heart in secret warns me— / through Siegfried's doughty hand. God give that he may never / again be seen within my land."
On all sides then 'twas ordered / 'fore Kriemhild and her train Of women make free passage. / Full many a valiant thane With her unto the minster / in courtly way went on. But from her side was parted / the full stately knight anon.
Then went she to the minster, / and with her many a maid. In such rich apparel / Kriemhild was arrayed, That hearty wishes many / there were made in vain: Her comely form delighted / the eye of many a noble thane.
Scarce could tarry Siegfried / till mass was sung the while. And surely did Dame Fortune / upon him kindly smile, To him she was so gracious / whom in his heart he bore. Eke did he the maiden, / as she full well deserved, adore.
As after mass then Kriemhild / came to the minster door, The knight his homage offered, / as he had done before. Then began to thank him / the full beauteous maid, That he her royal brothers / did 'gainst their foes so nobly aid.
"God speed thee, Sir Siegfried," / spake the maiden fair, "For thou hast well deserved / that all these warriors are, As it hath now been told me, / right grateful unto thee." Then gan he cast his glances / on the Lady Kriemhild lovingly.
"True will I ever serve them," / —so spake the noble thane— "And my head shall never / be laid to rest again, Till I, if life remaineth, / have their good favor won. In sooth, my Lady Kriemhild, / for thy fair grace it all is done."
Ne'er a day passed over / for a twelve of happy days, But saw they there beside him / the maiden all did praise, As she before her kinsmen / to court would daily go: It pleased the thane full highly / that they did him such honor show.
Delight and great rejoicing, / a mighty jubilee, Before King Gunther's castle / daily might ye see, Without and eke within it, / 'mongst keen men many a one. By Ortwein and by Hagen / great deeds and wondrous there were done.
Whate'er was done by any, / in all they ready were To join in way right lusty, / both the warriors rare: Whereby 'mongst all the strangers / they won an honored name, And through their deeds so wondrous / of Gunther's land spread far the fame.
Who erstwhile lay sore wounded / now were whole again, And fain would share the pastime, / with all the king's good men; With shields join in the combat, / and try the shaft so long. Wherein did join them many / of the merry-making throng.
To all who joined the feasting / the host in plenty bade Supply the choicest viands: / so guarded well he had 'Gainst whate'er reproaches / could rise from spite or spleen. Unto his guests right friendly / to go the monarch now was seen.
He spake: "Ye thanes high-hearted, / ere now ye part from me, Accept of these my presents; / for I would willingly Repay your noble service. / Despise ye not, I pray, What now I will share with you: / 'tis offered in right grateful way."
Straightway they of Denmark / thus to the king replied: "Ere now upon our journey / home again we ride, We long for lasting friendship. / Thereof we knights have need, For many a well-loved kinsman / at hands of thy good thanes lies dead."
Luedegast was recovered / from all his wounds so sore, And eke the lord of Saxons / from fight was whole once more. Some amongst their warriors / left they dead behind. Then went forth King Gunther / where he Siegfried might find.
Unto the thane then spake he: / "Thy counsel give, I pray. The foes whom we hold captive / fain would leave straightway, And long for lasting friendship / with all my men and me. Now tell me, good Sir Siegfried, / what here seemeth good to thee.
"What the lords bid as ransom, / shall now to thee be told Whate'er five hundred horses / might bear of ruddy gold, They'd give to me right gladly, / would I but let them free." Then spake the noble Siegfried: / "That were to do right foolishly.
"Thou shalt let them freely / journey hence again; And that they both hereafter / shall evermore refrain From leading hostile army / against thee and thy land, Therefor in pledge of friendship / let each now give to thee the hand."
"Thy rede I'll gladly follow." / Straightway forth they went. To those who offered ransom / the answer then was sent, Their gold no one desired / which they would give before. The warriors battle-weary / dear friends did yearn to see once more.
Full many a shield all laden / with treasure forth they bore: He dealt it round unmeasured / to friends in goodly store; Each one had marks five hundred / and some had more, I ween. Therein King Gunther followed / the rede of Gernot, knight full keen.
Then was a great leave-taking, / as they departed thence. The warriors all 'fore Kriemhild / appeared in reverence, And eke there where her mother / Queen Ute sat near by. Gallant thanes were never / dismissed as these so graciously.
Bare were the lodging-places, / when away the strangers rode. Yet in right lordly manner / there at home abode The king with friends around him, / full noble men who were. And them now saw they daily / at court before Kriemhild appear.
Eke would the gallant hero / Siegfried thence depart, The thing to gain despairing / whereon was set his heart. The king was told the tidings / how that he would away. Giselher his brother / did win the knight with them to stay.
"Whither, O noble Siegfried, / wilt thou now from us ride? Do as I earnest pray thee, / and with these thanes abide, As guest here with King Gunther, / and live right merrily. Here dwell fair ladies many: / them will he gladly let thee see."
Then spake the doughty Siegfried: / "Our steeds leave yet at rest, The while from this my purpose / to part will I desist. Our shields once more take from us. / Though gladly home I would, Naught 'gainst the fond entreaties / of Giselher avail me could."
So stayed the knight full gallant / for sake of friendship there. In sooth in ne'er another / country anywhere Had he so gladly lingered: / iwis it was that he, Now whensoe'er he wished it, / Kriemhild the maiden fair could see.
'Twas her surpassing beauty / that made the knight to stay. With many a merry pastime / they whiled the time away; But love for her oppressed him, / oft-times grievously. Whereby anon the hero / a mournful death was doomed to die.
How Gunther fared to Isenland to Brunhild
Tidings unknown to any / from over Rhine now come, How winsome maids a many / far yonder had their home. Whereof the royal Gunther / bethought him one to win, And o'er the thought the monarch / of full joyous mood was seen.
There was a queenly maiden / seated over sea, Like her nowhere another / was ever known to be. She was in beauty matchless, / full mickle was her might; Her love the prize of contest, / she hurled the shaft with valiant knight.
The stone she threw far distant, / wide sprang thereafter too. Who turned to her his fancy / with intent to woo, Three times perforce must vanquish / the lady of high degree; Failed he in but one trial, / forfeited his head had he.
This same the lusty princess / times untold had done. When to a warrior gallant / beside the Rhine 'twas known, He thought to take unto him / the noble maid for wife: Thereby must heroes many / since that moment lose their life.
Then spake of Rhine the master: / "I'll down unto the sea Unto Brunhild journey, / fare as 'twill with me. For her unmeasured beauty / I'll gladly risk my life, Ready eke to lose it, / if she may not be my wife."
"I counsel thee against it," / spake then Siegfried. "So terrible in contest / the queen is indeed, Who for her love is suitor / his zeal must dearly pay. So shalt thou from the journey / truly be content to stay."
"So will I give thee counsel," / outspake Hagen there, "That thou beg of Siegfried / with thee to bear The perils that await thee: / that is now my rede, To him is known so fully / what with Brunhild will be thy need."
He spake: "And wilt thou help me, / noble Siegfried, To win the lovely maiden? / Do what now I plead; And if in all her beauty / she be my wedded wife, To meet thy fullest wishes / honor will I pledge and life."
Thereto answered Siegfried, / the royal Siegmund's son: "Giv'st thou me thy sister, / so shall thy will be done, —Kriemhild the noble princess, / in beauty all before. For toils that I encounter / none other meed I ask thee more."
"That pledge I," spake then Gunther, / "Siegfried, in thy hand. And comes the lovely Brunhild / thither to this land, Thereunto thee my sister / for wife I'll truly give, That with the lovely maiden / thou may'st ever joyful live."
Oaths the knight full noble / upon the compact swore, Whereby to them came troubles / and dangers all the more, Ere they the royal lady / brought unto the Rhine. Still should the warriors valiant / in sorest need and sorrow pine.
With him carried Siegfried / that same mantle then, The which with mickle trouble / had won the hero keen From a dwarf in struggle, / Alberich by name. They dressed them for the journey, / the valiant thanes of lofty fame.
And when the doughty Siegfried / the sightless mantle wore, Had he within it / of strength as good a store As other men a dozen / in himself alone. The full stately princess / anon by cunning art he won.
Eke had that same mantle / such wondrous properties That any man whatever / might work whate'er he please When once he had it on him, / yet none could see or tell. 'Twas so that he won Brunhild; / whereby him evil since befell.
"Ere we begin our journey, / Siegfried, tell to me, That we with fullest honor / come unto the sea, Shall we lead warriors with us / down to Brunhild's land? Thanes a thirty thousand / straightway shall be called to hand."
"Men bring we ne'er so many," / answered Siegfried then. "So terrible in custom / ever is the queen, That all would death encounter / from her angry mood. I'll give thee better counsel, / thane in valor keen and good.
"Like as knights-errant journey / down the Rhine shall we. Those now will I name thee / who with us shall be; But four in all the company / seaward shall we fare: Thus shall we woo the lady, / what fortune later be our share.
"Myself one of the company, / a second thou shalt be, Hagen be the third one / —so fare we happily; The fourth let it be Dankwart, / warrior full keen. Never thousand others / dare in fight withstand us then."
"The tale I would know gladly," / the king then further said, "Ere we have parted thither / —of that were I full glad— What should we of apparel, / that would befit us well, Wear in Brunhild's presence: / that shalt thou now to Gunther tell."
"Weeds the very finest / that ever might be found They wear in every season / in Brunhild's land: So shall we rich apparel / before the lady wear, That we have not dishonor / where men the tale hereafter hear."
Then spake he to the other: / "Myself will go unto My own loving mother, / if I from her may sue That her fair tendant maidens / help that we be arrayed As we may go in honor / before the high majestic maid."
Then spake of Tronje Hagen / with noble courtliness: "Why wilt thou of thy mother / beg such services? Only let thy sister / hear our mind and mood: So shall for this our journey / her good service be bestowed."
Then sent he to his sister / that he her would see, And with him also Siegfried. / Ere that such might be, Herself had there the fair one / in rich apparel clad. Sooth to tell, the visit / but little did displease the maid.
Then also were her women / decked as for them was meet. The princes both were coming: / she rose from off her seat, As doth a high-born lady / when that she did perceive, And went the guest full noble / and eke her brother to receive.
"Welcome be my brother / and his companion too. I'd know the story gladly," / spake the maiden so, "What ye now are seeking / that ye are come to me: I pray you straightway tell me / how 't with you valiants twain may be."
Then spake the royal Gunther: / "Lady, thou shall hear: Spite of lofty spirits / have we yet a care. To woo a maid we travel / afar to lands unknown; We should against the journey / have rich apparel for our own."
"Seat thee now, dear brother," / spake the princess fair; "Let me hear the story, / who the ladies are That ye will seek as suitors / in stranger princes' land." Both good knights the lady / took in greeting by the hand.
With the twain then went she / where she herself had sat, To couches rich and costly, / in sooth believe ye that, Wrought in design full cunning / of gold embroidery. And with these fair ladies / did pass the time right pleasantly.
Many tender glances / and looks full many a one Fondly knight and lady / each other cast upon. Within his heart he bore her, / she was as his own life. Anon the fairest Kriemhild / was the doughty Siegfried's wife.
Then spake the mighty monarch: / "Full loving sister mine, This may we ne'er accomplish / without help of thine. Unto Brunhild's country / as suitor now we fare: 'Tis fitting that 'fore ladies / we do rich apparel wear."
Then spake the royal maiden: / "Brother dear to me, In whatsoever manner / my help may given be, Of that I well assure you, / ready thereto am I. To Kriemhild 'twere a sorrow / if any should the same deny.
"Of me, O noble brother, / thou shalt not ask in vain: Command in courteous manner / and I will serve thee fain. Whatever be thy pleasure, / for that I'll lend my aid And willingly I'll do it," / spake the fair and winsome maid.
"It is our wish, dear sister, / apparel good to wear; That shall now directing / the royal hand prepare; And let thy maids see to it / that all is done aright, For we from this same journey / turn not aside for word of wight."
Spake thereupon the maiden: / "Now mark ye what I say: Myself have silks in plenty; / now send us rich supply Of stones borne on bucklers, / so vesture we'll prepare." To do it royal Gunther / and Siegfried both right ready were.
"And who are your companions," / further questioned she, "Who with you apparelled / now for court shall be?" "I it is and Siegfried, / and of my men are two, Dankwart and Hagen, / who with us to court shall go.
"Now rightly what we tell thee, / mark, O sister dear: 'Tis that we four companions / for four days may wear Thrice daily change of raiment / so wrought with skilful hand That we without dishonor / may take our leave of Brunhild's land."
After fair leave-taking / the knights departed so. Then of her attendants / thirty maids to go Forth from her apartments / Kriemhild the princess bade, Of those that greatest cunning / in such skilful working had.
The silks that were of Araby / white as the snow in sheen, And from the land of Zazamank / like unto grass so green, With stones of price they broidered; / that made apparel rare. Herself she cut them, Kriemhild / the royal maiden debonair.
Fur linings fashioned fairly / from dwellers in the sea Beheld by people rarely, / the best that e'er might be, With silken stuffs they covered / for the knights to wear. Now shall ye of the shining / weeds full many a wonder hear.
From land of far Morocco / and eke from Libya Of silks the very finest / that ever mortal saw With any monarch's kindred, / they had a goodly store. Well showed the Lady Kriemhild / that unto them good will she bore.
Since they unto the journey / had wished that so it be, Skins of costly ermine / used they lavishly, Whereon were silken pieces / black as coal inlaid. To-day were any nobles / in robes so fashioned well arrayed.
From the gold of Araby / many a stone there shone. The women long were busy / before the work was done; But all the robes were finished / ere seven weeks did pass, When also trusty armor / for the warriors ready was.
When they at length were ready / adown the Rhine to fare, A ship lay waiting for them / strong built with mickle care, Which should bear them safely / far down unto the sea. The maidens rich in beauty / plied their work laboriously.
Then 'twas told the warriors / for them was ready there The finely wrought apparel / that they were to wear; Just as they had wished it, / so it had been made; After that the heroes / there by the Rhine no longer stayed.
To the knights departing / went soon a messenger: Would they come in person / to view their new attire, If it had been fitted / short and long aright. 'Twas found of proper measure, / and thanked those ladies fair each knight.
And all who there beheld them / they must needs confess That in the world they never / had gazed on fairer dress: At court to wear th' apparel / did therefore please them well. Of warriors better furnished / never could a mortal tell.
Thanks oft-times repeated / were there not forgot. Leave of parting from them / the noble knights then sought: Like thanes of noble bearing / they went in courteous wise. Then dim and wet with weeping / grew thereat two shining eyes.
She spake: "O dearest brother, / still here thou mightest stay, And woo another woman— / that were the better way— Where so sore endangered / stood not thus thy life. Here nearer canst thou find thee / equally a high-born wife."
I ween their hearts did tell them / what later came to pass. They wept there all together, / whatever spoken was. The gold upon their bosoms / was sullied 'neath the tears That from their eyes in plenty / fell adown amid their fears.
She spake: "O noble Siegfried, / to thee commended be Upon thy truth and goodness / the brother dear to me, That he come unscathed / home from Brunhild's land." That plighted the full valiant / knight in Lady Kriemhild's hand.
The mighty thane gave answer: / "If I my life retain, Then shall thy cares, good Lady, / all have been in vain. All safe I'll bring him hither / again unto the Rhine, Be that to thee full sicker." / To him did the fair maid incline.
Their shields of golden color / were borne unto the strand, And all their trusty armor / was ready brought to hand. They bade their horses bring them: / they would at last depart. —Thereat did fairest women / weep with sad foreboding heart.
Down from lofty casement / looked many a winsome maid, As ship and sail together / by stirring breeze were swayed. Upon the Rhine they found them, / the warriors full of pride. Then outspake King Gunther: / "Who now is here the ship to guide?"
"That will I," spake Siegfried; / "I can upon the flood Lead you on in safety, / that know ye, heroes good; For all the water highways / are known right well to me." With joy they then departed / from the land of Burgundy.
A mighty pole then grasped he, / Siegfried the doughty man, And the ship from shore / forth to shove began. Gunther the fearless also / himself took oar in hand. The knights thus brave and worthy / took departure from the land.
They carried rich provisions, / thereto the best of wine That might in any quarter / be found about the Rhine. Their chargers stood in comfort / and rested by the way: The ship it moved so lightly / that naught of injury had they.
Stretched before the breezes / were the great sail-ropes tight, And twenty miles they journeyed / ere did come the night, By fair breezes favored / down toward the sea. Their toil repaid thereafter / the dauntless knights full grievously.
Upon the twelfth morning, / as we in story hear, Had they by the breezes / thence been carried far, Unto Castle Isenstein / and Brunhild's country: That to Siegfried only / was known of all the company.
As soon as saw King Gunther / so many towers rise And eke the boundless marches / stretch before his eyes, He spake: "Tell me, friend Siegfried, / is it known to thee Whose they are, the castles / and the majestic broad country?"
Thereto gave answer Siegfried: / "That well to me is known: Brunhild for their mistress / do land and people own And Isenstein's firm towers, / as ye have heard me say. Ladies fair a many / shall ye here behold to-day.
"And I will give you counsel: / be it well understood That all your words must tally / —so methinks 'twere good. If ere to-day is over / our presence she command, Must we leave pride behind us, / as before Brunhild we stand.
"When we the lovely lady / 'mid her retainers see, Then shall ye, good companions, / in all your speech agree That Gunther is my master / and I his serving-man: 'Tis thus that all he hopeth / shall we in the end attain."
To do as he had bidden / consented straight each one, And spite of proudest spirit / they left it not undone. All that he wished they promised, / and good it proved to be When anon King Gunther / the fair Brunhild came to see.
"Not all to meet thy wishes / do I such service swear, But most 'tis for thy sister, / Kriemhild the maiden fair; Just as my soul unto me / she is my very life, And fain would I deserve it / that she in truth become my wife."
How Gunther won Brunhild
The while they thus did parley / their ship did forward glide So near unto the castle / that soon the king espied Aloft within the casements / many a maiden fair to see. That all to him were strangers / thought King Gunther mournfully.
He asked then of Siegfried, / who bare him company: "Know'st thou aught of the maidens, / who the same may be, Gazing yonder downward / upon us on the tide? Howe'er is named their master, / minded are they high in pride."
Then spake the valiant Siegfried: / "Now thither shalt thou spy Unseen among the ladies, / then not to me deny Which, wert thou free in choosing, / thou'dst take to be thy queen." "That will I do," then answered / Gunther the valiant knight and keen.
"I see there one among them / by yonder casement stand, Clad in snow-white raiment: / 'tis she my eyes demand, So buxom she in stature, / so fair she is to see. An I were free in choosing, / she it is my wife must be."
"Full well now in choosing / thine eyes have guided thee: It is the stately Brunhild / the maiden fair to see, That doth now unto her / thy heart and soul compel." All the maiden's bearing / pleased the royal Gunther well.
But soon the queen commanded / from casement all to go Of those her beauteous maidens: / they should not stand there so To be gazed at by the strangers. / They must obey her word. What were the ladies doing, / of that moreover have we heard.
Unto the noble strangers / their beauty they would show, A thing which lovely women / are ever wont to do. Unto the narrow casements / came they crowding on, When they spied the strangers: / that they might also see, 'twas done.
But four the strangers numbered, / who came unto that land. Siegfried the doughty / the king's steed led in hand: They saw it from the casements, / many a lovely maid, And saw the willing service / unto royal Gunther paid.
Then held he by the bridle / for him his gallant steed, A good and fair-formed charger, / strong and of noble breed, Until the royal Gunther / into the saddle sprung. Thus did serve him Siegfried: / a service all forgot ere long.
Then his own steed he also / led forth upon the shore. Such menial service had he / full seldom done before, That he should hold the stirrup / for monarch whomsoe'er. Down gazing from the casements / beheld it ladies high and fair.
At every point according, / the heroes well bedight —Their dress and eke their chargers / of color snowy white— Were like unto each other, / and well-wrought shield each one Of the good knights bore with him, / that brightly glimmered in the sun.
Jewelled well was saddle / and narrow martingale As they rode so stately / in front of Brunhild's Hall, And thereon bells were hanging / of red gold shining bright. So came they to that country, / as fitting was for men of might,
With spears all newly polished, / with swords, well-made that were And by the stately heroes / hung down unto the spur: Such bore the valiant riders / of broad and cutting blade. The noble show did witness / Brunhild the full stately maid.
With him came then Dankwart / and Hagen, doughty thane. The story further telleth / how that the heroes twain Of color black as raven / rich attire wore, And each a broad and mighty / shield of rich adornment bore.
Rich stones from India's country / every eye could see, Impending on their tunics, / sparkle full brilliantly. Their vessel by the river / they left without a guard, As thus the valiant heroes / rode undaunted castleward.
Six and fourscore towers / without they saw rise tall, Three spacious palaces / and moulded well a hall All wrought of precious marble / green as blade of grass, Wherein the royal Brunhild / with company of fair ladies was.
The castle doors unbolted / were flung open wide As out toward them / the men of Brunhild hied And received the strangers / into their Lady's land. Their steeds they bade take over, / and also shield from out the hand.
Then spake a man-in-waiting: / "Give o'er the sword each thane, And eke the shining armor."— / "Good friend, thou ask'st in vain," Spake of Tronje Hagen; / "the same we'd rather wear." Then gan straightway Siegfried / the country's custom to declare.
"'Tis wont within this castle, / —of that be now aware— That never any stranger / weapons here shall bear. Now let them hence be carried: / well dost thou as I say." In this did full unwilling / Hagen, Gunther's man, obey.
They bade the strangers welcome / with drink and fitting rest. Soon might you see on all sides / full many knights the best In princely weeds apparelled / to their reception go: Yet did they mickle gazing / who would the keen new-comers know.
Then unto Lady Brunhild / the tidings strange were brought How that unknown warriors / now her land had sought, In stately apparel / come sailing o'er the sea. The maiden fair and stately / gave question how the same might be.
"Now shall ye straight inform me," / spake she presently, "Who so unfamiliar / these warrior knights may be, That within my castle / thus so lordly stand, And for whose sake the heroes / have hither journeyed to my land."
Then spake to her a servant: / "Lady, I well can say Of them I've ne'er seen any / before this present day: Be it not that one among them / is like unto Siegfried. Him give a goodly welcome: / so is to thee my loyal rede.
"The next of the companions / he is a worthy knight: If that were in his power / he well were king of might O'er wide domains of princes, / the which might reach his hand. Now see him by the others / so right majestically stand.
"The third of the companions, / that he's a man of spleen, —Withal of fair-formed body, / know thou, stately Queen,— Do tell his rapid glances / that dart so free from him. He is in all his thinking / a man, I ween, of mood full grim.
"The youngest one among them / he is a worthy knight: As modest as a maiden, / I see the thane of might Goodly in his bearing / standing so fair to see, We all might fear if any / affront to him should offered be.
"How blithe soe'er his manner, / how fair soe'er is he, Well could he cause of sorrow / to stately woman be, If he gan show his anger. / In him may well be seen He is in knightly virtues / a thane of valor bold and keen."
Then spake the queen in answer: / "Bring now my robes to hand. And is the mighty Siegfried / come unto this land, For love of me brought thither, / he pays it with his life. I fear him not so sorely / that I e'er become his wife."
So was fair Brunhild / straightway well arrayed. Then went with her thither / full many a beauteous maid, A hundred good or over, / bedight right merrily. The full beauteous maidens / would those stranger warriors see.
And with them went the warriors / there of Isenland, The knights attending Brunhild, / who bore sword in hand, Five hundred men or over. / Scarce heart the strangers kept As those knights brave and seemly / down from out the saddle leapt.
When the royal lady / Siegfried espied, Now mote ye willing listen / what there the maiden said. "Welcome be thou, Siegfried, / hither unto this land. What meaneth this thy journey, / gladly might I understand."
"Full mickle do I thank thee, / my Lady, high Brunhild, That thou art pleased to greet me, / noble Princess mild, Before this knight so noble, / who stands before me here: For he is my master, / whom first to honor fitting were.
"Born is he of Rhineland: / what need I say more? For thee 'tis highest favor / that we do hither fare. Thee will he gladly marry, / an bring that whatsoe'er. Betimes shalt thou bethink thee: / my master will thee never spare.
"For his name is Gunther / and he a mighty king. If he thy love hath won him, / more wants he not a thing. In sooth the king so noble / hath bade me hither fare: And gladly had I left it, / might I to thwart his wishes dare."
She spake: "Is he thy master / and thou his vassal art, Some games to him I offer, / and dare he there take part, And comes he forth the victor, / so am I then his wife: And be it I that conquer, / then shall ye forfeit each his life."
Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / "Lady, let us see Thy games so fraught with peril. / Before should yield to thee Gunther my master, / that well were something rare. He trows he yet is able / to win a maid so passing fair."
"Then shall ye try stone-putting / and follow up the cast, And the spear hurl with me. / Do ye naught here in haste. For well may ye pay forfeit / with honor eke and life: Bethink ye thus full calmly," / spake she whom Gunther would for wife.
Siegfried the valiant / stepped unto the king, And bade him speak out freely / his thoughts upon this thing Unto the queen so wayward, / he might have fearless heart. "For to well protect thee / from her do I know an art."
Then spake the royal Gunther: / "Now offer, stately Queen, What play soe'er thou mayest. / And harder had it been, Yet would I all have ventured / for all thy beauty's sake. My head I'll willing forfeit / or thyself my wife I'll make."
When therefore the Queen Brunhild / heard how the matter stood The play she begged to hasten, / as indeed she should. She bade her servants fetch her / therefor apparel trim, A mail-coat ruddy golden / and shield well wrought from boss to rim.