The Story of the Volsungs

Chapter xlii.

Gudrun sends her Sons to avenge 5wanhild.

Now Gudrun heard of the slaying of Swanhild, and spake to her sons, “Why sit ye here in peace amid many words, whereas Jormunrek hath slain your sister, and trodden her under foot of horses in shameful wise? No heart ye have in you like to Gunnar or Hogni; verily they would have avenged their kinswoman!”

Hamdir answered, “Little didst thou praise Gunnar and Hogni, whereas they slew Sigurd, and thou wert reddened in the blood of him, and ill were thy brethren avenged by the slaying of thine own sons: yet not so ill a deed were it for us to slay King Jormunrek, and so hard thou pushest on to this that we may naught abide thy hard words.”

Gudrun went about laughing now, and gave them to drink from mighty beakers, and thereafter she got for them great byrnies and good, and all other weed 49 of war.

Then spake Hamdir, “Lo now, this is our last parting, for thou shalt hear tidings of us, and drink one grave-ale 50 over us and over Swanhild.”

So therewith they went their ways.

But Gudrun went unto her bower, with heart swollen with sorrow, and spake —

“To three men was I wedded, and first to Sigurd Fafnir’s-bane, and he was bewrayed and slain, and of all griefs was that the greatest grief. Then was I given to King Atli, and so fell was my heart toward him that I slew in the fury of my grief his children and mine. Then gave I myself to the sea, but the billows thereof cast me out aland, and to this king then was I given; then gave I Swanhild away out of the land with mighty wealth; and lo, my next greatest sorrow after Sigurd, for under horses feet was she trodden and slain; but the grimmest and ugliest of woes was the casting of Gunnar into the Worm-close, and the hardest was the cutting of Hogni’s heart from him.

“Ah, better would it be if Sigurd came to meet me, and I went my ways with him, for here bideth now behind with me neither son nor daughter to comfort me. Oh, mindest thou not, Sigurd, the words we spoke when we went into one bed together, that thou wouldst come and look on me; yea, even from thine abiding place among the dead?

And thus had the words of her sorrow an end.

49 Weed (A.S. “weodo”), clothing.

50 Grave-ale, burial-feast.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/morris/william/volsungs/chapter42.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 22:07