The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

Presented by

Public Domain Books

Eighth Adventure - How Siegfried fared to his Knights, the Nibelungen


Thence went then Siegfried / out through the castle door
In his sightless mantle / to a boat upon the shore.
As Siegmund’s son doth board it / him no mortal sees;
And quickly off he steers it / as were it wafted by the breeze.


No one saw the boatman, / yet rapid was the flight
Of the boat forth speeding / driven by Siegfried’s might.
They weened that did speed it / a swiftly blowing wind:
No, ’twas Siegfried sped it, / the son of fairest Siegelind.


In that one day-time / and the following night
Came he to a country / by dint of mickle might,
Long miles a hundred distant, / and something more than this:
The Nibelungen were its people / where the mighty hoard was his.


Alone did fare the hero / unto an island vast
Whereon the boat full quickly / the gallant knight made fast.
Of a castle then bethought him / high upon a hill,
And there a lodging sought him, / as wayworn men are wont to still.


Then came he to the portals / that locked before him stood.
They guarded well their honor / as people ever should.
At the door he gan a-knocking, / for all unknown was he.
But full well ’twas guarded, / and within it he did see


A giant who the castle / did guard with watchful eye,
And near him did at all times / his good weapons lie.
Quoth he: “Who now that knocketh / at the door in such strange wise?"
Without the valiant Siegfried / did cunningly his voice disguise.


He spake: “A bold knight-errant / am I; unlock the gate.
Else will I from without here / disturbance rare create
For all who’d fain lie quiet / and their rest would take."
Wrathful grew the Porter / as in this wise Siegfried spake.


Now did the giant valorous / his good armor don,
And placed on head his helmet; / then the full doughty man
His shield up-snatched quickly / and gate wide open swung.
How sore was he enraged / as himself upon Siegfried he flung!


’How dared he thus awaken / brave knights within the hall?’
The blows in rapid showers / from his hand did fall.
Thereat the noble stranger / began himself to shield.
For so a club of iron / the Porter’s mighty arm did wield,


That splinters flew from buckler, / and Siegfried stood aghast
From fear that this same hour / was doomed to be his last,
So mightily the Porter’s / blows about him fell.
To find such faithful warder / did please his master Siegfried well.


So fiercely did they struggle / that castle far within
And hall where slept the Nibelungen / echoed back the din.
But Siegfried pressed the Porter / and soon he had him bound.
In all the land of Nibelungen / the story soon was bruited round.


When the grim sound of fighting / afar the place had filled,
Alberich did hear it, / a Dwarf full brave and wild.
He donned his armor deftly, / and running thither found
This so noble stranger / where he the doughty Porter bound.


Alberich was full wrathy, / thereto a man of power.
Coat of mail and helmet / he on his body wore,
And in his hand a heavy / scourge of gold he swung.
Where was fighting Siegfried, / thither in mickle haste he sprung.


Seven knobs thick and heavy / on the club’s end were seen,
Wherewith the shield that guarded / the knight that was so keen
He battered with such vigor / that pieces from it brake.
Lest he his life should forfeit / the noble stranger gan to quake.


The shield that all was battered / from his hand he flung;
And into sheath, too, thrust he / his sword so good and long.
For his trusty chamberlain / he did not wish to slay,
And in such case he could not / grant his anger fullest sway.


With but his hands so mighty / at Alberich he ran.
By the beard then seized he / the gray and aged man,
And in such manner pulled it / that he full loud did roar.
The youthful hero’s conduct / Alberich did trouble sore.


Loud cried the valiant steward: / “Have mercy now on me.
And might I other’s vassal / than one good hero’s be,
To whom to be good subject / I an oath did take,
Until my death I’d serve thee." / Thus the man of cunning spake.


Alberich then bound he / as the giant before.
The mighty arm of Siegfried / did trouble him full sore.
The Dwarf began to question: / “Thy name, what may it be?"
Quoth he: “My name is Siegfried; / I weened I well were known to thee.”


“I joy to hear such tidings," / Dwarf Alberich replied.
“Well now have I found thee / in knightly prowess tried,
And with goodly reason / lord o’er lands to be.
I’ll do whate’er thou biddest, / wilt thou only give me free.”


Then spake his master Siegfried: / “Quickly shalt thou go,
And bring me knights hither, / the best we have to show,
A thousand Nibelungen, / to stand before their lord."
Wherefore thus he wished it, / spake he never yet a word.


The giant and Alberich / straightway he unbound.
Then ran Alberich quickly / where the knights he found.
The warriors of Nibelung / he wakened full of fear.
Quoth he: “Be up, ye heroes, / before Siegfried shall ye appear.”


From their couches sprang they / and ready were full soon,
Clothed well in armor / a thousand warriors boon,
And went where they found standing / Siegfried their lord.
Then was a mickle greeting / courteously in act and word.


Candles many were lighted, / and sparkling wine he drank.
That they came so quickly, / therefor he all did thank.
Quoth he: “Now shall ye with me / from hence across the flood."
Thereto he found full ready / the heroes valiant and good.


Good thirty hundred warriors / soon had hither pressed,
From whom were then a thousand / taken of the best.
For them were brought their helmets / and what they else did need.
For unto Brunhild’s country / would he straightway the warriors lead.


He spake: “Ye goodly nobles, / that would I have you hear,
In full costly raiment / shall ye at court appear,
For yonder must there see us / full many a fair lady.
Therefore shall your bodies / dight in good apparel be.”


Upon a morning early / went they on their way.
What host of brave companions / bore Siegfried company!
Good steeds took they with them / and garments rich to wear,
And did in courtly fashion / unto Brunhild’s country fare.


As gazed from lofty parapet / women fair to see,
Spake the queen unto them: / “Knows any who they be,
Whom I see yonder sailing / upon the sea afar?
Rich sails their ships do carry, / whiter than snow they are.”


Then spake the king of Rhineland: / “My good men they are,
That on my journey hither / left I lying near.
I’ve sent to call them to me: / now are they come, O Queen."
With full great amazing / were the stately strangers seen.


There saw they Siegfried / out on the ship’s prow stand
Clad in costly raiment, / and with him his good band.
Then spake Queen Brunhild: / “Good monarch, let me know,
Shall I go forth to greet them, / or shall I greetings high forego?”


He spake: “Thou shalt to meet them / before the palace go,
So that we see them gladly / they may surely know."
Then did the royal lady / fulfil the king’s behest.
Yet Siegfried in the greeting / was not honored with the rest.


Lodgings were made ready / and their armor ta’en in hand.
Then was such host of strangers / come into that land,
On all sides they jostled / from the great company.
Then would the knights full valiant / homeward fare to Burgundy.


Then spake Queen Brunhild: / “In favor would I hold
Who might now apportion / my silver and my gold
To my guests and the monarch’s, / for goodly store I have."
Thereto an answer Dankwart, / Giselher’s good warrior, gave:


“Full noble royal Lady, / give me the keys to hold.
I trow I’ll so divide it," / spake the warrior bold,
“If blame there be about it, / that shall be mine alone."
That he was not a niggard, / beyond a doubt he soon had shown.


When now Hagen’s brother / the treasure did command,
So many a lavish bounty / dealt out the hero’s hand,
Whoso mark did covet, / to him was given such store
That all who once were poor men / might joyous live for evermore.


In sooth good pounds a hundred / gave he to each and all.
A host in costly raiment / were seen before the hall,
Who in equal splendor / ne’er before were clad.
When the queen did hear it, / verily her heart was sad.


Then spake the royal lady: / “Good King, it little needs,
That now thy chamberlain / of all my stately weeds
Leave no whit remaining, / and squander clean my gold.
Would any yet prevent it, / him would I aye in favor hold.


“He deals with hand so lavish, / in sooth doth ween the thane
That death I’ve hither summoned; / but longer I’ll remain.
Eke trow I well to spend all / my sire hath left to me."
Ne’er found queen a chamberlain / of such passing generosity.


Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / “Lady, be thou told,
That the king of Rhineland / raiment hath and gold
So plenteous to lavish / that we may well forego
To carry with us homeward / aught that Brunhild can bestow.”


“No; as high ye hold me," / spake the queen again,
“Let me now have filled / coffers twice times ten
Of gold and silken raiment, / that may deal out my hand,
When that we come over / into royal Gunther’s land.”


Then with precious jewels / the coffers they filled for her.
The while her own chamberlain / must be standing near:
For no whit would she trust it / unto Giselher’s man.
Whereat Gunther and Hagen / heartily to laugh began.


Then spake the royal lady: / “To whom leave I my lands?
First must they now be given / in charge from out our hands."
Then spake the noble monarch: / “Whomsoe’er it pleaseth thee,
Bid him now come hither, / the same we’ll let our Warden be.”


One of her highest kindred / near by the lady spied,
–He was her mother’s brother– / to him thus spake the maid:
“Now be to thee entrusted / the castles and eke the land,
Until that here shall govern / Gunther the king by his own hand.”


Trusty knights two thousand / from her company
Chose she to journey with her / unto Burgundy,
Beyond those thousand warriors / from Nibelungenland.
They made ready for the journey, / and downward rode unto the strand.


Six and eighty ladies / led they thence with her,
Thereto good hundred maidens / that full beauteous were.
They tarried no whit longer, / for they to part were fain.
Of those they left behind them, / O how they all to weep began!


In high befitting fashion / quitted she her land:
She kissed of nearest kindred / all who round did stand.
After fair leave-taking / they went upon the sea.
Back to her father’s country / came never more that fair lady.


Then heard you on the journey / many a kind of play:
Every pleasant pastime / in plenty had they.
Soon had they for their journey / a wind from proper art:
So with full great rejoicing / did they from that land depart.


Yet would she on the journey / not be the monarch’s spouse:
But was their pleasant pastime / reserved for his own house
At Worms within his castle / at a high festival,
Whither anon full joyous / came they with their warriors all.


Preface  •  I. The Nibelungen Saga  •  II. The Nibelungenlied  •  The Nibelungenlied - First Adventure - Kriemhild’s Dream  •  Second Adventure - Siegfried  •  Third Adventure - How Siegfried came to Worms  •  Fourth Adventure - How Siegfried fought with the Saxons  •  Fifth Adventure - How Siegfried first saw Kriemhild  •  Sixth Adventure - How Gunther fared to Isenland to Brunhild  •  Seventh Adventure - How Gunther won Brunhild  •  Eighth Adventure - How Siegfried fared to his Knights, the Nibelungen  •  Ninth Adventure - How Siegfried was sent to Worms  •  Tenth Adventure - How Brunhild was received at Worms  •  Eleventh Adventure - How Siegfried came home with his Wife  •  Twelfth Adventure - How Gunther bade Siegfried to the Feast  •  Thirteenth Adventure - How they fared to the Feast  •  Fourteenth Adventure - How the Queens Berated Each Other  •  Fifteenth Adventure - How Siegfried was Betrayed  •  Sixteenth Adventure - How Siegfried was slain  •  Seventeenth Adventure - How Kriemhild mourned for Siegfried, and How he was Buried  •  Eighteenth Adventure - How Siegmund fared Home Again  •  Nineteenth Adventure - How the Nibelungen Hoard was Brought to Worms  •  Twentieth Adventure - How King Etzel sent to Burgundy for Kriemhild  •  Twenty-First Adventure - How Kriemhild fared to the Huns  •  Twenty-Second Adventure - How Etzel kept the Wedding-feast with Kriemhild  •  Twenty-Third Adventure - How Kriemhild thought to avenge her Wrong  •  Twenty-Fourth Adventure - How Werbel and Schwemmel brought the Message  •  Twenty-Fifth Adventure - How the Knights all fared to the Huns  •  Twenty-Sixth Adventure - How Gelfrat was Slain by Dankwart  •  Twenty-Seventh Adventure - How they came to Bechelaren  •  Twenty-Eighth Adventure - How the Burgundians came to Etzel’s Castle  •  Twenty-Ninth Adventure - How He arose not before Her  •  Thirtieth Adventure - How they kept Guard  •  Thirty-First Adventure - How they went to Mass  •  Thirty-Second Adventure - How Bloedel was Slain  •  Thirty-Third Adventure - How the Burgundians fought with the Huns  •  Thirty-Fourth Adventure - How they cast out the Dead  •  Thirty-Fifth Adventure - How Iring was Slain  •  Thirty-Sixth Adventure - How the Queen bade set fire to the Hall  •  Thirty-Seventh Adventure - How the Margrave Ruediger was Slain  •  Thirty-Eighth Adventure - How all Sir Dietrich’s Knights were Slain  •  Thirty-Ninth Adventure - How Gunther and Hagen and Kriemhild were Slain