The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Twelfth Adventure - How Gunther bade Siegfried to the Feast


Now all time bethought her / royal Gunther’s wife:
“How now doth Lady Kriemhild / lead so haughty life?
In sooth her husband Siegfried / doth homage to us owe,
But now full long unto us / little service he doth show.”


That in her heart in secret / eke she pondered o’er.
That they were strangers to her / did grieve her heart full sore,
And so seldom sign of service / came from Siegfried’s land.
How it thus was fallen, / that she fain would understand.


She probed then the monarch, / if the thing might be,
That she the Lady Kriemhild / once again might see.
She spake it all in secret / whereon her heart did dwell;
The thing she then did speak of / pleased the monarch passing well.


“How might we bring them hither" / –spake the mighty king–
“Unto this my country? / ’Twere ne’er to do, such thing.
They dwell too distant from us, / the quest I fear to make."
Thereto gave answer Brunhild, / and in full crafty wise she spake:


“How high soe’er and mighty / king’s man were ever one,
Whate’er should bid his master, / may he not leave undone."
Thereat did smile King Gunther, / as such words spake she:
Ne’er bade he aught of service, / oft as Siegfried he did see.


She spake: “Full loving master, / as thou hold’st me dear,
Help me now that Siegfried / and thy sister fair
Come to this our country, / that them we here may see;
In sooth no thing could ever / unto me more welcome be.


“Thy sister’s lofty bearing / and all her courtesy,
Whene’er I think upon it, / full well it pleaseth me,
How we did sit together / when erst I was thy spouse!
Well in sooth with honor / might she the valiant Siegfried choose.”


She pleaded with the monarch / so long till answered he:
“Know now that guests none other / so welcome were to me.
To gain thy wish ’tis easy: / straight messengers of mine
To both shall message carry, / that hither come they to the Rhine.”


Thereto the queen gave answer: / “Now further shalt thou say,
When thou them wilt summon, / or when shall be the day
That our dear friends come hither / unto our country.
Who’ll bear thy message thither, / shalt thou eke make known to me.”


“That will I,” spake the monarch. / “Thirty of my men
Shall thither ride unto them." / The same he summoned then,
And bade them with the message / to Siegfried’s land to fare.
They joyed as gave them Brunhild / stately raiment rich to wear.


Then further spake the monarch: / “Ye knights from me shall bring
This message, nor withhold ye / of it anything,
Unto the doughty Siegfried / and eke my sister fair:
In the world could never any / to them a better purpose bear.


“And pray them both that hither / they come unto the Rhine.
With me will e’er my lady / such grace to pay combine,
Ere turn of sun in summer / he and his men shall know
That liveth here full many / to them would willing honor show.


“Unto royal Siegmund / bear greeting fair from me,
That I and my friends ever / to him well-minded be.
And tell ye eke my sister / she shall no wise omit
Hither to friends to journey: / ne’er feast could better her befit.”


Brunhild and Ute / and ladies all at hand,
They sent a fairest greeting / unto Siegfried’s land
To winsome ladies many / and many a warrior brave.
With godspeed from the monarch / and friends the messengers took leave.


They fared with full equipment: / their steeds did ready stand
And rich were they attired: / so rode they from that land
They hastened on the journey / whither they would fare;
Escort safe the monarch / had bidden eke for them prepare.


Their journey had they ended / e’er three weeks were spent.
At the Nibelungen castle, / whither they were sent,
In the mark of Norway / found they the knight they sought,
And weary were the horses / the messengers so far had brought.


Then was told to Siegfried / and to Kriemhild fair
How knights were there arrived / who did raiment wear
Like as in land of Burgundy / of wont the warriors dressed.
Thereat did hasten Kriemhild / from couch where she did lying rest.


Then bade eke to a window / one of her maids to go.
She saw the valiant Gere / stand in the court below,
And with him his companions, / who did thither fare.
To hear such joyous tidings, / how soon her heart forgot its care.


She spake unto the monarch: / “Look now thitherward
Where with the doughty Gere / stand in the castle yard
Whom to us brother Gunther / adown the Rhine doth send!"
Thereto spake doughty Siegfried: / “With greeting fair we’ll them


Then hastened their retainers / all the guests to meet,
And each of them in special / manner then did greet
The messengers full kindly / and warmest welcome bade.
Siegmund did likewise / o’er their coming wax full glad.


In fitting way was harbored / Gere and his men,
And steeds in charge were taken. / The messengers went then
Where beside Sir Siegfried / the Lady Kriemhild sat.
To court the guests were bidden, / where them did greeting fair await.


The host with his fair lady, / straightway up stood he,
And greeted fairly Gere / of the land of Burgundy
And with him his companions / King Gunther’s men also.
Gere, knight full mighty, / bade they to a settle go.


“Allow that first the message / we give ere sit we down;
The while we’ll stand, though weary / upon our journey grown.
Tidings bring we to you / what greetings high have sent
Gunther and Brunhild / who live in royal fair content.


“Eke what from Lady Ute / thy mother now we’ve brought.
The youthful Giselher / and also Sir Gernot
And best among thy kinsmen / have sent us here to thee:
A fairest greeting send they / from the land of Burgundy.”


“God give them meed,” spake Siegfried; / “Good will and faith withal
I trow full well they harbor, / as with friends we shall;
Likewise doth eke their sister. / Now further shall ye tell
If that our friends beloved / at home in high estate do dwell.


“Since that we from them parted / hath any dared to do
Scathe to my lady’s kinsmen? / That shall ye let me know.
I’ll help them ever truly / all their need to bear
Till that their enemies / have good cause my help to fear.”


Then spake the Margrave / Gere, a knight full good:
“In all that maketh knighthood / right proud they stand of mood.
Unto the Rhine they bid you / to high festivity:
They’d see you there full gladly, / thereof may ye not doubtful be.


“And bid they eke my Lady / Kriemhild that she too,
When ended is the winter, / thither come with you.
Ere turn of sun in summer / trust they you to see."
Then spake the doughty Siegfried: / “That same thing might hardly be.”


Thereto did answer Gere / of the land of Burgundy:
“Your high mother Ute / hath message sent by me,
Likewise Gernot and Giselher, / that they plead not in vain.
That you they see so seldom / daily hear I them complain.


“Brunhild my mistress / and all her company
Of fair maids rejoice them; / if the thing might be
That they again should see you, / of merry mood they were."
Then joy to hear the tidings / filled the Lady Kriemhild fair.


Gere to her was kinsman. / The host did bid him rest,
Nor long were they in pouring / wine for every guest.
Thither came eke Siegmund / where the strangers he did see,
And in right friendly manner / spake to the men of Burgundy:


“Welcome be, ye warriors, / ye Gunther’s men, each one.
Since that fair Kriemhild / Siegfried my son
For spouse did take unto him, / we should you ofter see
Here in this our country, / an ye good friends to us would be.”


They spake, whene’er he wished it, / full glad to come were they.
All their mickle weariness / with joy was ta’en away.
The messengers were seated / and food to them they bore,
Whereof did Siegfried offer / unto his guests a goodly store.


Until nine days were over / must they there abide,
When did at last the valiant / knights begin to chide
That they did not ride thither / again unto their land.
Then did the royal Siegfried / summon his good knights to hand.


He asked what they did counsel: / should they unto the Rhine?
“Me unto him hath bidden / Gunther, friend of mine,
He and his good kinsmen, / to high festivity.
Thither went I full gladly, / but that his land so far doth lie.


“Kriemhild bid they likewise / that she with me shall fare.
Good friends, now give ye counsel / how we therefor prepare.
And were it armies thirty / to lead in distant land,
Yet must serve them gladly / evermore Siegfried’s hand.”


Then answer gave his warriors. / “An’t pleaseth thee to go
Thither to the festival, / we’ll counsel what thou do.
Thou shalt with thousand warriors / unto Rhine river ride.
So may’st thou well with honor / in the land of Burgundy abide.”


Then spake of Netherland / Siegmund the king:
“Will ye to the festival, / why hide from me the thing!
I’ll journey with you thither, / if it not displeasing be,
And lead good thanes a hundred / wherewith to swell your company.”


“And wilt thou with us journey, / father full dear to me,"
Spake the valiant Siegfried, / “full glad thereat I’ll be.
Before twelve days are over / from these my lands I fare."
To all who’d join the journey / steeds gave they and apparel rare.


When now the lofty monarch / was minded thus to ride
Bade he the noble messengers / longer not to bide,
And to his lady’s kinsmen / to the Rhine a message sent,
How that he would full gladly / join to make them merriment.


Siegfried and Kriemhild, / this same tale we hear,
To the messengers gave so richly / that the burden could not bear
Their horses with them homeward, / such wealth in sooth he had.
The horses heavy-laden / drove they thence with hearts full glad.


Siegfried and Siegmund / their people richly clad.
Eckewart the Margrave, / straightway he bade
For ladies choose rich clothing, / the best that might be found,
Or e’er could be procured / in all Siegfried’s lands around.


The shields and the saddles / gan they eke prepare,
To knights and fair ladies / who with them should fare
Lacked nothing that they wished for, / but of all they were possessed.
Then to his friends led Siegfried / many a high and stately guest.


The messengers swift hasted / homeward on their way,
And soon again came Gere / to the land of Burgundy.
Full well was he received, / and there dismounted all
His train from off their horses / before the royal Gunther’s Hall.


Old knights and youthful squires / crowded, as is their way,
To ask of them the tidings. / Thus did the brave knight say:
“When to the king I tell them / then shall ye likewise hear."
He went with his companions / and soon ’fore Gunther did appear.


Full of joy the monarch / did from the settle spring;
And did thank them also / for their hastening
Brunhild the fair lady. / Spake Gunther eagerly:
“How now liveth Siegfried, / whose arm hath oft befriended me?”


Then spake the valiant Gere: / “Joy o’er the visage went
Of him and eke thy sister. / To friends was never sent
A more faithful greeting / by good knight ever one,
Than now the mighty Siegfried / and his royal sire have done.”


Then spake unto the Margrave / the noble monarch’s wife:
“Now tell me, cometh Kriemhild? / And marketh yet her life
Aught of the noble bearing / did her erstwhile adorn?"
“She cometh to thee surely," / Gere answer did return.


Ute straightway the messengers / to her did command.
Then might ye by her asking / full well understand
To her was joyous tidings / how Kriemhild did betide.
He told her how he found her, / and that she soon would hither ride.


Eke of all the presents / did they naught withhold,
That had given them Siegfried: / apparel rich and gold
Displayed they to the people / of the monarchs three.
To him were they full grateful / who thus had dealt so bounteously.


“Well may he,” quoth Hagen, / “of his treasure give,
Nor could he deal it fully, / should he forever live:
Hoard of the Nibelungen / beneath his hand doth lie.
Heigh-ho, if came it ever / into the land of Burgundy!”


All the king’s retainers / glad they were thereat,
That the guests were coming. / Early then and late
Full little were they idle, / the men of monarchs three.
Seats builded they full many / toward the high festivity.


The valiant knight Hunold / and Sindold doughty thane
Little had of leisure. / Meantime must the twain,
Stands erect full many, / as their high office bade.
Therein did help them Ortwein, / and Gunther’s thanks therefor they had.


Rumold the High Steward / busily he wrought
Among them that did serve him. / Full many a mighty pot,
And spacious pans and kettles, / how many might ye see!
For those to them were coming / prepared they victuals plenteously.


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