The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Seventeenth Adventure - How Kriemhild mourned for Siegfried, and How he was Buried


There till the night they tarried / and o’er the Rhine they went.
By knights in chase might never / more evil day be spent;
For the game that there they hunted / wept many a noble maid.
In sooth by many a valiant / warrior must it since be paid.


Of humor fierce and wanton / list now and ye shall hear,
And eke of direst vengeance. / Hagen bade to bear
Siegfried thus lifeless, / of the Nibelung country,
Unto a castle dwelling / where Lady Kriemhild found might be.


He bade in secret manner / to lay him there before
Where she should surely find him / when she from out the door
Should pass to matins early, / ere that had come the day.
In sooth did Lady Kriemhild / full seldom fail the hour to pray.


When, as was wont, in minster / the bell to worship bade,
Kriemhild, fair lady, wakened / from slumber many a maid:
A light she bade them bring her / and eke her dress to wear.
Then hither came a chamberlain / who Siegfried’s corse found waiting


He saw him red and bloody, / all wet his clothing too.
That it was his master, / in sooth no whit he knew.
On unto the chamber / the light in hand he bore,
Whereby the Lady Kriemhild / did learn what brought her grief full sore.


When she with train of ladies / would to the minster go,
Then spake the chamberlain: / “Pause, I pray thee now:
Here before thy dwelling / a noble knight lies slain."
Thereat gan Lady Kriemhild / in grief unmeasured sore to plain.


Ere yet that ’twas her husband / she did rightly find,
Had she Hagen’s question / begun to call to mind,
How might he protect him: / then first did break her heart,
For all her joy in living / did with his death from her depart.


Unto the earth then sank she / ere she a word did say,
And reft of all her pleasure / there the fair lady lay.
Soon had Kriemhild’s sorrow / all measure passed beyond:
She shrieked, when past the swooning, / that did the chamber all resound.


Then spake her attendants: / “What if’t a stranger were?"
From out her mouth the heart-blood / did spring from anguish sore.
Then spake she: “It is Siegfried / my husband, other none:
This thing hath counselled Brunhild, / and Hagen’s hand the deed hath


The lady bade them lead her / where did lie the knight,
And his fair head she raised / with her hand full white.
Red though it was and bloody / she knew him yet straightway,
As all forlorn the hero / of Nibelungenland there lay.


Then cried the queen in anguish, / whose hand such wealth might wield:
“O woe is me for sorrow! / Yet is not thy shield
With blow of sword now battered, / but murdered dost thou lie.
And knew I who hath done it, / by my counsel should he die.”


All of her attendants / did weep and wail enow
With their beloved mistress, / for filled they were with woe
For their noble master / whom they should see no more.
For anger of Queen Brunhild / had Hagen wrought revenge full sore.


Then spake Kriemhild sorrowing: / “Hence now the message take,
And all the men of Siegfried / shall ye straightway awake.
Unto Siegmund likewise / tell ye my sorrow deep,
If that he will help me / for the doughty Siegfried weep.”


Then ran straightway a messenger / and soon he found at hand,
Siegfried’s valiant warriors / of Nibelungenland.
Of joy he all bereft him / with tale that he did bear,
Nor would they aught believe it / till sound of weeping met their ear.


The messenger came eke quickly / where the king did lie,
Yet closed was not in sleeping / the monarch Siegmund’s eye:
I ween his heart did tell him / the thing that there had been,
And that his dear son living / might nevermore by him be seen.


“Awake, awake, Lord Siegmund. / Hither hath sent for thee
Kriemhild my mistress. / A wrong now beareth she,
A grief that ’fore all others / unto her heart doth go:
To mourn it shalt thou help her, / for sorely hast thou need thereto.”


Up raised himself then Siegmund. / He spake: “What may it be
Of wrong that grieveth Kriemhild, / as thou hast told to me?"
The messenger spake weeping: / “Now may I naught withhold:
Know thou that of Netherland / Siegfried brave lies slain and cold.”


Thereto gave answer Siegmund: / “Let now such mocking be
And tale of such ill tidings / –an thou regardest me–
As that thou say’st to any / now he lieth slain:
An were it so, I never / unto my end might cease to plain.”


“Wilt thou now believe not / the tidings that I bear,
So may’st thyself the Lady / Kriemhild weeping hear,
And all of her attendants, / that Siegfried lieth dead."
With terror filled was Siegmund: / whereof in very sooth was need.


He and his men a hundred / from their beds they sprang,
Then snatched in hand full quickly / swords both sharp and long,
And toward the sound of weeping / in sorrow sore did speed.
There came a thousand warriors / eke of the valiant knight Siegfried.


When they heard the women weeping / in such sore distress
Thought some, strict custom keeping, / we first must don our dress.
In sooth for very sorrow / their wits no more had they,
For on their hearts a burden / of grief full deep and heavy lay.


Then came the monarch Siegmund / where he Kriemhild espied.
He spake: “Alack that ever / to this country I did ride!
Who in such wondrous manner, / and while good friends are near,
Hath of my child bereft me / and thee of spouse thou hold’st so dear?”


“Ah, might I him discover," / spake the lady high,
“Evermore would mercy / I to him deny.
Such meed of vengeance should he / at my hands receive
That all who call him kinsman / reason good should have to grieve.”


Siegmund the monarch / in arms the knight did press,
And of his friends there gathered / so great was the distress,
That from the mighty wailing / palace and wide hall
And Worms the city likewise / with sound of woe re-echoed all.


None was who aught might comfort / the wife of Siegfried there.
They drew the knight’s attire / from off his body fair,
From wounds the blood, too, washed they / and laid him on the bier.
Then from all his people / a mighty wailing might ye hear.


Then outspake his warriors / of Nibelungenland:
“Until he be avenged / rest shall not our hand.
He is within this castle / who the deed hath done."
Then rushed to find their weapons / Siegfried’s warriors every one.


The knights of chosen valor / with shields did thither throng,
Eleven hundred warriors, / that did to train belong
Of Siegmund the monarch. / That his son lay dead,
Would he wreak dire vengeance, / whereof in very sooth was need.


Yet knew they not whom should they / beset in battle then,
If it were not Gunther / and with him his men
With whom their lord Siegfried / unto the hunting rode.
Yet filled with fear was Kriemhild / when she beheld how armed they


How great soe’er her sorrow / and stern the grief she bore,
Yet for the Nibelungen / feared she death full sore
From her brother’s warriors, / and bade them hold their wrath.
She gave them kindly warning / as friend to friend beloved doth.


Then spake she rich in sorrow: / “What thing beginnest thou,
Good my lord Siegmund? / This case thou dost not know.
In sooth hath here King Gunther / so many a valiant knight,
Lost are ye all together, / will ye the thanes withstand in fight.”


With shields upraised they ready / for the fight did stand.
But the queen full noble / did straightway give command
To those high knights, and prayed them, / their purpose to give o’er.
That she might not dissuade them, / in sooth to her was sorrow sore.


Spake she thus: “Lord Siegmund, / thou shalt this thing let be
Until more fitting season. / Seek will I e’er with thee
Full to avenge my husband. / Who him from me hath ta’en,
An I shall know him guilty, / in me shall surely find his bane.


“Of warriors proud and mighty / are many here by Rhine,
Therefore will I advise not / the struggle to begin.
For one that we can muster / good thirty men have they;
As unto us their dealing, / God them requite in equal way.


“Here shall ye bide with me / and help my grief to bear;
Soon as dawns the morning, / ye noble knights and rare,
Help me my loved husband / prepare for burial."
“That shall be done full willing," / spake the doughty warriors all.


To you could never any / full the wonder say,
Of knights and noble ladies, / so full of grief were they,
That the sound of wailing / through the town was heard afar,
Whereat the noble burghers / hastily did gather there.


With the guests they mourned together, / for sore they grieved as well.
What was the guilt of Siegfried / none to them might tell,
Wherefore the knight so noble / thus his life should lose.
Then wept with the high ladies / many a worthy burgher’s spouse.


Smiths they bade a casket / work full hastily
All of gold and silver / that great and strong should be.
They bade them fast to weld it / with bands of steel full good.
Then saw ye all the people / stand right sorrowful of mood.


Now the night was over, / for day, they said, drew near.
Then bade the noble lady / unto the minster bear
Siegfried her lord full loved / for whom she mourned so.
Whoe’er was friend unto him, / him saw ye weeping thither go.


As they brought him to the minster / bells full many rung.
On every hand then heard ye / how priests did chant their song.
Thither with his followers / came Gunther the king
And eke the grim knight Hagen / where was sound of sorrowing.


He spake: “Full loving sister, / alack for grief to thee,
And that from such great evil / spared we might not be!
Henceforth must we ever / mourn for Siegfried’s sake."
“That do ye without reason," / full of woe the lady spake.


“If that ye grieved for it, / befallen were it not.
For say I may full truly, / me had ye all forgot
There where I thus was parted / from my husband dear.
Would it God,” spake Kriemhild, / “that done unto myself it were!”


Fast they yet denied it. / Kriemhild spake again:
“If any speak him guiltless, / let here be seen full plain.
Unto the bier now shall he / before the people go;
Thus the truth full quickly / may we in this manner know.”


It is a passing wonder / that yet full oft is seen,
Where blood-bespotted slayer / beside slain corse hath been,
That from the wounds come blood-drops, / as here it eke befell.
Thereby the guilt of Hagen / might they now full plainly tell.


Now ran the wounds all bloody /like as they did before.
Who erstwhile wept full sorely / now wept they mickle more.
Then spake the monarch Gunther: / “To thee the truth be known:
Slain hath he been by robbers, / nor is this deed by Hagen done.”


“Of these same robbers,” spake she, / “full well I understand.
God give that yet may vengeance / wreak some friendly hand.
Gunther and Hagen, / yourselves have done this deed."
Then looked for bloody conflict / the valiant thanes that served


Then spake unto them Kriemhild: / “Now bear with me my need."
Knights twain came likewise hither / and did find him dead,–
Gernot her brother / and the young Giselher.
With upright hearts then joined they / with the others grief to share.


They mourned for Kriemhild’s husband / with hearts all full of woe.
A mass should then be chanted: / to the minster forth did go
Man and child and woman / gathered from every side.
E’en they did likewise mourn him / who little lost that Siegfried died.


Gernot and Giselher spake: / “O Sister dear,
Now comfort thee in sorrow, / for death is ever near.
Amends we’ll make unto thee / the while that we shall live."
In the world might never any / unto her a comfort give.


His coffin was made ready / about the middle day.
From off the bier they raised him / whereupon he lay.
But yet would not the lady / let him be laid in grave.
Therefor must all the people / first a mickle trouble have.


In a shroud all silken / they the dead man wound.
I ween that never any / that wept not might be found.
There mourned full of sorrow / Ute the queen full high
And all of her attendants / that such a noble knight did die.


When did hear the people / how they in minster sung,
And that he there lay coffined, / came then a mickle throng:
For his soul’s reposing / what offerings they bore!
E’en amid his enemies / found he of good friends a store.


Kriemhild the poor lady / to her attendants spake:
“Let them shun no trouble / to suffer for my sake,
Who to him are friendly-minded / and me in honor hold;
For the soul of Siegfried / meted be to them his gold.”


Child so small there was not, / did it but reason have,
But offering carried thither. / Ere he was laid in grave,
More than a hundred masses / upon the day they sung,
Of all the friends of Siegfried / was gathered there a mickle throng.


When were the masses over, / the folk departed soon.
Then spake the Lady Kriemhild: / “Leave ye me not alone
To pass the night in watching / by this chosen thane now dead,
With whose passing from me / all my joy of life hath fled.


“Three days and three nights further / shall he lie on bier,
Until my heart find quiet / that weeps for spouse so dear.
God perchance commandeth / that death eke me do take:
That were for me poor Kriemhild / fit end of all my woe to make.”


Then of the town the people / went to their homes again.
Priests and monks yet bade she / longer there remain,
And all the hero’s followers / who willing served alway.
They watched a night all gruesome, / and full of toil was eke the day.


Meat and drink forgetting / abode there many a one.
If any were would take it / ’twas unto all made known,
That have they might in plenty: / thus did provide Siegmund.
Then for the Nibelungen / did trouble and sore need abound.


The while the three days lasted / –such the tale we hear–
All who could join the chanting, / mickle must they bear
There of toil and trouble. / What gifts to them they bore!
Rich were seen full many / who did suffer need before.


As many poor as found they / who themselves had naught,
By them yet an offering / bade they there be brought,
Of gold of Siegfried’s treasure. / Though he no more might live,
Yet for his soul’s reposing / marks many thousand did they give.


Land of fruitful income / bestowed Kriemhild around,
Wheresoever cloisters / and worthy folk were found.
Silver and apparel / to the poor she gave in store,
And in good manner showed she / that truest love to him she bore.


Upon the third morning / at the mass’ tide
Was there beside the minster / filled the church-yard wide
With country-folk a-weeping / that came from far and near:
In death they yet did serve him / as is meet for friend full dear.


And so it hath been told us, / ere these four days were o’er,
Marks full thirty thousand, / yea, in sooth, and more,
For his soul’s reposing / to the poor were given there:
The while that lay all broken / his life and eke his body fair.


When ended was the service / and full the masses sung,
In unrestrained sorrow / there the flock did throng.
They bade that from the minster / he to the grave be borne.
Them that fain had kept him / there beheld ye weep and mourn.


Thence full loud lamenting / did the people with him pass.
Unmoved there never any / nor man nor woman was.
Ere that in grave they laid him / chanted they and read.
What host of priests full worthy / at his burial were gathered!


Ere that the wife of Siegfried / was come unto the grave,
With water from the fountain / full oft her face they lave,
So struggled with her sorrow / the faithful lady fair.
Great beyond all measure / was the grief that she did bear.


It was a mickle wonder / that e’er her life she kept.
Many a lady was there / that helped her as she wept.
Then spake the queen full noble: / “Ye men that service owe
To Siegfried, as ye love me, / now to me a mercy show.


“Upon this sorrow grant ye / the little grace to me
That I his shining visage / yet once more may see."
So filled she was with anguish / and so long time she sought,
Perforce they must break open / the casket all so fairly wrought.


Where she did see him lying / they then the lady led.
With hand full white and spotless / raised she his fair head;
Then kissed she there all lifeless / the good and noble knight,–
And wept so that for sorrow / ran blood from out her eyes so bright.


Mournful was the parting / that then did rend the twain.
Thence away they bore her, / nor might she walk again,
But in a swoon did senseless / the stately lady lie.
In sooth her winsome body / for sorrow sore was like to die.


When they the knight full noble / now in the grave had laid,
Beheld ye every warrior / beyond all measure sad
That with him was come hither / from Nibelung country.
Full seldom joyous-hearted / might ye royal Siegmund see.


And many were among them / that for sorrow great
Till three days were over / did nor drink nor eat.
Yet might they not their bodies / long leave uncared-for so:
For food they turned from mourning / as people still are wont to do.


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