The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Twenty-First Adventure - How Kriemhild fared to the Huns


The messengers leave we riding. / Now shall ye understand
How did the Lady Kriemhild / journey through the land,
And where from her were parted / Gernot and Giselher.
Upon her had they waited / as faithful unto her they were.


As far as to the Danube / at Vergen did they ride,
Where must be the parting / from their royal sister’s side,
For that again they homeward / would ride unto the Rhine.
No eye but wet from weeping / in all the company was seen.


Giselher the valiant / thus to his sister said:
“If that thou ever, lady, / need hast of my aid,
And fronts thee aught of trouble, / give me to understand,
And straight I’ll ride to serve thee / afar unto King Etzel’s land.”


Upon the mouth then kissed she / all her friends full dear.
The escort soon had taken / eke leave of Ruediger
And the margrave’s warriors / in manner lovingly.
With the queen upon her journey / went many a maid full fair to see.


Four beyond a hundred / there were, all richly clad
In silk of cunning pattern. / Many a shield full broad
On the way did guard the ladies / in hand of valiant thane.
Full many a stately warrior / from thence did backward turn again.


Thence away they hastened / down through Bavarian land.
Soon were told the tidings / how that was at hand
A mickle host of strangers, / where a cloister stands from yore
And where the Inn its torrent / doth into Danube river pour.


At Passau in the city / a lordly bishop bode.
Empty soon each lodging / and bishop’s palace stood:
To Bavarian land they hastened / the high guests to meet,
And there the Bishop Pilgrim / the Lady Kriemhild fair did greet.


The warriors of that country / no whit grieved they were
Thus to see follow with her / so many a maiden fair.
Upon those high-born ladies / their eyes with joy did rest,
Full comfortable quarters / prepared they for each noble guest.


With his niece the bishop / unto Passau rode.
When among the burghers / the story went abroad,
That thither was come Kriemhild, / the bishop’s niece full fair,
Soon did the towns-people / reception meet for her prepare.


There to have them tarry / was the bishop fain.
To him spake Sir Eckewart: / “Here may we not remain.
Unto Ruediger’s country / must we journey down.
Thanes many there await us, / to whom our coming well is known.”


The tidings now knew likewise / Lady Gotelinde fair.
Herself and noble daughter / did them quick prepare.
Message she had from Ruediger / that he well pleased would be,
Should she unto Lady / Kriemhild show such courtesy,


That she ride forth to meet her, / and bring his warriors true
Upward unto the Ense. / When they the tidings knew,
Saw ye how on all sides / they thronged the busy way.
Forth to meet the strangers / rode and eke on foot went they.


As far as Everdingen / meanwhile was come the queen:
In that Bavarian country / on the way were never seen
Robbers seeking plunder, / as e’er their custom was:
Of fear from such a quarter / had the travellers little cause.


’Gainst that had well provided / the noble margrave:
A band he led that numbered / good thousand warriors brave.
There was eke come Gotelinde, / spouse of Ruediger,
And bearing her high company / full many noble knights there were.


When came they o’er the Traune / by Ense on the green,
There full many an awning / outstretched and tent was seen,
Wherein that night the strangers / should find them welcome rest.
Well was made provision / by Ruediger for each high guest.


Not long fair Gotelinde did in her quarters stay,
But left them soon behind her. / Then coursed upon the way
With merry jingling bridle / many a well-shaped steed.
Full fair was the reception: / whereat was Ruediger right glad.


On one side and the other / did swell the stately train
Knights that rode full gaily, / many a noble thane.
As they in joust disported, / full many a maid looked on,
Nor to the queen unwelcome / was the riders’ service done.


As rode there ’fore the strangers / the men of Ruediger,
From shaft full many a splinter / saw ye fly in air
In hand of doughty warrior / that jousted lustily.
Them might ye ’fore the ladies / pricking in stately manner see.


Anon therefrom they rested. / Knights many then did greet
Full courteously each other. / Then forth Kriemhild to meet
Went the fair Gotelinde, / by gallant warriors led.
Those skilled in lady’s service, / –little there the rest they had.


The lord of Bechelaren / unto his lady rode.
Soon the noble margravine / her high rejoicing showed,
That all safe and sound he / from the Rhine was come again.
The care that filled her bosom / by mickle joy from her was ta’en.


When him she had received, / her on the green he bade
Dismount with all the ladies / that in her train she led.
There saw ye all unidle / many a knight of high estate,
Who with full ready service / upon the ladies then did wait.


Then saw the Lady Kriemhild / the margravine where she stood
Amid her fair attendants: / nearer not she rode.
Upon the steed that bore her / the rein she drew full tight,
And bade them straightway help her / adown from saddle to alight.


The bishop saw ye leading / his sister’s daughter fair,
And with him eke went Eckewart / to Gotelinde there.
The willing folk on all sides / made way before their feet.
With kiss did Gotelinde / the dame from land far distant greet.


Then spake in manner kindly / the wife of Ruediger;
“Right glad am I, dear lady, / that I thy visage fair
Have in this our country / with mine own eyes seen.
In these times might never / greater joy to me have been.”


“God give thee meed,” spake Kriemhild, / “Gotelinde, for this grace.
If with son of Botelung / happy may be my place,
May it henceforth be thy profit / that me thou here dost see."
Yet all unknown to either / was that which yet anon must be.


With curtsy to each other / went full many a maid,
The knights a willing service / unto the ladies paid.
After the greeting sat they / adown upon the green;
Knew many then each other / that hitherto had strangers been.


For the ladies they poured refreshment. / Now was come mid-day,
And did those high attendants / there no longer stay,
But went where found they ready / many a spreading tent.
Full willing was the service / unto the noble guests they lent.


The night through until morning / did they rest them there.
They of Bechelaren / meanwhile did prepare
That into fitting quarters / each high guest be brought.
’Twas by the care of Ruediger / that never one did want for aught.


Open ye saw the windows / the castle walls along,
And the burgh at Bechelaren / its gates wide open flung,
As through the guests went pricking, / that there full welcome were.
For them the lord full noble / had bidden quarters meet prepare.


Ruediger’s fair daughter / with her attendant train
Came forth in loving manner / to greet the lofty queen.
With her was eke her mother / the stately margravine;
There full friendly greeting / of many a maiden fair was seen.


By the hand they took each other / and thence did pass each pair
Into a Hall full spacious, / the which was builded fair,
And ’neath its walls the Danube / flowed down with rushing tide.
As breezes cool played round them, / might they full happy there abide.


What they there did further, / tell it not I can.
That they so long did tarry, / heard ye the knights complain
That were of Kriemhild’s company, / who unwilling there abode.
What host of valiant warriors / with them from Bechelaren rode!


Full kindly was the service / did render Ruediger,
Likewise gave Lady Kriemhild / twelve golden armbands rare
To Gotelinde’s daughter, / and dress so richly wrought
That finer was none other / that into Etzel’s land she brought.


Though Nibelungen treasure / from her erstwhile was ta’en,
Good-will of all that knew her / did she e’er retain
With such little portion / as yet she did command.
Unto her host’s attendants / dealt she thereof with bounteous hand.


The Lady Gotelinde / such honors high again
Did pay in gracious manner / to the guests afar from Rhine
That of all the strangers / found ye never one
That wore not rich attire / from her, and many a precious stone.


When they their fast had broken / and would thence depart,
The lady of the castle / did pledge with faithful heart
Unto the wife of Etzel / service true to bear.
Kriemhild caressed full fondly / the margravine’s young daughter fair.


To the queen then spake the maiden: / “If e’er it pleaseth thee,
Well know I that my father / dear full willingly
Unto thee will send me / where thou livest in Hunland."
That faithful was the maiden, / full well did Kriemhild understand.


Now ready were the horses / the castle steps before,
And soon the queen full stately / did take her leave once more
Of the lovely daughter / and spouse of Ruediger.
Eke parted with fair greeting / thence full many a maiden fair.


Each other they full seldom / thereafter might behold.
From Medelick were carried / beakers rich of gold
In hand and eke full many, / wherein was sparkling wine:
Upon the way were greeted / thus the strangers from the Rhine.


High there a lord was seated, / Astold the name he bore,
Who that into Osterland / did lead the way before
As far as to Mautaren / adown the Danube’s side.
There did they fitting service / for the lofty queen provide.


Of his niece the bishop / took leave in loving wise.
That she well should bear her, / did he oft advise,
And that she win her honor / as Helke erst had done.
Ah, how great the honor / anon that ’mid the Huns she won!


Unto the Traisem brought they / forth the strangers then.
Fair had they attendance / from Ruediger’s men,
Till o’er the country riding / the Huns came them to meet.
With mickle honor did they / then the royal lady greet.


For had the king of Hunland, / Traisem’s stream beside,
A full mighty castle, / known afar and wide,
The same hight Traisenmauer: / Dame Helke there before
Did sit, such bounteous mistress / as scarce ye ever might see more,


An it were not Kriemhild / who could such bounty show,
That after days of sorrow / the pleasure she might know,
To be held in honor / by Etzel’s men each one:
That praise in fullest measure / had she amid those thanes anon.


Afar the might of Etzel / so well was known around,
That at every season / within his court were found
Knights of all the bravest, / whereof ye e’er did hear
In Christian lands or heathen: / with him all thither come they were.


By him at every season, / as scarce might elsewhere be,
Knights both of Christian doctrine / and heathen use saw ye.
Yet in what mind soever / did each and every stand,
To all in fullest measure / dealt the king with bounteous hand.


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