The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Twenty-Second Adventure - How Etzel kept the Wedding-feast with Kriemhild


At Traisenmauer she tarried / until the fourth day.
Upon the road the dust-clouds / meanwhile never lay.
But rose like smoke of fire / around on every side:
Onward then through Austria / King Etzel’s warriors did ride.


Then eke unto the monarch / such tidings now were told,
That at the thought did vanish / all his grief of old,
In what high manner Kriemhild / should in his land appear.
Then gan the monarch hasten / where he did find the lady fair.


Of many a tongue and varied / upon the way were seen
Before King Etzel riding / full many warriors keen,
Of Christians and of heathen / a spreading company.
To greet their coming mistress / forth they rode in fair array.


Of Reuss men and Greeks there / great was the tale,
And rapid saw ye riding / the Wallach and the Pole
On chargers full of mettle / that they did deftly guide.
Their own country’s custom / did they in no wise lay aside.


From the land of Kief / rode there full many a thane,
And the wild Petschenegers. / Full many a bow was drawn,
As at the flying wild-fowl / through air the bolt was sped.
With might the bow was bended / as far as to the arrow’s head.


A city by the Danube / in Osterland doth stand,
Hight the same is Tulna: / of many a distant land
Saw Kriemhild there the customs, / ne’er yet to her were known.
To many there did greet her / sorrow befell through her anon.


Before the monarch Etzel / rode a company
Of merry men and mighty, / courteous and fair to see,
Good four-and-twenty chieftains, / mighty men and bold.
Naught else was their desire / save but their mistress to behold.


Then the Duke Ramung / from far Wallachia
With seven hundred warriors / dashed forth athwart her way:
Their going might ye liken / unto birds in flight.
Then came the chieftain Gibeke, / with his host a stately sight.


Eke the valiant Hornbog / with full thousand men
From the king went forward / to greet his mistress then.
After their country’s custom / in joy they shouted loud;
The doughty thanes of Hunland / likewise in merry tourney rode.


Then came a chief from Denmark, / Hawart bold and keen,
And the valiant Iring, / in whom no guile was seen,
And Irnfried of Thuringia, / a stately knight to see:
Kriemhild they greeted / that honor high therefrom had she,


With good knights twelve hundred / whom led they in their train.
Thither with three thousand / came Bloedel eke, the thane
That was King Etzel’s brother / out of Hunland:
Unto his royal mistress / led he then his stately band.


Then did come King Etzel / and Dietrich by his side
With all his doughty fellows. / In state there saw ye ride
Many a knight full noble, / valiant and void of fear.
The heart of Lady Kriemhild / did such host of warriors cheer.


Then to his royal mistress / spake Sir Ruediger:
“Lady, now give I greeting / to the high monarch here.
Whom to kiss I bid thee, / grant him such favor then:
For not to all like greeting / may’st thou give ’mid Etzel’s men.”


They lifted then from saddle / the dame of royal state.
Etzel the mighty monarch / might then no longer wait,
But sprang from off his charger / with many a warrior keen:
Unto Kriemhild hasting / full joyously he then was seen.


As is to us related, / did there high princes twain
By the lady walking / bear aloft her train,
As the royal Etzel / went forward her to meet,
And she the noble monarch / with kiss in kindly wise did greet.


Aside she moved her wimple, / whereat her visage fair
Gleamed ’mid the gold around it. / Though many a knight stood there,
They deemed that Lady Helke / did boast not fairer face.
Full close beside the monarch / his brother Bloedel had his place.


To kiss him then Margrave / Ruediger her did tell,
And eke the royal Gibeke / and Sir Dietrich as well.
Of highest knights a dozen / did Etzel’s spouse embrace;
Other knights full many / she greeted with a lesser grace.


All the while that Etzel / stood by Kriemhild so,
Did the youthful riders / as still they’re wont to do:
In varied tourney saw ye / each ’gainst the other pass,
Christian knights and heathen, / as for each the custom was.


From men that followed Dietrich / saw ye in kindly wise
Splinters from the lances / flying high arise
Aloft above their bucklers, / from hand of good knight sent!
By the German strangers / pierced was many a shield and rent.


From shaft of lances breaking / did far the din resound.
Together came the warriors / from all the land around,
Eke the guests of the monarch / and many a knight there was.
Thence did the mighty monarch / then with Lady Kriemhild pass.


Stretched a fair pavilion / beside them there was seen:
With tents as well was covered / all around the green,
Where they now might rest them / all that weary were.
By high-born knights was thither / led full many a lady fair.


With their royal mistress, / where in rich cushioned chair
Sat the queen full stately. / ’Twas by the margrave’s care
That well had been provided, / with all that seemed good,
A worthy seat for Kriemhild: / thereat was Etzel glad of mood.


What was by Etzel spoken, / may I not understand.
In his right hand resting / lay her fair white hand.
They sat in loving fashion, / nor Ruediger would let
The king have secret converse / with Lady Kriemhild as yet.


’Twas bidden that the jousting / on all sides they give o’er.
The din of stately tourney / heard ye then no more.
All the men of Etzel / unto their tents did go,
For every warrior present / did they full spacious lodging show.


And now the day was ended / and they did rest the night
Until beheld they shining / once more the morning light.
Soon on charger mounted / again was many a man:
Heigho, what merry pastime, / the king to honor, they began!


By the Huns the monarch / bade honors high be shown.
Soon rode they forth from Tulna / unto Vienna town,
Where found they many a lady / decked out in fair array:
The same the monarch Etzel’s / wife received in stately way.


In very fullest measure / upon them there did wait
Whate’er they might desire. / Of knights the joy was great,
Looking toward the revel. / Lodging then sought each one.
The wedding of the monarch / was in merry wise begun.


Yet not for all might lodging / within the town be had.
All that were not strangers, / Ruediger them bade
That they find them lodgings / beyond the city’s bound.
I ween that at all seasons / by Lady Kriemhild’s side was found


The noble Sir Dietrich / and many another thane,
Who amid their labors / but little rest had ta’en,
That the guests they harbored / of merry mood should be.
For Ruediger and his companions / went the time full pleasantly.


The wedding time was fallen / upon a Whitsuntide,
When the monarch Etzel / lay Kriemhild beside
In the town at Vienna. / So many men I ween
Through her former husband / had not in her service been.


Many that ne’er had seen her / did her rich bounty take,
And many a one among them / unto the strangers spake:
“We deemed that Lady Kriemhild / of wealth no more had aught
Now hath she by her giving / here full many a wonder wrought.”


The wedding-feast it lasted / for days full seventeen.
Ne’er of other monarch / hath any told, I ween,
That wedded with more splendor: / of such no tale we hear.
All that there were present, / new-made apparel did they wear.


I ween that far in Netherland / sat she ne’er before
Amid such host of warriors. / And this believe I more:
Was Siegfried rich in treasure, / that yet he ne’er did gain,
As here she saw ’fore Etzel, / so many a high and noble thane.


Nor e’er gave any other / at his own wedding-tide
So many a costly mantle / flowing long and wide,
Nor yet so rich apparel / –so may ye well believe–
As here from hand of Kriemhild / did they one and all receive.


Her friends and eke the strangers / were of a single mind,
That they would not be sparing / of treasure in any kind:
What any from them desired, / they gave with willing hand.
Many a thane from giving / himself of clothing reft did stand.


How by her noble husband / at the Rhine a queen she sat,
Of that she still was minded, / and her eye grew wet thereat.
Yet well she kept it hidden / that none the same might mark.
Now had she wealth of honor / after long years of sorrow dark.


What any did with bounty, / ’twas but an idle wind
By side of Dietrich’s giving: / what Etzel’s generous mind
Before to him had given, / complete did disappear.
Eke wrought there many a wonder / the hand of bounteous Ruediger.


Bloedelein the chieftain / that came from Hunland,
Full many a chest to empty / did he then command,
Of gold and eke of silver. / That did they freely give.
Right merrily the warriors / of the monarch saw ye live.


Likewise the monarch’s minstrels / Werbel and Schwemmelein,
Won they at the wedding / each alone, I ween,
Marks a good thousand / or even more than that,
Whenas fair Lady Kriemhild / ’neath crown by royal Etzel sat.


Upon the eighteenth morning / from Vienna town they went.
Then in knightly pastime / many a shield was rent
By spear full well directed / by doughty rider’s hand.
So came the royal Etzel / riding into Hunland.


At Heimburg’s ancient castle / they tarried over night.
Tell the tale of people / no mortal ever might,
And the number of good warriors / did o’er the country come.
Ah, what fairest women / were gathered unto Etzel’s home!


By Miesenburg’s majestic / towers did they embark.
With horses eke and riders / the water all was dark,
As if ’twere earth they trod on, / as far as eye might see.
The way-worn ladies rested / now on board right pleasantly.


Now was lashed together / many a boat full good,
That no harm they suffered / from the waves and flood.
Many a stately awning / likewise above them spread,
Just as if beneath them / had they land and flowery mead.


When to Etzelburg the tidings / soon were borne along,
Therein of men and women / were seen a merry throng.
Who once the Lady Helke / as mistress did obey,
Anon by Lady Kriemhild / lived they many a gladsome day.


There did stand expectant / full many a maid high-born,
That since the death of Helke / had pined all forlorn.
Daughters of seven monarchs / Kriemhild there waiting found,
That were the high adornment / of all King Etzel’s country round.


Herrat, a lofty princess, / did all the train obey,
Sister’s child to Helke, / in whom high virtues lay,
Betrothed eke of Dietrich, / of royal lineage born,
Daughter of King Nentwein; / her did high honors eft adorn.


Against the strangers’ coming / her heart with joy flowed o’er:
Eke was thereto devoted / of wealth a mickle store.
Who might e’er give the picture, / how the king eft sat on throne?
Nor had with any mistress / the Huns such joyous living known.


As with his spouse the monarch / up from the river came,
Unto the noble Kriemhild / of each they told the name
’Mong them that she did find there: / she fairer each did greet.
Ah, how mighty mistress / she long did sit in Helke’s seat!


Ready and true the service / to her was offered there.
The queen dealt out in plenty / gold and raiment rare,
Silver eke and jewels. / What over Rhine she brought
With her unto Hunland, / soon thereof retained she naught.


Eke in faithful service / she to herself did win
All the king’s warriors / and all his royal kin,
–So that ne’er did Lady Helke / so mighty power wield
As until death to Kriemhild / such host did willing service yield.


Thus stood so high in honor / the court and country round,
That there at every season / was pleasant pastime found
By each, whithersoever / his heart’s desire might stand:
That wrought the monarch’s favor / and the queen’s full 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