The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Twenty-Third Adventure - How Kriemhild thought to avenge her Wrong


In full lordly honor, / –truth is that ye hear–
Dwelt they with each other / until the seventh year.
Meanwhile Lady Kriemhild / a son to Etzel bore,
Nor gladder might the monarch / be o’er aught for evermore.


Yet would she not give over, / nor with aught be reconciled,
But that should be baptized / the royal Etzel’s child
After Christian custom: / Ortlieb they did him call.
Thereat was mickle joyance / over Etzel’s borders all.


Whate’er of highest virtues / in Lady Helke lay,
Strove the Lady Kriemhild / to rival her each day.
Herrat the stranger maiden / many a grace she taught,
Who yet with secret pining / for her mistress Helke was distraught.


To stranger and to native / full well she soon was known,
Ne’er monarch’s country, said they, / did royal mistress own
That gave with freer bounty, / that held they without fear.
Such praise she bore in Hunland, / until was come the thirteenth year.


Now had she well perceived / how all obeyed her will,
As service to royal mistress / king’s knights do render still,
And how at every season / twelve kings ’fore her were seen.
She thought of many a sorrow / that wrought upon her once had been.


Eke thought she of lordly power / in Nibelungenland
That she erstwhile had wielded, / and how that Hagen’s hand
Of it all had reft her / with her lord Siegfried dead;
She thought for so great evil / how might he ever be repaid.


“’Twould be, might I but bring him / hither into this land."
She dreamed that fondly led her / full often by the hand
Giselher her brother, / full oft in gentle sleep
Thought she to have kissed him, / wherefrom he sorrow soon must reap.


I ween the evil demon / was Kriemhild’s counsellor
That she her peace with Gunther / should sacred keep no more,
Whom she kissed in friendly token / in the land of Burgundy.
Adown upon her bosom / the burning tears fell heavily.


On her heart both late and early / lay the heavy thought,
How that, herself all guiltless, / thereto she had been brought,
That she must share in exile / a heathen monarch’s bed.
Through Hagen eke and Gunther / come she was to such sore need.


From her heart such longing / seldom might she dismiss.
Thought she: “A queen so mighty / I am o’er wealth like this,
That I upon mine enemies / may yet avenge me well.
Fain were I that on Hagen / of Tronje yet my vengeance fell.


“For friends that once were faithful / full oft my heart doth long.
Were they but here beside me / that wrought on me such wrong,
Then were in sooth avenged / my lover reft of life;
Scarce may I bide that hour," / spake the royal Etzel’s wife.


Kriemhild they loved and honored, / the monarch’s men each one,
As they that came there with her: / well might the same be done.
The treasure wielded Eckewart, / and won good knights thereby.
The will of Lady Kriemhild might / none in all that land deny.


She mused at every season: / “The king himself I’ll pray,"–
That he to her the favor / might grant in friendly way,
To bring her kinsmen hither / unto Hunland.
What vengeful thought she cherished / might none soever understand.


As she in stillest night-time / by the monarch lay
(In his arms enclosed he held her, / as he was wont alway
To caress the noble lady: / she was to him as life),
Again unto her enemies / turned her thoughts his stately wife.


She spake unto the monarch: / “My lord full dear to me,
Now would I pray a favor, / if with thy grace it be,
That thou wilt show unto me / if merit such be mine
That unto my good kinsmen / truly doth thy heart incline.”


The mighty monarch answered / (from guile his heart was free):
“Of a truth I tell thee, / if aught of good may be
The fortune of thy kinsmen, / –of that I were full fain,
For ne’er through love of woman / might I friends more faithful gain.”


Thereat again spake Kriemhild: / “That mayst thou well believe,
Full high do stand my kinsmen; / the more it doth me grieve
That they deign so seldom / hither to take their way.
That here I live a stranger, / oft I hear the people say.”


Then spake the royal Etzel: / “Beloved lady mine,
Seemed not too far the journey, / I’d bid from yond the Rhine
Whom thou wouldst gladly welcome / hither unto my land."
Thereat rejoiced the lady / when she his will did understand.


Spake she: “Wilt thou true favor / show me, master mine,
Then shall thou speed thy messengers / to Worms across the Rhine.
Were but my friends acquainted / what thing of them I would,
Then to this land came hither / full many a noble knight and good.”


He spake: “Whene’er thou biddest, / straight the thing shall be.
Thyself mightst ne’er thy kinsmen / here so gladly see,
As I the sons of Ute, / high and stately queen.
It grieveth me full sorely / that strangers here so long they’ve been.


“If this thing doth please thee, / beloved lady mine,
Then gladly send I thither / unto those friends of thine
As messengers my minstrels / to the land of Burgundy."
He bade the merry fiddlers / lead before him presently.


Then hastened they full quickly / to where they found the king
By side of Kriemhild sitting. / He told them straight the thing,
How they should be his messengers / to Burgundy to fare.
Full stately raiment bade he / for them straightway eke prepare.


Four and twenty warriors / did they apparel well.
Likewise did the monarch / to them the message tell,
How that they King Gunther / and his men should bid aright.
Them eke the Lady Kriemhild / to secret parley did invite.


Then spake the mighty monarch: / “Now well my words attend.
All good and friendly greeting / unto my friends I send,
That they may deign to journey / hither to my country.
Few be the guests beside them / that were so welcome unto me.


“And if they be so minded / to meet my will in aught,
Kriemhild’s lofty kinsmen, / that they forego it not
To come upon the summer / here where I hold hightide,
For that my joy in living / doth greatly with my friends abide.”


Then spake the fiddle-player, / Schwemmelein full bold:
“When thinkst thou in this country / such high feast to hold,
That unto thy friends yonder / tell the same we may?"
Thereto spake King Etzel: / “When next hath come midsummer day.”


“We’ll do as thou commandest," / spake then Werbelein.
Unto her own chamber / commanded then the queen
To bring in secret manner / the messengers alone.
Thereby did naught but sorrow / befall full many a thane anon.


She spake unto the messengers: / “Mickle wealth I give to you,
If my will in this matter / right faithfully ye do,
And bear what tidings send I / home unto our country.
I’ll make you rich in treasure / and fair apparelled shall ye be.


“And friends of mine so many / as ever see ye may
At Worms by Rhine river, / to them ye ne’er shall say
That any mood of sorrow / in me ye yet have seen.
Say ye that I commend me / unto the knights full brave and keen.”


“Pray them that to King Etzel’s / message they give heed,
Thereby to relieve me / of all my care and need,
Else shall the Huns imagine / that I all friendless am.
If I but a knight were, / oft would they see me at their home.


“Eke say ye unto Gernot, / brother to me full dear,
To him might never any / disposed be more fair;
Pray him that he bring hither / unto this country
All our friends most steadfast, / that we thereby shall honored be.


“Say further eke to Giselher / that he do have in mind,
That by his guilt I never / did cause for sorrow find;
Him therefore would I gladly / here with mine own eyes see,
And give him warmest welcome, / so faithful hath he been to me.


“How I am held in honor, / to my mother eke make plain.
And if of Tronje Hagen / hath mind there to remain,
By whom might they in coming / through unknown lands be shown?
The way to Hunland hither / from youth to him hath well been known.”


No whit knew the messengers / wherefore she did advise
That they of Tronje Hagen / should not in any wise
Leave by the Rhine to tarry. / That was anon their bane:
Through him to dire destruction / was doomed full many a doughty thane.


Letters and kindly greeting / now to them they give;
They fared from thence rich laden, / and merrily might live.
Leave then they took of Etzel / and eke his lady fair,
And parted on their journey / dight in apparel rich and rare.


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