The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Twenty-Seventh Adventure - How they came to Bechelaren


Then went forth the margrave / where two ladies sate,
His wife beside his daughter, / nor longer did he wait
To tell the joyful tidings / that unto him were brought,
How Kriemhild’s royal brothers / his hospitality had sought.


“Dearly loved lady," / spake then Ruediger,
“Full kind be thy reception / to lordly monarchs here,
That now with train of warriors / to court do pass this way.
Fair be eke thy greeting / to Hagen, Gunther’s man, this day.


“One likewise with them cometh, / Dankwart by name,
Volker hight the other, / a knight of gallant fame.
Thyself and eke thy daughter / with kiss these six shall greet;
Full courteous be your manner / as ye the doughty thanes shall meet.”


Gave straight their word the ladies, / and willing were thereto.
From out great chests they gorgeous / attire in plenty drew,
Which they to meet the lofty / strangers thought to wear,
Mickle was the hurry / there of many a lady fair.


On ne’er a cheek might any / but nature’s hue be seen.
Upon their head they carried / band of golden sheen,
That was a beauteous chaplet, / that so their glossy hair
By wind might not be ruffled: / that is truth as I declare.


At such employment busy / leave we those ladies now.
Here with mickle hurry / across the plain did see
Friends of noble Ruediger / the royal guests to meet,
And them with warmest welcome / unto the margrave’s land did greet.


When coming forth the margrave / saw their forms appear,
How spake with heart full joyous / the valiant Ruediger!
“Welcome be ye, Sires, / and all your gallant band.
Right glad am I to see you / hither come unto my land.”


Then bent the knights before him / each full courteously.
That he good-will did bear them / might they full quickly see.
Hagen had special greeting, / who long to him was known;
To Volker eke of Burgundy / was like highest honor shown.


Thus Dankwart eke he greeted, / when spake the doughty thane:
“While we thus well are harbored, / who then for all the train
Of those that follow with us / shall meet provision make?"
“Yourselves this night right easy / shall rest,” the noble margrave


“And all that follow with you, / with equipment whatsoe’er
Ye bring into my country / of steed or warlike gear,
So sure shall it be guarded / that of all the sum,
E’en to one spur’s value, / to you shall never damage come.


“Now stretch aloft, my squires, / the tents upon the plain.
What here ye have of losses / will I make good again.
Unbridle now the horses / and let them wander free."
Upon their way they seldom / did meet like hospitality.


Thereat rejoiced the strangers. / When thus it ordered was,
Rode the high knights forward. / All round upon the grass
Lay the squires attendant / and found a gentle rest.
I ween, upon their journey / was here provision costliest.


Out before the castle / the noble margravine
Had passed with her fair daughter. / In her train were seen
A band of lovely women / and many a winsome maid,
Whose arms with bracelets glittered, / and all in stately robes arrayed.


The costly jewels sparkled / with far-piercing ray
From out their richest vestments, / and buxom all were they.
Now came the strangers thither / and sprang upon the ground.
How high in noble courtesy / the men of Burgundy were found!


Six and thirty maidens / and many a fair lady,
–Nor might ye ever any / more winsome wish to see–
Went then forth to meet them / with many a knight full keen.
At hands of noble ladies / fairest greeting then was seen.


The margrave’s youthful daughter / did kiss the kings all three
As eke had done her mother. / Hagen stood thereby.
Her father bade her kiss him; / she looked the thane upon,
Who filled her so with terror, / she fain had left the thing undone.


When she at last must do it, / as did command her sire,
Mingled was her color, / both pale and hue of fire.
Likewise kissed she Dankwart / and the Fiddler eke anon:
That he was knight of valor / to him was such high favor shown.


The margrave’s youthful daughter / took then by the hand
The royal knight Giselher / of Burgundian land.
E’en so led forth her mother / the gallant Gunther high.
With those guests so lofty / walked they there full joyfully.


The host escorted Gernot / to a spacious hall and wide,
Where knights and stately ladies / sate them side by side.
Then bade they for the strangers / pour good wine plenteously:
In sooth might never heroes / find fuller hospitality.


Glances fond and many / saw ye directed there
Upon Ruediger’s daughter, / for she was passing fair.
Yea, in his thoughts caressed her / full many a gallant knight;
A lady high in spirit, / well might she every heart delight.


Yet whatsoe’er their wishes, / might none fulfilled be.
Hither oft and thither / glanced they furtively
On maidens and fair ladies, / whereof were many there.
Right kind the noble Fiddler / disposed was to Ruediger.


They parted each from other / as ancient custom was,
And knights and lofty ladies / did separating pass
When tables were made ready / within the spacious hall.
There in stately manner / they waited on the strangers all.


To do the guests high honor / likewise the table sought
With them the lofty margravine. / Her daughter led she not,
But left among the maidens, / where fitting was she sat.
That they might not behold her, grieved were the guests in sooth thereat.


The drinking and the feasting, / when ’twas ended all,
Escorted was the maiden / again into the hall.
Then of merry jesting / they nothing lacked, I ween,
Wherein was busy Volker, / a thane full gallant and keen.


Then spake the noble Fiddler / to all in lofty tone:
“Great mercy, lordly margrave, / God to thee hath shown,
For that he hath granted / unto thee a wife
Of so surpassing beauty, / and thereto a joyous life.


“If that I were of royal / birth,” the Fiddler spake,
“And kingly crown should carry, / to wife I’d wish to take
This thy lovely daughter, / –my heart thus prompteth me.
A noble maid and gentle / and fair to look upon is she.”


Then outspake the margrave: / “How might such thing be,
That king should e’er desire / daughter born to me?
Exiled from my country / here with my spouse I dwell:
What avails the maiden, / be she favored ne’er so well?”


Thereto gave answer Gernot, / a knight of manner kind:
“If to my desire / I ever spouse would find,
Then would I of such lady / right gladly make my choice."
In full kindly manner / added Hagen eke his voice:


“Now shall my master Giselher / take to himself a spouse.
The noble margrave’s daughter / is of so lofty house,
That I and all his warriors / would glad her service own,
If that she in Burgundy / should ever wear a royal crown.”


Glad thereat full truly / was Sir Ruediger,
And eke Gotelinde: / they joyed such words to hear.
Anon arranged the heroes / that her as bride did greet
The noble knight Giselher, / as was for any monarch meet.


What thing is doomed to happen, / who may the same prevent?
To come to the assembly / they for the maidens sent,
And to the knight they plighted / the winsome maid for wife,
Pledge eke by him was given, / his love should yet endure with life.


They to the maid allotted / castles and spreading land,
Whereof did give assurance / the noble monarch’s hand
And eke the royal Gernot, / ’twould surely so be done.
Then spake to them the margrave: / “Lordly castles have I none,


“Yet true shall be my friendship / the while that I may live.
Unto my daughter shall I / of gold and silver give
What hundred sumpter-horses / full laden bear away,
That her husband’s lofty kinsmen / find honor in the fair array.”


They bade the knight and maiden / within a ring to stand,
As was of old the custom. / Of youths a goodly band,
That all were merry-hearted, / did her there confront,
And thought they on her beauty / as mind of youth is ever wont.


When they began to question / then the winsome maid,
Would she the knight for husband, / somewhat she was dismayed,
And yet forego she would not / to have him for her own.
She blushed to hear the question, / as many another maid hath done.


Her father Ruediger prompted / that Yes her answer be,
And that she take him gladly. / Unto her instantly
Sprang the young Sir Giselher, / and in his arm so white
He clasped her to his bosom. / –Soon doomed to end was her delight.


Then spake again the margrave: / “Ye royal knights and high,
When that home ye journey / again to Burgundy
I’ll give to you my daughter, / as fitting is to do,
That ye may take her with you." / They gave their plighted word thereto.


What jubilation made they / yet at last must end.
The maiden then was bidden / unto her chamber wend,
And guests to seek their couches / and rest until the day.
For them the host provided / a feast in hospitable way.


When they had feasted fully / and to the Huns’ country
Thence would onward journey, / “Such thing shall never be,"
Spake the host full noble, / “but here ye still shall rest.
Seldom hath my good fortune / welcomed yet so many a guest.”


Thereto gave answer Dankwart: / “In sooth it may not be.
Bread and wine whence hast thou / and food sufficiently,
Over night to harbor / of guests so great a train?"
When the host had heard it, / spake he: “All thy words are vain.


“Refuse not my petition, / ye noble lords and high.
A fortnight’s full provision / might I in sooth supply,
For you and every warrior / that journeys in your train.
Till now hath royal Etzel / small portion of my substance ta’en.”


Though fain they had declined it, / yet they there must stay
E’en to the fourth morning. / Then did the host display
So generous hand and lavish / that it was told afar.
He gave unto the strangers / horses and apparel rare.


The time at last was over / and they must journey thence.
Then did the valiant Ruediger / with lavish hand dispense
Unto all his bounty, / refused he unto none
Whate’er he might desire. / Well-pleased they parted every one.


His courteous retainers / to castle gateway brought
Saddled many horses, / and soon the place was sought
Eke by the gallant strangers / each bearing shield in hand,
For that they thence would journey / onward into Etzel’s land.


The host had freely offered / rich presents unto all,
Ere that the noble strangers / passed out before the hall.
High in honor lived he, / a knight of bounty rare.
His fair daughter had he / given unto Giselher.


Eke gave he unto Gunther, / a knight of high renown,
What well might wear with honor / the monarch as his own,
–Though seldom gift received he– / a coat of harness rare.
Thereat inclined King Gunther / before the noble Ruediger.


Then gave he unto Gernot / a good and trusty blade,
Wherewith anon in combat / was direst havoc made.
That thus the gift was taken / rejoiced the margrave’s wife:
Thereby the noble Ruediger / was doomed anon to lose his life.


Gotelinde proffered Hagen, / as ’twas a fitting thing,
Her gifts in kindly manner. / Since scorned them not the king,
Eke he without her bounty / to the high festivity
Should thence not onward journey. / Yet loath to take the same was he.


“Of all doth meet my vision," / Hagen then spake,
“Would I wish for nothing / with me hence to take
But alone the shield that hanging / on yonder wall I see.
The same I’d gladly carry / into Etzel’s land with me.”


When the stately margravine / Hagen’s words did hear,
Brought they to mind her sorrow, / nor might she stop a tear.
She thought again full sadly / how her son Nudung fell,
Slain by hand of Wittich; / and did her breast with anguish swell.


She spake unto the hero: / “The shield to thee I’ll give.
O would to God in heaven / that he still did live,
Whose hand erstwhile did wield it! / In battle fell he low,
And I, a wretched mother, / must weep with never-ending woe.


Thereat the noble lady / up from the settle rose,
And soon her arms all snow-white / did the shield enclose.
She bore it unto Hagen, / who made obeisance low;
The gift she might with honor / upon so valiant thane bestow.


O’er it, to keep its color, / a shining cover lay
With precious stones all studded, / nor ever shone the day
Upon a shield more costly; / if e’er a longing eye
Did covet to possess it, / scarce thousand marks the same might buy.


The shield in charge gave Hagen / thence away to bear.
Before his host then Dankwart / himself presented there,
On whom the margrave’s daughter / did costly dress bestow.
Wherein anon in Hunland / arrayed full stately he did go.


Whate’er of gifts by any / was accepted there,
Them had his hand ne’er taken, / but that intent all were
To do their host an honor / who gave with hand so free.
By his guests in combat / soon doomed was he slain to be.


Volker the valiant / to Gotelinde came
And stood in courteous manner / with fiddle ’fore the dame.
Sweet melodies he played her / and sang his songs thereby,
For thought he from Bechelaren / to take departure presently.


The margravine bade to her / a casket forth to bear.
And now of presents given / full freely may ye hear.
Therefrom she took twelve armbands / and drew them o’er his hand.
“These shall thou with thee carry, / as ridest thou to Etzel’s land,


“And for my sake shalt wear them / when at court thou dost appear,
That when thou hither comest / I may the story hear
How thou hast done me honor / at the high festival."
What did wish the lady, / faithfully performed he all.


Thus to his guests the host spake: / “That ye more safely fare,
Myself will give you escort / and bid them well beware
That upon the highway / no ill on you be wrought."
Thereat his sumpter horses / straightway laden forth were brought


The host was well prepared / with five hundred men
With horse and rich attire. / These led he with him then
In right joyous humor / to the high festival.
Alive to Bechelaren / again came never one of all.


Thence took his leave Sir Ruediger / with kiss full lovingly;
As fitting was for Giselher, / likewise the same did he.
With loving arms enfolding / caressed they ladies fair.
To many a maid the parting / did bring anon full bitter tear.


On all sides then the windows / were open wide flung,
As with his train of warriors / the host to saddle sprung.
I ween their hearts did tell them / how they should sorrow deep.
For there did many a lady / and many a winsome maiden weep.


For dear friends left behind him / grieved many a knight full sore.
Whom they at Bechelaren / should behold no more.
Yet rode they off rejoicing / down across the sand
Hard by the Danube river / on their way to Etzel’s land.


Then spake to the Burgundians / the gallant knight and bold,
Ruediger the noble: / “Now let us not withhold
The story of our coming / unto the Hun’s country.
Unto the royal Etzel / might tidings ne’er more welcome be.”


Down in haste through Austria / the messenger did ride,
Who told unto the people / soon on every side,
From Worms beyond Rhine river / were high guests journeying.
Nor unto Etzel’s people / gladder tidings might ye bring.


Onward spurred the messengers / who did the message bear,
How now in Hunnish country / the Nibelungen were.
“Kriemhild, lofty lady, / warm thy welcome be;
In stately manner hither / come thy loving brothers three.”


Within a lofty casement / the Lady Kriemhild stood,
Looking for her kinsmen, / as friend for friend full good.
From her father’s country / saw she many a knight;
Eke heard the king the tidings, / and laughed thereat for sheer delight.


“Now well my heart rejoiceth," / spake Lady Kriemhild.
“Hither come my kinsmen / with many a new-wrought shield
And brightly shining hauberk: / who gold would have from me,
Be mindful of my sorrow; / to him I’ll ever gracious be.”


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