The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Twenty-Ninth Adventure - How He arose not before Her


Then parted from each other / the noble warriors twain,
Hagen of Tronje / and Dietrich, lofty thane.
Then did King Gunther’s warrior / cast a glance around,
Seeking a companion / the same he eke full quickly found.


As standing there by Giselher / he did Volker see,
He prayed the nimble Fiddler / to bear him company,
For that full well he knew it / how grim he was of mood,
And that in all things was he / a knight of mettle keen and good.


While yet their lords were standing / there in castle yard
Saw ye the two knights only / walking thitherward
Across the court far distant / before the palace wide.
The chosen thanes recked little / what might through any’s hate betide.


They sate them down on settle / over against a hall,
Wherein dwelt Lady Kriemhild, / beside the palace wall.
Full stately their attire / on stalwart bodies shone.
All that did look upon them / right gladly had the warriors known.


Like unto beasts full savage / were they gaped upon,
The two haughty heroes, / by full many a Hun.
Eke from a casement Etzel’s / wife did them perceive:
Once more to behold them / must fair Lady Kriemhild grieve.


It called to mind her sorrow, / and she to weep began,
Whereat did mickle wonder / many an Etzel’s man,
What grief had thus so sudden / made her sad of mood.
Spake she: “That hath Hagen, / ye knights of mettle keen and good.”


They to their mistress answered: / “Such thing, how hath it been?
For that thee right joyous / we but now have seen.
Ne’er lived he so daring / that, having wrought thee ill,
His life he must not forfeit, / if but to vengeance point thy will.”


“I live but to requite him / that shall avenge my wrong;
Whate’er be his desire / shall unto him belong.
Prostrate I beseech you," / –so spake the monarch’s wife–
“Avenge me upon Hagen, / and forfeit surely be his life.”


Three score of valiant warriors / made ready then straightway
To work the will of Kriemhild / and her best obey
By slaying of Sir Hagen, / the full valiant thane,
And eke the doughty Fiddler; / by shameful deed thus sought they gain.


When the queen beheld there / so small their company,
In full angry humor / to the warriors spake she:
“What there ye think to compass, / forego such purpose yet:
So small in numbers never / dare ye Hagen to beset.


“How doughty e’er be Hagen, / and known his valor wide,
A man by far more doughty / that sitteth him beside,
Volker the Fiddler: / a warrior grim is he.
In sooth may not so lightly / the heroes twain confronted be.”


When that she thus had spoken, / ready soon were seen
Four hundred stalwart warriors; / for was the lofty queen
Full intent upon it / to work them evil sore.
Therefrom for all the strangers / was mickle sorrow yet in store.


When that complete attired / were here retainers seen,
Unto the knights impatient / in such wise spake the queen:
“Now bide ye yet a moment / and stand ye ready so,
While I with crown upon me / unto my enemies shall go.


“And list while I accuse him / how he hath wrought me bane,
Hagen of Tronje, / Gunther’s doughty thane.
I know his mood so haughty, / naught he’ll deny of all.
Nor reck I what of evil / therefrom may unto him befall.”


Then saw the doughty Fiddler / –he was a minstrel keen–
Adown the steps descending / the high and stately queen
Who issued from the castle. / When he the queen espied,
Spake the valiant Volker / to him was seated by his side:


“Look yonder now, friend Hagen, / how that she hither hies
Who to this land hath called us / in such treacherous wise.
No monarch’s wife I ever / saw followed by such band
Of warriors armed for battle, / that carry each a sword in hand.


“Know’st thou, perchance, friend Hagen, / if hate to thee they bear?
Then would I well advise thee / of them full well beware
And guard both life and honor. / That methinks were good,
For if I much mistake not, / full wrathful is the warriors’ mood.


“Of many eke among them / so broad the breasts do swell,
That who would guard him ’gainst them / betimes would do it well.
I ween that ’neath their tunics / they shining mail-coats wear:
Yet might I never tell thee, / ’gainst whom such evil mind they bear.”


Then spake all wrathful-minded / Hagen the warrior keen:
“On me to vent their fury / is their sole thought, I ween,
That thus with brandished weapons / their onward press we see.
Despite them all yet trow I / to come safe home to Burgundy.


“Now tell me, friend Volker, / wilt thou beside me stand,
If seek to work me evil / here Kriemhild’s band?
That let me hear right truly, / as I am dear to thee.
By thy side forever / shall my service faithful be.”


“Full surely will I help thee," / the minstrel straight replied;
“And saw I e’en a monarch / with all his men beside
Hither come against us, / the while a sword I wield
Not fear shall ever prompt me / from thy side one pace to yield.”


“Now God in heaven, O Volker, / give thy high heart its meed.
Will they forsooth assail me, / whereof else have I need?
Wilt thou thus stand beside me / as here is thy intent,
Let come all armed these warriors, / on whatsoever purpose bent.”


“Now rise we from this settle," / the minstrel spake once more,
“While that the royal lady / passeth here before.
To her be done this honor / as unto lady high.
Ourselves in equal manner / shall we honor eke thereby.”


“Nay, nay! as me thou lovest," / Hagen spake again,
“For so would sure imagine / here each hostile thane
That ’twere from fear I did it, / should I bear me so.
For sake of never any / will I from this settle go.


“Undone we both might leave it / in sooth more fittingly.
Wherefore should I honor / who bears ill-will to me?
Such thing will I do never, / the while I yet have life.
Nor reck I aught how hateth / me the royal Etzel’s wife.”


Thereat defiant Hagen / across his knee did lay
A sword that shone full brightly, / from whose knob did play
The light of glancing jasper / greener than blade of grass.
Well perceived Kriemhild / that it erstwhile Siegfried’s was.


When she the sword espied, / to weep was sore her need.
The hilt was shining golden, / the sheath a band of red.
As it recalled her sorrow, / her tears had soon begun;
I ween for that same purpose / ’twas thus by dauntless Hagen done.


Eke the valiant Volker / a fiddle-bow full strong
Unto himself drew nearer; / mickle it was and long,
Like unto a broad-sword / full sharp that was and wide.
So sat they all undaunted / the stately warriors side by side.


There sat the thanes together / in such defiant wise
That would never either / from the settle rise
Through fear of whomsoever. / Then strode before their feet
The lofty queen, and wrathful / did thus the doughty warriors greet.


Quoth she: “Now tell me, Hagen, / upon whose command
Barest thou thus to journey / hither to this land,
And knowest well what sorrow / through thee my heart must bear.
Wert thou not reft of reason, / then hadst thou kept thee far from here.”


“By none have I been summoned," / Hagen gave reply.
“Three lofty thanes invited / were to this country:
The same I own as masters / and service with them find.
Whene’er they make court journey / ’twere strange should I remain


Quoth she: “Now tell me further, / wherefore didst thou that
Whereby thou hast deserved / my everlasting hate?
’Twas thou that slewest Siegfried, / spouse so dear to me,
The which, till life hath ended, / must ever cause for weeping be.”


Spake he: “Why parley further, / since further word were vain?
E’en I am that same Hagen / by whom was Siegfried slain,
That deft knight of valor. / How sore by him ’twas paid
That the Lady Kriemhild / dared the fair Brunhild upbraid!


“Beyond all cavil is it, / high and royal dame,
Of all the grievous havoc / I do bear the blame.
Avenge it now who wisheth, / woman or man tho’t be.
An I unto thee lie not, / I’ve wrought thee sorest injury.”


She spake: “Now hear, ye warriors, / how denies he not at all
The cause of all my sorrow. / Whate’er may him befall
Reck I not soever, / that know ye, Etzel’s men."
The overweening warriors / blank gazed upon each other then.


Had any dared the onset, / seen it were full plain
The palm must be awarded / to the companions twain,
Who had in storm of battle / full oft their prowess shown.
What that proud band designed / through fear must now be left undone.


Outspake one of their number: / “Wherefore look thus to me?
What now I thought to venture / left undone shall be,
Nor for reward of any / think I my life to lose;
To our destruction lures us / here the royal Etzel’s spouse.”


Then spake thereby another: / “Like mind therein have I.
Though ruddy gold were offered / like towers piled high,
Yet would I never venture / to stir this Fiddler’s spleen.
Such are the rapid glances / that darting from his eyes I’ve seen.


“Likewise know I Hagen / from youthful days full well,
Nor more about his valor / to me need any tell.
In two and twenty battles / I the knight have seen,
Whereby sorest sorrow / to many a lady’s heart hath been.


“When here they were with Etzel, / he and the knight of Spain
Bore storm of many a battle / in many a warlike train
For sake of royal honor, / so oft thereof was need.
Wherefore of right are honors / high the valiant Hagen’s meed.


“Then was yet the hero / but a child in years;
Now how hoary-headed / who were his youthful feres,
To wisdom now attained, / a warrior grim and strong,
Eke bears he with him Balmung, / the which he gained by mickle wrong.”


Therewith the matter ended, / and none the fight dared start,
Whereat the Lady Kriemhild / full heavy was of heart.
Her warriors thence did vanish, / for feared they death indeed
At hands of the Fiddler, / whereof right surely was there need.


Outspake then the Fiddler: / “Well we now have seen,
That enemies here do greet us, / as we forewarned have been.
Back unto the monarchs / let us straight repair,
That none against our masters / to raise a hostile hand may dare.


“How oft from impious purpose / doth fear hold back the hand,
Where friend by friend doth only / firm in friendship stand,
Until right sense give warning / to leave the thing undone.
Thus wisdom hath prevented / the harm of mortals many a one.”


“Heed I will thy counsel," / Hagen gave reply.
Then passed they where / the monarchs found they presently
In high state received / within the palace court.
Loud the valiant Volker / straight began after this sort


Unto his royal masters: / “How long will ye stand so,
That foes may press upon you? / To the king ye now shall go,
And from his lips hear spoken / how is his mind to you."
The valiant lords and noble / consorted then by two and two.


Of Bern the lofty Dietrich / took by the hand
Gunther the lordly monarch / of Burgundian land;
Irnfried escorted Gernot, / a knight of valor keen,
And Ruediger with Giselher / going unto the court was seen.


Howe’er with fere consorted / there any thane might be,
Volker and Hagen / ne’er parted company,
Save in storm of battle / when they did reach life’s bourne,
’Twas cause that highborn ladies / anon in grievous way must mourn.


Unto the court then passing / with the kings were seen.
Of their lofty retinue / a thousand warriors keen,
And threescore thanes full valiant / that followed in their train;
The same from his own country / had doughty Hagen with him ta’en.


Hawart and eke Iring, / chosen warriors twain,
Saw ye walk together / in the royal train.
By Dankwart and Wolfhart, / a thane of high renown,
Was high courtly bearing / there before the others shown.


When the lord of Rhineland / passed into the hall,
Etzel mighty monarch / waited not at all,
But sprang from off his settle / when he beheld him nigh.
By monarch ne’er was given / greeting so right heartily.


“Welcome be, Lord Gunther, / and eke Sir Gernot too,
And your brother Giselher. / My greetings unto you
I sent with honest purpose / to Worms across the Rhine;
And welcome all your followers / shall be unto this land of mine.


“Right welcome be ye likewise, / doughty warriors twain,
Volker the full valiant, / and Hagen dauntless thane,
To me and to my lady / here in my country.
Unto the Rhine to greet you / many a messenger sent she.”


Then spake of Tronje Hagen: / “Thereof I’m well aware,
And did I with my masters / not thus to Hunland fare,
To do thee honor had I / ridden unto thy land."
Then took the lofty monarch / the honored strangers by the hand.


He led them to the settle / whereon himself he sat,
Then poured they for the strangers / –with care they tended that–
In goblets wide and golden / mead and mulberry wine,
And bade right hearty welcome / unto the knights afar from Rhine.


Then spake the monarch Etzel: / “This will I freely say:
Naught in this world might happen / to bring my heart more joy,
Than that ye lofty heroes / thus are come to me.
The queen from mickle sadness / thereby make ye likewise free.


“To me ’twas mickle wonder / wherein had I transgressed,
That I for friends had won me / so many a noble guest,
Yet ye had never deigned / to come to my country.
’Tis now turned cause of gladness / that you as guests I here may see.”


Thereto gave answer Ruediger, / a knight of lofty mind:
“Well mayst thou joy to see them; / right honor shalt thou find
And naught but noble bearing / in my high mistress’ kin.
With them for guest thou likewise / many a stately thane dost win.”


At turn of sun in summer / were the knights arrived
At mighty Etzel’s palace. / Ne’er hath monarch lived
That lordly guests did welcome / with higher compliment.
When come was time of eating, / the king with them to table went.


Amid his guests more stately / a host was seated ne’er.
They had in fullest measure / of drink and goodly fare;
Whate’er they might desire, / they ready found the same.
Tales of mickle wonder / had spread abroad the heroes’ fame.


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