The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

The Nibelungenlied - First Adventure - Kriemhild’s Dream


To us in olden story / are wonders many told
Of heroes rich in glory, / of trials manifold:
Of joy and festive greeting, / of weeping and of woe,
Of keenest warriors meeting, / shall ye now many a wonder know.


There once grew up in Burgundy / a maid of noble birth,
Nor might there be a fairer / than she in all the earth:
Kriemhild hight the maiden, / and grew a dame full fair,
Through whom high thanes a many / to lose their lives soon doomed were.


’Twould well become the highest / to love the winsome maid,
Keen knights did long to win her, / and none but homage paid.
Beauty without measure, / that in sooth had she,
And virtues wherewith many / ladies else adorned might be.


Three noble lords did guard her, / great as well in might,
Gunther and Gernot, / each one a worthy knight,
And Giselher their brother, / a hero young and rare.
The lady was their sister / and lived beneath the princes’ care.


These lords were free in giving, / and born of high degree;
Undaunted was the valor / of all the chosen three.
It was the land of Burgundy / o’er which they did command,
And mighty deeds of wonder / they wrought anon in Etzel’s land.


At Worms amid their warriors / they dwelt, the Rhine beside,
And in their lands did serve them / knights of mickle pride,
Who till their days were ended / maintained them high in state.
They later sadly perished / beneath two noble women’s hate.


A high and royal lady, / Ute their mother hight,
Their father’s name was Dankrat, / a man of mickle might.
To them his wealth bequeathed he / when that his life was done,
For while he yet was youthful / had he in sooth great honor won.


In truth were these three rulers, / as I before did say,
Great and high in power, / and homage true had they
Eke of knights the boldest / and best that e’er were known,
Keen men all and valiant, / as they in battle oft had shown.


There was of Tronje Hagen, / and of that princely line
His brother valiant Dankwart; / and eke of Metz Ortwein;
Then further the two margraves, / Gere and Eckewart;
Of Alzei was Volker, / a doughty man of dauntless heart.


Rumold the High Steward, / a chosen man was he,
Sindold and Hunold / they tended carefully
Each his lofty office / in their three masters’ state,
And many a knight beside them / that I the tale may ne’er relate.


Dankwart he was Marshal; / his nephew, then, Ortwein
Upon the monarch waited / when that he did dine;
Sindold was Cup-bearer, / a stately thane was he,
And Chamberlain was Hunold, / masters all in courtesy.


Of the kings’ high honor / and their far-reaching might,
Of their full lofty majesty / and how each gallant knight
Found his chiefest pleasure / in the life of chivalry,
In sooth by mortal never / might it full related be.


Amid this life so noble / did dream the fair Kriemhild
How that she reared a falcon, / in beauty strong and wild,
That by two eagles perished; / the cruel sight to see
Did fill her heart with sorrow / as great as in this world might be.


The dream then to her mother / Queen Ute she told,
But she could not the vision / than thus more clear unfold:
“The falcon that thou rearedst, / doth mean a noble spouse:
God guard him well from evil / or thou thy hero soon must lose.”


“Of spouse, O darling mother, / what dost thou tell to me?
Without a knight to woo me, / so will I ever be,
Unto my latest hour / I’ll live a simple maid,
That I through lover’s wooing / ne’er be brought to direst need.”


“Forswear it not so rashly," / her mother then replied.
“On earth if thou wilt ever / cast all care aside,
’Tis love alone will do it; / thou shalt be man’s delight,
If God but kindly grant thee / to wed a right good valiant knight.”


“Now urge the case, dear mother," / quoth she, “not further here.
Fate of many another / dame hath shown full clear
How joy at last doth sorrow / lead oft-times in its train.
That I no ruth may borrow, / from both alike I’ll far remain.”


Long time, too, did Kriemhild / her heart from love hold free,
And many a day the maiden / lived right happily,
Ere good knight saw she any / whom she would wish to woo.
In honor yet she wedded / anon a worthy knight and true.


He was that same falcon / she saw the dream within
Unfolded by her mother. / Upon her nearest kin,
That they did slay him later, / how wreaked she vengeance wild!
Through death of this one hero / died many another mother’s child.


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