The Nibelungenlied
By George Henry Needler, Translator

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Public Domain Books

Fifth Adventure - How Siegfried first saw Kriemhild


Unto the Rhine now daily / the knights were seen to ride,
Who there would be full gladly / to share the festive tide.
To all that thither journeyed / to the king to show them true,
In plenty them were given / steeds and rich apparel too.


And soon were seats made ready / for every noble guest,
As we have heard the story, / for highest and for best,
Two and thirty princes / at the festival.
Then vied with one another / to deck themselves the ladies all.


Never was seen idle / the young Prince Giselher:
The guests and all their followers / received full kindly were
By him and eke by Gernot / and their men every one.
The noble thanes they greeted / as ever ’tis in honor done.


With gold bright gleaming saddles / unto the land they brought,
Good store of rich apparel / and shields all richly wrought
Unto the Rhine they carried / to that high festival.
And joyous days were coming / for the wounded warriors all.


They who yet on couches / lay wounded grievously
For joy had soon forgotten / how bitter death would be:
The sick and all the ailing / no need of pity had.
Anent the days of feasting / were they o’er the tidings glad,


How they should make them merry / there where all were so.
Delight beyond all measure, / of joys an overflow,
Had in sooth the people / seen on every hand:
Then rose a mickle joyance / over all King Gunther’s land.


Full many a warrior valiant / one morn at Whitsuntide
All gorgeously apparelled / was thither seen to ride,
Five thousand men or over, / where the feast should be;
And vied in every quarter / knight with knight in revelry.


Thereof the host was mindful, / for he well did understand
How at heart right warmly / the hero of Netherland
Loved alone his sister, / though her he ne’er had seen,
Who praised for wondrous beauty / before all maidens else had been.


Then spake the thane so noble / of Metz Sir Ortwein:
“Wilt thou full be honored / by every guest of thine,
Then do them all the pleasure / the winsome maids to see,
That are held so high in honor / here in the land of Burgundy.


“What were a man’s chief pleasure, / his very joy of life,
An ’t were not a lovely maiden / or a stately wife?
Then let the maid thy sister / before thy guests appear."
–Brave thanes did there full many / at heart rejoice the rede to hear.


“Thy words I’ll gladly follow," / then the monarch said,
And all the knights who heard him / ere thereat right glad.
Then told was Queen Ute / and eke her daughter fair,
That they with maids in waiting / unto the court should soon repair.


Then in well-stored wardrobes / rich attire they sought,
And forth from folding covers / their glittering dresses brought,
Armbands and silken girdles / of which they many had.
And zealous to adorn her / was then full many a winsome maid.


Full many a youthful squire / upon that day did try,
By decking of his person, / to win fair lady’s eye;
For the which great good fortune / he’d take no monarch’s crown:
They longed to see those maidens, / whom they before had never known.


For her especial service / the king did order then
To wait upon his sister / a hundred of his men,
As well upon his mother: / they carried sword in hand.
That was the court attendance / there in the Burgundian land.


Ute, queen so stately, / then came forth with her:
And with the queen in waiting / ladies fair there were,
A hundred or over, / in festal robes arrayed.
Eke went there with Kriemhild / full many a fair and winsome maid.


Forth from their own apartments / they all were seen to go:
There was a mickle pressing / of good knights to and fro,
Who hoped to win the pleasure, / if such a thing might be,
The noble maiden Kriemhild, / delight of every eye, to see.


Now came she fair and lovely, / as the ruddy sun of morn
From misty clouds emerging. / Straight he who long had borne
Her in his heart and loved her, / from all his gloom was freed,
As so stately there before him / he saw the fair and lovely maid.


Her rich apparel glittered / with many a precious stone,
And with a ruddy beauty / her cheeks like roses shone.
Though you should wish to do so, / you could not say, I ween,
That e’er a fairer lady / in all the world before was seen.


As in a sky all starlit / the moon shines out so bright,
And through the cloudlets peering / pours down her gentle light,
E’en so was Kriemhild’s beauty / among her ladies fair:
The hearts of gallant heroes / were gladder when they saw her there.


The richly clad attendants / moved stately on before,
And the valiant thanes high-hearted / stood patiently no more,
But pressed right eager forward / to see the lovely maid:
In noble Siegfried’s bosom / alternate joy and anguish swayed.


He thought with heart despairing, / “How could it ever be,
That I should win thy favor? / There hoped I foolishly.
But had I e’er to shun thee, / then were I rather dead."
And oft, to think upon it, / the color from his visage fled.


The noble son of Siegmund / did there so stately stand
As if his form were pictured / by good old master’s hand
Upon a piece of parchment. / All who saw, confessed
That he of all good heroes / was the stateliest and the best.


The fair Kriemhild’s attendants / gave order to make way
On all sides for the ladies, / and willing thanes obey.
To see their noble bearing / did every warrior cheer;
Full many a stately lady / of gentle manner born was there.


Then outspake of Burgundy / Gernot the valiant knight:
“To him who thus has helped thee / so bravely in the fight,
Gunther, royal brother, / shalt thou like favor show,
A thane before all others; / he’s worthy of it well, I trow.


“Let then the doughty Siegfried / unto my sister go
To have the maiden’s greetings, / –’twill be our profit so.
She that ne’er greeted hero / shall greet him courteously,
That thus the stately warrior / for aye our faithful friend may be.”


The king’s knights hastened gladly / upon his high command
And told these joyous tidings / to the prince of Netherland.
“It is the king’s good pleasure / that thou to court shalt go,
To have his sister’s greetings; / to honor thee ’tis ordered so.”


Then was the thane full valiant / thereat soon filled with joy.
Yea, bore he in his bosom / delight without alloy
At thought that he should straightway / Ute’s fair daughter see.
Siegfried anon she greeted / in courteous manner lovingly.


As she saw the knight high-hearted / there before her stand,
Blushed red and spake the maiden, / the fairest of the land:
“A welcome, brave Sir Siegfried, / thou noble knight and good."
As soon as he had heard it, / the hearty greeting cheered his mood.


Before her low he bended; / him by the hand took she,
And by her onward wended / the knight full willingly.
They cast upon each other / fond glances many a one,
The knight and eke the maiden; / furtively it all was done.


Whether he pressed friendly / that hand as white as snow
From the love he bore her, / that I do not know;
Yet believe I cannot / that this was left undone,
For straightway showed the maiden / that he her heart had fully won.


In the sunny summer season / and in the month of May
Had his heart seen never / before so glad a day,
Nor one so fully joyous, / as when he walked beside
That maiden rich in beauty / whom fain he’d choose to be his bride.


Then thought many a warrior: / “Were it likewise granted me
To walk beside the maiden, / just as now I see,
Or to lie beside her, / how gladly were that done!"
But ne’er a knight more fully / had gracious lady’s favor won.


From all the lands far distant / were guests distinguished there,
But fixed each eye was only / upon this single pair.
By royal leave did Kriemhild / kiss then the stately knight:
In all the world he never / before had known so rare delight.


Then full of strange forebodings, / of Denmark spake the king:
“This full loving greeting / to many woe will bring,
–My heart in secret warns me– / through Siegfried’s doughty hand.
God give that he may never / again be seen within my land.”


On all sides then ’twas ordered / ’fore Kriemhild and her train
Of women make free passage. / Full many a valiant thane
With her unto the minster / in courtly way went on.
But from her side was parted / the full stately knight anon.


Then went she to the minster, / and with her many a maid.
In such rich apparel / Kriemhild was arrayed,
That hearty wishes many / there were made in vain:
Her comely form delighted / the eye of many a noble thane.


Scarce could tarry Siegfried / till mass was sung the while.
And surely did Dame Fortune / upon him kindly smile,
To him she was so gracious / whom in his heart he bore.
Eke did he the maiden, / as she full well deserved, adore.


As after mass then Kriemhild / came to the minster door,
The knight his homage offered, / as he had done before.
Then began to thank him / the full beauteous maid,
That he her royal brothers / did ’gainst their foes so nobly aid.


“God speed thee, Sir Siegfried," / spake the maiden fair,
“For thou hast well deserved / that all these warriors are,
As it hath now been told me, / right grateful unto thee."
Then gan he cast his glances / on the Lady Kriemhild lovingly.


“True will I ever serve them," / –so spake the noble thane–
“And my head shall never / be laid to rest again,
Till I, if life remaineth, / have their good favor won.
In sooth, my Lady Kriemhild, / for thy fair grace it all is done.”


Ne’er a day passed over / for a twelve of happy days,
But saw they there beside him / the maiden all did praise,
As she before her kinsmen / to court would daily go:
It pleased the thane full highly / that they did him such honor show.


Delight and great rejoicing, / a mighty jubilee,
Before King Gunther’s castle / daily might ye see,
Without and eke within it, / ’mongst keen men many a one.
By Ortwein and by Hagen / great deeds and wondrous there were done.


Whate’er was done by any, / in all they ready were
To join in way right lusty, / both the warriors rare:
Whereby ’mongst all the strangers / they won an honored name,
And through their deeds so wondrous / of Gunther’s land spread far the


Who erstwhile lay sore wounded / now were whole again,
And fain would share the pastime, / with all the king’s good men;
With shields join in the combat, / and try the shaft so long.
Wherein did join them many / of the merry-making throng.


To all who joined the feasting / the host in plenty bade
Supply the choicest viands: / so guarded well he had
’Gainst whate’er reproaches / could rise from spite or spleen.
Unto his guests right friendly / to go the monarch now was seen.


He spake: “Ye thanes high-hearted, / ere now ye part from me,
Accept of these my presents; / for I would willingly
Repay your noble service. / Despise ye not, I pray,
What now I will share with you: / ’tis offered in right grateful way.”


Straightway they of Denmark / thus to the king replied:
“Ere now upon our journey / home again we ride,
We long for lasting friendship. / Thereof we knights have need,
For many a well-loved kinsman / at hands of thy good thanes lies dead.”


Luedegast was recovered / from all his wounds so sore,
And eke the lord of Saxons / from fight was whole once more.
Some amongst their warriors / left they dead behind.
Then went forth King Gunther / where he Siegfried might find.


Unto the thane then spake he: / “Thy counsel give, I pray.
The foes whom we hold captive / fain would leave straightway,
And long for lasting friendship / with all my men and me.
Now tell me, good Sir Siegfried, / what here seemeth good to thee.


“What the lords bid as ransom, / shall now to thee be told
Whate’er five hundred horses / might bear of ruddy gold,
They’d give to me right gladly, / would I but let them free."
Then spake the noble Siegfried: / “That were to do right foolishly.


“Thou shalt let them freely / journey hence again;
And that they both hereafter / shall evermore refrain
From leading hostile army / against thee and thy land,
Therefor in pledge of friendship / let each now give to thee the hand.”


“Thy rede I’ll gladly follow." / Straightway forth they went.
To those who offered ransom / the answer then was sent,
Their gold no one desired / which they would give before.
The warriors battle-weary / dear friends did yearn to see once more.


Full many a shield all laden / with treasure forth they bore:
He dealt it round unmeasured / to friends in goodly store;
Each one had marks five hundred / and some had more, I ween.
Therein King Gunther followed / the rede of Gernot, knight full keen.


Then was a great leave-taking, / as they departed thence.
The warriors all ’fore Kriemhild / appeared in reverence,
And eke there where her mother / Queen Ute sat near by.
Gallant thanes were never / dismissed as these so graciously.


Bare were the lodging-places, / when away the strangers rode.
Yet in right lordly manner / there at home abode
The king with friends around him, / full noble men who were.
And them now saw they daily / at court before Kriemhild appear.


Eke would the gallant hero / Siegfried thence depart,
The thing to gain despairing / whereon was set his heart.
The king was told the tidings / how that he would away.
Giselher his brother / did win the knight with them to stay.


“Whither, O noble Siegfried, / wilt thou now from us ride?
Do as I earnest pray thee, / and with these thanes abide,
As guest here with King Gunther, / and live right merrily.
Here dwell fair ladies many: / them will he gladly let thee see.”


Then spake the doughty Siegfried: / “Our steeds leave yet at rest,
The while from this my purpose / to part will I desist.
Our shields once more take from us. / Though gladly home I would,
Naught ’gainst the fond entreaties / of Giselher avail me could.”


So stayed the knight full gallant / for sake of friendship there.
In sooth in ne’er another / country anywhere
Had he so gladly lingered: / iwis it was that he,
Now whensoe’er he wished it, / Kriemhild the maiden fair could see.


’Twas her surpassing beauty / that made the knight to stay.
With many a merry pastime / they whiled the time away;
But love for her oppressed him, / oft-times grievously.
Whereby anon the hero / a mournful death was doomed to die.


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