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NOW THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK OF THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SIGURD THE VOLSUNG, AND THEREIN IS TOLD OF THE BIRTH OF HIM, AND OF HIS DEALINGS WITH REGIN THE MASTER OF MASTERS, AND OF HIS DEEDS IN THE WASTE PLACES OF THE EARTH.

Of the birth of Sigurd the son of Sigmund PEACE lay on the land of the Helper

and the house of Elf his son; There merry men went bedward when

their tide of toil was done, And glad was the dawn's awakening,

and the noon-tide fair and glad: There no great store had the franklin,

and enough the hireling had; And a child might go unguarded the

length and breadth of the land With a purse of gold at his girdle and

gold rings on his hand.

'Twas a country of cunning craftsmen, and many a thing they wrought,

That the lands of storm desired, and

the homes of warfare sought. But men deemed it o'er-well warded

by more than its stems of fight, And told how its earth-born watchers

yet lived of plenteous might. So hidden was that country, and few men sailed its sea,

And none came o'er its mountains of

men-folk's company. But fair-fruited, many-peopled, it lies a goodly strip,

'Twixt the mountains cloudy-headed

and the sea-flood's surging lip,

And a perilous flood is its ocean, and its mountains, who shall tell What things in their dales deserted and their wind-swept heaths may dwell.

Now a man of the Kings, called Gripir, in this land of peace abode:

The son of the Helper's father, though never lay his load In the womb of the mother of Kings that the Helper's brethren bore; But of Giant kin was his mother, of the folk that are seen no more; Though whiles as ye ride some fellroad across the heath there

· comes

The voice of their lone lamenting

o'er their changed and conquered

homes.

A long way off from the sea-strand and beneath the mountains' feet

Is the high-built hall of Gripir, where

the waste and the tillage meet; A noble and plentiful house, that a little men-folk fear, But beloved of the crag-dwelling eagles and the kin of the woodland deer.

A man of few words was Gripir, but he knew of all deeds that had been,

And times there came upon him, when the deeds to be were seen: No sword had he held in his hand since his father fell to field,

And against the life of the slayer he bore undinted shield:

Yet no fear in his heart abided, nor

desired he aught at all,

But he noted the deeds that had been, and looked for what should befall.

Again, in the house of the Helper there dwelt a certain man Beardless and low of stature, of vis

age pinched and wan:

So exceeding old was Regin, that no son of man could tell

In what year of the days passed over

he came to that land to dwell: But the youth of King Elf had he fostered, and the Helpers' youth thereto,

Yea, and his father's father's: the lore of all men he knew,

And was deft in every cunning, save

the dealings of the sword. So sweet was his tongue-speech fashioned, that men trowed his every word;

His hand with the harp-strings blend

ed was the mingler of delight With the latter days of sorrow; all

tales he told aright; The Master of the Masters in the

smithying craft was he; And he dealt with the wind and the weather and the stilling of the

sea;

Nor might any learn him leech-craft,

for before that race was made, And that man-folk's generation, all their life-days had he weighed.

In this land abideth Hiordis amid all people's praise

Till cometh the time appointed: in the fullness of the days

Through the dark and the dusk she travailed, till at last in the dawning hour

Have the deeds of the Volsungs blossomed, and born their latest flower;

In the bed there lieth a man-child, and his eyes look straight on the

sun,

And lo, the hope of the people, and the days of a king are begun.

Men say of the serving-women, when

they cried on the joy of the morn, When they handled the linen raiment,

and washed the king new-born, When they bore him back unto Hior

dis, and the weary and happy

breast,

And bade her be glad to behold it,

how the best was sprung from the

best,

Yet they shrank in their rejoicing before the eyes of the child, So bright and dreadful were they; yea

though the spring morn smiled, And a thousand birds were singing

round the fair familiar home, And still as on other mornings they saw folk go and come, Yet the hour seemed awful to them, and the hearts within them burned

As though of fateful matters their souls were newly learned.

But Hiordis looked on the Volsung, on her grief and her fond desire, And the hope of her heart was quickened, and her joy was a living

fire;

And she said: "Now one of the earth

ly on the eyes of my child hath gazed

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"Is the bidding come," said the Helper, "that we wend the Gods to see?"

"Many summers and winters," they said, "ye shall live on the earth, it may be."

Said a young man: "Will ye be telling that all we shall die no more?"

"Nay," they answered, "Nay, who knoweth but the change may be hard at the door?”

"Come ships from the sea," said an elder, "with all gifts of the Eastland gold?"

"Was there less than enough," said the women, "when last our treasure was told?"

"Speak then," said the ancient Helper, "let the worst and the best be said."

Quoth they: ""Tis the Queen of the Isle-folk, she is weary-sick on her bed."

Said King Elf: "Yet ye come rejoicing; what more lieth under the tongue?"

They said: "The earth is weary; but

the tender blade hath sprung, That shall wax till beneath its branches fair bloom the meadows green;

For the Gods and they that were mighty were glad erewhile with the Queen."

Said King Elf: "How say ye, women? Of a King new-born do ye tell By a God of the Heavens begotten in our fathers' house to dwell?"

"By a God of the Earth," they answered; "but greater yet is the

son,

Though long were the days of Sigmund, and great are the deeds he hath done."

Then she with the golden burden to the kingly high-seat stepped And away from the new-born baby the purple cloths she swept, And cried: "O King of the people, long mayst thou live in bliss, As our hearts today are happy! Queen Hiordis sends thee this,

And she saith that the world shall call it by the name that thou shalt

name;

Now the gift to thee is given, and to thee is brought the fame."

Then e'en as a man astonied King Elf the Volsung took, While his feast-hall's ancient timbers with the cry of the earl-folk shook;

For the eyes of the child gleamed on him till he was as one who sees The very Gods arising mid their carven images:

To his ears there came a murmur of

far seas beneath the wind And the tramp of fierce-eyed warriors through the outland forest blind;

The sound of hosts of battle, cries round the hoisted shield, Low talk of the gathered wise-ones in the Goth-folk's holy field:

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