Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Then the twain sped on together, and

they drave the horses on Till they came to a rushing river, a

water wide and wan; And the white mews hovered o'er it; but none might hear their

cry

For the rush and the rattle of waters, as the downlong flood swept by.

So the whole herd took the river and strove the stream to stem, And many a brave steed was there;

but the flood o'ermastered them: And some, it swept them down-ward,

and some won back to bank, Some, caught by the net of the eddies,

in the swirling hubbub sank; But one of all swam over, and they

saw his mane of grey

Toss over the flowery meadows, a bright thing far away: Wide then he wheeled about them,

then took the stream again And with the waves' white horses

mingled his cloudy mane.

Then spake the elder of days: "Heark

en now, Sigurd, and hear; Time was when I gave thy father a

gift thou shalt yet deem dear, And this horse is a gift of my giving: - heed nought where thou mayest ride:

For I have seen thy fathers in a

shining house abide,

And on earth they thought of its threshold, and the gifts I had to give;

Nor prayed for a little longer, and a little longer to live."

Then forth he strode to the mountains, and fain was Sigurd now

To ask him many a matter: but dim did his bright shape grow As a man from the litten doorway fades into the dusk of night; And the sun in the high-noon shone, and the world was exceeding bright.

So Sigurd turned to the river and stood by the wave-wet strand, And the grey horse swims to his feet and lightly leaps a-land, And the youngling looks upon him,

and deems none beside him good. And indeed, as tells the story, he was come of Sleipnir's blood, The tireless horse of Odin: cloud-grey he was of hue,

And it seemed as Sigurd backed him that Sigmund's son he knew, So glad he went beneath him. Then the youngling's song arose As he brushed through the noon-tide

blossoms of Gripir's mighty close, Then he singeth the song of Greyfell,

the horse that Odin gave, Who swam through the sweeping river, and back through the toppling wave.

Regin telleth Sigurd of his kindred,
and of the Gold that was accursed
from ancient days

Now yet the days pass over, and
more than words may tell
Grows Sigurd strong and lovely, and
all children love him well.
But oft he looks on the mountains and
many a time is fain

To know of what lies beyond them, and learn of the wide world's gain.

And he saith: "I dwell in a land that is ruled by none of my blood;

[merged small][ocr errors]

Now again it happed on a day that he

sat in Regin's hall And hearkened many tidings of what had chanced to fall, And of kings that sought their kingdoms o'er many a waste and wild,

And at last saith the crafty master:

"Thou art King Sigmund's child: Wilt thou wait till these kings of the carles shall die in a little land,

Or wilt thou serve their sons and

carry the cup to their hand; Or abide in vain for the day that

never shall come about, When their banners shall dance in the wind and shake to the war-gods' shout?"

[blocks in formation]

Lest the hosts of the Gods be scanty when their day hath begun to darken,

When the bonds of the Wolf wax thin, and Loki fretteth his chain. And sure for the house of my fathers full oft my heart is fain, And meseemeth I hear them talking of the day when I shall come, And of all the burden of deeds, that

my hand shall bear them home. And so when the deed is ready, nowise the man shall lack: But the wary foot is the surest, and the hasty oft turns back."

Then answered Regin the guileful: "The deed is ready to hand, Yet holding my peace is the best, for well thou lovest the land; And thou lovest thy life moreover,

and the peace of thy youthful

days,

And why should the full-fed feaster

his hand to the rye-bread raise? Yet they say that Sigmund begat thee

and he looked to fashion a man. Fear nought; he lieth quiet in his mound by the sea-waves wan."

So shone the eyes of Sigurd, that the shield against him hung Cast back their light as the sunbeams; but his voice to the roof-tree

rung: "Tell me, thou Master of Masters,

what deed is the deed I shall do? Nor mock thou the son of Sigmund lest the day of his birth thou rue."

Then answered the Master of Sleight: "The deed is the righting of wrong,

And the quelling a bale and a sorrow that the world hath endured o'erlong,

And the winning a treasure untold, that shall make thee more than the kings;

Thereof is the Helm of Aweing, the

wonder of earthly things,

And thereof is its very fellow, the

War-coat all of gold,

That has not its like in the heavens nor has earth of its fellow told."

Then answered Sigurd the Volsung: "How long hereof hast thou known?

And what unto thee is this treasure, that thou seemest to give as thine own?"

"Alas!" quoth the smithying master, "it is mine, yet none of mine Since my heart herein avails not, and

my hand is frail and fineIt is long since I first came hither to

seek a man for my need; For I saw by a glimmering light that

hence would spring the deed, And many a deed of the world: but

the generations passed, And the first of the days was as near to the end that I sought as the last;

Till I looked on thine eyes in the cra

dle: and now I deem through thee, That the end of my days of waiting, and the end of my woes shall be."

Then Sigurd awhile was silent; but at last he answered and said: "Thou shalt have thy will and the treasure, and shalt take the curse on thine head

If a curse the gold enwrappeth: but the deed will I surely do,

For today the dreams of my childhood have bloomed in my heart

anew:

And I long to look on the world and the glory of the earth And to deal in the dealings of men, and garner the harvest of worth. But tell me, thou Master of Masters, where lieth this measureless wealth;

Is it guarded by swords of the earlfolk, or kept by cunning and stealth?

Is it over the main sea's darkness, or beyond the mountain wall? Or e'en in these peaceful acres anigh to the hands of all?"

Then Regin answered sweetly: "Hereof must a tale be told: Bide sitting, thou son of Sigmund, on

the heap of unwrought gold, And hearken of wondrous matters,

and of things unheard, unsaid, And deeds of my beholding ere the

first of Kings was made.

"And first ye shall know of a sooth,

that I never was born of the race Which the masters of God-home have

made to cover the fair earth's face; But I come of the Dwarfs departed;

and fair was the earth whileom Ere the short-lived thralls of the Gods amidst its dales were

come:

And how were we worse than the Gods, though maybe we lived not as long? Yet no weight of memory maimed us; nor aught we knew of wrong.

What felt our souls of shaming, what

knew our hearts of love? We did and undid at pleasure, and

repented nought thereof. -Yea we were exceeding mighty

bear with me yet, my son; For whiles can I scarcely think it that

our days are wholly done. And trust not thy life in my hands in

the day when most I seem Like the Dwarfs that are long departed, and most of my kindred I dream.

"So as we dwelt came tidings that the Gods amongst us were,

And the people come from Asgard:

then rose up hope and fear, And strange shapes of things went flitting betwixt the night and

the eve,

And our sons waxed wild and wrathful, and our daughters learned to grieve.

Then we fell to the working of metal, and the deeps of the earth would know,

And we dealt with venom and leechcraft, and we fashioned spear and bow,

And we set the ribs to the oak-keel,

and looked on the landless sea; And the world began to be such-like

as the Gods would have it to be. In the womb of the woeful Earth had they quickened the grief and the gold.

"It was Reidmar the Ancient begat

me; and now was he waxen old, And a covetous man and a king; and

he bade, and I built him a hall And a golden glorious house; and thereto his sons did he call,

And he bade them be evil and wise, that his will through them might be wrought.

Then he gave unto Fafnir my brother the soul that feareth nought, And the brow of the hardened iron, and the hand that may never fail,

And the greedy heart of a king, and the ear that hears no wail.

"But next unto Otter my brother he gave the snare and the net And the longing to wend through the wild-wood, and wade the high

ways wet:

And the foot that never resteth, while aught be left alive That hath cunning to match man's cunning or might with his might to strive.

"And to me, the least and the youngest, what gift for the slaying of ease?

Save the grief that remembers the past, and the fear that the future sees;

And the hammer and fashioning-iron, and the living coal of fire; And the craft that createth a semblance, and fails of the heart's desire;

And the toil that each dawning quickens and the task that is never done, And the heart that longeth ever, nor

will look to the deed that is won.

"Thus gave my father the gifts that might never be taken again; Far worse were we now than the Gods, and but little better than

men.

But yet of our ancient might one thing had we left us still:

We had craft to change our semblance, and could shift us at our will

Into bodies of the beast-kind, or fowl, or fishes cold;

For belike no fixèd semblance we had

in the days of old,

Till the Gods were waxen busy, and all things their form must take

That knew of good and evil, and

longed to gather and make.

"So dwelt we, brethren and father;

and Fafnir my brother fared As the scourge and compeller of all things, and left no wrong undared;

But for me, I toiled and I toiled; and

fair grew my father's house; But writhen and foul were the hands

that had made it glorious; And the love of women left me, and

the fame of sword and shield: And the sun and the winds of heaven, and the fowl and the grass of the field

Were grown as the tools of my smithy;

and all the world I knew, And the glories that lie beyond it, and

whitherward all things drew; And myself a little fragment amidst

it all I saw, Grim, cold-heart, and unmighty as

the tempest-driven straw. -Let be. For Otter my brother

saw seldom field or fold, And he oftenest used that custom,

whereof e'en now I told, And would shift his shape with the wood-beasts and the things of land and sea;

And he knew what joy their hearts had, and what they longed to be,

And their dim-eyed understanding, and his wood-craft waxed so

great,

That he seemed the king of the creatures and their very mortal fate.

"Now as the years won over three folk of the heavenly halls Grew aweary of sleepless sloth, and the day that nought befalls; And they fain would look on the earth, and their latest handi

work, And turn the fine gold over, lest a flaw therein should lurk. And the three were the heart-wise

Odin, the Father of the Slain, And Loki, the World's Begrudger,

who maketh all labour vain, And Hænir, the Utter-Blameless, who wrought the hope of man, And his heart and inmost yearnings,

when first the work began;The God that was aforetime, and hereafter yet shall be When the new light yet undreamed

of shall shine o'er earth and sea.

"Thus about the world they wended

and deemed it fair and good, And they loved their life-days dearly: so came they to the wood, And the lea without a shepherd and

the dwellings of the deer, And unto a mighty water that ran from a fathomless mere. Now that flood my brother Otter had haunted many a day For its plenteous fruit of fishes; and there on the bank he lay

« ÎnapoiContinuă »