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"O Child," said the King of the Dwarf-kind, "when the day at last comes round

For the dread and the Dusk of the Gods, and the kin of the Wolf is unbound,

When thy sword shall hew the fire, and the wildfire beateth thy shield,

Shalt thou praise the wages of hope and the Gods that pitched the field?"

"O Foe of the Gods," said Sigurd, "wouldst thou hide the evil thing,

And the curse that is greater than

thou, lest death end thy labouring,

Lest the night should come upon thee

amidst thy toil for nought?

It is me, it is me that thou fearest, if

indeed I know thy thought; Yea me, who would utterly light the

face of all good and ill,

If not with the fruitful beams that the

summer shall fulfill,

Then at least with the world a-blazing, and the glare of the grinded sword."

And he sprang aloft to the saddle as

he spake the latest word, And the Wrath sang loud in the sheath as it ne'er had sung before,

And the cloudy flecks were scattered

like flames on the heaven's floor, And all was kindled at once, and that

trench of the mountains grey Was filled with the living light as the

low sun lit the way: But Regin turned from the glory with blinded eyes and dazed,

And lo, on the cloudy war-steed how another light there blazed,

And a great voice came from amidst it:

"O Regin, in good sooth,

I have hearkened not nor heeded the words of thy fear and thy ruth: Thou hast told thy tale and thy longing, and thereto I hearkened well:

Let it lead thee up to heaven, let it lead thee down to hell,

The deed shall be done tomorrow: thou shalt have that measureless Gold,

And devour the garnered wisdom that blessed thy realm of old, That hath lain unspent and begrudged in the very heart of hate:

With the blood and the might of thy brother thine hunger shalt thou


And this deed shall be mine and thine; but take heed for what followeth then!

Let each do after his kind! I shall do the deeds of men;

I shall harvest the field of their sowing, in the bed of their strewing shall sleep;

To them shall I give my life-days, to the Gods my glory to keep. But thou with the wealth and the wisdom that the best of the Gods might praise,

If thou shalt indeed excel them and become the hope of the days, Then me in turn hast thou conquered,

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and I shall be in turn Thy fashioned brand of the battle through good and evil to burn, Or the flame that sleeps in thy stithy for the gathered winds to blow,

When thou listest to do and undo

and thine uttermost cunning to show.

But indeed I wot full surely that thou

shalt follow thy kind; And for all that cometh after, the Norns shall loose and bind."

Then his bridle-reins rang sweetly,

and the warding-walls of death, And Regin drew up to him, and the

Wrath sang loud in the sheath, And forth from that trench in the mountains by the westward way they ride;

And little and black goes Regin by

the golden Volsung's side; But no more his head is drooping, for

he seeth the Elf-king's Gold; The garnered might and the wisdom

e'en now his eyes behold.

So up and up they journeyed, and ever as they went

About the cold-slaked forges, o'er

many a cloud-swept bent, Betwixt the walls of blackness, by

shores of the fishless meres, And the fathomless desert waters, did Regin cast his fears, And wrap him in desire; and all alone

he seemed

As a God to his heirship wending, and

forgotten and undreamed Was all the tale of Sigurd, and the

folk he had toiled among, And the Volsungs, Odin's children,

and the men-folk fair and young.

So on they ride to the westward, and

huge were the mountains grown And the floor of heaven was mingled with that tossing world of


And they rode till the noon was forgotten and the sun was waxen low,

And they tarried not, though he perished, and the world grew dark

below. Then they rode a mighty desert, a glimmering place and wide,

And into a narrow pass high-walled on either side

By the blackness of the mountains, and barred aback and in face By the empty night of the shadow; a windless silent place:

But the white moon shone o'erhead mid the small sharp stars and


And each as a man alone they rode on the highway of bale.

So ever they wended upward, and the midnight hour was o'er, And the stars grew pale and paler, and failed from the heaven's


And the moon was a long while dead,

but where was the promise of


No change came over the darkness,

no streak of the dawning grey; No sound of the wind's uprising adown the night there ran: It was blind as the Gaping Gulf ere the first of the worlds began.

Then athwart and athwart rode Sigurd and sought the walls of the pass, But found no wall before him; and the road rang hard as brass Beneath the hoofs of Greyfell, as up

and up he trod: -Was it the daylight of Hell, or the night of the doorway of God?

But lo, at the last a glimmer, and a light from the west there


And another and another, like points

of far-off flame;

And they grew and brightened and gathered; and whiles together they ran

Like the moonwake over the waters; and whiles they were scant and


Some greater and some lesser, like the

boats of fishers laid About the sea of midnight; and a

dusky dawn they made,

A faint and glimmering twilight: So Sigurd strains his eyes,

And he sees how a land deserted all

round about him lies More changeless than mid-ocean, as fruitless as its floor: Then the heart leaps up within him, for he knows that his journey is o'er,

And there he draweth bridle on the

first of the Glittering Heath: And the Wrath is waxen merry and

sings in the golden sheath As he leaps adown from Greyfell, and

stands upon his feet,

And wends his ways through the twilight the Foe of the Gods to


Sigurd slayeth Fafnir the Serpent Nought Sigurd seeth of Regin, and

nought he heeds of him, As in watchful might and glory he strides the desert dim, And behind him paceth Greyfell; but he deems the time o'erlong

Till he meet the great gold-warden, the over-lord of wrong.

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"Thou has praised the sword," said the child, "and the sword shall find a way."

"Be learned of me," said the Wiseone, "for I was the first of thy folk.”.

Said the child: "I shall do thy bidding, and for thee shall I strike the stroke."

Spake the Wise-one: "Thus shalt

thou do when thou wendest hence alone:

Thou shalt find a path in the desert,

and a road in the world of stone; It is smooth and deep and hollow, but

the rain hath riven it not, And the wild wind hath not worn it,

for it is but Fafnir's slot, Whereby he wends to the water and

the fathomless pool of old, When his heart in the dawn is weary,

and he loathes the Ancient Gold: There think of the great and the

fathers, and bare the whetted Wrath,

And dig a pit in the highway, and a

grave in the Serpent's path: Lie thou therein, O Sigurd, and thine

hope from the glooming hide, And be as the dead for a season, and

the living light abide! And so shall thine heart avail thee,

and thy mighty fateful hand, And the Light that lay in the Bran

stock, the well-belovèd brand."

Said the child: "I shall do thy bidding, and for thee shall I strike the stroke;

For I love thee, friend of my fathers, Wise Heart of the holy folk."

So spake the Son of Sigmund, and beheld no man anear,

And again was the night the midnight, and the twinkling flames shone clear

In the hush of the Glittering Heath; and alone went Sigmund's son Till he came to the road of Fafnir, and the highway worn by one, By the drift of the rain unfurrowed, by the windy years unrent, And forth from the dark it came, and into the dark it went.

Great then was the heart of Sigurd, for there in the midmost he stayed,

And thought of the ancient fathers,

and bared the bright blue blade, That shone as a fleck of the day-light,

and the night was all around. Fair then was the Son of Sigmund as he toiled and laboured the ground;

Great, mighty he was in his work

ing, and the Glittering Heath he clave,

And the sword shone blue before him

as he dug the pit and the grave: There he hid his hope from the night

tide and lay like one of the dead, And wise and wary he bided; and the heavens hung over his head.

Now the night wanes over Sigurd, and the ruddy rings he sees, And his war-gear's fair adornment and the God-folk's images; But a voice in the desert ariseth, a sound in the waste has birth, A changing tinkle and clatter, as of gold dragged over the earth: O'er Sigurd widens the day-light, and the sound is drawing close,

And speedier than the trample of

speedy feet it goes; But ever deemeth Sigurd that the sun brings back the day,

For the grave grows lighter and lighter and heaven o'er head is grey.

But now, how the rattling waxeth till

he may not heed nor hark! And the day and the heavens are hidden, and o'er Sigurd rolls the dark,

As the flood of a pitchy river, and heavy-thick is the air

With the venom of hate long hoarded,

and lies once fashioned fair: Then a wan face comes from the darkness, and is wrought in manlike wise,

And the lips are writhed with laughter and bleared are the blinded eyes; And it wandereth hither and thither,

and searcheth through the grave And departeth, leaving nothing, save

the dark, rolled wave on wave O'er the golden head of Sigurd and

the edges of the sword, And the world weighs heavy on Sigurd, and the weary curse of the Hoard: Him-seemed the grave grew straiter,

and his hope of life grew chill, And his heart by the Worm was enfolded, and the bonds of the Ancient Ill.

Then was Sigurd stirred by his glory, and he strove with the swaddling of Death;

He turned in the pit on the highway, and the grave of the Glittering Heath;

He laughed and smote with the laughter and thrust up over his head,

And smote the venom asunder, and clave the heart of Dread; Then he leapt from the pit and the grave, and the rushing river of blood,

And fulfilled with the joy of the War-God on the face of earth

he stood With red sword high uplifted, with wrathful glittering eyes;

And he laughed at the heavens above him for he saw the sun arise, And Sigurd gleamed on the desert,

and shone in the new-born light, And the wind in his raiment wavered, and all the world was bright.

But there was the ancient Fafnir, and the Face of Terror lay On the huddled folds of the Serpent, that were black and ashen-grey In the desert lit by the sun; and those twain looked each on each, And forth from the Face of Terror went a sound of dreadful speech:

"Child, child, who art thou that hast smitten? bright child, of whence is thy birth?"

"I am called the Wild-thing Glorious, and alone I wend on the earth."

"Fierce child, and who was thy father?-Thou hast cleft the heart of the Foe!"

"Am I like to the sons of men-folk, that my father I should know?"

"Wert thou born of a nameless wonder? shall the lies to my deathday cling?"

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