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Asatru Ring Frankfurt & Midgard
Living with the Gods. Living for the Gods. Living through the Gods.

The Poetic Edda Online
In the translation of Bellows 

Lays of the Heroes

The Ballad of Fafnir

Sigurth and Regin went up to the Gnitaheith, and found there the track that Fafnir made when he crawled to water. Then Sigurth made a great trench across the path, and took his place therein. When Fafnir crawled from his gold, he blew out venom, and it ran down from above on Sigurth's head. But when Fafnir crawled over the trench, then Sigurth thrust his sword into his body to the heart. Fafnir writhed and struck out with his head and tail. Sigurth leaped from the trench, and each looked at the other. Fafnir said:

1. "Youth, oh, youth!   of whom then, youth, art thou born?
Say whose son thou art,
Who in Fafnir's blood   thy bright blade reddened,
And struck thy sword to my heart."

Sigurth concealed his name because it was believed in olden times that the word of a dying man might have great power if he cursed his foe by his name. He said:

2. "The Noble Hart   my name, and I go
A motherless man abroad;
Father I had not,   as others have,
And lonely ever I live."

Fafnir spake:
3. "If father thou hadst not,   as others have,
By what wonder wast thou born?
(Though thy name on the day   of my death thou hidest,
Thou knowest now thou dost lie.)"

Sigurth spake:
4. "My race, methinks,   is unknown to thee,
And so am I myself;
Sigurth my name,   and Sigmund's son,
Who smote thee thus with the sword."

Fafnir spake:
5. "Who drove thee on?   why wert thou driven
My life to make me lose?
A father brave   had the bright-eyed youth,
For bold in boyhood thou art."

Sigurth spake:
6. "My heart did drive me,   my hand fulfilled,
And my shining sword so sharp;
Few are keen   when old age comes,
Who timid in boyhood be."

Fafnir spake:
7. "If thou mightest grow   thy friends among,
One might see thee fiercely fight;
But bound thou art,   and in battle taken,
And to fear are prisoners prone."

Sigurth spake:
8. "Thou blamest me, Fafnir,   that I see from afar
The wealth that my father's was;
Not bound am I,   though in battle taken,
Thou hast found that free I live."

Fafnir spake:
9. "In all I say   dost thou hatred see,
Yet truth alone do I tell;
The sounding gold,   the glow-red wealth,
And the rings thy bane shall be."

Sigurth spake:
10. "Some one the hoard   shall ever hold,
Till the destined day shall come;
For a time there is   when every man
Shall journey hence to hell."

Fafnir spake:
11. "The fate of the Norns   before the headland
Thou findest, and doom of a fool;
In the water shalt drown   if thou row 'gainst the wind,
All danger is near to death."

Sigurth spake:
12. "Tell me then, Fafnir,   for wise thou art famed,
And much thou knowest now:
Who are the Norns   who are helpful in need,
And the babe from the mother bring?"

Fafnir spake:
13. "Of many births   the Norns must be,
Nor one in race they were;
Some to gods, others   to elves are kin,
And Dvalin's daughters some."

Sigurth spake:
14. "Tell me then, Fafnir,   for wise thou art famed,
And much thou knowest now:
How call they the isle   where all the gods
And Surt shall sword-sweat mingle?"

Fafnir spake:
15. "Oskopnir is it,   where all the gods
Shall seek the play of swords;
Bilrost breaks   when they cross the bridge,
And the steeds shall swim in the flood.

16. "The fear-helm I wore   to afright mankind,
While guarding my gold I lay;
Mightier seemed I   than any man,
For a fiercer never I found."

Sigurth spake:
17. "The fear-helm surely   no man shields
When he faces a valiant foe;
Oft one finds,   when the foe he meets,
That he is not the bravest of all."

Fafnir spake:
18. "Venom I breathed   when bright I lay
By the hoard my father had;
There was none so mighty   as dared to meet me,
And weapons nor wiles I feared.)"

Sigurth spake:
19. "Glittering worm,   thy hissing was great,
And hard didst show thy heart;
But hatred more   have the sons of men
For him who owns the helm."

Fafnir spake:
20. "I counsel thee, Sigurth,   heed my speech,
And ride thou homeward hence,
The sounding gold,   the glow-red wealth,
And the rings thy bane shall be."

Sigurth spake:
21. "Thy counsel is given,   but go I shall
To the gold in the heather hidden;
And, Fafnir, thou   with death dost fight,
Lying where Hel shall have thee."

Fafnir spake:
22. "Regin betrayed me,   and thee will betray,
Us both to death will he bring;
His life, methinks,   must Fafnir lose,
For the mightier man wast thou."

Regin had gone to a distance while Sigurth fought Fafnir, and came back while Sigurth was wiping the blood from his sword. Regin said:

23. "Hail to thee, Sigurth!   Thou victory hast,
And Fafnir in fight hast slain;
Of all the men   who tread the earth,
Most fearless art thou, methinks."

Sigurth spake:
24. "Unknown it is,   when all are together,
(The sons of the glorious gods,)
Who bravest born shall seem;
Some are valiant   who redden no sword
In the blood of a foeman's breast."

Regin spake:
25. "Glad art thou, Sigurth,   of battle gained,
As Gram with grass thou cleansest;
My brother fierce   in fight hast slain,
And somewhat I did myself."

Sigurth spake:
26. "Afar didst thou go   while Fafnir reddened
With his blood my blade so keen;
With the might of the dragon   my strength I matched,
While thou in the heather didst hide."

Regin spake:
27. "Longer wouldst thou   in the heather have let
Yon hoary giant hide,
Had the weapon availed not   that once I forged,
The keen-edged blade thou didst bear."

Sigurth spake:
28. "Better is heart   than a mighty blade
For him who shall fiercely fight;
The brave man well   shall fight and win,
Though dull his blade may be.

29. "Brave men better   than cowards be,
When the clash of battle comes;
And better the glad   than the gloomy man
Shall face what before him lies.

30. "Thy rede it was   that I should ride
Hither o'er mountains high;
The glittering worm   would have wealth and life
If thou hadst not mocked at my might."

Then Regin went up to Fafnir and cut out his heart with his sword, that was named Rithil, and then he drank blood from the wounds. Regin said:

31. "Sit now, Sigurth,   for sleep will I,
Hold Fafnir's heart to the fire;
For all his heart   shall eaten be,
Since deep of blood I have drunk."

Sigurth took Fafnir's heart and cooked it on a spit. When he thought that it was fully cooked, and the blood foamed out of the heart, then he tried it with his finger to see whether it was fully cooked. He burned his finger, and put it in his mouth. But when Fafnir's heart's-blood came on his tongue, he understood the speech of birds. He heard nut-hatches chattering in the thickets. A nut hatch said:

32. "There sits Sigurth,   sprinkled with blood,
And Fafnir's heart   with fire he cooks;
Wise were the breaker   of rings, I ween,
To eat the life-muscles   all so bright."

A second spake:
33. "There Regin lies,   and plans he lays
The youth to betray   who trusts him well;
Lying words   with wiles will he speak,
Till his brother the maker   of mischief avenges."

A third spake:
34. "Less by a head   let the chatterer hoary
Go from here to hell;
Then all of the wealth   he alone can wield,
The gold that Fafnir guarded."

A fourth spake:
35. "Wise would he seem   if so he would heed
The counsel good   we sisters give;
Thought he would give,   and the ravens gladden,
There is ever a wolf   where his ears I spy."

A fifth spake:
36. "Less wise must be   the tree of battle
Than to me would seem   the leader of men,
If forth he lets   one brother fare,
When he of the other   the slayer is."

A sixth spake:
37. "Most foolish he seems   if he shall spare
His foe, the bane of the folk,
There Regin lies,   who hath wronged him so,
Yet falsehood knows he not."

A seventh spake:
38. "Let the head from the frost-cold   giant be hewed,
And let him of rings be robbed;
Then all the wealth   which Fafnir's was
Shall belong to thee alone."

Sigurth spake:
39. "Not so rich a fate   shall Regin have
As the tale of my death to tell;
For soon the brothers   both shall die,
And hence to hell shall go."

Sigurth hewed off Regin's head, and then he ate Fafnir's heart, and drank the blood of both Regin and Fafnir. Then Sigurth heard what the nut-hatch said:

40. "Bind, Sigurth, the golden   rings together,
Not kingly is it   aught to fear;
I know a maid,   there is none so fair,
Rich in gold,   if thou mightest get her.

41. "Green the paths   that to Gjuki lead,
And his fate the way   to the wanderer shows;
The doughty king   a daughter has,
That thou as a bride   mayst, Sigurth, buy."

Another spake:
42. "A hall stands high   on Hindarfjoll,
All with flame   is it ringed without;
Warriors wise   did make it once
Out of the flaming   light of the flood.

43. "On the mountain sleeps   a battle-maid,
And about her plays   the bane of the wood;
Ygg with the thorn   hath smitten her thus,
For she felled the fighter   he fain would save.

44. "There mayst thou behold   the maiden helmed,
Who forth on Vingskornir   rode from the fight;
The victory-bringer   her sleep shall break not,
Thou heroes' son,   so the Norns have set."

Sigurth rode along Fafnir's trail to his lair, and found it open. The gate-posts were of iron, and the gates; of iron, too, were all the beams in the house, which was dug down into the earth. There Sigurth found a mighty store of gold, and he filled two chests full thereof; he took the fear-helm and a golden mail-coat and the sword Hrotti, and many other precious things, and loaded Grani with them, but the horse would not go forward until Sigurth mounted on his back.

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