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Living with the Gods. Living for the Gods. Living through the Gods.

The Poetic Edda Online
In the translation of Bellows 

Lays of the Gods

The Lament of Oddrun

Heithrek was the name of a king, whose daughter was called Borgny. Vilmund was the name of the man who was her lover. She could not give birth to a child until Oddrun, Atli's sister, had come to her; Oddrun had been beloved of Gunnar, son of Gjuki. About this story is the following poem.

1. I have heard it told   in olden tales
How a maiden came   to Morningland;
No one of all   on earth above
To Heithrek's daughter   help could give.

2. This Oddrun learned,   the sister of Atli,
That sore the maiden's   sickness was;
The bit-bearer forth   from his stall she brought,
And the saddle laid   on the steed so black.

3. She let the horse go   o'er the level ground,
Till she reached the hall   that loftily rose,
(And in she went   from the end of the hall;)
From the weary steed   the saddle she took;
Hear now the speech   that first she spake:

4. "What news on earth,       .    .    .    .    .
Or what has happened   in Hunland now?"

A serving-maid spake:
"Here Borgny lies   in bitter pain,
Thy friend, and, Oddrun,   thy help would find."

Oddrun spake:
5. 'Who worked this woe   for the woman thus,
Or why so sudden   is Borgny sick?"

The serving-maid spake:
"Vilmund is he,   the heroes' friend,
Who wrapped the woman   in bedclothes warm,
(For winters five,   yet her father knew not)."

6. Then no more   they spake, methinks;
She went at the knees   of the woman to sit;
With magic Oddrun   and mightily Oddrun
Chanted for Borgny   potent charms.

7. At last were born   a boy and girl,
Son and daughter   of Hogni's slayer;
Then speech the woman   so weak began,
Nor said she aught   ere this she spake:

8. "So may the holy   ones thee help,
Frigg and Freyja   and favoring gods,
As thou hast saved me   from sorrow now."

Oddrun spake:
9. "I came not hither   to help thee thus
Because thou ever   my aid didst earn;
I fulfilled the oath   that of old I swore,
That aid to all   I should ever bring,
(When they shared the wealth   the warriors had)."

Borgny spake:
10. "Wild art thou, Oddrun,   and witless now,
That so in hatred   to me thou speakest;
I followed thee   where thou didst fare,
As we had been born   of brothers twain."

Oddrun spake:
11. "I remember the evil   one eve thou spakest,
When a draught I gave   to Gunnar then;
Thou didst say that never   such a deed
By maid was done   save by me alone."

12. Then the sorrowing woman   sat her down
To tell the grief   of her troubles great.
13. "Happy I grew   in the hero's hall
As the warriors wished,   and they loved me well;
Glad I was   of my father's gifts,
For winters five,   while my father lived.

14. "These were the words   the weary king,
Ere he died,   spake last of all:
He bade me with red gold   dowered to be,
And to Grimhild's son   in the South be wedded.

15. "But Brynhild the helm   he bade to wear,
A wish-maid bright   he said she should be;
For a nobler maid   would never be born
On earth, he said,   if death should spare her.

16. "At her weaving Brynhild   sat in her bower,
Lands and folk   alike she had;
The earth and heaven   high resounded
When Fafnir's slayer   the city saw.

17. "Then battle was fought   with the foreign swords,
And the city was broken   that Brynhild had;
Not long thereafter,   but all too soon,
Their evil wiles   full well she knew.

18. "Woeful for this   her vengeance was,
As so we learned   to our sorrow all;
In every land   shall all men hear
How herself at Sigurth's   side she slew.

19. "Love to Gunnar   then I gave,
To the breaker of rings,   as Brynhild might;
To Atli rings   so red they offered,
And mighty gifts   to my brother would give.

20. "Fifteen dwellings   fain would he give
For me, and the burden   that Grani bore;
But Atli said   he would never receive
Marriage gold   from Gjuki's son.

21. "Yet could we not   our love o'ercome,
And my head I laid   on the hero's shoulder;
Many there were   of kinsmen mine
Who said that together   us they had seen.

22. "Atli said   that never I
Would evil plan,   or ill deed do;
But none may this   of another think,
Or surely speak,   when love is shared.

23. "Soon his men   did Atli send,
In the murky wood   on me to spy;
Thither they came   where they should not come,
Where beneath one cover   close we lay.

24. "To the warriors ruddy   rings we offered,
That nought to Atli   e'er they should say;

But swiftly home   they hastened thence,
And eager all   to Atli told.

25. "But close from Guthrun   kept they hid
What first of all   she ought to have known.
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .

26. "Great was the clatter   of gilded hoofs
When Gjuki's sons   through the gateway rode;
The heart they hewed   from Hogni then,
And the other they cast   in the serpents' cave.

27. "The hero wise   on his harp then smote,
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
For help from me   in his heart yet hoped
The high-born king,   might come to him.

28. "Alone was I gone   to Geirmund then,
The draught to mix   and ready to make;
Sudden I heard   from Hlesey clear
How in sorrow the strings   of the harp resounded.

29. "I bade the serving-maids   ready to be,
For I longed the hero's   life to save;
Across the sound   the boats we sailed,
Till we saw the whole   of Atli's home.

30. "Then crawling the evil   woman came,
Atli's mother--   may she ever rot!
And hard she bit   to Gunnar's heart,
So I could not help   the hero brave.

31. "Oft have I wondered   how after this,
Serpents'-bed goddess!   I still might live,
For well I loved   the warrior brave,
The giver of swords,   as my very self.

32. "Thou didst see and listen,   the while I said
The mighty grief   that was mine and theirs;
Each man lives   as his longing wills,--
Oddrun's lament   is ended now."

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