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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 Gods
Atlamol en Grönlenzku

The Greenland Ballad of Atli

1. There are many who know | how of old did men
In counsel gather; | little good did they get;
In secret they plotted, | it was sore for them later,
And for Gjuki's sons, | whose trust they deceived.

2. Fate grew for the princes, | to death they were given;
Ill counsel was Atli's, | though keenness he had;
He felled his staunch bulwark, | his own sorrow fashioned,
Soon a message he sent | that his kinsmen should seek him.

3. Wise was the woman, | she fain would use wisdom,
She saw well what meant | all they said in secret;
From her heart it was hid | how help she might render,
The sea they should sail, | while herself she should go not.

4. Runes did she fashion, | but false Vingi made them,
The speeder of hatred, | ere to give them he sought;
Then soon fared the warriors | whom Atli had sent,
And to Limafjord came, | to the home of the kings.

5. They were kindly with ale, | and fires they kindled,
They thought not of craft | from the guests who had come;
The gifts did they take | that the noble one gave them,
On the pillars they hung them, | no fear did they harbor.

6. Forth did Kostbera, | wife of Hogni, then come,
Full kindly she was, | and she welcomed them both;
And glad too was Glaumvor, | the wife of Gunnar,
She knew well to care | for the needs of the guests.

7. Then Hogni they asked | if more eager he were,
Full clear was the guile, | if on guard they had been;
Then Gunnar made promise, | if Hogni would go,
And Hogni made answer | as the other counseled.

8. Then the famed ones brought mead, | and fair was the feast,
Full many were the horns, | till the men had drunk deep;
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
Then the mates made ready | their beds for resting.

9. Wise was Kostbera, | and cunning in rune-craft,
The letters would she read | by the light of the fire;
But full quickly her tongue | to her palate clave,
So strange did they seem | that their meaning she saw not.

10. Full soon then his bed | came Hogni to seek,
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
The clear-souled one dreamed, | and her dream she kept not,
To the warrior the wise one | spake when she wakened:

11. "Thou wouldst go hence, | Hogni, but heed my counsel,--
Known to few are the runes,-- | and put off thy faring;
I have read now the runes | that thy sister wrote,
And this time the bright one | did not bid thee to come.

12. "Full much do I wonder, | nor well can I see,
Why the woman wise | so wildly hath written;
But to me it seems | that the meaning beneath
Is that both shall be slain | if soon ye shall go.
But one rune she missed, | or else others have marred it."

Hogni spake:
13. "All women are fearful; | not so do I feel,
Ill I seek not to find | till I soon must avenge it;
The king now will give us | the glow-ruddy gold;
I never shall fear, | though of dangers I know."

Kostbera spake:
14. "In danger ye fare, | if forth ye go thither,
No welcoming friendly | this time shall ye find;
For I dreamed now, Hogni, | and nought will I hide,
Full evil thy faring, | if rightly I fear.

15. "Thy bed-covering saw I | in the flames burning,
And the fire burst high | through the walls of my home."
Hogni spake:
"Yon garment of linen | lies little of worth,
It will soon be burned, | so thou sawest the bed-cover."

Kostbera spake:
16. "A bear saw I enter, | the pillars he broke,
And he brandished his claws | so that craven we were;
With his mouth seized he many, | and nought was our might,
And loud was the tumult, | not little it was."

Hogni spake:
17. "Now a storm is brewing, | and wild it grows swiftly,
A dream of an ice-bear | means a gale from the east."

Kostbera spake:
18. "An eagle I saw flying | from the end through the house,
Our fate must be bad, | for with blood he sprinkled us;
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
From the evil I fear | that 'twas Atli's spirit."

Hogni spake:
19. "They will slaughter soon, | and so blood do we see,
Oft oxen it means | when of eagles one dreams;
True is Atli's heart, | whatever thou dreamest."
Then silent they were, | and nought further they said.

20. The high-born ones wakened, | and like speech they had,
Then did Glaumvor tell | how in terror she dreamed,
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    . Gunnar | two roads they should go.

Glaumvor spake:
21. "A gallows saw I ready, | thou didst go to thy hanging,
Thy flesh serpents ate, | and yet living I found thee;
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
The gods' doom descended; | now say what it boded."

22. "A sword drawn bloody | from thy garments I saw,--
Such a dream is hard | o a husband to tell,--
A spear stood, methought, | through thy body thrust,
And at head and feet | the wolves were howling."

Gunnar spake:
23. "The hounds are running, | loud their barking is heard,
Oft hounds' clamor follows | the flying of spears."

Glaumvor spake:
24. "A river the length | of the hall saw I run,
Full swiftly it roared, | o'er the benches it swept;
O'er the feet did it break | of ye brothers twain,
The water would yield not; | some meaning there was."

25. "I dreamed that by night | came dead women hither,
Sad were their garments, | and thee were they seeking;
They bade thee come swiftly | forth to their benches,
And nothing, methinks, | could the Norns avail thee. "

Gunnar spake:
26. "Too late is thy speaking, | for so is it settled
From the faring I turn not, | the going is fixed,
Though likely it is | that our lives shall be short."

27. Then bright shone the morning, | the men all were ready,
They said, and yet each | would the other hold back;
Five were the warriors, | and their followers all
But twice as many,-- | their minds knew not wisdom.

28. Snćvar and Solar, | they were sons of Hogni,
Orkning was he called | who came with the others,
Blithe was the shield-tree, | the brother of Kostbera;
The fair-decked ones followed, | till the fjord divided them,
Full hard did they plead, | but the others would hear not.

29. Then did Glaumvor speak forth, | the wife of Gunnar,
To Vingi she said | that which wise to her seemed:
"I know not if well | thou requitest our welcome,
Full ill was thy coming | if evil shall follow."

30. Then did Vingi swear, | and full glib was his speech,
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
"May giants now take me | if lies I have told ye,
And the gallows if hostile | thought did I have."

31. Then did Bera speak forth, | and fair was her thought,
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .
"May ye sail now happy, | and victory have,
To fare as I bid ye, | may nought your way bar."

32. Then Hogni made answer,-- | dear held he his kin,-
"Take courage, ye wise ones, | whatsoever may come;
Though many may speak, | yet is evil oft mighty,
And words avail little | to lead one homeward."

33. They tenderly looked | till each turned on his way,
Then with changing fate | were their farings divided.

34. Full stoutly they rowed, | and the keel clove asunder,
Their backs strained at the oars, | and their strength was fierce;
The oar-loops were burst, | the thole-pins, were broken,
Nor the ship made they fast | ere from her they fared.

35. Not long was it after-- | the end must I tell--
That the home they beheld | that Buthli once had;
Loud the gates resounded | when Hogni smote them;
Vingi spake then a word | that were better unsaid:

36. "Go ye far from the house, | for false is its entrance,
Soon shall I burn you, | ye are swiftly smitten;
I bade ye come fairly, | but falseness was under,
Now bide ye afar | while your gallows I fashion."

37. Then Hogni made answer, | his heart yielded little,
And nought did he fear | that his fate held in store:
"Seek not to affright us, | thou shalt seldom succeed;
If thy words are more, | then the worse grows thy fate."

38. Then Vingi did they smite, | and they sent him to hell,
With their axes they clove him | while the death rattle came.

39. Atli summoned his men, | in mail-coats they hastened,
All ready they came, | and between was the courtyard.

40. Then came they to words, | and full wrathful they were:
"Long since did we plan | how soon we might slay you."

Hogni spake:
41. "Little it matters | if long ye have planned it;
For unarmed do ye wait, | and one have we felled,
We smote him to hell, | of your host was he once."

42. Then wild was their anger | when all heard his words;
Their fingers were swift | on their bowstrings to seize,
Full sharply they shot, | by their shields were they guarded.

43. In the house came the word | how the heroes with out
Fought in front of the hall; | they heard a thrall tell it;
Grim then was Guthrun, | the grief when she heard,
With necklaces fair, | and she flung them all from her,
(The silver she hurled | so the rings burst asunder.)

44. Then out did she go, | she flung open the doors,
All fearless she went, | and the guests did she welcome;
To the Niflungs she went-- | her last greeting it was,--
In her speech truth was clear, | and much would she speak.

45. "For your safety I sought | that at home ye should stay;
None escapes his fate, | so ye hither must fare."
Full wisely she spake, | if yet peace they might win,
But to nought would they hearken, | and "No" said they all.

46. Then the high-born one saw | that hard was their battle,
In fierceness of heart | she flung off her mantle;
Her naked sword grasped she | her kin's lives to guard,
Not gentle her hands | in the hewing of battle.

47. Then the daughter of Gjuki | two warriors smote down,
Atli's brother she slew, | and forth then they bore him;
(So fiercely she fought | that his feet she clove off;)
Another she smote | so that never he stood,
To hell did she send him,-- | her hands trembled never.

48. Full wide was the fame | of the battle they fought,
'Twas the greatest of deeds | of the sons of Gjuki;
Men say that the Niflungs, | while themselves they were living,
With their swords fought mightily, | mail-coats they sundered,
And helms did they hew, | as their hearts were fearless.

49. All the morning they fought | until midday shone,
(All the dusk as well | and the dawning of day,)
When the battle was ended, | the field flowed with blood;
Ere they fell, eighteen | of their foemen were slain,
By the two sons of Bera | and her brother as well.

50. Then the warrior spake, | and wild was his anger:
"This is evil to see, | and thy doing is all;
Once we were thirty, | we thanes, keen for battle,
Now eleven are left, | and great is our lack.

51. "There were five of us brothers | when Buthli we lost,
Now Hel has the half, | and two smitten lie here;
A great kinship had I,-- | the truth may I hide not,--
From a wife bringing slaughter | small joy could I win.

52. We lay seldom together | since to me thou wast given,
Now my kin all are gone, | of my gold am I robbed;
Nay, and worst, thou didst send | my sister to hell."

Guthrun spake:
53. "Hear me now, Atli! | the first evil was thine;
My mother didst thou take, | and for gold didst murder her,
My sister's daughter | thou didst starve in a prison.
A jest does it seem | that thy sorrow thou tellest,
And good do I find it | that grief to thee comes."

Atli spake:
54. "Go now, ye warriors, | and make greater the grief
Of the woman so fair, | for fain would I see it;
So fierce be thy warring | that Guthrun shall weep,
I would gladly behold | her happiness lost.

55. "Seize ye now Hogni, | and with knives shall ye hew him,
His heart shall ye cut out, | this haste ye to do;
And grim-hearted Gunnar | shall ye bind on the gallows,
Swift shall ye do it, | to serpents now cast him."

Hogni spake:
56. "Do now as thou wilt, | for glad I await it,
Brave shalt thou find me, | I have faced worse before;
We held thee at bay | while whole we were fighting,
Now with wounds are we spent, | so thy will canst thou work."

57. Then did Beiti speak, | he was Atli's steward:
"Let us seize now Hjalli, | and Hogni spare we!
Let us fell the sluggard, | he is fit for death,
He has lived too long, | and lazy men call him."

58. Afraid was the pot-watcher, | he fled here and yon,
And crazed with his terror | he climbed in the corners:
"Ill for me is this fighting, | if I pay for your fierceness,
And sad is the day | to die leaving my swine
And all the fair victuals | that of old did I have."

59. They seized Buthli's cook, | and they came with the knife,
The frightened thrall howled | ere the edge did he feel;
He was willing, he cried, | to dung well the court yard,
Do the basest of work, | if spare him they would;
Full happy were Hjalli | if his life he might have.

60. Then fain was Hogni-- | there are few would do thus--
To beg for the slave | that safe hence he should go;
"I would find it far better | this knife-play to feel,
Why must we all hark | to this howling longer?"

61. Then the brave one they seized; | to the warriors bold
No chance was there left | to delay his fate longer;
Loud did Hogni laugh, | all the sons of day heard him,
So valiant he was | that well he could suffer.

62. A harp Gunnar seized, | with his toes he smote it
So well did he strike | that the women all wept,
And the men, when clear | they heard it, lamented;
Full noble was his song, | the rafters burst asunder.

63. Then the heroes died | ere the day was yet come;
Their fame did they leave | ever lofty to live.
.    .    .    .    .        .    .    .    .    .

64. Full mighty seemed Atli | as o'er them he stood,
The wise one he blamed, | and his words reproached her:
"It is morning, Guthrun; | now thy dear ones dost miss,
But the blame is part thine | that thus it has chanced."

Guthrun spake:
65. "Thou art joyous, Atli, | for of evil thou tellest,
But sorrow is thine | if thou mightest all see;
Thy heritage heavy | here can I tell thee,
Sorrow never thou losest | unless I shall die."

Atli spake:
66. "Not free of guilt am I; | a way shall I find
That is better by far,-- | oft the fairest we shunned;--
With slaves I console thee, | with gems fair to see,
And with silver snow-white, | as thyself thou shalt choose."

Guthrun spake:
67. "No hope shall this give thee, | thy gifts I shall take not,
Requital I spurned | when my sorrows were smaller;
Once grim did I seem, | but now greater my grimness,
There was nought seemed too hard | while Hogni was living.

68. "Our childhood did we have | in a single house,
We played many a game, | in the grove did we grow;
Then did Grimhild give us | gold and necklaces,
Thou shalt ne'er make amends | for my brother's murder,
Nor ever shalt win me | to think it was well.

69. "But the fierceness of men | rules the fate of women,
The tree-top bows low | if bereft of its leaves,
The tree bends over | if the roots are cleft under it;
Now mayest thou, Atli, | o'er all things here rule."

70. Full heedless the warrior | was that he trusted her,
So clear was her guile | if on guard he had been;
But crafty was Guthrun, | with cunning she spake,
Her glance she made pleasant, | with two shields she played.

71. The beer then she brought | for her brothers' death feast,
And a feast Atli made | for his followers dead
No more did they speak, | the mead was made ready,
Soon the men were gathered | with mighty uproar.

72. Thus bitterly planned she, | and Buthli's race threatened,
And terrible vengeance | on her husband would take;
The little ones called she, | on a block she laid them;
Afraid were the proud ones, | but their tears did not fall;
To their mother's arms went they, | and asked what she would.

Guthrun spake:
73. "Nay, ask me no more! | You both shall I murder,
For long have I wished | your lives to steal from you.

The boys spake:
"Slay thy boys as thou wilt, | for no one may bar it,
Short the angry one's peace | if all thou shalt do."

74. Then the grim one slew both | of the brothers young,
Full hard was her deed | when their heads she smote off;
Fain was Atli to know | whither now they were gone,
The boys from their sport, | for nowhere he spied them.

Guthrun spake:
75. "My fate shall I seek, | all to Atli saying,
The daughter of Grimhild | the deed from thee hides not;
No joy thou hast, Atli, | if all thou shalt hear,
Great sorrow didst wake | when my brothers thou slewest.

76. '1 have seldom slept | since the hour they were slain,
Baleful were my threats, | now I bid thee recall them;
Thou didst say it was morning,-- | too well I remember,--
Now is evening come, | and this question thou askest.

77. "Now both of thy sons | thou hast lost .    .    .    .
    .    .    .    .    .    | as thou never shouldst do;
The skulls of thy boys | thou as beer-cups didst have,
And the draught that I made thee | was mixed with their blood.

78. 'I cut out their hearts, | on a spit I cooked them,
I came to thee with them, | and calf's flesh I called them;
Alone didst thou eat them, | nor any didst leave,

Thou didst greedily bite, | and thy teeth were busy.

79. "Of thy sons now thou knowest; | few suffer more sorrow;
My guilt have I told, | fame it never shall give me."

Atli spake:
80. "Grim wast thou, Guthrun, | in so grievous a deed,
My draught with the blood | of thy boys to mingle;
Thou hast slain thine own kin, | most ill it be seemed thee,
And little for me | twixt my sorrows thou leavest."

Guthrun spake:
81. "Still more would I seek | to slay thee thyself,
Enough ill comes seldom | to such as thou art;
Thou didst folly of old, | such that no one shall find

In the whole world of men | a match for such madness.
Now this that of late | we learned hast thou added,
Great evil hast grasped, | and thine own death feast made."

Atli spake:
82. "With fire shall they burn thee, | and first shall they stone thee,
So then hast thou earned | what thou ever hast sought for."

Guthrun spake:
"Such woes for thyself | shalt thou say in the morning,
From a finer death I | to another light fare."

83. Together they sat | and full grim were their thoughts,
Unfriendly their words, | and no joy either found;
In Hniflung grew hatred, | great plans did he have,
To Guthrun his anger | against Atli was told.

84. To her heart came ever | the fate of Hogni,
She told him 'twere well | if he vengeance should win;
So was Atli slain,-- | 'twas not slow to await,--
Hogni's son slew him, | and Guthrun herself.

85. Then the warrior spake, | as from slumber he wakened,
Soon he knew for his wounds | would the bandage do nought:
"Now the truth shalt thou say: | who has slain Buthli's son?
Full sore am I smitten, | nor hope can I see."

Guthrun spake:
86. "Ne'er her deed from thee hides | the daughter of Grimhild,
I own to the guilt | that is ending thy life,
And the son of Hogni; | 'tis so thy wounds bleed."

Atli spake:
"To murder hast thou fared, | though foul it must seem;
Ill thy friend to betray | who trusted thee well.

87. "Not glad went I hence | thy hand to seek, Guthrun,
In thy widowhood famed, | but haughty men found thee;
My belief did not lie, | as now we have learned;
I brought thee home hither, | and a host of men with us.

88. "Most noble was all | when of old we journeyed,
Great honor did we have | of heroes full worthy;
Of cattle had we plenty, | and greatly we prospered,
Mighty was our wealth, | and many received it.

89. "To the famed one as bride-gift | I gave jewels fair,
I gave thirty slaves, | and handmaidens seven;
There was honor in such gifts, | yet the silver was greater.

90. "But all to thee was | as if nought it were worth,
While the land lay before thee | that Buthli had left me;
Thou in secret didst work | so the treasure I won not;
My mother full oft | to sit weeping didst make,
No wedded joy found I | in fullness of heart."

Guthrun spake:
91. "Thou liest now, Atli, | though little I heed it;
If I seldom was kindly, | full cruel wast thou;
Ye brothers fought young, | quarrels brought you to battle,
And half went to hell | of the sons of thy house,
And all was destroyed | that should e'er have done good.

92. "My two brothers and I | were bold in our thoughts,
From the land we went forth, | with Sigurth we fared;
Full swiftly we sailed, | each one steering his ship,
So our fate sought we e'er | till we came to the East.

93. "First the king did we slay, | and the land we seized,
The princes did us service, | for such was their fear;
From the forest we called | them we fain would have guiltless,
And rich made we many | who of all were bereft.

94. "Slain was the Hun-king, | soon happiness vanished,
In her grief the widow | so young sat weeping;
Yet worse seemed the sorrow | to seek Atli's house,
A hero was my husband, | and hard was his loss.

95. "From the Thing thou camst never, | for thus have we heard,
Having won in thy quarrels, | or warriors smitten;
Full yielding thou wast, | never firm was thy will,
In silence didst suffer, |     .    .    .    .    .

Atli spake:
96. "Thou liest now, Guthrun, | but little of good
Will it bring to either, | for all have we lost;
But, Guthrun, yet once | be thou kindly of will,
For the honor of both, | when forth I am home."

Guthrun spake:
97. "A ship will I buy, | and a bright-hued coffin,
I will wax well the shroud | to wind round thy body,
For all will I care | as if dear were we ever."

98. Then did Atli die, | and his heirs' grief doubled;
The high-born one did | as to him she had promised;
Then sought Guthrun the wise | to go to her death,
But for days did she wait, | and 'twas long ere she died.

99. Full happy shall he be | who such offspring has,
Or children so gallant, | as Gjuki begot;
Forever shall live, | and in lands far and wide,
Their valor heroic | wherever men hear it.

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