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~ By Courtesy of Others ~
A last request allow me now,
And nothing else I’ll ask of you.
In the field prepare a pyre for me.
Broad enough for all of us,
All to be slain for Sigurd’s sake.
Hide its form with hangings and shields,
Colored fabrics, a crowd of slaves,
And at my side, let Sigurd lie.
On the other side, with Sigurd burn,
Splendid in gold, my serving maids,
Two at our heads, a hawk with each,
A brace of hounds beneath our feet,
So everything will even seem.
Lay between us, as before it did,
The sword, ring-hilted, sharp-edged iron,
As when we shared a single bed,
And men supposed us man and wife.
Do not let shut the shining hall door,
Ring-gripped, against his heel;
If I am coming close behind,
Our train should make no modest show.
Five bondmaids will follow him,
Thralls, eight, all well-born,
My playmate too, my patrimony--
The dower that Budli his daughter gave.
Much have I said, and more would I
If death had spared more space for it.
My voice grows weak, my wounds swell;
I’ve spoken but truth-- my time is done.
© Jack Hart
Poetic form: Fornyršislag (Old Meter)
Jack´s site, including
medieval rune poems and
rune poems by various authors.
Ship of Fools - Jack Hart´s Poetry Magazine.
Image: "The End of Brunhild", J. Wagrez, in: "Myths of the Norsemen" by
H. A. Guerber, 1909.
These are the last seven stanzas from “The Short Lay of Sigurd,” which is
actually quite a long lay.
Brynhild has caused the murder of Sigurd, and now for
love of him has fatally stabbed herself to be with him in death.
Stanza Three, line two: A sp word should not alliterate with an s. The
alternative words, however, were all sp as well, or sh, which is worse, since sh
is not actually even an s sound. S with explosive consonants--p, t, k--require
that sp alliterates only with another sp, st with st, and sk with sk.
Stanza Three, line three: lie. The word should actually be burn, but that word
also ends the next line. There is too much repitition in the poem already, lie
fits the sound pattern better, and the meaning is ultimately the same, since to
lie on a pyre means one is going to be burned on it.
line four: This line, though it appears in late paper manuscripts, is not in the
Codex Regius version of the poem. That fact, and the fact that adding it makes a
stanza of irregular length would normally be enough to prevent me from using it
it. However, if there is both a woman and hawk at one end of the body, it seems
wrong to have nothing at the other, especially when the last line of the stanza
emphasises the balance of the arrangement. Hawks and hounds are obvious
counterparts, just as head and foot are. This is enough to make me believe the
line belongs here. Probably I was also influenced by the scene in Beau Geste, in
which Digby gives his twin brother a Viking funeral by burning down over him the
desert fort they had been defending. After preparing the bed, he drags the body
of the brutal commander to the pyre to serve as the dog at his feet.
Stanza Five: The first two lines of this are highly confusing. Even if I did
know exactly what was meant, I doubt I could squeeze in all the material in that
The last two lines also have more than one possible shade of meaning.
Stanza Six, line three: playmate--or nurse, or both.