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Sinfjotli, the son of Sigmund, wooed the same woman as the brother of Borghild, Sigmund’s wife, and killed him in battle. Sigmund paid compensation to his wife for that death, but she remained unsatisfied, and poisoned Sinfjotli at a feast.
Sigmund carried his dead son from the hall and down to the seashore, where he came upon an old man sitting beside his boat.
"Hawks scream high among crags;
Below, waves wash against rocks;
Briers and grass grow on the path.
No hall lies near, nor hut of thrall.
Shortly in sea spray Sunna will wet
Her horses’ fetlocks, the hubs of her cart.
When night falls need there is
Of food and fire, beer and a friend.
Where do you wend?-- wolf-like you seem,
Though finely clothed, kingly your garb.
Surely you flee an ill-fated war,
Bearing some kinsman killed by the foe."
"I bear my son slain in the hall
By woman’s wile, not weapon’s stroke.
Long is my journey, my load not light;
Ferry me, stranger, the firth across."
"Surely you do shame to the dead,
Bearing his body from bright-lit hall
Through nighted woods and wolf fells dark
Down to the surf, the seal-loud shore.
Kinsmen call to come to a feast;
Pile with gold a glittering pyre;
Praise the deeds done by his arm;
Lament his loss with mournful words."
"Few kin live to come to a feast.
My people’s line now lies in dust,
Forgotten of gods, forgotten of men--
Long have I lived; of life grown weary.
My father betrayed by a faithless king,
A sister burned, my brothers killed,
And Borghild, my wife, wicked of mind,
My sister’s son, has slain, and mine."
"What mighty wrong could rouse such wrath
That serpent-like your son she stung,
A deed whose cost her death could be,
But nothing less than lasting shame."
"Her brother wooed a woman that
Sinfjotli too had sought to wed..
Sword and sheild settled their feud;
The brother fell as fate decreed.
Such my might for many slain,
Wergild no man of me has had,
Yet freely I gave red gold to her,
Peace to buy for a brother’s death.
Thrice in hall the horn she bore;
Thrice my son with scorn refused,
Knowing the woman willed his death,
And twice myself I took the drink.
Twice unharmed the horn I drained.
Sinfjotli’s might, to mine far less,
No poisoned blade, or point could harm,
Though poison drunk his death would be.
A third time thus; by then grown drunk,
With fool’s words his woe I wrought,
Bade him lift to lip the horn,
And mustache use, the mead to strain..
And so he drank, and dead he fell.
Seldom to man is mead a friend,
As fools in sorrow find next day,
Waking to woes drunk words have wrought.
Little remains for me to do,
But build a pyre and burn my son,
And raise a mound that men will see.
Then live or die, I little care.
My dearest son this day I’ve lost,
And Borghild too, my bedmate once.
Little of worth is left to me,
And I am old, too old to wed."
"Hot your haste to hurry the end.
One battle yet have you to fight,
Another wife to wed remains,
Another son to swell her womb.
A tree of battle barbed with thorn,
Golden of leaf, graceful in form
Yet must spring from Sigmund’s line--
The soil not turned, the seed not sown."
"Well-meaning words their worth but small.
Much I’ve seen, and suffered much
For many half-years, too many by one.
Ferry me, stranger, the firth across."
"Well know I that woman’s art
Freya taught the father of gods.
Far I see, and farther still--
Much is yet for you to do.
Farmaguth my name, well known to men;
Widely through all the worlds I’ve gone.
Though strange to you I seem to be,
Twice we’ve met, and once more will.
But now the sun sets in the west.
Ravens to Har return with word
Of weal and woe in worlds nine.
Too long in talk we’ve lingered here.
My craft is small to carry three,
And you are not a youth half-grown.
Within the bow the body lay,
But you must take the trail around."
Sigmund did as the other bade. But when the boat had been pushed off from the shore it vanished,
so that Sigmund knew that it was Odin who had taken his son.
Poetic form: Fornyrðislag (Old Meter)
site, including the
medieval rune poems and modern
rune poems by various authors.
of Fools - Jack Hart´s Poetry Magazine. Submissions
First image: Copper
engraving by Johann Gehrts, 1883, German artist. Second image: Unknown.
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