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~ Historical & Classical Poetry ~



Old High German, long verse, second half of 8th century, author unknown. Translation Michaela Macha.    
Jump to the annotations by me

   Ik gihorta dat seggen,
   dat sih urhettun ænon muotin,
   Hiltibrant enti Hadubrant untar heriun tuem.
   sunufatarungo iro saro rihtun.
5 garutun se iro gudhamun, gurtun sih iro suert ana,
   helidos, ubar hringa, do sie to dero hiltiu ritun,
   Hiltibrant gimahalta [Heribrantes sunu]: her uuas heroro man,
   ferahes frotoro; her fragen gistuont
   fohem uuortum, hwer sin fater wari
10 fireo in folche, ................
    ............... "eddo hwelihhes cnuosles du sis.
   ibu du mi enan sages, ik mi de odre uuet,
   chind, in chunincriche: chud ist mir al irmindeot".
   Hadubrant gimahalta, Hiltibrantes sunu:
15 "dat sagetun mi usere liuti,
   alte anti frote, dea erhina warun,
   dat Hiltibrant hætti min fater: ih heittu Hadubrant.
   forn her ostar giweit, floh her Otachres nid,
   hina miti Theotrihhe enti sinero degano filu.
20 her furlaet in lante luttila sitten
   prut in bure, barn unwahsan,
   arbeo laosa: her raet ostar hina.
   des sid Detrihhe darba gistuontun
   fateres mines: dat uuas so friuntlaos man.
25 her was Otachre ummet tirri,
   degano dechisto miti Deotrichhe.
   her was eo folches at ente: imo was eo fehta ti leop:
   chud was her..... chonnem mannum.
   ni waniu ih iu lib habbe".....
30 "wettu irmingot [quad Hiltibrant] obana ab hevane,
   dat du neo dana halt mit sus sippan man
   dinc ni gileitos".....
   want her do ar arme wuntane bauga,
   cheisuringu gitan, so imo se der chuning gap,
35 Huneo truhtin: "dat ih dir it nu bi huldi gibu".
   Hadubrant gimahalta, Hiltibrantes sunu:
   "mit geru scal man geba infahan,
   ort widar orte. ...............
   du bist dir alter Hun, ummet spaher,
40 spenis mih mit dinem wortun, wili mih dinu speru werpan.
    pist also gialtet man, so du ewin inwit fortos.
   dat sagetun mi seolidante
   westar ubar wentilseo, dat inan wic furnam:
   tot ist Hiltibrant, Heribrantes suno".
45 Hiltibrant gimahalta, Heribrantes suno:
   "wela gisihu ih in dinem hrustim,
   dat du habes heme herron goten,
   dat du noh bi desemo riche reccheo ni wurti".
   "welaga nu, waltant got [quad Hiltibrant], wewurt skihit.
50 ih wallota sumaro enti wintro sehstic ur lante,
   dar man mih eo scerita in folc sceotantero:
   so man mir at burc enigeru banun ni gifasta,
   nu scal mih suasat chind suertu hauwan,
   breton mit sinu billiu, eddo ih imo ti banin werdan.
55 doh maht du nu aodlihho, ibu dir din ellen taoc,
   in sus heremo man hrusti giwinnan,
   rauba birahanen, ibu du dar enic reht habes".
   "der si doh nu argosto [quad Hiltibrant] ostarliuto,
   der dir nu wiges warne, nu dih es so wel lustit,
60 gudea gimeinun: niuse de motti,
   hwerdar sih hiutu dero hregilo rumen muotti,
   erdo desero brunnono bedero uualtan".
   do lettun se ærist asckim scritan,
   scarpen scurim: dat in dem sciltim stont.
65 do stoptun to samane staim bort chludun,
   heuwun harmlicco huitte scilti,
   unti imo iro lintun luttilo wurtun,
   giwigan miti wabnum ...............

   I heard that being told,
   that challengers met alone,
   Hildebrand and Hadubrand, between two armies.
   Son and father prepared their armor,
5 made ready their war-shirts, buckled their swords,
   the heroes, over the (rings) chain mail, while they rode to the fight.
   Hildebrand spoke, Heribrant´s son: he was the more noble man,
   wiser of life; he began to ask
   with few words, who his father was,
10 of men among the folk,......
    .....",or of what lineage you are.
   If you tell me one of them, I know the others,
   (child) young man, in the kingdom: Known to me is all the great folk."
   Hadubrand spoke, Hildebrand´s son:
15 "That tell me our people,
   old and wise ones, who lived long ago,
   that Hildebrand is called my father: I am called Hadubrand.
    Time ago he went eastwards, he fleed from Odoaker´s (nith) hate,
    thither with Dietrich and his many (swords) fighters.
 20 He left in the land the young one sitting alone,
    the bride in the house, the ungrown child,
    without inheritance: He rode to the east.
    Then began hardships for Dietrich
    and my father: That was such a friendless man.
25 He was measurelessly wrathful towards Odoaker,
   he was the fighter dearest to Dietrich,
   he was always at the fore of the folk, he liked fighting too well:
   he was known .... to daring men.
   I do not think he is alive yet’.....
30 "Know, by great god,"spoke Hildebrand, "above from heaven - 
   that you never have with a man so (kindred) closely related 
   held your conversation."....
   He wrung from his arm winding rings,
   made from (Caesar´s) emperor's coin gold, that the king had given to him,
   35 the Huns´(drighten) lord: "That I give it to you now for your friendship."
   Hadubrand spoke, Hildebrand´s son:
   "With a spear shall a man take a gift,
   point against point......
   You are yourself an old hun, overly (seeing) cunning,
40 you lure me with words, want to throw your spear at me.
   You are such an aged man, as you always deceive.
   Seafarers told me that,
   westwards across the the Wendel sea, that battle took him:
   Dead is Hildebrand, Heribrand´s son."
45 Hildebrand spoke, Heribrand´s son:
   "Well I see from your armor,
   that you have at home a good lord,
   that you have not yet under his lordship become an exile."
   "Well now, mighty god", spoke Hildebrand, "sorrowful fate (woe wyrd) happens.
50 I have walked sixty summers and winters outside of my country,
   where I mingled with the shooting folk:
   nobody brought me to death at any castle;
   now my own child shall cleave me with his sword,
   lay me low with his sword, or I become his killer.
55 But you may easily, if your strength helps you,
   win the armor of such an (noble) old man,
   capture his garment, if you have any right to it."
   "The worst of the eastern people", spoke Hildebrand, "should be called
   he who would deny battle to you now, since you are so (lusting) eager for it,
60 of fighting together: try, who may,
   which one today may brag of the garments,
   or possess these two byrnies!"
   Then they first let the (ashs) spears fly,
   in sharp showers: so that they stuck in the shields.
65 Then they stomped together, cleaved colourful borders,
   struck harmfully the white shields,
   until their shields grew small,
   bashed to bits with the weapons.............


The poem's conclusion is lost, but it is assumed that the father killed his son, which parallel traditions suggest, namely
1. "Hildebrands Sterbelied" (Hildebrand´s Death Song) in the "Ásmundarsaga kappabana" (14. Jh.), which Saxo Grammaticus ca. 1200 
had already tranlated into Latin hexameters, using an older source; and 2. the late medieval Faroese ballad "Snolvs kvæði". 

Presumably under the influence of Christian preferences, later German renderings like the "Das Jüngere Hildebrandslied"
(The Younger Lay of Hildebrand), 15th century ballad,  and "Das Lied vom alten Hildebrandt" (The Lay of Old Hildebrandt), ballad 1806, 
end with a reconciliation between father and son.

Composed in alliterative long verse during the second half of the 8th century, this poem was recorded in Old High German about 810 CE 
at the Fulda Monastery in southern Germany. The manuscript was used as the binding for a theological treatise. 
The language is a mix of Baiuvarian and Anglo-Saxon which renders the original text, supposed to have been Gothic or Langobardian. 
There are missing and unreadable parts (indicated above by the dots). 
The theme belongs to the sagas around Dietrich of Bern (Theoderich), Odoaker (Otachre) and Attila (Atli, Etzel).

I have translated into free verse, staying literal where possible, not attempting to reproduce the original meter or alliteration.  
The words in brackets and cursive are by me, literal translations of some etymologically intriguing words, for those interested 
in a closer look at the original text. There are quite a number of words that are very similar to the corresponding Old Norse words.

"sixty summers and winters": 
one year = two seasons, sixty seasons = thirty years. This was a standard way to reckon time in medieval northern Europe.