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~ By Courtesy of Others ~

Sigrun and Helgi           Poetic form: Fornyršislag (Old Meter)

Helgi was the son of Sigmund, and a great warrior. To win Sigrun he defeated in battle and killed her father, 
King Hunding and eight of his sons, sparing only Dęg for his sister's sake. Later Dęg killed Helgi, 
and was cursed by Sigrun, who wept continuously over the death of her husband. One evening 
Sigrun's maid was passing Helgi's burial mound and saw Helgi, with a large following, ride into it. 
The maid said:

What sight is this        that seems a dream,
Dead men riding,       or Ragnarok?
Spurring your horses, hastening by,
Or to their hearths     do heroes return?

Helgi said:

No dream to make    you doubt your eyes,
Nor world's end,       though us you see,
Spurring our horses,  hastening by.
Nor to their hearths   may heroes return.

The maiden returned home and told Sigrun:

Come out, Sigrun     of Sevafioll
If you'd meet            the master of folk;
The hill is open;        Helgi has come,
With weeping wounds waits you there
That you may staunch  the streaming blood.

Sigrun entered the mound and said to Helgi:

As glad I am            to greet you here
As Odin's hawks,    by hunger stirred
At slaughter's stench,   and still-warm flesh,
Or when, dew-drenched,  the dawn they see.

Let me kiss         the dead king first
Ere bloodly mail-coat  you cast aside.
Helgi, your hair         is heavy with frost;
With dew of the slain,  soaked you are,
Cold are the hands   of Hogni's son;
How is there, lord,    healing for that?

Helgi said:

By you, Sigrun     of Sevafioll
Is Helgi soaked    in sorrow-dew.
Gold-wearer,       your weeping is cruel;
Before you sleep, bright southern maid,
Blood-tears wet   the breast of your lord
With ice and fire,  a festering grief.
Of this rare drink   a draught we'll share.
Though life and land   are lost to me,
Let no man sing          sad songs for that,
Though on my breast  are bleeding wounds,
For now our brides     to the barrow come,
Women admired         with we, the dead.

Sigrun prepared a bed in the mound:

Here I've made you,   Helgi, a bed,
Free from care,          kin of Ylfings,
There sleeping to lie,  lord, in your arms,
As once I lay             with the living king.

Helgi said:

Nothing, I say,             will now seem strange
Soon or late                 at Sevafioll,
When you are clasped  in corpse's arms,
So white, in the howe,  Hogni's child,
The quick with the dead, daughter of kings.

Now I must ride       the reddening way
On a pale horse        through paths of sky,
Westward bound     to Windhelm bridge
Ere Salgofnir wakes the warrior band.

Then Helgi and his men rode away, and the women returned home. The next evening 
Sigrun had the maid keep watch at the mound. When Sigrun came at sunset she said:

Were he coming,     he would by now,
Sigmund's heir,        from Odin's hall.
Small hope remains that he will come,
Now eagles roost    on ash's limbs,
And all are gone      to the gathering of dreams.

Mad you'd be          to make your way
King's daughter,       to a corpse's house.
The dead become    more dangerous far
When darkness falls than in full day.

Sigrun died soon after of sorrow and grief. It was thought in olden times that people were reborn, 
but now we consider it "an old wive's tale" that people are born again. It is said that Helgi and Sigrun 
were born again, he as Helgi Haddingjaskati, and she as Kara, daughter of Halfdan, 
as it is told in "The Lay of Kara," and she was a Valkyrie.

© Jack Hart

Notes: Jack“s translation from Helgakviša Hundingsbana II (The Second Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer), from the Poetic Edda.

Meadhall: Asatru Jack“s site, including the medieval rune poems and modern rune poems by various authors.

Ship of Fools - Jack Hart“s Poetry Magazine. Submissions welcome.

Image: "Hundingbane“s Return to Valhal", Ernest Wallcousins (1883-1976), painter and illustrator.

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