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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.


The Nibelungen

By From the Nibelungenlied

Translated by H. Weber

IN ancient song and story marvels high are told

Of knights of high emprise and adventures manifold;

Of joy and merry feasting, of lamenting, woe, and fear,

Of champions’ bloody battles, many marvels shall ye hear.

A noble maid, and fair, grew up in Burgundy;

In all the land about fairer none might be:

She became a queen full high; Chrimhild was she hight;

But for her matchless beauty fell many a blade of might.

For love and for delight was framed that lady gay;

Many a champion bold sighed for the gentle may:

Full beauteous was her form, beauteous without compare;

The virgin’s virtues might adorn many a lady fair.

Three kings of might and power had the maiden in their care,—

King Günther and King Ghernot (champions bold they were),

And Ghisler the young, a chosen, peerless blade:

The lady was their sister, and much they loved the maid.

These lords were mild and gentle, born of the noblest blood;

Unmatched for power and strength were the heroes good:

Their realm was Burgundy, a realm of mickle might;

Since then, in the land of Etzel, dauntless did they fight.

At Worms, upon the Rhine, dwelt they with their meiny bold;

Many champions served them, of countries manifold,

With praise and honor nobly, even to their latest day,

When, by the hate of two noble dames, dead on the ground they lay.

Bold were the kings, and noble, as I before have said;

Of virtues high and matchless, and served by many a blade;

By the best of all the champions whose deeds were ever sung:

Of trust and truth withouten fail; hardy, bold, and strong.

There was Hagen of Tronek, and Dankwart, Hagen’s brother

(For swiftness was he famed), with heroes many other;

Ortwin of Metz, with Eckewart and Ghere, two margraves they;

And Folker of Alsace; no braver was in his day.

Rumolt was caterer to the king; a chosen knight was he;

Sir Sindold and Sir Hunold bore them full manfully;

In court and in the presence they served the princes three,

With many other knights; bolder none might be.

Dankwart was the marshal; his nephew Ortewin

Was sewer to the king; much honor did he win:

Sindold held the cup the royal prince before:

Chamberlain was Hunold: braver knights ne’er hauberk bore.

Of the court’s gay splendor, of all the champions free,

Of their high and knightly worth, and of the chivalry,

Which still they held in honor to their latest day,

No minstrel, in his song, could rightly sing or say.

One night the Queen Chrimhild dreamed her, as she lay,

How she had trained and nourished a falcon wild and gay,

When suddenly two eagles fierce the gentle hawk have slain:

Never, in this world, felt she such bitter pain.

To her mother, Dame Ute, she told her dream with fear:

Full mournfully she answered to what the maid did speer:

“The falcon whom you nourished, a noble knight is he;

God take him to his ward! thou must lose him suddenly.”

“What speak you of the knight? dearest mother, say:

Without the love of champion, to my dying day

Ever thus fair will I remain, nor take a wedded fere,

To gain such pain and sorrow, though the knight were without peer.”

“Speak thou not too rashly,” her mother spake again;

“If ever in this world thou heartfelt joy wilt gain;

Maiden must thou be no more; leman must thou have:

God will grant thee for thy mate some gentle knight, and brave.”

“O, leave thy words, lady mother, nor speak of wedded mate!

Full many a gentle maiden has found the truth too late;

Still has their fondest love ended with woe and pain:

Virgin will I ever be, nor the love of leman gain.”

In virtues high and noble that gentle maiden dwelt

Full many a night and day, nor love for leman felt;

To never a knight or champion would she plight her truth,

Till she was gained for wedded fere by a right noble youth.

That youth he was the falcon she in her dream beheld,

Who by the two fierce eagles dead to the ground was felled:

But since right dreadful vengeance she took upon his foen;

For the death of that bold hero died full many a mother’s son.