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The Words Of Fafnir Essay, Research Paper

The Words of Fafnir

Sigurdhr fared home to Hjalprekr. Then Reginn egged Sigurdhr on to do battle with Fafnir. Sigurdhr and Reginn fared up on Gnita Heath and found there Fafnir’s track, where he crept to the water. Then Sigurdhr readied a great pit in the way, and Sigurdhr went therein. But when Fafnir crept from the gold, he spat poison, and that fell from above onto Sigurdhr’s head. But when Fafnir crept over the pit, then Sigurdhr laid sword into his heart. Fafnir shuddered and beat with head and tail. Sigurdhr leapt out of the pit, and they saw each other. Fafnir said:

Of the Death of Fafnir.

1. “Youth! o youth! of whom were you born, youth?

of what men’s kin are you?

that you reddened the keen blade from Fafnir:

the sword stands in my heart!”

Sigurdhr concealed his name, because that was the belief in old times, that the words of a doomed man could be mighty, if he ill-wished his foe by name. He said,

2. “I am called the Stately Animal, and I have gone

a motherless kinsman;

I have no father, as the sons of men do,

I have ever gone alone.”

3. “If you had no father, as the sons of men do,

do you know of what wonder you were born?”

(Volsunga saga adds, “And though you do not say your name to me on my bane-day, you know that you lie now.”)

4. “I say to you that my forefatheres have never been unknown,

and the same of myself:

Sigmundr hight my father; I hight Sigurdhr,

who have battled against you with weapons!”

5. “Who whetted you, and why did you let yourself be whetted,

to fare after my life?

thou gleaming-eyed youth! you had a bold father,

what is born within shows itself soon.”

6. “My soul whetted me, my hand helped me,

and my keen sword.

Few are brave who become older

if they are fearful in childhood.”

7. “I know that if you had been able to grow up before your friends’ breasts,

man would see you fierce in battle;

now you are fettered, and battle-taken –

the bound ever speak tremblingly!”

8. “You brandish this at me now, Fafnir, because you see me far

from my father’s kin:

I am not fettered, though I was battle-taken;

you found this at your loss of life!”

9. “You expect to hear only foelike words in all things,

but I say one thing to you truthfully:

the ringing gold, and the glow-red wealth,

those rings become your bane!”

10. “Every man wants to rule wealth

ever, until that one day,

for at some time shall every life

fare hither to Hel.”

11. “The doom of the norns shall have you before the nesses

and the unwise fool;

in water you’ll drown, if you row into the wind,

all is dangerous to the fey.”

12. “Tell me, Fafnir, all that you wisely say,

and greatly know well:

who are those norns who are helpbringers at need

and choose (to free) a mother from sons?”

13. “I say that norns may be seen of greatly different births,

they are not of one ?tt together.

Some are of the ?sir-kin, some of the alf-kin,

some are the daughters of Dvalin.”

14. “Tell me, Fafnir, all that you wisely say,

and greatly know well:

how hight the holm where

Surtr and the ?sir shall blend blade-wetness together?”

15. “It hight Unshaped, but there shall all

the gods play with spears.

The Trembling Mile breaks when they fare out,

and steeds swim in the flood.

16. “I bore the Helm of Awe among the sons of ages,

while I lay among the treasures.

I thought myself alone stronger than all,

found I never so many young men.”

17. “The Helm of Awe hides no one

when wrathful men shall battle;

it will be found when many come together,

that no one alone is the keenest.”

18. “I sprayed out poison when I lay on the great inheritance

of my father…”

19. “Thou gleaming wyrm! you made great hissing

and showed a hardy soul;

greatly grimmer become the sons of men

if they have that helm.”

20. “I give you this rede, Sigurdhr – take you rede

and ride home from here!

the ringing gold and the glow-red wealth,

those rings become your bane.”

21. “Your rede is spoken, yet I shall ride to the gold

where it lies in the heather.

But you, Fafnir, lie in your death-throes

there where Hel has you!”

22. “Reginn gave me rede, he shall give you rede,

he shall become the bane of us both!

I think that Fafnir must leave his life,

you became now the greater in main-strength.”

Reginn had vanished away while Sigurdhr slew Fafnir, and he came then afterwards while Sigurdhr wiped blood from the sword. Reginn said:

23. “Hail thou now, Sigurdhr! Now you have battled victoriously

and overcome Fafnir!

Of those men who have trodden the dust,

I say you are born the most fearless!”

24. “That is uncertain to know when all come together,

sons of the victory-gods,

who is born the most fearless;

many are brave who never reddened sword

in another’s breast.”

25. “Glad are you now, Sigurdhr, and joying in victory,

as you dry Gram on the grass.

You have slain my own brother,

though I myself ruled some of that.”

26. “You gave rede that I should ride,

up the high fell to here;

the gleaming wyrm would have ruled wealth and life

except that you spoke to me of a brave soul.”

Then went Reginn to Fafnir and cut the heart out of him with a sword which hight Ridhill, and he drank the blood out of the wound afterward:

27. “Sit you now, Sigurdhr – for I must go to sleep –

and hold Fafnir’s heart to the fire!

I wish to to eat the heart

after this drink of blood.”

28. “You went far away, while I reddened

my keen sword on Fafnir;

my strength I strained against the wyrm’s main,

while you lay in the heather!”

29. “Long would you have let lie in the heather

the old etin,

if you had not enjoyed the sword which I myself made for you,

and your keen sword!”

30. “Soul is better than the sword’s main,

where the fierce shall battle,

for I see a brave man in every battle

win victory with a dull sword.”

31. “It goes better to the brave than the cowardly

in battle-play,

better to the glad than the fearful,

whatever comes to hand.”

Sigurdhr took Fafnir’s heart and roasted it on a twig. But when he sensed that it was fully roasted, and the blood foamed up from the heart, then he tested with his finger whether it was fully roasted. He burnt it and stuck the finger in his mouth. But when Fafnir’s heartblood came on his tongue, then he understood bird-speech. He heard titmice twittering in the wood. – The titmouse said:

32. “There sits Sigurdhr, sprinkled with blood,

roasting Fafnir’s heart at the fire;

wise the destroyer of rings would seem to me,

if he ate the life-muscle of the gleaming one.”

33. “There lies Regin, takes counsel with himself,

wishes to betray the youth who trusts him,

bears false words together from wrath,

the evil smith wishes to avenge his brother.”

34. “A head shorter, let him, the hoary thul,

fare hence to Hel!

He would be able to rule all the gold alone,

the wealth which lay under Fafnir.”

35. “He would seem wise to me if he were able to have

the friendly rede of us sisters;

thought about himself and gladdened Huginn –

I expect a wolf when I see the ears.”

36. “The battle-tree is not so wise,

as I had thought the army’s foremost,

if he lets the brother come away,

when he has robbed the other of life-age.”

37. “Greatly unwise, if he still spares

the warrior-destroying foeman,

Reginn lies there, who has betrayed him –

he is not able to see such!”

38. “A head shorter let him, the rime-cold etin, (be)

and dwell upon the rings:

then over the wealth which Fafnir ruled

you shall be sole ruler!”

39. “It was not so powerfully shaped, that Regin should

bear my bane-words,

because both brothers shall swiftly

fare hence to Hel!”

Sigurdhr hewed the head from Reginn, and then he ate Fafnir’s heart and drank the blood of them both, Reginn and Fafnir. Then Sigurdhr heard what the titmice said:

40. “Gather, Sigurdhr, the red rings

- it is not kinglike to fear much! –

I know a maid, the fairest of many,

clad in gold, if you can get her.

41. “Green lie the ways to Gjuki

- forward shows the shaping for the folk’s host-leader –

there a lordly king has a fair daughter,

you shall buy her with a dowry, Sigurdhr.

42. “A hall is on high Hind’s Fell,

all outside it is wrapped around with fire;

wise men have built it

from the undark fire of the flood.

43. “I know of the battle-maid sleeping on the fell,

and over her plays the linden’s harm;

Yggr stuck (her) with a thorn: the flax-goddess felled

another hero than he had willed.

44. “Youth, you may see the maiden under helm,

who rode Vingskornir from battle;

you may not break Sigrdrifa’s sleep,

descendant of Skjoldings, before the norns’ shaping!”

Sigurdhr rode along Fafnir’s tracks to his lair and he found it open and the doors and doorposts were of iron; of iron were all the pillars of the house, and buried in the earth. There Sigurdhr found a great deal of gold and filled two chests with it. There he took the Helm of Awe and a gold byrnie and the swort Hrotti and many precious treasures and loaded Grani with them. But the horse would not go forward, until Sigurdhr climbed onto his back. (Volsunga saga adds, “and the horse ran as if he were unloaded.”)

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