Fiction > Harvard Classics > The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs
  The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Certain Songs from the Elder Edda which Deal with the Story of the Volsungs
Part of the Lay of Sigrdrifa
NOW 1 this is my first counsel,
  That thou with thy kin
Be guiltless, guileless ever,
  Nor hasty of wrath,
  Despite of wrong done—        5
Unto the dead good that doeth.
  Lo the second counsel,
  That oath thou swearest never,
But trusty oath and true:        10
  Grim tormenting
  Gripes troth-breakers;
Cursed wretch is the wolf of vows.
  This is my third rede,
  That thou at the Thing
Deal not with the fools of folk;
  For unwise man
  From mouth lets fall
Worser word than well he wotteth.        20
  Yet hard it is
  That holding of peace
When men shall deem thee dastard,
Or deem the lie said soothly;        25
But woeful is home-witness,
Unless right good thou gettest it
  Ah, on another day
  Drive the life from out him,
And pay the liar back for his lying.        30
  Now behold the fourth rede:
  If ill witch thee bideth,
Woe-begetting by the way,
  Good going further        35
  Rather than guesting,
Though thick night be on thee.
  Far-seeing eyes
  Need all sons of men        40
Who wend in wrath to war;
  For baleful women
  Bide oft by the highway,
Swords and hearts to soften.
  And now the fifth rede:        45
  As fair as thou seest
Brides on the bench abiding,
  Let not love’s silver
  Rule over thy sleeping;        50
Draw no woman to kind kissing!
  For the sixth thing, I rede
  When men sit a-drinking
Amid ale-words and ill-words,        55
  Deal thou naught
  With the drunken fight-staves,
For wine stealeth wit from many.
  Brawling and drink
  Have brought unto men
Sorrow sore oft enow;
  Yea, bane unto some,
  And to some weary bale;
Many are the griefs of mankind.        65
  For the seventh, I rede thee,
  If strife thou raisest
With a man right high of heart,
  Better fight a-field        70
  Than burn in the fire
Within thine hall fair to behold.
  The eighth rede that I give thee:
  Unto all ill look thou,        75
And hold thine heart from all beguiling;
  Draw to thee no maiden,
  No man’s wife bewray thou,
Urge them not unto unmeet pleasure.
  This is the ninth counsel:        80
  That thou have heed of dead folk
Whereso thou findest them a-field;
  Be they sick-dead,
  Be they sea-dead,        85
Or come to ending by war weapons.
  Let bath be made
  For such men fordone,
Wash thou hands and feet thereof,        90
  Comb their hair and dry them
  Ere the coffin has them;
Then bid them sleep full sweetly.
  This for the tenth counsel:
  That thou give trust never
Unto oaths of foeman’s kin,
Be’st thou bane of his brother,
Or hast thou felled his father;
Wolf in young son waxes,        100
Though he with gold be gladdened.
  For wrong and hatred
  Shall rest them never,
Nay, nor sore sorrow.        105
  Both wit and weapons
  Well must the king have
Who is fain to be the foremost.
  The last rede and eleventh:
  Until all ill look thou,
And watch thy friends’ ways ever.
  Scarce durst I look
  For long life for thee, king:
Strong trouble ariseth now already.        115
Note 1. This continues the first part of the lay given in Chap. xx. of the Saga and is, in fact, the original verse of Chap. xxi. [back]


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