Helgakviða Hundingsbana II – The Second Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer

Helgi spake:

11. “How didst thou know | that now our kin,
Maiden wise, | we have well avenged?
Many there are | of the sons of the mighty
Who share alike | our lofty race.”

Sigrun spake:

12. “Not far was I | from the lord of the folk,
Yester morn, | when the monarch was slain;
Though crafty the son | of Sigmund, methinks,
When he speaks of the fight | in slaughter-runes.

13. “On the long-ship once | I saw thee well,
When in the blood-stained | bow thou wast,
(And round thee icy | waves were raging;)
Now would the hero | hide from me,
But to Hogni’s daughter | is Helgi known.”

Granmar was the name of a mighty king, who dwelt at Svarin’s hill. He had many sons; one was named Hothbrodd, another Gothmund, a third Starkath. Hothbrodd was in a kings’ meeting, and he won the promise of having Sigrun, Hogni’s daughter, for his wife. But when she heard this, she rode with the Valkyries over air and sea to seek Helgi. Helgi was then at Logafjoll, and had fought with Hunding’s sons; there he killed Alf and Eyolf, Hjorvarth and Hervarth. He was all weary with battle, and sat under the eagle-stone. There Sigrun found him, and ran to throw her arms about his neck, and kissed him, and told him her tidings, as is set forth in the old Volsung lay:

14. Sigrun the joyful | chieftain sought,
Forthwith Helgi’s | hand she took;
She greeted the hero | helmed and kissed him,
The warrior’s heart | to the woman turned.

15. From her heart the daughter | of Hogni spake,
Dear was Helgi, | she said, to her;

Sigrun spake:

16. “At the meeting to Hothbrodd | mated I was,
But another hero | I fain would have;
Though, king, the wrath | of my kin I fear,
Since I broke my father’s | fairest wish.”

17. “Long with all | my heart I loved
Sigmund’s son | ere ever I saw him.

Helgi spake:

18. “Fear not ever | Hogni’s anger,
Nor yet thy kinsmen’s | cruel wrath;
Maiden, thou | with me shalt live,
Thy kindred, fair one, | I shall not fear.”

Helgi then assembled a great sea-host and went to Frekastein. On the sea he met a perilous storm; lightning flashed overhead and the bolts struck the ship. They saw in the air that nine Valkyries were riding, and recognized Sigrun among them. Then the storm abated, and they came safe and sound to land. Granmar’s sons sat on a certain mountain as the ships sailed toward the land. Gothmund leaped on a horse and rode for news to a promontory near the harbor; the Volsungs were even then lowering their sails. Then Gothmund said, as is written before in the Helgi lay:

19. “Who is the king | who captains the fleet,
And to the land | the warriors leads?”

20. “Never shall Sigrun | from Sevafjoll,
Hothbrodd king, | be held in thine arms;
Granmar’s sons | full cold have grown,
And the giant-steeds gray | on corpses gorge.”

11. Helgi’s meaning in lines 3-4 is that, although he has al ready declared himself an Ylfing (stanza 8, line 1), there are many heroes of that race, and he does not understand how Sigrun knows him to be Helgi.

12. Slaughter-runes: equivocal or deceptive speech regarding the battle. The word “rune” had the meaning of “magic” or “mystery” long before it was applied to the signs or characters with which it was later identified.

13. Some editors reject line 3, others line 5. The manuscript omits Helgi’s name in line 5, thereby destroying both the sense and the meter. Vigfusson, following his Karuljoth theory (cf. note on prose following stanza 4), changes Hogni to Halfdan, father of Kara.

Prose. The manuscript indicates no division. Most of this prose passage is evidently based on Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I; the only new features are the introduction of Starkath as a third son of Granmar, which is clearly an error based on a misunderstanding of stanza 19, and the reference to the kings’ meeting, based on stanza 16. Kings’ meetings, or councils, were by no means unusual; the North in early days was prolific in kings. For the remaining names, cf. Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I: Granmar, stanza 19; Hothbrodd, stanza 33; Gothmund, stanza 33; Svarin’s hill, stanza 32; Logafjoll, stanza 13; .41f, Eyjolf, Hjorvarth and Hervarth, stanza 14. The old Volsung lay: cf. Introductory Note.

14. Some editions combine lines 3-4, Or line 4, with part of stanza 14.

15. The lines of stanzas 15 and 16 are here rearranged in accordance with Bugge’s emendation; in the manuscript they stand as follows: lines 3-4 of stanza 15; stanza 16; lines 1-2 of stanza 15. This confusion has given rise to various editorial conjectures. * Note * The ON does not reflect this change. Bellows has also changed one statement from indirect to direct speech, it is necessary to point this out as Bellows did not.

“Long with all | my heart I loved
Sigmund’s son | ere ever I saw him.

These lines were removed and inserted as Stanza 17 in the restructuring of the poem to conform to the ON.

Prose. The manuscript indicates no division. Here again, the annotator has drawn practically all his information from Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I, which he specifically mentions and even quotes. The only new features are the names of Hogni’s sons, Bragi and Dag. Bragi is mentioned in stanza 19, though it is not there stated that he is Hogni’s son. Dag, who figures largely in stanzas 28-34, is a puzzle, for the verse never names him, and it is an open question where the annotator got his name. Frekastein: cf. Helgakvitha Hjorvarthssonar, 39 and note. As is written: the two lines are quoted, with a change of two words, from Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I, 33. Sinfjotli: cf. Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I, 6 and note, and stanzas 33-48, in which the whole dialogue is given. Loyalty: apparently the annotator got this bit of information out of stanza 29, in which Sigrun refers to the oaths which her brother had sworn to Helgi.

20. Sevafjoll (“Wet Mountain”): mentioned only in this poem. Giant-steeds: wolves, the usual steeds of giantesses; cf. Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I, 56.