Sigrdrífumál – The Ballad of The Victory-Bringer

16. On the paws of the bear, | and on Bragi’s tongue,
On the wolf’s claws bared, | and the eagle’s beak,
On bloody wings, | and bridge’s end,
On freeing hands | and helping foot-prints.

17. On glass and on gold, | and on goodly charms,
In wine and in beer, | and on well-loved seats,
On Gungnir’s point, | and on Grani’s breast,
On the nails of Norns, | and the night-owl’s beak.

* * * * * *

18. Shaved off were the runes | that of old were written,
And mixed with the holy mead,
And sent on ways so wide;
So the gods had them, | so the elves got them,
And some for the Wanes so wise,
And some for mortal men.

19. Beech-runes are there, | birth-runes are there,
And all the runes of ale,
And the magic runes of might;
Who knows them rightly | and reads them true,
Has them himself to help;
Ever they aid,
Till the gods are gone.

* * * * * *

Brynhild spake:

20. “Now shalt thou choose, | for the choice is given,
Thou tree of the biting blade;
Speech or silence, | ’tis thine to say,
Our evil is destined all.”

17. Charms: the wearing of amulets was very common. Gungnir: Othin’s spear, made by the dwarfs, which he occasionally lent to heroes to whom he granted victory. Grani: Sigurth’s horse; the Volsungasaga has “giantesses’.”

19. Stanzas 18-19, which editors have freely rearranged, apparently come from another source than any of the rest. Shaved off: the runes were shaved off by Othin from the wood on which they were carved, and the shavings bearing them were put into the magic mead. Wanes: cf. Voluspo, 21, note.

19. Lines 3, 6, and 7 look like spurious additions, but the whole stanza is chaotic. Beech-runes: runes carved on beech trees.

20. Stanzas 20-21 are all that remains of the dialogue between Brynhild and Sigurth from the poem to which stanzas 2-4 belong; cf. Introductory Note. In the intervening lost stanzas Brynhild has evidently warned Sigurth of the perils that will follow if he swears loyalty to her; hence the choice to which she here refers. Tree, etc.: warrior. The manuscript does not indicate the speaker of either this or the following stanza; the Volsungasaga names Sigurth before stanza 21.