Sigrdrífumál – The Ballad of The Victory-Bringer

Sigurth spake:

21. “I shall not flee, | though my fate be near,
I was born not a coward to be;
Thy loving word | for mine will I win,
As long as I shall live.”

22. Then first I rede thee, | that free of guilt
Toward kinsmen ever thou art;
No vengeance have, | though they work thee harm,
Reward after death thou shalt win.

23. Then second I rede thee, | to swear no oath
If true thou knowest it not;
Bitter the fate | of the breaker of troth,
And poor is the wolf of his word.

24. Then third I rede thee, | that thou at the Thing
Shalt fight not in words with fools;
For the man unwise | a worser word
Than he thinks doth utter oft.

25. Ill it is | if silent thou art,
A coward born men call thee,
And truth mayhap they tell;
Seldom safe is fame,
Unless wide renown be won;
On the day thereafter | send him to death,
Let him pay the price of his lies.

21. It is quite possible that the original poem concluded with two stanzas after this, paraphrased thus in the Volsungasaga: “Sigurth said: ‘Nowhere is to be found any one wiser than thou, and this I swear, that I shall have thee for mine, and that thou art after my heart’s desire.’ She answered: ‘I would rather have thee though I might choose among all men.’ And this they bound between them with oaths.” Stanzas 22-37, which the Volsungasaga paraphrases, may have been introduced at a relatively early time, but can hardly have formed part of the original poem.

22. With this stanza begins the list of numbered counsels, closely resembling the Loddfafnismol (Hovamol, 111-138), here attributed to Brynhild. That the section originally had anything to do with Brynhild is more than improbable.

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

23. Wolf of his word: oath-destroyer, oath-breaker.

25. This chaotic and obscure jumble of lines has been unsuccessfully “improved” by various editors. It is clearly an interpolation, meaning, in substance: “It is dangerous to keep silent too long, as men may think you a coward; but if any one taunts [fp. 398] you falsely because of your silence, do not argue with him, but the next morning kill him as proof that he is a liar.”