Sigrdrífumál – The Ballad of The Victory-Bringer

31. Then seventh I rede thee, | if battle thou seekest
With a foe that is full of might;
It is better to fight | than to burn alive
In the hall of the hero rich.

32. Then eighth I rede thee, | that evil thou shun,
And beware of lying words;
Take not a maid, | nor the wife of a man,
Nor lure them on to lust.

33. Then ninth I rede thee: | burial render
If thou findest a fallen corpse,
Of sickness dead, | or dead in the sea,
Or dead of weapons’ wounds.

34. A bath shalt thou give them | who corpses be,
And hands and head shalt wash;
Wipe them and comb, | ere they go in the coffin,
And pray that they sleep in peace.

35. Then tenth I rede thee, | that never thou trust
The word of the race of wolves,
(If his brother thou broughtest to death,
Or his father thou didst fell;)
Often a wolf | in a son there is,
Though gold he gladly takes.

36. Battle and hate | and harm, methinks,
Full seldom fall asleep;
Wits and weapons | the warrior needs
If boldest of men he would be.

37. Then eleventh I rede thee, | that wrath thou shun,
And treachery false with thy friends;
Not long the leader’s | life shall be,
For great are the foes he faces.

31. The meaning is that it is better to go forth to battle than to stay at home and be burned to death. Many a Norse warrior met his death in this latter way; the burning of the house in the Njalssaga is the most famous instance.

34. Probably an interpolation.

35. Lines 3-4 are probably interpolated. Race of wolves: family of a slain foe.

36. Probably an interpolation.

37. Lines 3-4 may well have come from the old Sigurth-Brynhild poem, like stanzas 2-4 and 20-21, being inserted here, where they do not fit particularly well, in place of the two lines with which the eleventh counsel originally ended. Perhaps they formed part of the stanza of warning which evidently preceded Brynhild’s speech in stanza 20. In the Volsungasaga they are paraphrased at the end of Brynhild’s long speech of advice (stanzas 20-37), and are immediately followed by the prose passage given in the note on stanza 21. It seems likely, therefore, that the paper manuscripts have preserved all of the so-called Sigrdrifumol which was contained in the lost section of Regius, with the possible exception of these two concluding stanzas, and these may very well have been given only in the form of a prose note, though it is practically certain that at one time they existed in verse form.

Source


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