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SIEGFRIED'S DEATH, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: From whence so early? Dewy is thy hair
Last Line: "darkness"" and heath's dictionary@"
Alternate Author Name(s): Hebbel, Christian Friedrich
Subject(s): Death; Legends, German; Tragedy; Dead, The


WULF } Warriors
TRUCHS } Warriors
BRUNHILDA, Queen of Iceland
FRIGGA, her nurse
Warriors, Populace, Maidens, Dwarfs


Iceland, BRUNHILDA's castle. Early morning.


Enter BRUNHILDA and FRIGGA from opposite sides.

RUNHILDA. From whence so early? Dewy is thy hair
And blood-stained are thy garments.
FRIGGA. I have made
A sacrifice unto the ancient gods,
Before the moon was gone.
BRUNHILDA. The ancient gods!
The cross rules now, and Thor and Odin dwell
As devils in deep hell.
FRIGGA. And dost thou fear
Them less for that? Their curses still may fall
Upon us, though their blessings are withheld,
And willingly I sacrificed the ram.
Oh, wouldst thou kill one too! Thy need is great
Above all others.
FRIGGA. Another time.
I long had meant to tell thee, and today
At last the hour has come.
BRUNHILDA. I've always thought
That at thy death the hour would come to me,
So did not importune thee.
FRIGGA. Mark me now!
From our volcano came there suddenly
An aged man and left with me a child,
A tablet, too, with runes.
BRUNHILDA. 'Twas in the night?
FRIGGA. How dost thou know?
BRUNHILDA. When on thee falls the moonlight—
On thy face, thou speakest oft aloud,
Betraying much.
FRIGGA. And thou didst harken to me?
At midnight we were watching with our dead—
Our beauteous Queen. The old man's hair was white,
And longer than a woman's. Like a cloak
It hung about him, flowing softly down.
BRUNHILDA. The spirit of the mountain!
FRIGGA. Naught know I!—
No syllable he spoke. The little maid
Reached forth her hands and grasped the golden crown
That glittered brightly o'er the dead Queen's brow.
We marveled that it fitted her.
BRUNHILDA. The child?
FRIGGA. The little maid; and it was none too large,
Nor later did it bind her.
BRUNHILDA. 'Twas like mine!
FRIGGA. Like thine it was! And, yet more wonderful.
The child was like the maid that lay there dead
Within the mother's arms and disappeared
As had it ne'er existed—yes, so like
That only by the breathing could we know
The living from the dead. It seemed to us
That nature must have formed one body twice,
With life for one child only.
BRUNHILDA. Had the Queen
A new-born baby in her arms?
FRIGGA. Her life
She gave to bear her child, and with her died
The little maid.
BRUNHILDA. Thou didst not tell me that.
FRIGGA. I never thought to tell thee. Sorrow broke
The mother's heart that she could never show
Her baby to her lord. For many years
This priceless joy in vain he had desired,
And, just a month before the child was born,
A sudden death o'ertook him.
BRUNHILDA. Tell me more!
FRIGGA. We sought the aged man, but he was gone.
The glowing mountain that had been cleft through
As one might split an apple, slowly now
Was drawn together there before our eyes.
BRUNHILDA. The old man came no more?
FRIGGA. Now hark to me!
Next morning to the grave we bore our Queen;
But when the priest was ready to baptize
The little maid, his arm fell helpless down,
Nor could he touch her forehead with the dew
Of holy water, and his good right arm
He never lifted more.
BRUNHILDA. What, never more?
FRIGGA. The man was old, and so we marveled not.
We called another priest. The holy dew
He sprinkled on the child. The blessed words
Of benediction halted on his tongue,
Nor hath his speech returned.
BRUNHILDA. And now the third?
FRIGGA. For him we waited long. We had to seek
In other lands afar, where of the tale
None knew. At last this priest baptized the child.
His holy office ended, down he fell
Upon the ground and nevermore arose!
BRUNHILDA. And did the baby live?
FRIGGA. She throve apace,
And strong she grew. Her playful ways to us
Were signs what we should do or leave undone.
They ne'er deceived us, for the runes had said
That we might trust them ever.
BRUNHILDA. Frigga! Frigga!
FRIGGA. Thou art indeed the maid! Now dost thou know?
Not in the gloomy caverns of the dead,
In Hecla where the ancient gods still dwell,
Among the Norns, among the Valkyries,
Seek thou the mother that gave birth to thee!
Oh, that no drop of holy water e'er
Had touched thy brow! Then were we wiser far.
BRUNHILDA. What dost thou murmur?
FRIGGA. How then did it hap
That on this morning we were not in bed,
But fully robed had tarried in the hall?
Our teeth were chattering and our lips were blue.
BRUNHILDA. A sudden sleep o'erwhelmed us, that was all.
FRIGGA. But had it ever happened?
BRUNHILDA. Not before.
FRIGGA. Then hark! The old man came and tried to speak.
It almost seems as if I'd seen him stand
And grasp thy shoulder; and he threatened me,
But heavy was thy sleep. Thou should'st not hear
What fate awaits thee if thou dost persist.
So offer sacrifice and then be free.
Oh, had I paid no heed unto the priest,
Howe'er he urged me! But the sacred runes
I had not read aright.—Come, sacrifice,
For danger cometh nigh.
BRUNHILDA. 'Tis nigh?
Thou knowest that the fiery sea is quenched
That flamed around thy castle.
BRUNHILDA. Yet the knight
Still lingers who should wield the magic sword
And on his war-horse gallop through the flames,
When he had won proud Fafner's ill-starred hoard.
FRIGGA. I may have erred. But yet this second sign
Cannot deceive me, for I long have known
That when the fateful hour shall come to thee,
Clear vision doth await thee. Sacrifice!
Mayhap the ancient gods surround thee now
Invisibly, and they will straight appear
With the first blood-drops of thine offering.
BRUNHILDA. I do not fear.
[Trumpets are heard.]
FRIGGA. The trumpets!
BRUNHILDA. Hast thou ne'er
Heard them before?
FRIGGA. Never before with dread.
The time for lopping thistle-heads is past,
And iron helms arise before thee now.
BRUNHILDA. Come hither all! For I will let her see
Brunhilda still can conquer! While the sea
Of fire still flamed I hastened forth to meet ye,
And friendly, as a trusty dog will spring
To give his master room, my faithful fire
Drew back before me, sank on either hand;
The road stands open now, but not my heart.
[She ascends her throne.]
Now fling the portals wide and let them in!
Whoever here may come, his head is mine!


The gates are opened. Enter SIEGFRIED, GUNTHER, HAGEN and VOLKER.

BRUNHILDA. Who cometh seeking death?
Ah! Is it thou?
SIEGFRIED. I am not seeking death, nor will I sue.
And too much honor dost thou yield to me
In greeting Gunther's guide before himself,
For I am but his helper.
BRUNHILDA (turning to GUNTHER). Then 'tis thou?
And know'st thou what is toward?
GUNTHER. Full well I know!
SIEGFRIED. The rumor of thy beauty spreads abroad,
But further still the fame of thy hard heart.
And who hath gazed but once in thy deep eyes
Will nevermore forget, e'en in his cups,
That dreadful death beside thee always stands.
BRUNHILDA. 'Tis true! Who cannot conquer, he must die,
And all his servants with him. Smilest thou?
Be not so proud! For if thou cam'st to me
As thou could'st hold a beaker full of wine
On high above thy head and still could'st gaze
On me as on a picture, yet I swear
That thou shalt fall as any other falls.
But thee I counsel, if thine ears can hear,
List to my maidens! Bid them tell the tale
Of heroes that my hand hath laid full low!
The chance may hap among them there is one
Hath tried his strength with thee. There may be one
Hath laid thee conquered at his very feet!
HAGEN. Ne'er was King Gunther conquered. That I vow!
SIEGFRIED. High stands his castle by the Rhine at Worms,
And rich are all the treasures of his land;
Yet o'er all heroes stands he higher still,
And richer far in honors is our King.
HAGEN. Thy hand, thou lowlander! Thou speakest well!
VOLKER. And would it be so hard to leave this land
Amidst the ocean's desert solitude—
Of thy free will to leave it, and the King
To follow forth to life from night and hell?
This land is like no other on the earth.—
A desert waste, a rockbound wilderness;
All living things have fled long since in fear,
And if thou lovest it, 'tis only this,
That thou wast born the last of all thy race.
Above, the storms rage ever, and the sea
Forever surgeth and the fiery mount
In labor moaneth, while the fearful light
That streameth ruddy from the firmament,
As streams the blood from sacrificial stone,
Is such as devils only may endure.—
To breathe the air is like to drinking blood!
BRUNHILDA. What knowest thou of this my wilderness?
Naught have I lacked from that fair world of thine.
And if I longed for aught, that would I take.
Remember that! Brunhilda needs no gifts!
SIEGFRIED. Did I not tell ye true? To arms! To arms!
By force must she be brought from her wild home!
And once 'tis done, then will she give thee thanks.
BRUNHILDA. Perchance that is not true. And knowest thou
The sacrifice thou askest? Thou know'st not,
And no man knoweth. Harken now to me,
And ask yourselves how I'll defend my rights.
With us the time is motionless; we know
Nor spring nor summer nor the autumntide.
The visage of the year is e'er the same,
And we within the land are changeless too.
But although nothing grows and blooms with us,
As in the sunlight of your distant home,
Still in our darkness ripen precious fruits
That in your land ye neither sow nor reap.
In the fierce joy of battle I delight
To conquer every haughty foe that comes
To steal my freedom. And I have my youth,
My glorious youth, and all the joy of life,
Which still suffice me, and, ere these I lose,
The benediction of the fates will fall
Invisibly upon me. I shall be
Their consecrated priestess evermore.
FRIGGA. Is't possible? My offering sufficed?
BRUNHILDA. The solid earth shall open 'neath my feet
Revealing all that's hidden in its depths;
And I shall hear the singing of the stars,
And their celestial music understand.
And still another joy shall be my share,
A third one, all impossible to grasp.
FRIGGA. 'Tis thou, 'tis Odin, hast unsealed her eyes!
In the deep night her ear was closed to thee—
Yet now she sees the spinning of the Norns.
BRUNHILDA (rising to her full height, with fixed and dreaming eyes).
There comes a morning when I do not go
To hunt for bears, or find the great sea-snake
That's frozen in the ice, and set him free,
So that his struggles may not smite the stars.
I leave the castle early, bravely mount
My faithful steed. He bears me joyfully,
But suddenly I halt. Before my feet
The earth has turned to air, and shuddering
I wheel about. Behind me 'tis the same!
All is transparent—glowing clouds beneath,
As overhead. My maidens prattle still.
I call them—Are ye blind? Do ye see naught?
We float in empty space! They are amazed,
They shake their heads in silence, while they press
About me closer. Frigga whispers me:
And has thine hour come? Ah, now I see!
The solid earth is crystal to my gaze,
And what I deemed were clouds were but the web
Of gold and silver threads that, glistening,
Lay tangled in the depths.
FRIGGA. Thy triumph comes!
BRUNHILDA. An evening comes. All's changed, and lingering
We sit here late together. Suddenly,
As they were dead, the maidens fall; their words
Are frozen on their lips. I needs must go
Upon the tower, for above me rings
The sep'rate music of each farthest star.
At first 'tis only music to mine ear,
But with the dawn I murmur as in sleep:
The King will die ere nightfall and his son
Will never see the daylight, for he dies
Within his mother's womb! The others say
That so I told my tale, but I know naught
Of how I learned it. Soon I understand,
And swift the rumor flies from pole to pole
And distant people flock as now to me,
But not with swords to battle with me here—
Nay, humbly come they, laying by their crowns,
To hear my dreams and strive to understand
The meaning of my murmurings. For my eyes
Can see the future, in my hands I hold
The key to all the treasures of this world.
Far above all I rule, untouched by fate,
And yet the fates I know. But I forget
That even more is promised me. There roll
Whole centuries away—millenniums—
I feel them not! Yet finally I ask:
Where then is death? My tresses answer me—
I see them in the mirror—they are black,
The snow has never touched them, and I say:
This is the third gift. Death comes not to me.
[She sinks back, and the maidens support her.]
FRIGGA. Why fear I still? For were it Balmung's lord,
She hath a shield that will protect her now.
He'll fall, e'en if she loves but yet resists,
And she will struggle, since her fate she knows.
BRUNHILDA (rising again).
I spoke! What said I?
FRIGGA. Take thy bow, my child.
Thy dart will fly today as ne'er before,
All else may wait!
BRUNHILDA (to the knights). Come on!
SIEGFRIED (to BRUNHILDA). Thou swear'st
To follow us if thou art overcome?
BRUNHILDA (laughs).
I swear!
SIEGFRIED. 'Tis well! And I'll prepare the ship!
BRUNHILDA (while going away addresses FRIGGA).
Go now into the trophy hall and drive
The nail that will be needed.
(To the knights.)
Follow me!
[Exeunt omnes.]


Worms. Courtyard of the Castle.


Enter RUMOLT and GISELHER, meeting.

GISELHER. Now, Rumolt, will a single tree be left?
For weeks now thou hast brought whole forests in
And grimly thou provid'st the wedding feast,
As if men, dwarfs, and elves were all to come.
RUMOLT. I make me ready, and if I should find
A single kettle that's not full enough,
I'll seize the lazy cook and throw him in
And use the scullion-boy to stir the stew.
GISELHER. Art thou so certain what the end will be?
RUMOLT. I am, for Siegfried woos. The man who takes
Two noble princes captive, sends them home
As though they were no more than frightened hares,
Will not be daunted by a witch-wife now.
GISELHER. There thou art right! We have good hostages
Since we have Lüdegast and Lüdeger!
They meant to bring a host of armèd men,
A greater than e'er Burgundy had seen.
Yet humbly here as prisoners they came,
Nor needed any guard upon their way.
So cook, my man, we shall not want for guests!
[GERENOT enters.]
And here's the hunter!
GERENOT. But he brings no game!
I was upon the tower and saw the Rhine
All covered o'er with ships.
RUMOLT. It is the bride!
I'll send my men to drive the beasts about,
That from the noisy turmoil in the court
The sound shall reach afar and prove to her
The welcome that awaits her!
[Trumpets are heard.]
GERENOT. 'Tis too late!


Enter SIEGFRIED, with retinue.

SIEGFRIED. Here am I once again!
GISELHER. Without my brother?
SIEGFRIED. Nay, fear not! As his messenger I come!—
And yet I bear the message not for thee!
'Tis for thy Lady Mother, and I hope
That I may see thy sister Kriemhild, too.
GISELHER. Brave knight, that shalt thou, for we owe to thee
Our thanks for capturing the noble Danes.
SIEGFRIED. I wish that I had never sent them here.
GISELHER. Why so? Thou hadst no better way to prove
What we have gained in winning thy right arm,
For truly are the Princes stalwart men!
SIEGFRIED. It may be! Yet had I not done the deed,
Perhaps some bird had flown and spread abroad
The rumor that the Danes had slain me there,
And I might ask how Kriemhild heard the tale.
GISELHER. But as it is they help thy cause enough!
That one can take good metal and alloy
And beat them into trumpets smooth and round,
I long have known. But that one could shape men
In such a way I knew not, but these two
Show us the work of such a smith as thou.
They praised thee—If thou hadst been there to hear,
Thy cheeks would still flame scarlet! Yet 'twas not
With measured praise, as men will praise their foe,
Thinking to lessen thus the burning shame
Of their own downfall. No, 'twas heartfelt praise.
But you should hear Kriemhilda tell the tale.
Unweariedly she asked them o'er and o'er.—
She's coming now.



SIEGFRIED. I pray you!
GISELHER. What's thy wish?
SIEGFRIED. I never longed to have my father by,
That he might teach me how to bear my arms,
But ah! today I need my mother so,
That I might ask her how to use my tongue.
GISELHER. Give me thy hand, since thou art shamefaced too.
They call me here "the child." Now let them see
A "child" may lead a lion!
[He leads SIEGFRIED to the women.]
'Tis the knight
From Netherland!
SIEGFRIED. Fair ladies, do not fear,
Because I've come alone.
UTE. Brave Siegfried, no!
We do not fear, for thou art not the man
Who's left alone when all but he are dead,
To bear his tale, a messenger of woe.
Thou comest to announce a daughter dear,
And Kriemhild hath a sister.
SIEGFRIED. So it is,
My Queen!
GISELHER. So is it! Nothing more? And scarce
Those few words could he utter! Dost thou grudge
The king his bride? Or hast thou lamed thy tongue
In battle? That was never known before.
But no, for thou could'st use it fast enough
To tell me of Brunhilda's dark brown eyes
And raven tresses.
SIEGFRIED. Prithee, say not so!
GISELHER. How hotly he denies it! See him raise
On high three fingers, swearing that he loves
Blue eyes—light hair!
UTE. This is an arrant rogue!
He is nor boy nor man, sapling nor tree.
And long hath he outgrown his mother's rod,
Nor ever hath he felt his father's whip.
Ungoverned is he as a yearling colt,
That's never known the bridle or the whip.
We must forgive or punish him!
SIEGFRIED. 'Twere not
So easy as you think! To break a colt
Is difficult, and many limp away
Ashamed, and cannot mount him!
UTE. Then once more
He 'scapes his punishment!
GISELHER. As a reward,
I'll tell a secret to thee.
KRIEMHILD. Giselher!
GISELHER. What hast thou to conceal? Be not afraid!
I do not know thy secret, nor will blow
The ashes from thy embers.—Never fear!
UTE. What is it then?
GISELHER. I have myself forgotten.
When a man's sister blushes rosy-red,
'Tis natural a brother is surprised
And seeks to know the reason.—Never mind!
The secret I'll recall before I die,
And then shall Siegfried learn it.
SIEGFRIED. Thou may'st jeer,
For I forget my message utterly,
And ere I've given word that you should don
Your festal garments, do the trumpets blow,
And Gunther and his train bring in the bride!
GISELHER. Dost thou not see the steward hastening?
Thy very coming told enough to him!
But I will help!
[He goes to RUMOLT.]
KRIEMHILD. A noble messenger
May not be paid with gifts!
SIEGFRIED. Indeed he may!
KRIEMHILD (fastens her bracelet and in so doing drops her handkerchief).
SIEGFRIED (snatches at the handkerchief)
This is my gift.
KRIEMHILD. Pray, no! 'Twere all unworthy!
SIEGFRIED. Jewels I value as another, dust.
And houses can I build of gold and silver,
Yet lack I such a kerchief!
KRIEMHILD. Take it then!
It is my handiwork.
SIEGFRIED. And thy free gift?
KRIEMHILD. My noble Siegfried, yes, 'tis my free gift.
UTE. I crave thy pardon—it is time to go!
[Exit, with KRIEMHILD.]


SIEGFRIED. A Roland^1^ would have stood as stood I here!
I wonder that the sparrows did not nest
Within my hair.


Enter the CHAPLAIN.

CHAPLAIN (advances). Your pardon, noble sir,
Has Brunhild been baptized?
SIEGFRIED. She is baptized.
CHAPLAIN. Then 'tis a Christian land from which she comes?
SIEGFRIED. They fear the cross.
CHAPLAIN. (steps back again). Perchance 'tis there as here!
Where men will place it next to Wotan's tree
Right gladly, for they do not surely know
If magic may not dwell there; as we see
Devoutest Christians hesitate to break
A heathen image, for some remnant still
Awakes within them of the olden fear
Before those staring eyes.


and UTE approach them from the castle.

GUNTHER. And here's the castle!
My mother's coming now to welcome thee,
Kriemhilda too
VOLKER (to BRUNHILDA, as the women approach each other).
Are they no gain to thee?
HAGEN. Siegfried, a word! Thy trick availed us naught.
SIEGFRIED. Availed us naught? Was she not vanquished then?
Is she not here?
HAGEN. What profit is in that?
SIEGFRIED. Why, all!
HAGEN. But nay! Who cannot take by force
Her first caress will master nevermore
This maid, and Gunther is not strong enough.
SIEGFRIED. And has he tried?
HAGEN. Why else should I complain?
In full sight of the castle! She at first
Resisted him, as it befits a maid,
And as our mothers may have done of old;
But when she saw that but the lightest touch
Sufficed to drive the ardent wooer forth,
She grew enraged, and, when he tarried still,
She seized and held him with her outstretched arm
Above the Rhine. A shame it was to him,
A shame to all of us.
SIEGFRIED. She is a witch!
HAGEN. Chide not, but help!
SIEGFRIED. I think that if the priest
But married them—
HAGEN. Were that old hag not there,
The woman that attends her! All day long
She spies and questions, and she sits by her
As the embodiment of wise old age.
I fear the nurse the most.
UTE (to KRIEMHILD and BRUNHILDA). Now love each other,
And may the circlet that your arms have twined
In this first joyful moment widen out
Further and further to a perfect ring
Within which you may wander, side by side,
Sharing your joys in harmony complete!
Yours is a privilege that I had not,
For what I might not say unto my lord
I had to bear in silence; but at least
I could not speak complainingly of him.
KRIEMHILD. Let us be like two sisters.
BRUNHILDA. For your sake
Your son and brother may imprint the seal
Upon my lips that stamps me as his maid
Before the nightfall comes, for I am still
Unblemished and untouched like some young tree,
And were it not for your sweet gentleness
Forever would I hold this shame afar.
UTE. Thou speak'st of shame?
BRUNHILDA. Forgive me for that word;
I speak but as I feel. And I am strange
Here in your world, and as my rugged land
Would surely terrify you, were you there,
So does your land alarm me, for I feel
That here I could not have been born at all—
Yet must I live here!—Is the sky so blue
KRIEMHILD. Nearly all the time 'tis blue.
BRUNHILDA. We know not blue, unless we see blue eyes,
And those we only have with ruddy hair
And milk-white faces! Is it always still,
And does the wind blow never?
KRIEMHILD. Sometimes storms
O'erwhelm the land, and then the day is night
With thunderpeals and lightning.
BRUNHILDA. Would it come
Today!—'Twould be a greeting from my home!
I cannot well endure the brilliant light;
It pains me and it makes me feel so bare,
As if no garment here were thick enough!
And are those flowers—red and gold and green?
KRIEMHILD. Thou ne'er hast seen them, yet thou know'st their hues?
BRUNHILDA. Of precious stones there is with us no lack—
Though never white or black ones; yet my hands
Have taught me white, and raven is my hair.
KRIEMHILD. Thou canst not know of fragrance!
[She plucks a violet for her.]
BRUNHILDA. Oh how sweet!
And is't that tiny flower that breathes it forth—
The only one my eye did not observe?
I'd love to give the flower a pretty name—
But surely it is named.
KRIEMHILD. The little flower
Is lowlier than all, and none thy foot
More easily had crushed, for it appears
To be ashamed that it is more than grass,
And so it hides its head; but yet it drew
A gentle word from thee, the first we've heard.
So let it be a token that within
Our land is much that's hidden from thy gaze
That will delight thee.
BRUNHILDA. That I hope indeed—
For I need joy! Thou know'st not what it is
To be a woman, yet to overcome
A man in every combat and to gain
His strength that ebbs away as flows his blood,
And from the steaming blood breathe in new force—
To feel yourself grow stronger, braver yet,
And then, when victory is surer still—
[Turning suddenly]
Frigga, I ask again! What did I see—
Before that latest contest, what said I?
FRIGGA. It seemed thy spirit must have seen this land.
BRUNHILDA. This land!
FRIGGA. Thou didst rejoice.
BRUNHILDA. And I rejoiced!—
Thine eyes, however, flamed.
FRIGGA. Because I saw
Thy happiness.
BRUNHILDA. These warriors looked to me
As white as snow.
FRIGGA. They had been ever so.
BRUNHILDA. Wherefore didst thou conceal the dream so long?
FRIGGA. It is but now that it is clear to me,
Now that I can compare.
BRUNHILDA. If I rejoiced
When my prophetic vision saw this land,
I must rejoice again.
FRIGGA. Thou surely shalt!
BRUNHILDA. And yet it seems to me the vision dealt
With stars and metals too.
FRIGGA. Yes, that is so.
Thou said'st the stars gleamed still more brightly here.
But yet that gold and silver were but dull.
BRUNHILDA. Was't so?
FRIGGA (to HAGEN). Is't not the truth?
HAGEN. I paid no heed.
BRUNHILDA. I beg you all to treat me as a child;
Though I shall grow up faster than another.
Yet now I am no better.
That was all?
FRIGGA. Yes, all!
BRUNHILDA. Then all is well! Then all is well!
UTE (to GUNTHER, who has approached).
My son, if she's too bitter toward thee now,
But give her time! The clamor of the crows
And ravens that she heard could never make
Her heart grow softer, but 'twill soften now
With the lark's song and with the nightingale.
HAGEN. So speaks the minstrel when he is in love,
And plays with foolish puppies. 'Tis enough!
The maiden must have time to find her heart,
But for the princess, hold her to her word;
By right of conquest she's already thine.—
Then claim thy rights!
(He calls.)
(And starts on.)
GUNTHER. I'll follow thee!
SIEGFRIED. Wait, Gunther, wait! What didst thou promise me!
GUNTHER. May I, my Kriemhild, choose a spouse for thee?
KRIEMHILD. My lord and brother, be it as thou wilt!
GUNTHER (to UTE). I have no opposition then to fear?
UTE. Thou art the king, thy handmaids, she and I.
GUNTHER. I beg thee then amongst my kinsfolk here:
Redeem an oath for them and me, and give
Thy hand to noble Siegfried.
SIEGFRIED. I've no power
To speak as I could wish to, when I gaze
Upon thy face, and of my stammering tongue
Perchance thou hast already heard enough.
And so I ask thee as the hunter asks,
But that I blow no feathers from my hat,
To hide my fear: O maiden, wilt thou me?
Yet lest thou err'st through my simplicity,
And unenlightened actest in the dark,
So let me tell thee, ere thou answer'st me,
How my own mother blames me oftentimes.
She says that I am surely strong enough
To conquer all the world, but yet to rule
The smallest molehill I'm too simple far.
And if I do not lose my very eyes
'Tis only that the thing's impossible.
Thou may'st believe the half of what she says,
The other half though, I can well disprove.
For if I once have won thee, I will show
The world how I can keep unharmed mine own.
Again I ask thee: Kriemhild, wilt thou me?
KRIEMHILD. Why dost thou smile, my mother? I have not
Forgotten what I dreamed, the shudder still
Creeps over me and warns me more and more,
But still I say with dauntless courage: Yes!
BRUNHILDA (steps between KRIEMHILD and SIEGFRIED). Kriemhild!
KRIEMHILD. What wilt thou?
BRUNHILDA. I will prove myself
Thy sister.
KRIEMHILD. Now? Wherein?
BRUNHILDA (to SIEGFRIED). How dost thou dare
Aspire to her, the daughter of a king?
How dost thou dare, a vassal such as thou,
A serving man!
BRUNHILDA. Cam'st thou not as guide,
As messenger departed?
Canst thou suffer
And aid him in such boldness?
GUNTHER. Siegfried is
The first of all our warriors.
BRUNHILDA. Grant him then
The foremost seat beside thy very throne.
GUNTHER. In treasure, he is richer far than I.
BRUNHILDA. Is that his claim upon thy sister? Shame!
GUNTHER. A thousand of my enemies he's slain.
BRUNHILDA. The man who conquered me thanks him for that?
GUNTHER. He is a king as I am.
BRUNHILDA. Yet he ranks
Himself amongst thy servants?
GUNTHER. I will solve
This riddle for thee when thou art mine own.
BRUNHILDA. Ere I am thine thy secret will I know.
UTE. Thou wilt refuse to call me mother then?
Oh tarry not too long, for I am old.
And worn with many sorrows!
BRUNHILDA. As I swore,
I'll go with him to church, and I will be
Most willingly thy daughter—not his wife.
Pray quiet her!
FRIGGA. What need is there of me?
For if he once has overcome Brunhild,
The second time he surely will not fail;
And self-defense is every maiden's right.
SIEGFRIED (taking KRIEMHILD by the hand).
That all may know me henceforth as a king,
The Niblung's treasure do I give to thee.
And now thy duty and my right I claim.
[He kisses her.]
HAGEN. To church!
FRIGGA. Does Siegfried hold the Niblung's hoard?
HAGEN. Thou heard'st! The trumpets!
FRIGGA. And is Balmung^2^ his?
HAGEN. Why not? Musicians! Wedding music here!
[Loud and joyful music. Exeunt omnes.]


The great hall. Enter TRUCHS and WULF. Dwarfs bring treasures across the stage.

TRUCHS. I am for Kriemhild.
WULF. And for Brunhild I.
TRUCHS. And why, if thou wilt tell me?
WULF. Where would be
The play of rival lances, if we all
Should wear one color?
TRUCHS. Why, I grant thee that!
The reason is sufficient, otherwise
It were mere madness.
WULF. Say it not so loud,
For many heroes swear by Brunhild now.
TRUCHS. They are as different as day and night.
WULF. Who says they're not? Yet many love the night.
[Points to the dwarfs.]
What are they bringing?
TRUCHS. It must be the hoard,
The treasure of the Niblungs Siegfried won.
He's called the dwarfs for escort duty here,
And bade them bring the treasure, and I'm told
It is the marriage portion for his bride.
WULF. Uncanny are these dwarfs, with hollow backs!
But turn one over—there's a kneading trough!
TRUCHS. And ever with the dragons is their home
Within the earth and in the mountain caves.—
First cousins to the moles they are.
WULF. But strong!
TRUCHS. And clever are they too! One need not seek
For mandrakes^3^ if one has these dwarfs for friends.
WULF (pointing toward the treasure).
He who owns that needs neither of the two.
TRUCHS. I love it not. It is an ancient saw
That magic gold is thirstier for blood
Than ever was the driest sponge for water;
And, more than all, the Niblung heroes tell
The strangest tales!
WULF. Of ravens was the talk.
What was it then? I heard it not aright.
TRUCHS. A raven flew and lit upon the gold,
When it was carried to the ship, and there
He croaked till Siegfried, who could understand,
At first stopped up his ears and would not hear,
And whistled. Then the precious stones he threw
To drive the bird, and when it would not fly,
At last in desperation cast his spear.
WULF. Why, that is strange! For Siegfried is at heart
As gentle as he's brave.
[Horns are heard.]
They call for us!
They're gath'ring! Ho, Brunhilda!
TRUCHS. Kriemhild, ho!
[Exeunt. Other warriors, who meanwhile have assembled, join them and repeat the cry. It grows
dark gradually.]



SIEGFRIED. But Hagen! Why didst thou make signs to me
To leave the banquet? I shall nevermore
Sit at this table as I sit today.
Pray grant me this one day, I only ask
A just reward.
HAGEN. Your task is not yet done.
SIEGFRIED. Let be till morning, for a minute's worth
A year today. I still can count the words
That I have spoken to my loving bride;
Then let me have one evening with my wife.
HAGEN. Without good reason I will ne'er disturb
A lover or a drunkard. It avails
No longer to resist! What Brunhild said
Thou'st heard, and now her wedding gayety
Thou may'st behold, for at the feast she weeps!
SIEGFRIED. And can I dry her tears?
HAGEN. She'll keep her word,
The threat that she has sworn, there is no doubt;
That endless shame would follow may we doubt
Still less. Dost thou not understand me now?
SIEGFRIED. What follows then?
HAGEN. That thou must conquer her.
[GUNTHER approaches.]
HAGEN. Now listen! Gunther goes with her
Into the chamber.^4^ In the Tarnhelm thou
Must follow. Quickly he demands a kiss
Ere she has raised her veil.—She grants it not.
He grapples with her.—She laughs mockingly.
He quenches, as by accident, the light—
Exclaims: So much is jest, 'tis earnest now.
It will not be on shore as on the ship!
Then shalt thou seize her and so master her
That she shall beg for mercy and for life.
And when thy part is done, then shall the king
Demand her oath to be his humblest maid,
And thou shalt vanish as thou cam'st.
GUNTHER. Wilt thou
But do me this one service now, my friend,
I vow I'll never ask thee then for more.
HAGEN. He must and will. The task he has begun,
How should he then not finish?
SIEGFRIED. If I would!
For truly you demand a deed from me
That I might well refuse another time
Than on my wedding day to do for you—
How could I pray? What should I tell Kriemhild?
She has so much already to forgive,
The very ground is hot beneath my feet.
Should I repeat the misdeed once again
She never could forgive me in her life.
HAGEN. When a young daughter from her mother parts
And leaves the room where once the cradle stood,
Into the bridal chamber she must pass,
The farewell is a long one, know my friend.
There's time enough for thee, and so—agreed!
(As SIEGFRIED refuses his hand.)
Brunhilda now is like a wounded deer,
Who'd let it with the arrow run away?
A noble hunter sends the second shaft.
The lost is ever lost, nor may return.
The haughty heiress of the Valkyries
And Norns is dying. Give the final stroke!
A happy woman laughs tomorrow morn
And only says: I had a troubled dream!
SIEGFRIED. I know not, something warns me.
HAGEN. Will Frau Ute
Be ready ere thou art? Nay, there's no fear,
For three times yet will she call Kriemhild back
To bless her and embrace her.
SIEGFRIED. I refuse.
HAGEN. What? If this moment came a messenger
In haste announcing that thy father lay
Sick unto death, would'st thou not call at once
For thy good steed? And surely would thy bride
Speed thy departure! Yet a father may,
Though old, recover. Honor wounded once
By cruel wrong, nor mended speedily,
Will never from the dead be raised again.
The honor of the king's the guiding star
Which brings or light or darkness to the knights,
As to the king himself. O woe to him
Who hesitates and robs him of one ray.
Had I thy strength I'd sue to thee no more,
But do the deed myself with pride and joy.
And yet by magic was Brunhilda won,
And magic arts must finish now the task.
Then do it! Must I kneel?
SIEGFRIED. I like it not!
Who would have dreamed of this! And yet it lay
So very near! O nature three times blest!
In all my life no deed I've shunned like this;
Yet what thou say'st is true. So let it be.
GUNTHER. I'll go and give my mother but a hint—
HAGEN. No, no! No woman! We're already three
And have, I hope, no tongue to tell the tale.
Let death the fourth one in our compact be!
[Exeunt omnes.]


Morning. Courtyard of the castle. The cathedral is at one side.


Enter RUMOLT and DANKWART armed.

RUMOLT. Three dead!
DANKWART. For yesterday it was enough,
For that was but the prelude! Now there'll be
Another tale to tell.
RUMOLT. These Nibelungs
Are e'er prepared for death; they bring their shrouds
And each man wears both shroud and sword at once.
DANKWART. The customs are so strange in northern lands!
For as the mountains grow more rugged still
And cheerful oaks make way for sombre firs,
Just so does man grow gloomy, till at last
He's wholly lost and but the brute remains!
First comes a race that cannot even sing,
And next another race that cannot laugh,
Then follows one that's dumb, and so it goes.


Music. A great procession. WULF and TRUCHS among the warriors.

Will Hagen be content?
DANKWART. I think he will.
This is a summons, as it were, to war!
Yet he is right, for this strange princess needs
Quite other morning serenades than sings
The lark that warbles in the linden tree.
[They pass by.]



KRIEMHILD (calling attention to her attire).
Wilt thou not thank me?
SIEGFRIED. Nay, what dost thou mean?
KRIEMHILD. But look at me!
SIEGFRIED. That thou art living, smiling,
I give thee thanks, and that thine eyes are blue—
I love not black—
KRIEMHILD. Thou dost but praise the Lord
In his handmaiden! Did I make myself,
Thou simple fellow? Did I choose the eyes
Thou dost admire?
SIEGFRIED. Yet love, methinks, might dream
E'en such strange fancies! One fair morn in May
When all things glistened as they glisten now,
Two crystal dewdrops, clearer than the rest,
Were hanging on the harebells bluest spray;
And thou hast stolen them, and evermore
All heaven's in thine eyes.
KRIEMHILD. Then rather give
Thy thanks to me that as a child I fell
So wisely. My blue eyes I might have lost
The day I only marked my temple here!
SIEGFRIED. Oh, let me kiss the scar!
KRIEMHILD. Thy healing art
Would be but lost. No balsam craves the wound
That's long since healed. But tell me more!
Thy mouth—
KRIEMHILD. With words?
SIEGFRIED (about to embrace her).
But may I thank thee so?
KRIEMHILD (draws back).
Dost think that I invite thee?
SIEGFRIED. With words then
For thy words! No, for sweeter yet than words,
Thy murmuring of tender secret things
My ear finds precious, as my lips thy kiss.
I thank thee for thy secret gazing forth
To see us throwing weights to win the prize.
Oh, had I dreamed of it! And for thy scorn
And mockery—
KRIEMHILD. A maiden's pride to soothe
For tarrying, thou thinkest? Cruel friend!
I told thee in the dark! But wilt thou see
My blushes now when in the light of day
Thou tellest me the tale? My foolish blood
Flushes and pales so fast, my mother says
That I am like a rose-bush that sends forth
Red buds and white upon a single stem—
Else hadst thou never found my secret out.
For I could feel the burning of my cheeks,
When yestermorn my brother teased me so.
I saw no way but to confess to thee.
SIEGFRIED. Then may he start the noblest stag today!
KRIEMHILD. And may he miss him! Yes, I wish it too.—
I see thou art just like my uncle, Hagen,
Who, if one lays a garment by his bed,
That one has made in secret, will not heed
Unless perchance it is too tight.
KRIEMHILD. Thou only see'st God's and nature's gifts
In all that's mine, but my own handiwork,
The raiment that adorns me, thou see'st not—
Not even the fair girdle that I wear.
SIEGFRIED. The girdle's gay, and yet I'd rather wind
About thy waist the rainbow's lovely hue;
Methinks that ye would suit each other well.
KRIEMHILD. But bring it me at night and I will change,
Yet do not throw it down like this I wear.
'Tis but by chance I did not lose thy gift.
SIEGFRIED. What sayest thou?
KRIEMHILD. But for the precious stones,
It might be underneath the table still,
But fire is a thing one cannot hide.
SIEGFRIED. Is that my gift?
SIEGFRIED. But thou art dreaming!
KRIEMHILD. I found it in the room.
SIEGFRIED. It is thy mother's!
She must have let it fall.
KRIEMHILD. It is not hers!
For well I know her ornaments. I thought
It had been taken from the Niblung's hoard;
To give thee joy I put it on at once.
SIEGFRIED. I thank thee, but the girdle I know not!
KRIEMHILD (takes the girdle off).
Then for my golden girdle make thou room
Which thou concealest! I was all attired,
And only put it on to honor thee,
My mother also, for this golden one
She gave to me.
SIEGFRIED. But that is very strange!—
'Twas lying on the floor?
SIEGFRIED. And crumpled?
KRIEMHILD. I see you know it well! The second trick
Succeeded like the first, and now I have
My task twice over!
[She starts to put the girdle on again.]
SIEGFRIED. No! For God's sake, no!
KRIEMHILD. Art thou in earnest?
SIEGFRIED (to himself). 'Twas with that she strove
To tie my hands.
KRIEMHILD. Art laughing?
SIEGFRIED (to himself). Then I raged,
And put forth all my strength.
KRIEMHILD. Nay, thou art not?
SIEGFRIED (to himself).
I snatched at something.
KRIEMHILD. That I'll soon believe.
SIEGFRIED (to himself).
I thrust it, when she grasped for it again,
Into my bosom, and—Now give it me!
No well is deep enough to hide it in;
With a great stone I'll sink it in the Rhine!
KRIEMHILD. Siegfried!
SIEGFRIED. I must have lost it—Give it me!
KRIEMHILD. Where didst thou get this girdle?
SIEGFRIED. Nay, this is
A dark and fearful secret; thou should'st seek
To learn no whit about it.
KRIEMHILD. Yet thou hast
Confided one still greater, and I know
The place where Death may strike the fatal blow.
SIEGFRIED. That I alone protect!
KRIEMHILD. And there are two
To guard the other!
SIEGFRIED (to himself). I was far too quick.
KRIEMHILD (covers her face).
Thou gav'st thy oath to me! Why didst thou that?
I had not even asked it.
SIEGFRIED. Still I swear,
I ne'er have known a woman!
KRIEMHILD (holds up the girdle).
SIEGFRIED. That was used
To bind me.
KRIEMHILD. If a lion told the tale
'Twere less incredible!
SIEGFRIED. And yet 'tis true.
KRIEMHILD. This hurts me most! To such a man as thou,
The sin itself, however black it be,
Is more becoming than the cloak of lies
Wherewith he fain would hide it.


SIEGFRIED. We must go!
They come!
KRIEMHILD. But who! Does Brunhild know the girdle?
SIEGFRIED. Pray hide it quickly!
KRIEMHILD. No, I'll show it them!
SIEGFRIED. I pray thee hide it. Then thou shalt know all.
KRIEMHILD (hiding the girdle).
So Brunhilda knows the girdle?
SIEGFRIED. Listen then!
[Both follow the procession.]


BRUNHILDA. Was that not Kriemhild?
BRUNHILDA. How long does she
Tarry beside the Rhine?
GUNTHER. She'll soon depart,
For Siegfried must go home.
BRUNHILDA. I'll grant him leave,
And willingly dispense with his farewell.
GUNTHER. But dost thou hate him so?
BRUNHILDA. I cannot bear
To see thy noble sister sink so low.
GUNTHER. She does as thou dost.
BRUNHILDA. Nay, thou art a man!
This name which was of old to me the call
To arms, now fills my heart with joy and pride!
Yes, Gunther, I am wonderfully changed.
Thou see'st it too? There's something I might ask,
But yet I do not!
GUNTHER. Thou'rt my noble wife!
BRUNHILDA. 'Tis sweet to hear that word, and now it seems
As strange to me that once I used to ride
To battle on my horse and hurl my spear,
As it would seem to see thee turn the spit!
I cannot bear the sight of weapons now,
And my own shield I find too heavy far;
I tried to lay it by, but had to call
My maid. I'd rather watch the spiders spin
And see the little birds that build their nests,
Than go with thee!
GUNTHER. Yet this time thou must go!
BRUNHILDA. And I know why. Forgive me! What I thought
Was weakness was but magnanimity,
For thou would'st not disgrace me on the ship
When I defied thee! Naught of that there dwelt
Within my heart, and therefore has the strength
That some caprice of nature gave to me
Departed from me, and returned to thee!
GUNTHER. Since thou art gentle, then be reconciled
With Siegfried too!
BRUNHILDA. Oh, name him not to me!
GUNTHER. There is no reason thou shouldst hate him so.
BRUNHILDA. And if I have none? When a king descends
To fill the humble office of a guide
And carry messages, it is indeed
As strange as if a man should take the place
Of his own horse, the saddle on his back,
Or bay and hunt in service of his hound.
But if it pleases him, what's that to me!
GUNTHER. It was not so.
BRUNHILDA. Still stranger 't is to see
His noble stature tow'ring high above
All other men, so that it even seems
That he has gathered all the royal crowns
Of all the world to forge them into one,
And thus to show the world for the first time
A perfect picture of true majesty.
For it is true, while still upon the earth
More crowns than one are gleaming, none is round,
And for the sun's full circle even thou
Wearest a crescent pale upon thy head.
GUNTHER. But see. Thou hast already viewed the man
With other eyes.
BRUNHILDA. I greeted him ere thee.
Then slay him—challenge him—win my revenge!
GUNTHER. Brunhilda! He's the husband of my sister,
And so his blood is mine.
BRUNHILDA. Do battle then
With him and lay him low upon the ground,
And let me see thy rightful majesty
When he is as a footstool for thy feet!
GUNTHER. Our custom is not so.
BRUNHILDA. I will not yield;
His downfall I must see. Thou hast the heart
Of life, and he the glitter and the show.
But blow away this magic which e'er holds
The gaze of fools upon him. If Kriemhild
Casts down those eyes in shame, that now she lifts
Almost too proudly when she's by his side,
'Twill do no damage, and I promise thee
Far richer love if thou wilt do the deed.
GUNTHER. He too is strong.
BRUNHILDA. That he the dragon slew
And conquered Alberich, does not compare
With thy great prowess. For in thee and me
Have man and woman for eternity
Fought the last battle for supremacy.
Thou art the victor, and I ask no more
Than still to see those honors deck thy brow
Of which I was so jealous. For thou art
The strongest man of all; so cast him down
From golden clouds to earth for my delight,
And leave him naked, destitute, and bare—
Then let him live a hundred years or more.


Enter FRIGGA and UTE.

UTE. Brunhilda looks already happier
Than yesterday.
FRIGGA. My Queen, she truly is.
UTE. I thought it would be so.
FRIGGA. But I did not!
Her mind is strangely altered, 'twould astound
Me not a whit now if her nature too
Should alter and her hair should change to blonde
Instead of raven tresses that of old
So richly waved beneath my golden comb.
UTE. Thou dost not grieve, I trust?
FRIGGA. I'm more amazed.
If this heroic woman thou hadst reared
As I have done, and knew all that I know,
Then would thy wonder be no less than mine.
UTE (turning to go back into the castle).
Do what thou canst!
FRIGGA. I surely have done more
Than ever thou couldst dream of. How this came
I cannot tell, but if she's happy now
I am content, and of the olden time
She hath forgotten never will I tell.


Enter KRIEMHILD and BRUNHILDA, hand in hand. A large number of warriors and people

KRIEMHILD. Wouldst thou not watch the combat from afar
Rather than join the fray?
BRUNHILDA. Hast thou tried both,
That thus thou canst compare them?
KRIEMHILD. I'd not bear
The heat of battle.
BRUNHILDA. Then thou shouldst not try
To judge of it!—No insult I intend.
Nay, do not draw thy hand away from mine!
It may be so, and yet I thought this joy
Were but for me alone.
KRIEMHILD. What dost thou mean?
BRUNHILDA. Surely no woman can rejoice to see
Her husband conquered.
BRUNHILDA. Nor deceive
Herself if in the fray he's not unhorsed,
Because his conqueror spares him.
KRIEMHILD. Surely not.
BRUNHILDA. What then!
KRIEMHILD. But I am quite secure from that?
Thou smilest?
BRUNHILDA. Over-confident art thou.
KRIEMHILD. It is my right!
BRUNHILDA. It may not come to proof,
And even a dream is sweet—so slumber on,
And I will never wake thee.
KRIEMHILD. What say'st thou?
My noble husband is too gentle far
To grieve the rulers of his royal realm,
Else had he made a sceptre long ago
Of his good sword and held it forth so far
That its great shadow covered all the earth.
For all the lands are subject unto him,
And should but one deny it, I would ask
That land from him to make a flower bed.
BRUNHILDA. Kriemhild, what then would be my husband's place?
KRIEMHILD. He is my brother, and the standard's his
Whereby one weighs all others. None weighs him.
BRUNHILDA. No, for he is the standard of the world!
And as 'tis gold decides the worth of things,
So he the worth of heroes and of knights.
Thou must not contradict me, dearest child,
And in return I'll listen patiently
If thou wilt only teach me how to sew.
KRIEMHILD. Brunhilda!
BRUNHILDA. Nay, I did not speak in scorn;
I long to sew, and needle-work is not
My birthright like the throwing of the lance,
For which I never sought a master's aid,
More than I needed aid to stand or walk.
KRIEMHILD. If 'tis thy wish, we can begin at once;
And since thou best enjoyest making wounds
We'll take the bodkin for embroidery.
I have a pattern!—
[She is about to show the girdle.]
No, I have it not.
BRUNHILDA. Thou lookest on thy sister coldly now.
But 'tis not friendly to withdraw thy hand
From my fond clasp before I give it up—
At least our custom is the contrary.
And canst thou not be reconciled to know
The sceptre of thy dreams is given now
Into thy brother's hands? Thou art his sister,
And that should comfort thee. A brother's fame.
Is half thine own, so thou shouldst yield to me,
Before all other women, honor's crown
That once for all could never have been thine,
For no one could have paid for it as I.
KRIEMHILD. 'Tis thus perverted nature takes revenge.
Thou didst resist love's rule as no one else,
And now this blindness is thy penalty.
BRUNHILDA. Thou speakest of thyself and not of me!
We need not quarrel, for the whole world knows
That ere my mother bore me, 'twas my fate
The strongest knight alone should conquer me.
KRIEMHILD. I can believe it.
KRIEMHILD (laughs).
BRUNHILDA. Then thou art mad!
Perchance thou fear'st that we shall be too harsh
With all the vassals? Yet thou need'st not fear!
I plant no flower beds in conquered lands,
And only once will I claim precedence
If thou art not too proud and obstinate,—
Here at the church today and nevermore.
KRIEMHILD. Indeed I'd never have denied it thee,
But, since my husband's honor is at stake,
I will not yield one step.
BRUNHILDA. He will command
That thou shalt yield.
KRIEMHILD. How dare'st thou scorn him so!
BRUNHILDA. He made way for thy brother in my hall,
As vassals for their lord, and he refused
My proffered greeting!—That did not seem strange
While I still thought him—as he called himself—
A serving-man, a messenger to me.
But now it all seems changed.
KRIEMHILD. And how is that?
BRUNHILDA. I've seen a wolf slip silently away
Before a bear, and then I've seen the bear
Flee from the mountain bull. Though he's not sworn,
Yet is he still a vassal.
KRIEMHILD. Say no more!
BRUNHILDA. Wilt threaten me? Do not forget thyself!
I have my senses—see that thou keep thine:
There must have been some cause beneath all this.
KRIEMHILD. There was! And if thou shouldst suspect the cause,
How thou wouldst shudder.
KRIEMHILD. Yes, indeed!
But do not fear! I love thee even now
Too fondly. Never can I hate thee so
That I will tell the cause. Had aught like that
Befallen me, today I'd dig my grave
With my own hands. Brunhilda, never fear!
I will not make thee the most wretched soul
That draws the breath of life upon the earth!
Then keep thy pride, for pity makes me dumb.
BRUNHILDA. Thou boastest, Kriemhild! I despise thee now!
KRIEMHILD. My husband's concubine despises me!
BRUNHILDA. Put her in chains! She rages! Bind her then!
KRIEMHILD (draws out the girdle).
Know'st thou this girdle?
BRUNHILDA. Well I do. 'Tis mine.
And since I see it in a stranger's hands
It must be that 'twas stolen in the night.
KRIEMHILD. 'Twas stolen! 'Twas no thief that gave it me!
BRUNHILDA. Who then?
KRIEMHILD. The man who overpowered thee!
But not my brother!
BRUNHILDA. Kriemhild!
KRIEMHILD. Thy fierce strength
Had surely strangled Gunther, then perchance
Thou would'st have loved the dead as punishment.
My husband gave it me!
BRUNHILDA. 'Tis false!
KRIEMHILD. 'Tis true!
Now scorn him if thou canst! Wilt now consent
That I may pass before thee through the door?
(To her women.)
Now follow. She shall see me prove my rights!
[They leave and enter the cathedral.]
BRUNHILDA. Where are the lords of Burgundy!—Oh Frigga!
Didst thou hear that?
FRIGGA. I heard, and I believe it.
BRUNHILDA. Oh this is death! 'Tis true?
FRIGGA. She said too much,
Surely too much—but this is plain to me,
That thou hast been betrayed!
BRUNHILDA. 'Tis Balmung's master. On the shore he stood
When died the flames.
BRUNHILDA. Then he rejected me.
For I was on the rampart and I know
He saw me. But his heart was full of her.
FRIGGA. That thou mayst know what thou hast lost by fraud,
I too deceived thee!
BRUNHILDA (without listening to her).
Hence the haughty calm
With which he gazed upon me!
FRIGGA. Not alone
This narrow country, but the whole wide earth
Was meant to be thy kingdom, and to thee
The stars should tell their message. Even death
Should lose his fell dominion over thee!
BRUNHILDA. Speak not of that!
FRIGGA. Why not? Thy glories lost
Thou'lt not regain, but yet thou canst avenge
Thy wrongs, my child!
BRUNHILDA. And I will have revenge!
Despised and scorned! Oh, woman, in his arms
If thou hast mocked at me a single night,
Thou shalt weep bitterly for many years!
I will—Alas! I am as weak as she.
[Throws herself on FRIGGA's bosom.]



HAGEN. What then is wrong?
BRUNHILDA (drawing herself up to her full height, to GUNTHER). Am I concubine?
GUNTHER. A concubine?
BRUNHILDA. Thy sister calls me so!
What happened here?
FRIGGA. Ye are discovered now!
We know the conqueror, and Kriemhild vows
That he was twice a victor.
He has told!
[He speaks to him aside.]


KRIEMHILD (who has meanwhile come out of the cathedral).

Forgive me, Siegfried, for the wrong I did!
Yet if thou knewest how she slandered thee—
Hast thou then boasted?
SIEGFRIED (laying his hand on KRIEMHILD's head).
By her life I swear,
I never did.
HAGEN. No oath is needed here!
He only told the truth.
SIEGFRIED. And even that
Upon compulsion!
HAGEN. That I do not doubt!
The tale can wait the telling. 'Tis our part
To separate the women, for we know
That serpents' crests may ever rise again
If they too soon gaze in each other's eyes.
SIEGFRIED. I'm soon departing hence. Come, Kriemhild, come!
If thou couldst know how thou didst anger me,
Then even thou—
BRUNHILDA (turns away).
KRIEMHILD. Since thou dost love my brother,
How canst thou hate the means that gave thee him
To be his bride?
HAGEN. Away! Away!
There's been no tattling here, as you shall see.


HAGEN. Come, gather round and vote without delay
The doom of death.
GUNTHER. Hagen, what sayest thou?
HAGEN. Have we not cause enough? There stands the Queen
And burning tears are streaming from her eyes.
For shame she weeps!
Oh, thou heroic Queen,
To whom alone my homage I do yield,
The man who shamed thee so must surely die!
HAGEN (to BRUNHILDA). The man must die unless thou wilt
Forego revenge and plead for him thyself.
BRUNHILDA. I'll touch no food till judgment is fulfilled.
HAGEN. Forgive me that I spoke before my king!
I only strove to make the matter plain,
Yet free decision is thy royal right—
So make thy choice between thy bride and him.
GISELHER. Thou canst not mean it! For a trifling fault,
Thou wouldst not slay the truest man on earth?
My King! My brother! Say it is not so!
HAGEN. Will ye rear bastards here within your court?
I doubt me if the proud Burgundians
Will crown them! Yet thou art the master here!
GERENOT. Brave Siegfried soon will quell all murmurings,
If we ourselves cannot perform the task.
Thou speakest not. 'Tis well. The rest is mine!
GISELHER. In bloody counsels I will take no part!


BRUNHILDA. Frigga, I tell thee he or I must die!
FRIGGA. 'Tis he must die!
BRUNHILDA. I was not merely scorned,
But passed from hand to hand. They bartered me!
FRIGGA. They bartered thee!
BRUNHILDA. Too mean to be his wife,
I was the price for which he bought him one.
FRIGGA. The price, my child!
BRUNHILDA. O this is worse than murder!
And I will have revenge, revenge, revenge!
[Exeunt omnes.]




Great hall. GUNTHER with his warriors. HAGEN carries a spear.

HAGEN. A blind man e'en can hit a linden leaf;
At fifty paces I will wager you
With this good spear to split a hazelnut.
GISELHER. Why dost thou choose this day to show thy skill?
We've always known thy arms would never rust.
HAGEN. He comes! Now show me you can wear dark looks
And altered bearing although none has lost
His father.



SIEGFRIED. Ho, ye knights! And hear ye not
The hounds give tongue, and hark! Our youngest hunter
Impatient tries his horn! To horse! Away!
HAGEN. The day is fair!
SIEGFRIED. And have you not been told
That bears have ventured in the very stalls,
And that the eagles wait before the doors
And watch when they are opened for a child
That may stray out?
VOLKER. Indeed that has been known.
SIEGFRIED. While we were courting no one thought to hunt.
Then come, and we'll drive back the enemy,
And hack and hew him.
HAGEN. Friend, more need have we
To grind our swords and nail our spear-heads firm.
HAGEN. Thou'st dallied all these last few days
With honeyed words, else hadst thou well known why.
SIEGFRIED. I am about to say farewell, ye know!
Yet speak, what's toward?
HAGEN. Danes and Saxons too
Again are coming.
SIEGFRIED. Are the princes dead,
Who swore allegiance to us?
HAGEN. Nay, not dead;
They're leading on the army.
And Lüdeger, who were my prisoners,
Set free without a ransom?
GUNTHER. Yesterday
Renounced they every oath.
SIEGFRIED. Their messengers—
You surely must have hewn them limb from limb?
Has every vulture had his share of them?
HAGEN. So speakest thou?
SIEGFRIED. Such vipers' messengers
One tramples like a viper. Fiends of hell!
Now feel I my first anger! I believed
That often I knew hatred, but I erred;
'Twas but less love I felt. For I can hate
Nothing but broken vows and treachery,
Hypocrisy and all the coward's sins
That seek their victim as the spider crawls
Upon its hollow legs. How can it be
That such brave men (for surely they were brave),
Could so besmirch themselves? Oh, my dear friends,
Stand not so coldly by and gaze on me
As though you thought me mad, as though I knew
No longer great from small! We've never known
What outrage is till now. Our reckoning
May we strike calmly out to the last score.
Only these two are guilty.
GISELHER. Shameful 'tis.
The way they praised thee echoes in my ear.
When came this messenger?
HAGEN. 'Twas even now.
Didst thou not see him. He made haste to leave
As soon as he had done his errand here,
Nor tarried for his messenger's reward.
SIEGFRIED. Oh, shame that you did not chastise the man
For impudence! A raven would have come
And plucked his eyes out, and in very scorn
Have cast them forth again before his lord.
That was the only answer that was due.
This is no lawful feud, this is no war
That right and custom sanction—'tis the chase
Of evil beasts! Nay, Hagen, do not smile!
The headsman's ax should be our weapon now,
So that we should not soil our noble blades,
And, since the ax is iron like the sword,
It were a shame to use it till we find
No rope would be enough to hang the dogs.
HAGEN. Thou say'st!
SIEGFRIED. Thou mockest at me as it seems.
'Tis strange, for trifles used to anger thee!
I know thou art an older man than I,
But 'tis not youth that's speaking through me now,
Nor is it indignation that 'twas I
Who begged thy mercy for them. Nay, I stand
For the whole world. As calls a bell to prayer,
So calls my tongue to vengeance every one
Who stands as man amidst his fellow-men.
GUNTHER. 'Tis so.
SIEGFRIED. (to HAGEN). Know'st thou betrayal? Treachery?
Gaze on the traitor! Smile then if thou canst.
To open combat dost thou challenge him
And dost o'erthrow him. But thou art too proud,
If not to noble, to thrust home thy sword,
And so thou set'st him free, and givest him
His weapons once again that thou hadst won.
He does not rage at thee and thrust them back;
He gives thee humble thanks and praises sweet
And swears with thousand oaths to be thy man.
But when, the honeyed words still in thine ear,
Thou lay'st thy weary limbs upon thy couch,
Bare and defenseless as a helpless child,
Then creeps the traitor up and murders thee,
And even while thou diest spits on thee.
What dost thou say to that?
HAGEN (to GUNTHER). This noble wrath
Gives me such courage that I ask our friend
If he will grant us escort yet once more.
SIEGFRIED. With my own Nib'lungs will I go alone,
For it is by my fault this trouble comes
To ye again! Howe'er I longed to show
My bride unto my mother and to win
For the first time her undivided praise,
It may not be while yet these hypocrites
Have ovens for their bread and flowing springs
To slake their thirst! I will at once put off
My homeward journey, and I promise you
That I will take them living, and henceforth
Before my castle shall they lie in chains
And bay like hounds whene'er I come or go,
Since, as it seems, they have the souls of dogs!
[He hastens away.]


HAGEN. He'll surely rush to her in all his rage,
And when he leaves, then I will seek her out.
GUNTHER. I'll move in this no further.
HAGEN. What, my King?
GUNTHER. Bid heralds come once more and let them say
That there is peace again.
HAGEN. It shall be done
When I have talked with Kriemhild privately
And learned the secret from her.
GUNTHER. Hast thou then
No bowels of compassion? Thy hard heart
No pity feeleth yet?
HAGEN. Speak plainly, lord;
I cannot understand.
GUNTHER. He shall not die.
HAGEN. He lives while thou commandest. If I stood
Behind him in the woods and poised my spear,
But shake thy head, and for this traitor dies
A beast.
GUNTHER. Not traitor, no! Was it his fault
That he brought back the girdle carelessly
And Kriemhild found it? It escaped him there,
As clings an arrow in a warrior's mail
If after battle 'tis not shaken off,
And only by its rattling is it marked.
I ask you one and all: was it his fault?
HAGEN. No! No! Who says so? Nor was he to blame
For lacking clever wits to clear himself,
For doubtless he blushed crimson at th' attempt.
GUNTHER. What then remains?
HAGEN. Brunhilda's oath remains.
GISELHER. Then let her slay him if she wants his blood.
HAGEN. We're quarreling like children. May one not
Collect his weapons, though he knoweth not
When he may need to use them? One explores
An unknown land and finds its passes out.
Then why not, pray, a hero? I will try
My fortune now with Kriemhild, if it were
Only that this fine ruse that we have planned
Might not be all in vain. She'll not betray
The secret to me unless he hath told
The matter to her. Then you may decide
Whether to use the knowledge I may gain;
And you may really do, if so you please,
What I shall but pretend, and so in war
Protect the place where death may find him out.
But you must know where is his mortal spot.


Thou hast returned to thine own loyalty
And faithfulness, or else I'd say: this trick
Is far beneath a king!
VOLKER. Thy angry mood
Is natural; thou wast thyself deceived.—
GISELHER. That was not why. Yet let us not dispute
When all is well again.
VOLKER. When all is well?
GISELHER. Is it not well?
VOLKER. They tell me that the Queen
In mourning robes is clad, and food and drink
Refuses—even water.
GUNTHER. True, alas!
VOLKER. How then is't well? What Hagen said is true.
She's not like others; for the breath of time
Her wounds can never heal, nor give her peace.
And we must face the question: He or she!
Thou sayest truly, Siegfried's not to blame
That to him clung the girdle like a snake,
And was discovered. That is pure mischance;
But this mischance is deadly, and thou canst
Determine only whom it shall destroy.
GISELHER. Let that one die who hath no will to live!
GUNTHER. Oh, fearful choice!
VOLKER. I warned thee long ago,
From starting on this course, but now at last
We see the end.
DANKWART. And is it not our law,
That even blunders bring their penalty?
He who runs through his bosom friend by night
Because he bore his lance too carelessly,
Can never free himself with all his tears,
However hot and bitter they may flow.—
The price is blood.
GUNTHER. Now I will go to her.


VOLKER. There comes Kriemhild with Hagen. She's distressed,
As he predicted. Let us go.
[Exeunt omnes.]



HAGEN. Thou com'st
So early to the hall?
KRIEMHILD. I could not bear
To linger in my chamber.
HAGEN. Saw I not
Thy husband parting from thee? He was flushed,
And angry were his looks. Is there not peace
Between yourself and Siegfried once again?
Is he not kind and gentle with his bride?
Tell me, and I will talk with him.
Did nothing else remind me of that day,
That evil day, 'twould be a dream that's past.
My lord hath spared me every unkind word.
HAGEN. I'm glad he is so gentle.
KRIEMHILD. I could wish
That he would blame me, yet perchance he knows
I blame myself enough!
HAGEN. Be not too harsh!
KRIEMHILD. I know how bitterly I wounded her!
I'll not forgive myself. I'd rather far
Have felt the hurt myself than injured her.
HAGEN. And this it is that drove thee from thy room?
KRIEMHILD. Oh, no! 'twould make me hide myself away!
I am so anxious for him!
HAGEN. Dost thou fear?
KRIEMHILD. There is another war.
HAGEN. Yes, that is true.
KRIEMHILD. The lying scoundrels!
HAGEN. Be not overwrought
Nor cease thy preparations for the voyage.
Work tranquilly and do not be disturbed,
For thou canst put away his armor last.
What am I saying! For he wears no mail,
Nor doth he need to wear it.
KRIEMHILD. Thinkest thou?
HAGEN. I well might laugh. If any other wife
So sighed, I'd say: Out of a thousand darts
But one could touch him, and that one would break.
But thee I ridicule and must advise:
Let thy stray fancy sing some wiser song.
KRIEMHILD. Thou speak'st of arrows! Arrows are the thing
That most I dread. I know an arrow's point
Needs at the most the space of my thumb nail
To penetrate, and yet it kills a man.
HAGEN. Especially if 'tis a poisoned dart.
These savages, who broke the bulwark down,
The bulwark of our life and of the state,
Which we hold sacred even in our wars,
Would do a deed like this as soon as that.
KRIEMHILD. Thou see'st!
HAGEN. How can thy Siegfried come to harm?
He is secure. And if there were such shafts
That straighter flew than fly the sun's own rays,
He'd shake them off as we shake off the snow;
And this he knows, and so his confidence
Abandons him no moment in the fray.
We were not born beneath an aspen tree,
Yet we nigh tremble at the deeds he dares.
And heartily he laughs at this sometimes,
And we laugh too. For iron you may thrust
Into the fire—it changes into steel.
KRIEMHILD. I shudder!
HAGEN. Child, thou art but newly wed,
Or I'd rejoice at thy timidity.
KRIEMHILD. Hast thou forgotten, or hast thou not heard
What in the ballads hath oft times been sung,
That Siegfried may be wounded in one spot?
HAGEN. I'd quite forgotten that, although 'tis true.
I recollect, he spoke of it himself.
It seems to me he told us of a leaf,
But what it signified I cannot say.
KRIEMHILD. It was a linden leaf.
HAGEN. Oh yes! But say,
How could a linden leaf have done him harm?
For that's a riddle like no other one.
KRIEMHILD. It floated down upon him on the breeze
When he was bathing in the dragon's blood,
And he is vulnerable where it fell.
HAGEN. He would have seen it if it fell in front!—
What matters it? Thou see'st thy nearest kin,
Thy brothers even, who would shield him still
Were but the shadow of a danger nigh,
Know nothing of his vulnerable spot.
What dost thou fear? Thy anguish is for naught.
KRIEMHILD. I fear the Valkyries, for I have heard
They always choose the noblest warriors;
If they direct the dart, it ne'er can miss.
HAGEN. But then he only needs a trusty squire.
Who shall protect his back. Think'st thou not so?
KRIEMHILD. I think I should sleep sounder.
HAGEN. Mark my words!
If he—thou know'st it almost happened once—
Should fall from out his skiff and in the Rhine
Should sink because his weapons drew him down
To feed the greedy fishes, I would plunge
To save our Siegfried, or else I myself
Would die with him.
KRIEMHILD. And is thy thought so noble?
HAGEN. So I think! And if the red cock lit
In darkest night upon his castle roof,
And he, half smothered and but half awake,
Should fail to find the way that leads to life,
I'd bear him from the flames in my own arms,
And should I not succeed, with him I'd die.
KRIEMHILD (turns about to embrace him).
Then must I—
HAGEN (refusing the caress). Do not! But I swear, I'd do it.
Though only lately had I sworn that oath.
KRIEMHILD. Thy kinsman he became but recently!
And dost thou really mean it? That thou would'st
HAGEN. I mean it, for he'll fight for me,
And no least one of all the thousand wonders
His sword can do, has he refused to me;
And so I'll shelter him!
KRIEMHILD. I had not dared
To hope for that!
HAGEN. But I must know the spot,
And thou must show it to me.
KRIEMHILD. That is true!
Between his shoulders is it, half across.
HAGEN. 'Tis target height!
KRIEMHILD. Oh uncle, you will not
Avenge on him the crime that's mine alone?
HAGEN. What dost thou dream of?
KRIEMHILD. It was jealousy
That blinded me, or else her boastfulness
Would not have roused my anger.
HAGEN. Jealousy!
KRIEMHILD. I am ashamed! But even if that night
The blows were all, and that I will believe,
I grudge Brunhilda even blows from him.
HAGEN. Be patient! She'll forget it.
KRIEMHILD. Is it true
That she'll not eat or drink?
HAGEN. She always fasts
This time of year, for 'tis the Norns' own week,
And still in Iceland 'tis a sacred time.
KRIEMHILD. Three days have now passed by!
HAGEN. What's that to us?
But hush! They're coming.
HAGEN. Were it not wise
To broider on his tunic a small cross?
Forsooth our care is needless, and he would
Deride thee if thou shouldst but tell thy fear.
Yet since I now have made myself his guard
I would not aught neglect.
KRIEMHILD. That will I do.
[She goes to meet UTE and the Chaplain.]


HAGEN (following her). Thy hero now is as a stag to me.
Had he not broken silence, he were safe,
And yet I surely knew that could not be.
If one's transparent as an insect is,
That looks now red, now green, as is its food,
One must beware of any mysteries,
Lest e'en the vitals show the secret forth!


UTE and the Chaplain come forward.

CHAPLAIN. There is no image of it in this world!
You strive to liken it and comprehend,
Yet here all signs and measures too must fail.
But kneel before the Lord in fervent prayer,
And when contrition and humility
Have made you lose yourself, you may be drawn,
A moment only, as the lightning flash
Does tarry upon earth, to heavenly heights.
UTE. And can that happen?
CHAPLAIN. Stephen, blessed saint,
Saw, when the furious horde of angry Jews
Were stoning him, the gates of paradise
Standing ajar, and he rejoiced and sang.
His suffering body only they destroyed,
But 'twas to him as if the murderous band
That thought to kill him in their fury blind
Could only rend the garment he had doffed.
UTE (to KRIEMHILD who has joined them).
Take heed, Kriemhild!
CHAPLAIN. That was the power
Of faith; And ye must also learn the curse
Of unbelief. Saint Peter, who has charge
Of sword and keys of our most holy church,
Loved and instructed in the faith a youth,
And brought him up. One day upon a rock
The youth was standing, and the stormy sea
Around him surged in fury. Then he thought
Of how his Lord and Master left the ship,
And trustingly obeyed the slightest sign
The Saviour gave, and walked upon the deep
That tossed and threatened him with certain death.
A dizziness came o'er him at the thought
Of such a trial, for the wonder seemed
Beyond the bounds of reason, then he caught
A corner of the rock and clung to it,
Crying aloud: All, all, yet spare me this!
Then breathed the Lord, and suddenly the stone
Began to melt away. He sank and sank,
And lost all hope, until for very fear
He sprang from off the rock into the flood.
The breath of the Eternal stilled the sea,
And made it solid and it bore him up,
As kindly earth bears up both ye and me.
Repentantly he said: Thy will be done!
UTE. In all eternity!
KRIEMHILD. My Father, pray
That He who changes water and firm rock,
Will shield my Siegfried. For each sep'rate year
Of happy life vouchsafed me by his side
An altar will I build unto a saint.
CHAPLAIN. The miracle astounds thee. Let me tell
The tale of how I won my friar's cowl.
The Angles are my kin, a heathen folk,
And as a heathen was I born and reared,
And turbulent I was; at fifteen years
The sword was girded on me. Then appeared
The Lord's first messenger among my tribe.
They scorned him and despised him, and at last
They slew him. Queen, I stood and saw it all,
And, driven by the others, gave to him
With this right hand I nevermore shall use,
Although the arm's not helpless as you think,
The final blow. But then I heard him pray.
He prayed for me, and his pure soul expired
With the Amen. The heart within my breast
Was changed from that time forth. I threw my sword
Upon the ground, and put his garment on
And went to preach the Gospel of the Cross.
UTE. Here comes my son! Oh, couldst thou bring again
To this distracted land the peace we've lost
So utterly! [Exeunt.]


Enter GUNTHER with HAGEN and the others.

GUNTHER. It is as I have said,
She reckons on the deed as we believe
That autumn brings us apples. The old nurse
Has tried to rouse her, and has quietly
Bestrewn her chamber all with grains of wheat;
They lie there undisturbed.
GISELHER. How can it be
That she should venture life for life to stake?
HAGEN. I marvel at her also.
GUNTHER. And withal
She neither drives nor urges, as with things
Bound up with time and place and human will
'Twere natural to do. She questions not
Nor changes countenance, but sits amazed
That any man should speak and not announce—
The deed is done!
HAGEN. But I must tell thee this:
His spell is on her, and her very hate
Is rooted deep in love!
GUNTHER. Believ'st thou so?
HAGEN. 'Tis not such love as binds a man and wife,
In holy union.
GUNTHER. How then?
HAGEN.'Tis a charm,
A magic, that would keep her race alive.
So drives the giantess to seek her mate,
Joyless and choiceless, since they are the last.
GUNTHER. Is there no hope?
HAGEN. 'Tis death must break the spell.
Her blood congeals when his has ceased to flow.
His destiny it was that he should slay
The dragon and then take the dragon's road.
[A tumult is heard.]
GUNTHER. What may that be?
HAGEN. 'Tis those false messengers.
And Dankwart drives them forth. He does it well.
Lovers will hear it even while they kiss.


Enter SIEGFRIED; as HAGEN notices him.

HAGEN. By all the fiends of hell! No! ten times no!
It were disgrace for us, and Siegfried thinks
Assuredly as I do. Here he comes!
Now speak, thou may'st decide it.—
(As DANKWART enters.)
Though thy word
Can alter nothing more. The answer's gone.
Thou surely hast not spared to scourge them well?
Yet set thy seal upon it even so!
SIEGFRIED. What's this?
HAGEN. The dogs have come again to sue
For peace. I ordered that the worthless knaves
With scourges should be driven from the court
Before they gave their message.
SIEGFRIED. 'Twas well done!
HAGEN. The King indeed reproves me, for he thinks
We know not what has happened.
SIEGFRIED. What? Not know?
I know! For when a wolf is chased along,
He harms not those before him!
HAGEN. That is true!
SIEGFRIED. And more than that! Behind them is a horde
Of savage tribesmen who will never sow,
And yet they want to reap.
HAGEN. Now do you see?
SIEGFRIED. But you should show no mercy on the wolf
Because he has no time to guard himself.
HAGEN. We surely shall not.
SIEGFRIED. Come, we'll help the foxes
And drive him to his final hiding place,
Within the foxes' bellies.
HAGEN. That we'll do;
Yet let us not exert ourselves in vain,
And so—Let's hunt today.
GISELHER. I will not go.
GERENOT. Nor will I either.
SIEGFRIED. You are young and brave,
Yet follow not the chase, but bide at home?
They would have had to tie me, and the cords
I would have gnawed in two. Oh huntsman's joy!
If one could only sing it!
HAGEN. Wilt thou go?
SIEGFRIED. Go!—Friend, I am so full of rage and wrath
That I could quarrel now with any man,
And so I long for bloodshed.
HAGEN. And I too!



KRIEMHILD. You're going hunting?
SIEGFRIED. Yes, and pray command
What I shall bring thee.
KRIEMHILD. Siegfried, stay at home!
SIEGFRIED. My child, one thing thou canst not learn too soon,
Thou must not beg a man to stay at home,
But beg him: Take me too!
KRIEMHILD. Then, may I go?
HAGEN. That may not be!
SIEGFRIED. Why not? She's not afraid!
And surely she has often gone before.
Bring falcons here! For she shall take the birds,
And we the beasts. There'll be more pleasure so.
HAGEN. One woman hides her shame within her room—
Her rival rideth gaily to the hunt?
'Twould look like taunting her.
SIEGFRIED. I had not thought.
Ah well, it may not be.
KRIEMHILD. Then change again
Thy garments!
SIEGFRIED. Yet again? Thy every wish
I'll follow, not thy fancies.
KRIEMHILD. Thou'rt severe.
SIEGFRIED. But let me go! The breeze will change my mood.
Tomorrow night I'll make my peace with thee.
HAGEN. Then come!
SIEGFRIED. I will. But now my farewell kiss.
[He embraces KRIEMHILD.]
Thou'lt not deny me? Thou'lt not say, tomorrow,
As I do? Thou art noble.
KRIEMHILD. Oh, come back!
SIEGFRIED. But what a strange desire! What's wrong, I pray?
I go a-hunting with my own good friends,
And if the lofty mountains do not fall
And bury us, we cannot suffer harm.
KRIEMHILD. Alas! That is the very thing I dreamed.
SIEGFRIED. My child, the hills stand firm.
KRIEMHILD (throws her arms around him once more).
Come back! Come back!
[Exeunt warriors.]


KRIEMHILD. Siegfried!
SIEGFRIED (appears once more).
What now?
KRIEMHILD. If thou wouldst not be angry—
HAGEN (follows SIEGFRIED hastily).
Well, hast thou got thy spindle yet?
SIEGFRIED (to KRIEMHILD). Thou hearest,
The hounds can be no longer held in leash;
What dost thou wish?
HAGEN. Oh wait, pray, for thy flax!
And spin it in the moonlight with the elves.
KRIEMHILD. Now go! I longed to see thee once again!
[HAGEN and SIEGFRIED go out.]


KRIEMHILD. And should I call him to me ten times more
I'd never find the heart to tell it him.
How can we do what straightway we repent!



KRIEMHILD. Are you not gone? The Lord hath sent them here!
My dearest brothers, earnestly I beg
Vouchsafe me my desire, though to you
It seems but foolish. Go ye with my lord
Where'er he goes, and keep behind his back.
GERENOT. We are not going. We've no wish to go.
KRIEMHILD. No wish to go!
GISELHER. What say'st thou? We've no time!
We've much to do before our men march forth.
KRIEMHILD. And is all that intrusted to your youth?
If I am dear to you, if you have not
Forgotten that one mother nourished us,
Ride after them.
GISELHER. They're long since in the wood.
GERENOT. And then thou hast one brother with him, now,
KRIEMHILD. I beg of you!
GISELHER. We must collect the arms,
As thou shalt see.
[Starts to go.]
KRIEMHILD. Then tell me one thing more:
Is Hagen Siegfried's friend?
GERENOT. Why not, I pray?
KRIEMHILD. But has he ever praised him?
GISELHER. It is praise
If Hagen does not blame, and I've not heard
That he found fault with Siegfried.
[Both leave.]
KRIEMHILD. Most of all
This frightens me. They are not with my lord!



KRIEMHILD. How, nurse? Art seeking me?
FRIGGA. I seek for none.
KRIEMHILD. Then is there something wanted for the Queen?
FRIGGA. There is not. She needs nothing.
KRIEMHILD. Nothing still?
But can she not forgive?
FRIGGA. I do not know!
She has had no occasion to forgive;
She never was offended. I heard horns.
Is there a hunt?
KRIEMHILD. Hast thou then ordered it?
FRIGGA. I—No! [Exit.]


KRIEMHILD. Oh, had I only told it him!
Oh, my beloved, no woman hast thou known,
I see it now! Else nevermore hadst thou
Unto a trembling girl who doth betray
Herself through fear, intrusted such a secret.
Still do I hear the playful whispered words
With which thou told'st it to me when I praised
The dragon's death. And then I made thee swear
To tell no other soul in all the world,
And now—Oh birds that circle overhead,
Oh snow white doves that fly about me now,
Take pity on me, warn him, fly to him!


Oden Forest.


Enter HAGEN, GUNTHER, VOLKER, DANKWART and serving men.

HAGEN. This is the place. The spring is gushing forth,
The bushes cover it. If I stand here,
I can impale the man who stoops to drink
Against the rock.
GUNTHER. I've given no command.
HAGEN. When thou hast taken thought thou wilt command.
There is no other way, and there will come
No second day like this one. Therefore speak,
Or if thou wilt not speak, be still!
(To the serving men.)
'Tis here we rest!
[The serving men prepare a meal.]
GUNTHER. Thou'st always hated him.
HAGEN. I'll not deny that gladly to this work
I lend my hand, and I would surely meet
In combat any man who came between
My enemy and me, and yet the deed
I hold not for that reason less than just.
GUNTHER. And yet my brothers spoke against the deed
And turned their backs upon us.
HAGEN. Had they then
The courage to warn him and hinder us?
They must have felt that we are in the right,
And it is but their youth that makes them shrink
From blood that is not shed in open fight.
GUNTHER. It must be so.
HAGEN. Why he has bought off death
And so ennobled murder.
(To the serving men.)
Sound the horns,
And call the hunt together. For 'tis time
That we should eat. [The horns are blown.]
Now take things as they are
And leave it all to me. If thou art not
Offended, or forgivest what is past,
So be it, yet forbid thy servant not
To rescue and avenge thy noble wife!
She will not break the solemn oath she swore.
If she's deceived in her firm trust in us—
Her confidence that we'll redeem the pledge—
Then all the joy of life that once again,
May be aroused within her youthful heart
When shadows deepen and the end is near,
Will be transformed into one dreadful curse,
One final imprecation upon thee!
GUNTHER. There still is time.


Enter SIEGFRIED with RUMOLT and huntsmen.

SIEGFRIED. I'm here! And now ye hunters,
Where are your spoils? Mine were to follow me
Upon a wagon, but the wagon broke.
HAGEN. A lion is the game I chase today,
But I have failed to find one.
SIEGFRIED. That I know,
For I myself have killed him!—Food is spread.
Sound trumpets in his praise who ordered that,
For now we feel the need. Accursed ravens,
Here too? Now blow your bugles till they burst!
I've thrown near every kind of game I killed
At this black flock; at last I threw a fox,
But still they would not fly, and yet I hate
Nothing so much in all the woodland green
As that deep black—'tis like the devil's hue.
The doves have never flocked around me so!
Shall we stay here to pass the night?
GUNTHER. We thought—
SIEGFRIED. 'Tis well, the choice is fitting, and there gapes
A hollow tree. I'll take it for myself.
For all my life have I been used to that,
And I know nothing better than at night
On soft dry wood to lay my weary head,
And so to dream, half waking, half asleep,
To count the passing hours by the birds
That waken slowly, softly, one by one,
Each singing in his turn. Then tick, tick, tick!
Now it is two. Tock, tock, and one must stretch!
Kiwitt, kiwitt! The sun is blinking now,
And now its eyes are open. Chanticleer
Bids all arise, lest they should sneeze.
VOLKER. I know!
It is as if Time wakened them himself,
As in the dark he feels his way along,
To beat the rhythm of his pace for him.
In measured intervals, as from the glass
Trickles the sand, and as the shadow long
Creeps on the dial, so there follow now
The mountain cock, the blackbird and the thrush,
And none disturbs the other as by day,
Nor coaxes him to warble ere his time.
I've watched it oft myself.
SIEGFRIED. I too.—My brother,
Thou art not happy.
GUNTHER. But I am!
I have seen people at a wedding feast,
And following a bier, and so I know
How different they look. Now let us do
As strangers might, who'd never met before
Until by accident within the wood
They meet, and one has this, the other that,
And so they put together all they have,
And thus with joy receive and also give.
'Tis well! For I bring meat of every kind,
And I will give to you a mountain bull,
Five boars and thirty, even forty stags,
And pheasants too, as many as you will,
Not mentioning the lion and the bear,
All this for one small beaker of cool wine.
SIEGFRIED. What's wrong?
HAGEN. The wine has been forgotten.
SIEGFRIED. Yes, I'll believe it. That may well befall
A hunter who is resting from the chase
And has a red hot coal for his own tongue
Inside his mouth. Well, I must seek myself,
Although I cannot scent it like a hound—
But let it be—I'll never spoil your sport!
[He seeks.]
There is none here, nor here! Where is the cask?
I pray thee, minstrel, save me, else I'll lose
The tongue that has till now been wagging so.
HAGEN. And that may happen, for—there is no wine.
SIEGFRIED. The devil and his fiends may take your hunt
If I am not to have a hunter's fare!
Whose duty was it to provide the drink?
HAGEN. Mine! Yet I did not know where we should be,
And sent the wine to Spessart, where it seems
There are no thirsty men.
SIEGFRIED. Give thanks who will!
But have we then no water? Must a man
Be satisfied with evening dew, and lap
The drops from off the leaves?
HAGEN. But hold thy tongue!
Thine ear will bring thee comfort!
SIEGFRIED (listens). Hark, a spring!
Oh welcome stream! 'Tis true I love thee more
When thou, instead of welling from the stone
So suddenly and rushing to my mouth,
Thy winding way pursuest through the grape;
For from thy journey many things thou bring'st,
That fill our heads with foolish gaiety.
Yet even so be praised.
[He goes to the spring.]
Ah no! I must
Do penance first and ye shall witness bear
That I have done it. I'm the thirstiest man
Among you all and I will drink the last,
Because I was so harsh with poor Kriemhild.
HAGEN. Then I'll begin.
[He goes to the spring.]
SIEGFRIED (to GUNTHER). Pray look more cheerfully.
I know a way to reconcile thy bride;
Brunhilda's kisses shall ere long be thine.
My joy I will forego as long as thou.
HAGEN (comes back and lays aside his weapons).
The weapons will impede me when I stoop.
[Retires again.]
SIEGFRIED. Before the full assemblage of thy folk,
Kriemhild will sue for pardon ere we go.
This pledge was freely given, but she longs
To leave and hide her blushes.
HAGEN (returns). Cold as ice!
SIEGFRIED. Who next?
VOLKER. First let us eat.
SIEGFRIED. 'Tis well!
[He goes toward the spring but turns back again.]
Ah yes!
[He lays aside his weapons. Exit.]
HAGEN (pointing to the weapons).
Away with them!
DANKWART (carries the weapons away).
HAGEN (who has taken up his own weapons again and has meanwhile kept his back turned toward
GUNTHER; takes a running start and throws his spear).
SIEGFRIED (cries out). My friends!
HAGEN (exclaims). Not quiet yet?
(To the others.)
No word with him, whatever he may say!
SIEGFRIED (crawls forward).
Murdered—while I was drinking! Gunther, Gunther?
Have I deserved this from thee? In thy need
I stood by thee.
HAGEN. Lop branches from the trees,
We need a bier. Quick, choose the strongest limbs,
For heavy is a dead man.
SIEGFRIED. I am slain,
But yet not wholly! [He springs up.]
Where then is my sword?
They've taken it! Oh, by thy manhood, Hagen,
Give the dead man a sword! I challenge thee
E'en now to mortal combat!
HAGEN. In his mouth
He has his enemy, yet seeks him still.
SIEGFRIED. My life drips from me like a candle spent,
And e'en my sword this murderer denies,
Though granting it would render him less vile.
For shame! Such cowardice! He fears my thumb,
For that is all that's left of me.
[He stumbles over his shield.]
My shield!
My faithful shield, I'll throw thee at the hound!
[He stoops over the shield, but cannot lift it, and rises unsteadily once more.]
As if 'twere nailed there! E'en for this revenge
'Tis now too late!
HAGEN. Oh, if this chatterer
Would maim his foolish tongue between his teeth
Where it has sinned so long all unreproved—
His idle tongue that is not silenced yet!—
Then would he have revenge, for that alone
Has brought him to this pass.
SIEGFRIED. Thou liest! 'Twas
Thine envy!
HAGEN. Silence!
SIEGFRIED. Threats for a dead man?
Aimed I so true that thou dost fear me still?
Then draw, for now I fall, and thou canst dare
To spit upon me like a heap of dust,
For here I lie—
[He falls to the ground.]
And you are free from Siegfried!
Yet know, the blow that slew him killed you too,
For who will trust you? They will drive you forth
As I had driven the Danes.
HAGEN. This simpleton!
He hath not grasped our trick!
SIEGFRIED. Then 'tis not true?
Oh, horrible, that men should lie like this!
Ah well! You are alone in this! And folk
Will always curse you too, whene'er they curse.
They'll say: Toads, vipers and Burgundians!
Nay you are first: Burgundians, vipers, toads.
For all is lost to you—nobility
And honor, fame and all, are lost with me!
There is no bound nor limit now for crime,
The arm indeed may pierce the heart, but when
The heart is dead the arm is useless too.
My wife! My poor, foreboding, tender wife—
How wilt thou bear the blow! If Gunther's heart
Still means to do one deed of faith and love,
May he be kind to thee!—Yet rather go
Unto my father!—Hearest thou, Kriemhild?
[He dies.]
HAGEN. He's silent now. Small merit is in that!
DANKWART. What shall we tell?
HAGEN. Some stupid tale of thieves
Who killed him in the forest. It is true
None will believe it, yet I think that none
Will call us liars. Once again we stand
Where none will dare to call us to account;
For we're like fire and water. Till the Rhine
Seeks out some lie to justify its floods,
And fire explains why it has broken forth,
We need not fear accusers. Thou, my King,
Gav'st no commands—thou should'st remember that!
The blame is mine alone. Now bear him forth!
[Exeunt with the body.]


KRIEMHILD's room. Deep night.

KRIEMHILD. 'Tis far too early yet. It is my blood
That wakened me, and not the cock I heard,
Or seemed to hear.
[She goes to the window and opens it partly.]
The stars are shining still,
It surely is an hour yet till mass.
Today I long to go to church and pray.


Enter UTE softly.

UTE. Already up, Kriemhild?
KRIEMHILD. I am amazed
That thou art up, for thou hast always slept
More soundly after dawn and claimed thy right
To have thy daughter wake thee, as thou her
So long ago.
UTE. Today I could not sleep,
I heard strange sounds.
KRIEMHILD. And didst thou mark them too?
UTE. It was like people trying to be still.
KRIEMHILD. So I was right?
UTE. They seemed to hold their breath,
Yet dropped a sword that clanged! On tiptoe walked,
And yet upset the brazier! Hushed the dog,
Yet trod upon his paw.
KRIEMHILD. They have perhaps
UTE. The hunters?
KRIEMHILD. Once it seemed to me
That some one softly crept up to my door.
I thought it must be Siegfried.
UTE. Didst thou make
Some sign that thou wast wakeful?
UTE. Indeed
It might then have been Siegfried, but 'twould be
Almost too soon.
KRIEMHILD. To me it seems so too!
And then he did not knock.
UTE. The hunt was not,
Or so I think, to bring us game for food;
They wanted our poor farmers to have peace,
Who have been threatening to burn their ploughs
Because the wild boar harvests where they sow!
KRIEMHILD. Was that it?
UTE. Child, thou art already dressed,
Yet hast not any maid with thee?
KRIEMHILD. I thought
That I would learn who woke the first of all.
Besides, it was a pastime.
UTE. Each in turn,
My candle in my hand, I gazed upon.
For each year brings a different kind of sleep.
Fifteen and sixteen sleep like five and six,
But seventeen brings dreams, and eighteen, thoughts,
And nineteen brings desires—


A Chamberlain cries out before the door.

CHAMBERLAIN. Almighty God!
UTE. What is it? What is wrong?
CHAMBERLAIN (enters). I almost fell.
UTE. And that was why you called?
CHAMBERLAIN. Some one is dead!
UTE. What's that?
CHAMBERLAIN. A dead man lying at the door!
UTE. A dead man?
KRIEMHILD (falls). Then 'tis Siegfried, 'tis my lord!
UTE (catches her in her arms).
Bring light!
[CHAMBERLAIN brings a light and then nods his head.]
UTE. 'Tis Siegfried? Go! Awaken all!
CHAMBERLAIN. Help, help!
[The maidens rush in.]
UTE. O piteous wife!
KRIEMHILD (rising).
Brunhild commanded, Hagen did the deed!—
A light!
UTE. My child!
KRIEMHILD (seizes a torch). 'Tis he! I know, I know!
Let no one tread on him; for thou didst hear
The servants stumble over him.—The servants!
Yet once great kings made way for him.
UTE. The light!
KRIEMHILD. I'll place it there myself.
[She opens the door and falls to the floor.]
Oh Mother, Mother,
Why didst thou bear thy child! Oh thou dear head,
But let me kiss thee. I'll not seek thy mouth,
For all to me is precious. Thou canst not
Forbid me as thou would'st perhaps.—Thy lips—
'Tis too much pain!
CHAMBERLAIN. She's dying.
UTE. I could wish
That she might die!



UTE (approaching GUNTHER). My son, what deed was this?
GUNTHER. I fain would weep myself. Yet of his death
You've heard already? By the holy words
Of our good priest you were to learn of this.
I went to tell him in the night.
UTE (with a motion of the head). Thou see'st
The dead man told his story for himself.
But how was this?
DANKWART. My brother bore him here!
GUNTHER. For shame!
DANKWART. From his intent he'd not desist,
And when he came again he laughed and said:
This is my gratitude for his farewell.


Enter the Chaplain.

GUNTHER (going to meet him).
Too late!
CHAPLAIN. And such a man slain in the woods!
DANKWART. The robber's spear was guided by blind chance,
So that it struck the spot. In such a way
A child may kill a giant.
UTE (still busying herself with the maidens over KRIEMHILD). Rise, Kriemhild!
KRIEMHILD. Another parting? No, I'll cling to him,
And to the grave together will we go,
Or you must leave him here. But half my love
I gave him living. Now that he is dead
I know it. Were it the reverse! His eyes
I never yet had kissed! All, all is new!
We thought we'd time before us.
UTE. Come my child!
We cannot leave him lying in the dust.
KRIEMHILD. Oh that is true! The costliest and rarest
Today shall be as naught. [She rises.]
Here, take the keys!
[She throws down keys.]
There'll be no festivals again! The silk,
The wondrous golden garments, and the linen—
Bring everything. Be sure to gather flowers—
He loved them so! And you must cut them all,
Even the little buds that have not bloomed.
For whom then should they blossom? Lay them all
Within his coffin, then my bridal robes,
And lay him softly down, and I'll do so,
[She stretches out her arms.]
And I will be his covering!
GUNTHER (to his followers). Your oath!
Let no one harm her more.
KRIEMHILD (turns around). The murderer's here?
Away, for fear the blood should flow again!
No! No! Come here!
[She lays hold of DANKWART.]
That Siegfried may bear witness!
[She wipes her hand on her dress.]
Alas, alas! My right hand nevermore
May dare to touch him. Does the blood gush forth?
O Mother, look! I cannot! No? Then these
But hide the deed. I seek the murderer.
If Hagen Tronje's here, let him come forth!
He is not guilty—I'll give him my hand.
UTE. My child—
KRIEMHILD. Now go and hear Brunhilda laugh.
She's eating too, and drinking.
UTE. It was robbers—
KRIEMHILD. I know them well.
[She takes GISELHER and GERENOT by the hand.]
Thou wast not with them there!
Thou didst not go!
UTE. But hear me!
RUMOLT. Through the wood
We had been scattered; for it was his wish,
And 'tis our custom too. We found him dying
At our next meeting place.
KRIEMHILD. You found him there?
What did he say? A word! His dying word!
I will believe thy tale, if thou canst tell,
And if it is no curse. But oh, beware!
For sooner would a rose bloom from thy mouth
Than thou imagine what thou didst not hear.
(As RUMOLT hesitates.)
It is a lie!
CHAPLAIN. 'Tis possible! I've heard
A magpie dropped a knife that killed a man
Who could not have been reached by human hands.
And what a wingéd thief by chance could do
Because his gleaming booty burdened him,
A robber well might do.
KRIEMHILD. Oh, holy father,
Thou knowest not!
DANKWART. Princess, thy grief is sacred,
But yet unjust and blind. Our warriors here,
Our noblest will bear witness—
[Meanwhile the door has been closed and the body is no longer visible.]
KRIEMHILD (who observes this). Halt! Who dares—
[She hastens to the door.]
UTE. Stop, stop! He was but gently lifted up
As thou thyself would'st wish.
KRIEMHILD. Oh, give him back!
Else they will rob me, they will bury him
Where I shall never find him!
CHAPLAIN. To the church!
I'll follow him, for now he's God's alone.


KRIEMHILD. So be it! To the church!
'Twas robbers then?
I bid thee gather all thy kindred there
To try the test of murder.
GUNTHER. Be it so.
KRIEMHILD. But bring them one and all, for now I find
That some are missing. Call the absent too!
[Exeunt omnes; the men and women by different doors.]


In the cathedral. Torches. The Chaplain with other priests is at one side before an iron door. At
the main entrance of the cathedral about sixty of HAGEN's kindred are assembled. Finally
HAGEN, GUNTHER and the others. Knocking is heard.

CHAPLAIN. Who knocks?
VOICE FROM WITHOUT. A great king from the Netherlands
Whose crowns are as the fingers on his hands.
CHAPLAIN. I know him not.
[The knocking is repeated.]
Who knocks?
VOICE FROM WITHOUT. A warrior brave,
Whose trophies are as many as his teeth.
CHAPLAIN. I know him not.
[The knocking is repeated.]
Who knocks?
VOICE FROM WITHOUT. Thy brother Siegfried,
Whose sins are as the hairs upon his head.
CHAPLAIN. Then open!
[The door is opened and SIEGFRIED's body is brought in on the bier. KRIEMHILD
and UTE with their maidens follow him.]
CHAPLAIN (turning toward the bier).
Thou art welcome, my dead brother,
For peace thou seekest here!
[To the women whom he keeps away from the coffin by coming between them and it,
while it is being set down.]
Be welcome too,
If you are seeking peace as Siegfried is.
[He holds up the cross before KRIEMHILD.]
Thou turn'st away from this most holy cross?
KRIEMHILD. I come to ask for justice and for truth.
CHAPLAIN. Thou seekest vengeance, and the Lord hath said,
Vengeance is mine. It is the Lord alone
Who sees what's hidden. He alone requites.
KRIEMHILD. I am a woman, weak, half crushed to earth;
No warrior can I strangle with my hair.
What vengeance then is left for me, I pray?
CHAPLAIN. Why should'st thou search to find thine enemy,
Unless thou seek'st on him to take revenge?
His Judge knows all, and is not that enough?
KRIEMHILD. I do not want to curse the innocent.
CHAPLAIN. Then curse thou no man, and 'twill not befall!—
Thou poor frail child created but from dust
And ashes, with no strength to breast the wind,
Thy burden's great, well may'st thou cry to heaven,
Yet gaze on Him who bore a greater still!
In humblest guise He came upon the earth,
And took upon Himself the sins of men,
And suffered for atonement all the griefs
That ever there have been throughout all time—
The griefs that follow fallen mortals still.
He suffered in thy sorrow more than thou!
And heavenly power flowed from out His lips
And all the angels floated round his head,
But Jesus Christ was faithful unto death—
Unto His shameful death upon the cross.
This sacrifice He brought thee in his love,
In pity that we may not comprehend.
Wilt thou deny thine offering to Him?
Then let them bury him! And turn thou back!
KRIEMHILD. Thy work is done, and I will now do mine!
[She goes and stands at the head of the coffin.]
Approach the bier, the dread ordeal begins!
CHAPLAIN (goes also to the coffin and stands at the foot. Three trumpet blasts are heard).
What then has happened?
GUNTHER. Murder has been done.
HAGEN. Why stand I here?
GUNTHER. Suspicion rests on thee.
HAGEN. My kin are gathered here. Of my fair name
I'll question them.—Are ye prepared to swear
That Hagen Tronje is no murderer?
We are prepared.
HAGEN. Thou'rt silent, Giselher?
Wilt thou not for thine uncle take thine oath
That Hagen Tronje is no murderer?
GISELHER (raising his hand).
I am prepared.
HAGEN. Ye need not take the oath.
[He goes forward to KRIEMHILD in the cathedral.]
Thou see'st, my kin will clear me when I will,
'Tis needless that I now approach the bier,
Yet will I stand there and will be the first!
[He walks slowly to the bier.]
UTE. Oh Kriemhild, do not look.
KRIEMHILD. Perchance he lives!
My Siegfried! Had he strength to speak one word
Or gaze but once upon me!
UTE. My poor child,
It is but nature, moving once again.
Ghastly enough!
CHAPLAIN. It is the hand of God,
That softly stirs once more these sacred springs
Because He must inscribe the sign of Cain.
HAGEN (bending over the coffin).
The scarlet blood! I ne'er believed the sign!
But now I see it here with mine own eyes.
KRIEMHILD. Yet thou canst stand and gaze?
[She springs toward him.]
Away, thou fiend!
Who knows but every drop of blood gives pain,
That thy foul, murderous presence draws from him!
HAGEN. Fair Kriemhild, if a dead man's blood still boils,
Why may not mine? I am a living man.
KRIEMHILD. Away! Away! I'd seize thee with my hands,
Had I but some one who would hack them off
And cast them from me that I might be clean—
For washing would not cleanse them, even if
I dipped them in thy blood. Away! Away!
So stood'st thou not to deal the deadly blow,
Thy wolfish eyes fixed on him steadily,
With fiendish grin disclosing thy intent
Before the time! But slyly didst thou creep
Behind him, ever shrinking from his gaze,
As wild beasts do that fear the human eye,
And peered to find the spot, that I—Thou dog,
What was thine oath to me?
HAGEN. To shelter him
From fire and water.
KRIEMHILD. Not from human foes?
HAGEN. That too, and I'd have done it.
KRIEMHILD. Thou didst mean
To murder him thyself?
HAGEN. To punish him!
KRIEMHILD. Was murder ever called a punishment
Since heaven and earth began?
HAGEN. I'd challenged him
To mortal combat, thou may'st take my word,
But none might tell the hero from the dragon,
And dragons must be killed. So proud a knight,
Why did he hide him in the dragon's skin!
KRIEMHILD. The dragon's skin! He had to slay him first,
And with the dragon slew he all the world!
The forest depths with all their monstrous beasts,
And every warrior that had feared to slay
The dreadful dragon, Hagen with the rest!
Thy slander cannot harm him. But the dart
Thine envy borrowed from thy wickedness.
And folk will tell of his nobility
As long as men still dwell upon the earth,
And just so long they'll tell thy tale of shame.
HAGEN. So be it then!
[He takes SIEGFRIED's sword, Balmung, from beside the body.]
And now 'twill never end!
[He girds on the sword and walks slowly back to his kindred.]
KRIEMHILD. To murder foul is added robbery!
A judgment, Gunther! Judgment I demand.
CHAPLAIN. Remember Him who on the cross forgave!
KRIEMHILD. A judgment! If the king denies it me,
The blood of Siegfried stains his mantle too.
UTE. Cease, Kriemhild! Thou wilt ruin thy whole house!
KRIEMHILD. So be it! For the measure's over full!
[She turns toward SIEGFRIED's body and falls upon the bier.]


^1^ The reference is to a passage in the Chanson de Roland. Roland was in command of a
rear guard and was warned of the approach of a large force of Saracens. His comrade Oliver
begged him to sound his horn and summon Charlemagne and his forces. Roland would not blow the
horn until nearly all his men were slain. At last, however, the Saracens learned of
Charlemagne's approach and fled. Roland then blew his horn once more and died alone on the
field as he heard Charlemagne's battle cry.

^2^ Balmung is the name of Siegfried's magical sword.

^3^ The Mandrake is a plant growing in the Mediterranean region and belonging to the potato
family. It was early famed for its poisonous and narcotic qualities. Love philtres were also
made from its roots, and an old High German story tells of little images made from the root,
thus endowed with the power of prophecy and respected as oracles. Probably Hebbel refers to
the German tradition, as he is speaking of the dwarfs who are both small and wise. The German
name of the plant is Alraune.

^4^ The translator finds that authorities and versions of the tale differ as to Siegfried's
"Kappe." In Maurice Grau's Götterdaemmerung libretto it is called in the English
translation "Tarnhelm," and Siegfried hangs it to his belt when not in use. Dippold in his
account of the Nibelung tale speaks of the Tarn kappe or magic cap of darkness which
renders the wearer invisible. But the Encyclopaedia Britannica speaks of the "cape of
darkness" and Heath's Dictionary@

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