THE NIBELUNGENLIED (6) ADVENTURE I (7)
Full many a wonder is told us in stories old, of heroes worthy of praise, of hardships dire, of joy and feasting, of the fighting of bold warriors, of weeping and of wailing; now ye may hear wonders told.
In Burgundy there grew so noble a maid that in all the lands none fairer might there be. Kriemhild (8) was she called; a comely woman she became, for whose sake many a knight must needs lose his life. Well worth the loving was this winsome maid. Bold knights strove for her, none bare her hate. Her peerless body was beautiful beyond degree; the courtly virtues of this maid of noble birth would have adorned many another woman too.
Three kings, noble and puissant, did nurture her, Gunther (9) and Gernot, (10) warriors worthy of praise, and Giselher, (11) the youth, a chosen knight. This lady was their sister, the princes had her in their care. The lordings were free in giving, of race high-born, passing bold of strength were they, these chosen knights. Their realm hight Burgundy. Great marvels they wrought hereafter in Etzel's (12) land. At Worms (13) upon the Rhine they dwelt with all their power. Proud knights from out their lands served them with honor, until their end was come. Thereafter they died grievously, through the hate of two noble dames.
Their mother, a mighty queen, was called the Lady Uta, (14) their father, Dankrat, (15) who left them the heritage after his life was over; a mighty man of valor that he was, who won thereto in youth worship full great. These kings, as I have said, were of high prowess. To them owed allegiance the best of warriors, of whom tales were ever told, strong and brave, fearless in the sharp strife. Hagen (16) there was of Troneg, thereto his brother Dankwart, (17) the doughty; Ortwin of Metz (18); Gere (19) and Eckewart, (20) the margraves twain; Folker of Alzei, (21) endued with fullness of strength. Rumolt (22) was master of the kitchen, a chosen knight; the lords Sindolt and Hunolt, liegemen of these three kings, had rule of the court and of its honors. Thereto had they many a warrior whose name I cannot tell. Dankwart was marshal; his nephew, Ortwin, seneschal unto the king; Sindolt was cupbearer, a chosen knight; Hunolt served as chamberlain; well they wot how to fill these lofty stations. Of the forces of the court and its far-reaching might, of the high worship (23) and of the chivalry these lords did ply with joy throughout their life, of this forsooth none might relate to you the end.
In the midst of these high honors Kriemhild dreamed a dream, of how she trained a falcon, strong, fair, and wild, which, before her very eyes, two eagles rent to pieces. No greater sorrow might chance to her in all this world. This dream then she told to Uta her mother, who could not unfold it to the dutiful maid in better wise than this: "The falcon which thou trainest, that is a noble man, but thou must needs lose him soon, unless so be that God preserve him."
"Why speakest thou to me of men, dear brother mine? I would fain ever be without a warrior's love. So fair will I remain until my death, that I shall never gain woe from love of man."
"Now forswear this not too roundly," spake the mother in reply. "If ever thou shalt wax glad of heart in this world, that will chance through the love of man. Passing fair wilt thou become, if God grant thee a right worthy knight."
"I pray you leave this speech," spake she, "my lady. Full oft hath it been seen in many a wife, how joy may at last end in sorrow. I shall avoid them both, then can it ne'er go ill with me."
Thus in her heart Kriemhild forsware all love. Many a happy day thereafter the maiden lived without that she wist any whom she would care to love. In after days she became with worship a valiant here's bride. He was the selfsame falcon which she beheld in her dream that her mother unfolded to her. How sorely did she avenge this upon her nearest kin, who slew him after! Through his dying alone there fell full many a mother's son.