Of Hjorvarth and Sigrlin

Hjorvarth was the name of a king, who had four wives: one was called Alfhild, and their son was named Hethin; the second was called Sreith, and their son was named Humlung; the third was called Sinrjoth, and their son was named Hymling. King Hjorvarth had made a great vow to have as wife whatsoever woman he knew was fairest. He learned that King Svafnir had a daughter fairer than all others, whose name was Sigrlin. Ithmund was the name of one of his jarls; he had a son called Atli, who went to woo Sigrlin on behalf of the king. He dwelt the winter long with King Svafnir. There was a jarl called Franmar, Sigrlin's foster-father; his daughter was named Alof. The jarl told him that the maiden's hand was denied, and Atli went home.

Atli, the jarl's son, stood one day in a certain wood; a bird sat in the branches up over him, and it had heard that his men called Hjorvarth's wives the fairest of women. The bird twittered, and Atli hearkened to what it spoke. It said:

1. "Sawest thou Sigrlin, | Svafnir's daughter,
The fairest maid | in her home-land found?
Though Hjorvath's wives | by men are held
Goodly to see | in Glasir's wood."

Atli spake:

2. "Now with Atli, | Ithmund's son,
Wilt thou say more, | thou bird so wise?"

The bird spake:

"I may if the prince | an offering makes,
And I have what I will | from the house of the king."

Atli spake:

3. "Choose not Hjorvarth, | nor sons of his,
Nor the wives so fair | of the famous chief;
Ask not the brides | that the prince's are;
Fair let us deal | in friendly wise."

The bird spake:

4. "A fane will I ask, | and altars many,
Gold-horned cattle | the prince shall give me,
If Sigrlin yet | shall sleep in his arms,
Or free of will | the hero shall follow."

This was before Atli went on his journey; but when he came home, and the king asked his tidings, he said:

5. "Trouble we had, | but tidings none,
Our horses failed | in the mountains high,
The waters of Smorn | we needs must wade;
Svafnir's daughter, | with rings bedecked,
She whom we sought, | was still denied us."

[Prose: In the manuscript the sub-title, "Of Hjorvarth and Sigrlin," stands as the title for the whole poem, though it clearly applies only to the first five stanzas. Most editions employ the title here given. Hjorvarth: the name is a not uncommon one; there are two men of that name mentioned in the mythical heroic genealogies of the Hyndluljoth (stanzas 23 and 28), and Hjorvarth appears in Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I (stanza 14) and II (prose after stanza 12) as a son of Hunding. This particular Hjorvarth is called by the annotator, but not directly so in the verse, a king of Norway. The name means "Sword-Guardian." Four wives: polygamy, while very. infrequent, appears occasionally in the Norse sagas. Alfhild: "Elf-Warrior." Hethin: "Fur-Clothed" (?). Sreith: "Sea-Rider." Sinrjoth: "Ever-Red." The fourth wife, not here named, may be Sigrlin. It has been suggested that Sreith and Sinrjoth may be northern and southern forms of the same name, as also Humlung and Hymling, their sons. Svafnir: the annotator calls him king of Svavaland, apparently a place on the mainland which could be reached from Norway either by land or by sea. Sigrlin: "The Conquering Serpent." Atli: Norse form of the Gothic Attila (Etzel). Alof: perhaps a feminine form of Olaf. A bird: compare the counsel given by the birds to Sigurth after the slaying of Fafnir (Fafnismol, stanzas 32-38). This is one of the many curious resemblances between the Helgi and the Sigurth stories.

1. Glasir's wood: Snorri in the Skaldskaparmal quotes a half stanza to the effect that "Glasir stands with golden leaves before Othin's hall," and calls it "the fairest wood among gods and men." The phrase as used here seems to mean little.

4. The bird's demands would indicate that it is in reality one of the gods. Gold-horned cattle: cf. Thrymskvitha, 23. There are other references to gilding the horns of cattle, particularly for sacrificial purposes.

5. Possibly the remains of two stanzas, or perhaps a line has been added. Smorn: this river is nowhere else mentioned.]



Fr Hjrvari ok Sigrlinn.

Hjrvarr ht konungr. Hann tti fjrar konur. Ein ht lfhildr. Son eira ht Heinn. nnur ht Sreir. eira son ht Humlungr. In rija ht Sinrj. eira son ht Hymlingr. Hjrvarr konungr hafi ess heit strengt at eiga konu, er hann vissi vnsta. Hann spuri, at Svfnir konungr tti dttur allra fegrsta. S ht Sigrlinn. Imundr ht jarl hans. Atli var hans son, er fr at bija Sigrlinnar til handa konungi. Hann dvalist vetrlangt me Svfni konungi. Frnmarr ht ar jarl, fstri Sigrlinnar. Dttir hans ht lof. Jarlinn r, at meyjar var synjat, ok fr Atli heim.

Atli jarls son st einn dag vi lund nkkurn, en fugl sat limunum uppi yfir hnum ok hafi heyrt til, at hans menn klluu vnstar konur r, er Hjrvarr tti. Fuglinn kvakai, en Atli hlddi, hvat hann sagi. Hann kva:

1. "Sttu Sigrlinn Svfnis dttur,
mey ina fegrstu munarheimi?
hagligar Hjrvars konur
gumnum ykkja at Glasislundi."

Atli kva:

2. "Mundu vi Atla Imundar son,
fugl frhugar, fleira mla?"

Fuglinn kva:

"Mun ek, ef mik bulungr blta vildi
ok ks ek ats vil r konungs gari."

Atli kva:

3. "Kjs-at-tu Hjrvar n hans sonu
n inar fgru fylkis brir,
eigi brir r, er bulungr ;
kaupum vel saman, at er vina kynni."

Fuglinn kva:

4. "Hof mun ek kjsa, hrga marga,
gullhyrnar kr fr grams bi,
ef hnum Sigrlinn sefr armi
ok nauig jfri fylgir."

etta var, r Atli fri, en er hann kom heim ok konungr spuri hann tenda, hann kva:

5. "Hfum erfii ok ekki rindi,
mara raut ra meginfjalli,
urum san Smorn vaa,
var oss synjat Svfnis dttur,
hringum gddrar, er vr hafa vildum."


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