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 Særeith,
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."
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."
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 Sæmorn | 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" (?). Særeith: "Sea-Rider." Sinrjoth: "Ever-Red." The fourth wife, not here named, may be Sigrlin. It has been suggested that Særeith
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. Sæmorn: this river is nowhere else mentioned.]
Frá Hjörvarði ok Sigrlinn.
Hjörvarðr hét konungr. Hann átti fjórar konur. Ein hét Álfhildr. Son þeira hét Heðinn. Önnur hét Særeiðr. Þeira son hét Humlungr. In þriðja hét Sinrjóð. Þeira
son hét Hymlingr. Hjörvarðr konungr hafði þess heit strengt at eiga þá konu, er hann vissi vænsta. Hann spurði, at Sváfnir konungr átti dóttur allra fegrsta.
Sú hét Sigrlinn. Iðmundr hét jarl hans. Atli var hans son, er fór at biðja Sigrlinnar til handa konungi. Hann dvalðist vetrlangt með Sváfni konungi. Fránmarr hét
þar jarl, fóstri Sigrlinnar. Dóttir hans hét Álof. Jarlinn réð, at meyjar var synjat, ok fór Atli heim.
Atli jarls son stóð einn dag við lund nökkurn, en fugl sat í limunum uppi yfir hánum ok hafði heyrt til, at hans menn kölluðu vænstar konur þær, er Hjörvarðr átti.
Fuglinn kvakaði, en Atli hlýddi, hvat hann sagði. Hann kvað:
1. "Sáttu Sigrlinn Sváfnis dóttur,
mey ina fegrstu í munarheimi?
Þó hagligar Hjörvarðs konur
gumnum þykkja at Glasislundi."
2. "Mundu við Atla Iðmundar son,
fugl fróðhugaðr, fleira mæla?"
"Mun ek, ef mik buðlungr blóta vildi
ok kýs ek þats vil ór konungs garði."
3. "Kjós-at-tu Hjörvarð né hans sonu
né inar fögru fylkis brúðir,
eigi brúðir þær, er buðlungr á;
kaupum vel saman, þat er vina kynni."
4. "Hof mun ek kjósa, hörga marga,
gullhyrnðar kýr frá grams búi,
ef hánum Sigrlinn sefr á armi
ok ónauðig jöfri fylgir."
Þetta var, áðr Atli færi, en er hann kom heim ok konungr spurði hann tíðenda, hann kvað:
5. "Höfum erfiði ok ekki örindi,
mara þraut óra á meginfjalli,
urðum síðan Sæmorn vaða,
þá var oss synjat Sváfnis dóttur,
hringum gæddrar, er vér hafa vildum."