King Helgi was a mighty warrior. He came to King Eylimi and sought the hand of his daughter, Svava. Then Helgi and Svava exchanged vows,
and greatly they loved each other. Svava was at home with her father, while Helgi was in the field; Svava was still a Valkyrie as before.
Hethin was at home with his father, King Hjorvarth, in Norway. Hethin was coming home alone from the forest one Yule-eve, and found a troll-woman; she rode
on a wolf, and had snakes in place of a bridle. She asked Hethin for his company. "Nay," said he. She said, "Thou shalt pay for this at the king's toast."
That evening the great vows were taken; the sacred boar was brought in, the men laid their hands thereon, and took their vows at the king's toast. Hethin
vowed that he would have Svava, Eylimi's daughter, the beloved of his brother Helgi; then such great grief seized him that he went forth on wild paths
southward over the land, and found Helgi, his brother. Helgi said:
31. "Welcome, Hethin! | what hast thou to tell
Of tidings new | that from Norway come?
Wherefore didst leave | thy land, O prince,
And fared alone | to find us here?"
32. "A deed more evil | I have done
Than, brother mine, | thou e'er canst mend;
For I have chosen | the child of the king,
Thy bride, for mine | at the monarch's toast."
33. "Grieve not, Hethin, | for true shall hold
The words we both | by the beer have sworn;
To the isle a warrior | wills that I go,
(There shall I come | the third night hence;)
And doubtful must be | my coming back,
(So may all be well, | if fate so wills.)"
34. "Thou saidst once, Helgi, | that Hethin was
A friend full good, | and gifts didst give him;
More seemly it were | thy sword to redden,
Than friendship thus | to thy foe to-give."
Helgi spoke thus because he foresaw his death, for his following-spirits had met Hethin when he saw the woman riding on the wolf.
Alf was the name of a king, the son of Hrothmar, who had marked out a battle-place with Helgi at Sigarsvoll after a stay of three nights. Then Helgi spake:
35. "On a wolf there rode, | when dusk it was,
A woman who fain | would have him follow;
Well she knew | that now would fall
Sigrlin's son | at Sigarsvoll."
[Prose. The manuscript does not indicate a new section of the poem. Eylimi: cf. note on prose after stanza 9. Valkyrie: here, as before,
the annotator has apparently nothing but his own imagination on which to base his statement. Svava in the ensuing stanzas certainly does
not behave like a Valkyrie. Norway: the annotator doubtless based this statement on the reference to Norway in line 2 of stanza 31. Yule-eve:
the Yule feast, marking the new year, was a great event in the heathen North. It was a time of feasting and merrymaking, vows ("New Year's
resolutions"), ghosts and witches; the spirits had their greatest power on Yule-eve. The king's toast: vows made at the passing of the king's
cup at the Yule feast were particularly sacred. Sacred boar: a boar consecrated to Freyr, an integral part of the Yule rites. Hethin's vow,
which is, of course, the vengeance of the troll-woman, is too sacred to be broken, but he immediately realizes the horror of his oath.
31. From Norway: Bugge uses this phrase as evidence that the poem was composed in one of the Icelandic settlements of the western islands, but
as the annotator himself seems to have thought that Hethin came to Helgi by land ("on wild paths southward"), this argument does not appear to
have much weight.
32. The second line is conjectural; a line has; clearly been lost from this stanza, and various emendations have been suggested.
33. Perhaps this is the remnant of two stanzas, or perhaps two lines (probably the ones in parenthesis) have been interpolated. The isle:
duels were commonly fought on islands, probably to guard against treacherous interference, whence the usual name for a duel was "isle-going."
A duel was generally fought three days after the challenge. Reckoning the lapse of time by nights instead of days was a common practice throughout
the German and Scandinavian peoples.
Prose. Some editors place all or part of this prose passage after stanza 35. Following-spirits: the "fylgja" was a female guardian spirit whose
appearance generally betokened death. The belief was common throughout the North, and has come down to recent times in Scottish and Irish folk-lore.
Individuals and sometimes whole families had these following-spirits, but it was most unusual for a person to have more than one of them. Alf: son
of the Hrothmar who killed Helgi's grandfather, and who was in turn later killed by Helgi. Sigarsvoll ("Sigar's Field"): cf. stanza 8 and
note; the Sigar in question may be the man who appears as Helgi's messenger in stanzas 36-39.]
Helgi konungr var allmikill hermađr. Hann kom til Eylima konungs ok bađ Sváfu dóttur hans.
Ţau Helgi ok Sváfa veittust várar ok unnust furđu mikit. Sváfa var heima međ feđr sínum, en Helgi í hernađi.
Var Sváfa valkyrja enn sem fyrr.
Heđinn var heima međ föđur sínum, Hjörvarđi konungi, í Nóregi. Heđinn fór einn saman heim ór skógi jólaaftan
ok fann trollkonu. Sú reiđ vargi ok hafđi orma at taumum ok bauđ fylgđ sína Heđni. "Nei," sagđi hann.
Hon sagđi: "Ţess skaltu gjalda at bragarfulli." Um kveldit óru heitstrengingar. Var fram leiddr sónargöltr.
Lögđu menn ţar á hendr sínar ok strengđu menn ţá heit at bragarfulli. Heđinn strengđi heit til Sváfu Eylimadóttur,
unnustu Helga, bróđur síns, ok iđrađisk svá mjök, at hann gekk á braut villistígu suđr á lönd ok fann Helga bróđur
sinn. Helgi kvađ:
31. "Kom ţú heill, Heđinn, hvat kanntu segja
nýra spjalla ór Nóregi?
Hví er ţér, stillir, stökkt ór landi
ok ert einn kominn oss at finna?"
32. "[Erumk-a, stillir, stökkt ór landi],
mik hefr miklu glćpr meiri sóttan:
Ek hefi körna ina konungbornu
brúđi ţína at bagarfulli."
33. "Sakask eigi ţú, sönn munu verđa
ölmál, Heđinn, okkur beggja.
Mér hefir stillir stefnt til eyrar,
ţriggja nátta skylak ţar koma;
if er mér á ţví, at ek aftr koma;
ţá má at góđu gerask slíkt, ef skal."
34. "Sagđir ţú, Helgi, at Heđinn vćri
góđs verđr frá ţér ok gjafa stórra;
ţér er sćmra sverđ at rjóđa,
en friđ gefa fjándum ţínum."
Ţat kvađ Helgi, ţví at hann grunađi um feigđ sína ok ţat, at fylgjur hans höfđu vitjat Heđins, ţá er hann sá konuna ríđa varginum.
Álfr hét konungr, son Hróđmars, er Helga hafđi völl haslađan á Sigarsvelli á ţriggja nátta fresti. Ţá kvađ Helgi:
35. "Reiđ á vargi, er rökvit var,
fljóđ eitt, er Heđinn fylgju beiddi;
hón vissi ţat, at veginn myndi
Sigrlinnar sonr á Sigarsvöllum."