Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hero and the Valkyrie, Helge and Sigrun

The early Scandinavian traditions and historical writings, are pregnant with tales of love that transcends death, ghosts and other supernatural beings such as found in my novel Shadows In A Timeless Myth. One such tale is that of a hero named Helge and his wife Sigrun* from  the Eddaic songs.

Helge died, and the body was laid in its cairn. In the evening Sigrun's maid passed the cairn, and saw the ghost of Helge ride into it with a numerous train. Addressing the ghost, the maid said, "Is it an illusion that I see, or the Eve of the Mighty, that ye ride your horses and urge them with your spurs? Or are the heroes bound for their homes?" The ghost replied, "It is no illusion which thou seest, nor the Eve of the Mighty; though thou seest us, and we urge our horses with our spurs; neither are the heroes bound for their homes."

The maid then went to her mistress and said, "Haste thee, Sigrun, from the hill of Seva, if the leader of the battle thou desirest to see. Open is the cairn; Helge is come; the war-scars bleed. Helge bade thee to still his dripping wound." Sigrun went to the cairn, and entering it, said to the shade of her dead husband, "Now am I as joyful of our meeting as Odin's ravens when, long-fasting, they scent the warm food, or the day-wearied when they behold the close of day. I will kiss my lifeless king before thou throwest off thy bloody cuirass. Thy hair, O Helge! is pierced through with frost, or with the dew of death is the hero slain. Cold are the hands of the friend of Högne. How, therefore, King, shall I find a cure for thee?"

"Thou only, Sigrun! on the hill of Seva," replied the ghost, "art the cause that Helge is here, slain by the dew of sorrow. Thou weepest, gold-adorned one! burning tears, maid of the sun-glowing south! Before thou sleepest, every tear shall fall bloody on the breast of the Prince, pierced through with the cold of thy grief. But we will drink the precious mead together, though we have lost gladness and lands. Yet no one sings a song of woe, though he sees a wound in my breast. Now are the brides closed in the cairns, and the princely maidens are laid beside us."

Sigrun made a bed in the cairn, and said, "Here have I, Helge, prepared rest for thee; rest free from all trouble. Son of the Ylfinga! I will sleep in thy arms as formerly, when my hero lived." The ghost answered, "No longer will I say that thou art unfaithful on the hill of Seva. Since thou sleepest in the embrace of the dead in the cairn, thou fair daughter of Högur! And yet thou livest, offspring of kings! Time is to ride the red ways. Let the pale steed tramp the steeps of the air. In the west must we be, by the bridge Vindhjalen, ere the cock in Walhalla wakes the sons of victory."

*Sigrun(Victory in the Old Norse) was a Valkyrie.

 Compiled From Sources In The Public Domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

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