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The Story of Sigurd the Volsung

William Morris

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The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs is an epic poem by William Morris that tells the tragic story, drawn from the Volsunga Saga and the Elder Edda, of the Norse hero Sigmund, his son Sigurd and Sigurd's wife Gudrun. Son of King Sigmund, young Sigurd is taught the ways of kings by the ancient, mysterious Regin – who then sets him upon the seemingly impossible task: to steal the divine armor guarded by the Wallower on the Gold – the great serpent Fafnir. Astride the war-steed Grayfell and armed with a sword named the Wrath of Sigurd, the young hero crosses the Glittering Heath in pursuit of peril, glory – and the Treasure of Andvari.

This book has 461 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1877.

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Excerpt from 'The Story of Sigurd the Volsung'

There was a dwelling of Kings ere the world was waxen old;

Dukes were the door-wards there, and the roofs were thatched with gold;

Earls were the wrights that wrought it, and silver nailed its doors;

Earls’ wives were the weaving-women, queens’ daughters strewed its floors,

And the masters of its song-craft were the mightiest men that cast

The sails of the storm of battle adown the bickering blast.

There dwelt men merry-hearted, and in hope exceeding great

Met the good days and the evil as they went the way of fate:

There the Gods were unforgotten, yea whiles they walked with men.

Though e’en in that world’s beginning rose a murmur now and again

Of the midward time and the fading and the last of the latter days,

And the entering in of the terror, and the death of the People’s Praise.

Thus was the dwelling of Volsung, the King of the Midworld’s Mark,

As a rose in the winter season, a candle in the dark;

And as in all other matters ’twas all earthly houses’ crown,

And the least of its wall-hung shields was a battle-world’s renown,

So therein withal was a marvel and a glorious thing to see,

For amidst of its midmost hall-floor sprang up a mighty tree,

That reared its blessings roofward, and wreathed the roof-tree dear

With the glory of the summer and the garland of the year.

I know not how they called it ere Volsung changed his life,

But his dawning of fair promise, and his noontide of the strife,

His eve of the battle-reaping and the garnering of his fame,

Have bred us many a story and named us many a name;

And when men tell of Volsung, they call that war-duke’s tree,

That crownèd stem, the Branstock; and so was it told unto me.

So there was the throne of Volsung beneath its blossoming bower.

But high o’er the roof-crest red it rose ’twixt tower and tower,

And therein were the wild hawks dwelling, abiding the dole of their lord;

And they wailed high over the wine, and laughed to the waking sword.

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