ENGL1008 Language, Text, and Culture in the Early Middle Ages
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Weland for his skill suffered exile,
the strong-willed hero had hardships to bear,
had as his companions pain and sorrow,
winter-cold exile, and endless griefs,
from the time that Nithhad tied him in fetters,
breaking the hamstrings of a better man.
That passed over; and so may this.

Beaduhild grieved less for her brothers' deaths
than she grieved in her heart for her own hard fate,

10  when it became clear she was carrying a child;
she could not foresee the uncertain future
or tell if her troubles would turn out well.
That passed over; and so may this.

We have heard of the misery that Maethhild felt

15  who was wife to Geat, how it grew yet deeper
When her sleep was stolen by sorrowful love.
That passed over; and so may this.

Theodoric ruled for thirty years
the Maerings’ stronghold; many knew that.

20  That passed over; and so may this.

We have heard too of the wolvish temper
Ermanaric had, who mastered the lands
of the Gothic kingdom; he was a cruel lord.
Wrapped in sorrow and sad at heart,

25  Many an armed man often wanted
Ermanaric's kingdom to come to grief.
That passed over; and so may this.

A man sits restless, bereaved of joys,
feels sick at heart, secretly thinks

30  that his share of hardships is over-large.
He may then reflect that through this world
God in his wisdom goes on his way;
a gift of grace he gives to many,
assurance of glory, but grief to some.
35  I will tell you something true of myself:
the Heodenings employed me as poet [scop] for a time,
I was dear to my lord, and Deor was my name.
For many years I held a high-ranking post,
acknowledged by my master, but now Heorrenda,
40  a man skilled in song, is assigned the lands
the protector of fighters gave first to me.
That passed over; and so may this.


According to the ON Volundarkvitha, Weland was captured by his enemy King Nithhad, hamstrung, and forced to work as his smith. Weland in revenge killed Nithhad's two sons and 'made bowls out of their skulls, gems out of their eyeballs, and brooches out of their teeth; he presented these works of art to the royal family as products of his smithy' (Malone, p. 5); later he raped Beadohild and flew away (perhaps with the help of a coat of feathers?). The story is illustrated on the eighth-century Franks Casket (now in the British Museum); to see the image, go to  http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights.aspx, and search for 'Franks Casket'. The image you want is on the front of the casket. The left-hand panel (facing you) of the front of the casket shows Weland as a prisoner in Nithhad’s smithy; the body of one of Nithhad’s sons lies at his feet. 

Wudga, the son of Weland and Beaduhild, became a great hero; he is also mentioned towards the end of Widsith.


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Set up by Bella Millett,  enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 29 August 2009 .