The Nibelungenlied is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge.
The Nibelungenlied is based on pre-Christian Germanic heroic motifs preserved in oral traditions. Old Norse versions of the legend survive in the Völsunga saga, and the Poetic Edda.
The image is a manuscript of the Nibelungenlied dating from the 13th century. The Nibelungenlied is often confused with Wagner's "Ring Cycle" of operas, a product of 19th century Romantic nationalism loosely inspired by material from the Völsunga saga and Nibelungenlied.
The originals are quite different, both in story line and symbolism, and could even be interpreted as commentary on the tragic futility of violence.
(1) In old stories we are informed of many wonders. Of famous heroes, of great struggles. Of happiness and festivals, of tears and lamentation. Of the strife between bold warriors, you can still hear about these things today.
(2) A noble girl grew up in Burgundy, There was none more beautiful in any land, Kriemhild was her name: She became a beautiful woman. Because of this many men would lose their lives.
(4) Her caretakers were three kings, noble and rich: Gunther and Gernot, the famous warriors, and the young Giselher, an excellent knight. The lady was their sister, the princes cared about her.
(13) In these noble surroundings Kriemhild dreamed. She was raising a falcon, strong, beautiful, and wild, Then as she watched, two eagles ripped it away from her. It was the most horrible things she had ever seen.
(14) She told her mother Ute about the dream. The best interpretation she could make of it was: "The falcon you are raising is a noble man, if God doesn't protect him, you must lose him."
(15) "What are you telling me about men, my beloved mother? I will swear to forever avoid the love of warriors. I will remain a virgin until my death, so that I will not bring on hardship through the love of a man."
(18) Kriemhild set aside all thoughts of love, She lived this way for quite some time, knowing no one whom she would love. Eventually though, with honor, she became the wife of a bold warrior.
(19) He was the same falcon that she had seen in her dream, interpreted by her mother. How horrible was the revenge she took on her nearest relatives, they that had slain him! Because of one death, many mother's children would also die.
1 Uns ist in alten mæren wunders vil geseit
von helden lobebæren, von grôzer arebeit,
von freuden, hôchgezîten, von weinen und von klagen,
von küener recken strîten muget ír nu wunder hœren sagen.
2 Ez wuohs in Búrgónden ein vil édel magedîn,
daz in allen landen niht schœners mohte sîn,
Kríemhílt geheizen: si wart ein schœne wîp.
dar umbe muosen degene vil verlíesén den lîp.
3 Ir pflâgen drî künege edel unde rîch:
Gunther unde Gêrnôt, die recken lobelîch,
und Gîselher der junge, ein ûz erwelter degen.
diu frouwe was ir swester. die fürsten hetens in ir pflegen.
13 In disen hôhen êren tróumte Kríemhíldè,
wie si züge einen valken, stárc schœne und wíldè,
den ir zwêne arn erkrummen. daz si daz muoste sehen!
ir enkúnde in dirre werlde leider nímmér geschehen.
14 Den troum si dô sagete ir muoter Uotèn.
sine kúndes niht bescheiden baz der gúotèn:
"den valken den du ziuhest, daz ist ein edel man.
in enwelle got behüeten, du muost in schiere verlóren hân."
15 "Waz saget ir mir von manne, vil liebiu muoter mîn?
âne recken mínne sô wil ich immer sîn.
sus schœne wil ich belîben unz an mînen tôt,
daz ich von mannes minne sol gewinnen nimmer nôt."
18 Kriemhilt in ir muote sich minne gar bewac.
sît lebte diu vil guote vil manegen lieben tac,
daz sine wesse niemen den minnen wolde ir lîp.
sît wart si mit êren eins vil küenen recken wîp.
19 Der was der selbe valke, den si in ir troume sach,
den ir beschiet ir muoter. wie sêre si daz rach
an ir næhsten mâgen, die in sluogen sint!
durch sîn eines sterben starp vil maneger muoter kint.