Sigurd The Volsung Essay

Essay Comparing the Runes and Magic in Beowulf and The Saga of the Volsungs

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Runes and Magic in Beowulf and The Saga of the Volsungs

          In the Old English poem Beowulf and in the Icelandic The Saga of the Volsungs, a saga representing oral traditions dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries, we see the mention of runes, which were used with connotations of magic or charms.

An unknown author wrote the The Saga of the Volsungs in the thirteenth century, basing his story on far older Norse poetry. Iceland was settled by the Vikings about 870-930, who took there the famous lay of Sigurd and the Volsungs. Native Icelandic poets loved the story of Sigurd and the Huns, Goths, Burgundians, with whom he interacted. This prose story is based on traditional Norse verse called Eddic poetry, a form of mythic or heroic lay which developed before 1000 in the oral folk culture of Old Scandinavia. In The Saga of the Volsungs the hero Sigurd is the one who corresponds best with the hero Beowulf in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. George Clark in “The Hero and the Theme” mentions: “The form of Beowulf taken as a whole suggests both the ‘Bear’s Son’ folktale type (especially as we find it in Scandinavia) and the ‘combat myth’. . . .” (286). The “combat myth” is what this saga is. When Sigurd was born, he was the grandson of King Eylimi; when Beowulf was born, he was the grandson of King Hrethel. The king said of Sigurd that “none would be his like or equal” (55), and this proved true; Beowulf as a young man was so strong that “he was the strongest of all living men” (196). The similarities between Sigurd and Beowulf continue through both works.

The Icelandic skald is the equivalent of the Anglo-Saxon scop. He was a storyteller. Icelandic material builds on a long oral tradition just like Anglo-saxon, going back in their stories to the fourth and fifth centuries (Byock 2). Skalds stayed in the royal courts of Scandinavia like their counterparts to the south.

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon narrative poem whose oral traditions date back to the sixth century. We see the first mention of runes in this poem in connection with the magic sword. When the hero is in deadly combat with Grendel’s mother in the mere, he is at the point of  being killed by the monster when suddenly God shows to him the presence of a special sword nearby on the wall.

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Magic In Beowulf         Runes         Saga         Icelandic         Poem Beowulf         Saxon         Oral Tradition         Norse        

Beowulf seizes the giant weapon and kills the monster. Then:

                                                            that sword

had begun to melt                     in battle-bloody icicles;

that it melted away                    was as much a marvel

as ice itself                                when the Father unwinds

the bonds of frost,                     loosens the freezing

chains of water,                        Who keeps the power

of times and seasons;                He is the true God. . . .

Already the sword                    had melted away,

its blade had burned up;            too hot the blood

of the poisonous spirit               who had died within. . . .

the wave-sword burned up,      quenched in that blood. . . .

then the strange gold hilt            was placed in the  hand

of the gray-bearded king,          wise war-leader

old work of giants;                    after the fall of devils

it came into the hands                of the lord of the Dane-men,

from magic smithies;                  once the fierce spirit,

long God’s opponent,               guilty creature,

and his murderous mother         had quitted this world,

it came to the power                 of the best overlord

between the two seas,               of all world-rulers

in Scandanavia              who gave good treasures.

Hrothgar spoke,                       examined the hilt,

great treasure of old.                 There was engraved

the origin of past strife,  when the flood drowned,

the pouring ocean killed            the race of giants. . . .

On its bright gold facings           there were also runes

set down in order,                     engraved, inlaid,

which told for whom                 the sword was first worked,

its hair-keen edges,                   twisted gold

scrolled in the hilt,                     the woven snake-blade(1605ff).

Chickering in his “Commentary” would have us believe that the melting sword is a reference to patristic theology, to St. Augustine’s conception of evil as ice as presented in his comments on Psalm 125 (341). I, however, tend to think that such an interpretation would have been too difficult an allusion for the Anglo-Saxon audience to grasp. I simply think that the melting blade is a manifestation of the magic associated with the sword, and further evinced through the runes on the hilt. Beowulf is represented as finding in Grendel’s cave a sword of ancient workmanship, with runes on the sword-hilt, giving the name of the warrior for whom the sword had first been made. Historically there is a lot to be said about the magic of runes. There is uncertainty as to the earliest purpose of the runes, whether they were originally used as real characters of writing, or as mystical signs, bearers of potent magic. The earliest Germanic literature, which was a source for Nordic literature which in turn gave being to Icelandic literature like The Saga of the Volsungs, abounds in proofs of the magic nature of runes; there is continuous evidence of their mystic influence over mankind. Runes could raise the dead from their graves; they could preserve life or take it, they could heal the sick or bring on lingering disease; they could call forth the soft rain or the violent hailstorm; they could break chains or bind more closely than bonds or fetters; they could make the warrior invincible and cause his sword to inflict none but mortal wounds; they could produce frenzy and madness or defend from the deceit of a false friend. The origin of runes was believed to be divine.

Side by side with the early magic use of runes there is also clear evidence that, at an earlier period, they served as a means of communication, secret or otherwise. The greater number of runic inscriptions which have come down to our times are those engraved on stone monuments. Some of these merely bear the name of a fallen warrior, while others commemorate his exploits, his death, or his life as a whole. These inscriptions on stones and rocks occur only in England and Scandinavia. Some of the very earliest extant inscriptions may be regarded as English, since they are found either within Angeln, the ancient home of the nation, or not far from that district.

In its early Germanic form the runic alphabet consisted of twenty-four signs, usually arranged in three sets of eight. Each rune had a name of its own, and a well-defined place in the alphabet. After the migration and subsequent isolation of the English, there arose a specifically Old English alphabet, preserved for us on a small sword found in the Thames and now in the British Museum.

In The Song of the Volsungs the Beowulf-like hero, Sigurd, receives instruction in runes not long after he consumes the heart of the dragon which he has slain in order to get its treasure (66). After this incident he rides a long way before encountering what appears to be an  old knight asleep on the ground dressed in full armor (67); this turns out to be a woman. With his magic sword Sigurd cuts through the armor easily and awakens her from sleep. She is the daughter of a powerful king, and is herself a great warrior named Brynhild(67). Sigurd asks her to teach him the “ways of mighty things.” And this is where runes come into the story, for they are the source of mighty things if understood and used properly. She hoped that Sigurd would “gain profit and renown” from her wisdom. Presenting Sigurd with a goblet of beer, she begins her lengthy runic instruction:

Beer I give you, Battlefield’s ruler,

With strength blended And with much glory.

It is full of charmed verse And runes of healing,

Of seemly spells And of pleasing speech.

Victory runes shall you know If you want to secure wisdom,

And cut them on the sword hilt [Beowulf] On the center ridge of the blade

And the parts of the brand, And name Tyr twice.

Wave runes shall you make If you desire to ward

Your sail-steeds on the sound. On the stem shall they be cut

And on the steering blade And burn them on the oar.

No broad breaker will fall Nor waves of blue,

And you will come safe from the sea.

Speech runes shall you know If you want no repayment

In hate words for harm done. Wind them,

Weave them, Tie them all together,

At that thing When all shall attend

The complete court.

Ale runes shall you know If you desire no other’s wife

To deceive you in troth, if you trust.

They shall be cut on the horn And on the hand’s back

And mark the need rune on your nail.

For the cup shall you make a sign And be wary of misfortune

And throw leek into the liquor. Then, I know that,

You will never get A potion blended with poison.

Aid runes shall you learn If you would grant assistance

To bring the child from the mother. Cut them in her palm

And hold her hand in yours. And bid the disir not to fail.

Branch runes shall you know If you wish to be a healer

And to know how to see to wounds. On bark shall they be cut

And on needles of  the tree Whose limbs lean to the east.

Mind runes shall you learn If you would be

Wiser than all men. They were solved,

They were carved out, They were heeded by Hropt (67-69).

The instruction in the use of runes runs on for some stanzas more, but I think that what we already have seen is adequate for understanding the importance runes held in the order of things back in early Germanic times, which Both Beowulf and The Saga of the Volsungs relied on for material. The magic, the charms generated by the proper formulary usage of runes, provided Sigurd the knowledge he desired of “the mighty things.”

Christianity laboured successfully to eradicate all traces of practices and beliefs that smacked of the devil. Nevertheless, we have some evidence which speaks of old beliefs, and how they hung around. Bede furnishes us with proof that the English, at a comparatively late date, believed in the magic properties of  runes. In his The Ecclesiastical History of the English People  he relates the fate of a nobleman called Imma, who was made a prisoner in the battle between Ecgfrith, king of Northumbria, and Aethelred, king of Mercia, A.D. 679, and whose fetters fell off whenever his brother celebrated Mass for him:

It was on account of these celebrations [Masses] that, as I have said, noone could bind Imma because his fetters were at once loosed. Meanwhile the gesith who kept him captive grew amazed and asked him why he could not be bound and whether he had about him any loosing spells such as are described in stories (bk4,ch22,p208).

Bede’s narrative shows the popular belief in the magic that written runes provided – even as late as the seventh century.

The earliest runic inscriptions extant in England consist mainly of proper names, in most cases those of the owners of the engraved article. The Thames sword, for instance, bears, in addition to the runic alphabet, the name of its owner, Beagnop. Just like in Beowulf, where the hero is represented as finding in Grendel’s cave a sword of ancient workmanship, with runes on the hilt, giving the name of the warrior for whom the sword had first been made. There are also references in Old English literature to the use of runes as a means of communication. On reading the little poem called The Husband’s Message, we see that a staff, inscribed with runes, is supposed to convey to a wife the message of her lord:

The carver of this token entreats a lady

clad in cleaar stones to call to mind. . . .

let no man alive delay your going:

into the boat and out to sea . . .

make landfall where your lord is waiting. . . .

There lands are his, a hearth among strangers, estate . . .

he has a horad and horses and hall-carousing

and would have everything within an earl’s having

had he my lady with him: if my lady will come:

if whe will hold to what was sworn and sealed in your youths (16ff.)

The husband, now living abroad, is bidding her to cross the sea in search of the distant country where he had found gold and land, etc.. So runes are seen to be usable, as The Husband’s Message illustrates, in common communication with no overtones of magic.

In the Old English poem Beowulf and in the Icelandic The Saga of the Volsungs, we see the mention of runes, which were highly respected and which were used with connotations of magic or charms.


Chickering, Howell D.. Beowulf A dual-Language Edition. New York: Anchor Books, 1977.

Clark, Gorge. “The Hero and the Theme.” In A Beowulf Handbook, edited by Robert Bjork and John D. Niles. Lincoln, Nebraska: Uiversity of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Collins, Roger and McClure, Judith, editors. Bede: The Ecclesiastical History of the English People; The Greater Chronicle; Bede’s Letter to Egbert. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

The Husband’s Message. In The Earliest English Poems, translated by Michael Alexander. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.

The Saga of the Volsungs, translated by Jesse L. Byock. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.

Title page of the first edition, 1876, printed as MDCCCLXXVII (1877)

AuthorWilliam Morris "Author of 'The Earthly Paradise'"
IllustratorEdward Burne-Jones
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreEpic poem
PublisherEllis and White

Publication date

Media typePrint (hardback)
Pages392 pp

The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs (1876) is an epic poem of over 10,000 lines 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 (the equivalent of Siegfried in the Nibelungenlied and Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung[1][2]) and Sigurd's wife Gudrun. It sprang from a fascination with the Volsung legend that extended back twenty years to the author's youth, and had already resulted in several other literary and scholarly treatments of the story. It was Morris's own favorite of his poems, and was enthusiastically praised both by contemporary critics and by such figures as T. E. Lawrence and George Bernard Shaw.[3][4][5] In recent years it has been rated very highly by many William Morris scholars, but has never succeeded in finding a wide readership on account of its great length and archaic diction.[6] It has been seen as an influence on such fantasy writers as Andrew Lang and J. R. R. Tolkien.[7][8]The Story of Sigurd is available in modern reprints, both in its original form and in a cut-down version, but there is no critical edition.


Book I: Sigmund[edit]

The poem opens with the marriage of king Volsung's daughter Signy to Siggeir, king of the Goths. The bridal feast is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger, the god Odin in disguise, who drives a sword into a tree-trunk. Though everyone tries to draw the sword, Volsung's son Sigmund is the only man who can do it. The disappointed Siggeir takes his new wife home, inviting Volsung to visit him. When Volsung does so he is killed by Siggeir, and his sons are taken prisoner. While in captivity they are all killed by a wolf, apart from Sigmund who escapes into the forest. Signy sends Sigmund her two sons to help him in avenging their family, but Sigmund only accepts Sinfjotli, the hardier of the two. Sigmund and Sinfjotli kill Siggeir and burn down his hall, then return to their ancestral home, the hall of the Volsungs. Sigmund marries Borghild, while Sinfjotli goes abroad with Borghild's brother, quarrels with him, and kills him. On his return Sinfjotli is poisoned by Borghild, and she is turned out by Sigmund, who instead marries Hiordis. Sigmund is killed in battle, and the pregnant Hiordis is taken to live in the hall of King Elf in Denmark.

Book II: Regin[edit]

There she gives birth to Sigurd. Sigurd is raised by Regin, a cunning old man, and when he grows to manhood he asks for a horse from King Elf. Elf bids him choose the one he likes best, and Sigurd takes the best horse, and names it Grani. Sigurd is now urged by Regin to attack Fafnir, a dragon who guards a hoard of gold. This treasure is a curse to all who possess it. Fafnir, Regin says, was originally a human being; indeed, the dragon was Regin's brother and thus the gold rightfully belongs to Regin. He tries and fails to forge an adequate sword for Sigurd, but Sigurd produces the shattered fragments of Odin's sword, which he has inherited from Sigmund, and from these fragments Regin forges a mighty sword, named "the Wrath" by Sigurd. Sigurd makes his way to Fafnir's lair, kills him, drinks his blood, and roasts and eats his heart. This gives him the power to understand the voices of birds and to read the hearts of men. He now understands that Regin intends to kill him, and so he kills Regin and takes Fafnir's treasure for himself. On his journey homeward Sigurd comes across an unearthly blaze on the slopes of Hindfell. He rides straight into it and comes unharmed to the heart of the fire, where he finds a beautiful sleeping woman clad in armour. He wakes her, and she tells him that she is Brynhild, a handmaiden of Odin whom he has left here as a punishment for disobedience. They pledge themselves to each other, Sigurd places a ring from Fafnir's hoard on her finger, and he leaves.

Book III: Brunhild[edit]

The scene changes to the court of Giuki, the Niblung king. Giuki's daughter Gudrun has a dream in which she encounters a beautiful but ominous falcon and takes it to her breast. Anxious to learn the meaning of the dream she rides to visit Brynhild, who tells her that she will marry a king, but that her life will be darkened by war and death. Gudrun returns home. Sigurd revisits Brynhild and they again declare their love for each other. He then rides to the Niblung court, where he joins them in making war on the Southland, winning great glory for himself. The witch Grimhild, Gudrun's mother, gives Sigurd a potion that makes him fall in love with Gudrun. Completely under her spell, he marries her and sets out to win Brynhild for Gudrun's brother Gunnar. Visiting Brynhild again, this time magically disguised as Gunnar, and again penetrating the fire that surrounds her, he reminds her that she is promised to whoever can overcome the supernatural fire, and so deceives her into reluctantly vowing to marry Gunnar. Brynhild goes to the Niblung land and carries out her promise. She is distraught at this tragic outcome, and doubly so when Gudrun spitefully tells her of the trick by which Sigurd deceived her into an unwanted wedding. Brynhild now urges Gunnar and his brothers Hogni and Guttorm to kill Sigurd. Guttorm murders Sigurd as he lies in bed, but the dying Sigurd throws his sword and kills Guttorm as he leaves. Brynhild, filled with remorse, commits suicide so that she and Sigurd can be burned on a single funeral pyre.

Book IV: Gudrun[edit]

The widowed Gudrun now marries Brynhild's brother, king Atli, but as the years pass by her memories of Sigurd do not fade, and she longs for vengeance. She reminds Atli of Fafnir's hoard and urges him to win it for himself. Atli invites the surviving Niblung brothers to a feast, and when they arrive he threatens them with death if they do not give him the treasure. Gunnar and Hogni defy him to do his worst, and a battle breaks out in Atli's hall. The Niblung brothers are overwhelmed by superior force, tied up and killed. Atli holds a victory-feast, at the end of which he and all his court lie sleeping drunkenly in the hall. Gudrun, having lost everyone she loves, burns down the hall, kills Atli with a sword-thrust, and throws herself from a cliff to her death.


Morris first came across the story of the Volsungs, "the grandest tale that ever was told" as he later called it,[9] as a young man, when he read a summary of it in Benjamin Thorpe's Northern Mythology, which became a favourite book of his.[10][11][12][13] In his The Earthly Paradise (1868–70) he included a versification of the story of Sigurd's daughter Aslaug, which he may have taken from Thorpe.[11] In 1868 he began to learn Old Norse from the Icelandic scholar Eiríkr Magnússon, and embarked with him on a series of collaborative translations from the Icelandic classics.[11] In 1870 they published Völsunga Saga: The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs, with Certain Songs from the Elder Edda, claiming uncompromisingly in the preface that "This is the Great Story of the North, which should be to all our race what the Tale of Troy was to the Greeks".[14]


While still working on the prose translation Morris wrote to Charles Eliot Norton:

I had it in my head to write an epic of it, but though I still hanker after it, I see clearly it would be foolish, for no verse could render the best parts of it, and it would only be a flatter and tamer version of a thing already existing.[15]

Morris visited Iceland in 1871 and 1873. Also in 1873 he was aware that Richard Wagner was writing Der Ring des Nibelungen, and wrote:

I look upon it as nothing short of desecration to bring such a tremendous and world-wide subject under the gaslights of an opera: the most rococo and degraded of all forms of art – the idea of a sandy-haired German tenor tweedledeeing over the unspeakable woes of Sigurd, which even the simplest words are not typical enough to express![16]

Morris began work on Sigurd the Volsung in October 1875, completing it the following year. In the end the poem extended to over 10,000 lines.[17] He took both the Volsunga Saga and the corresponding poems of the Poetic Edda|Elder Edda as his basic sources, but felt free to alter them as he thought necessary.[18] The poem is in rhyming hexametercouplets, often with anapaestic movement and a feminine caesura. In keeping with the Germanic theme Morris used kennings, a good deal of alliteration, and wherever possible words of Anglo-Saxon origin.[19] This resulted in a difficult and archaic diction,[20] involving such lines as:

The folk of the war-wand's forgers wrought never better steel
Since first the burg of heaven uprose for man-folk's weal.[21]


So they make the yoke-beasts ready, and dight the wains for the way.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

According to Morris' daughter May it was the work he "held most highly and wished to be remembered by".[3] Contemporary reviewers mostly agreed. In America The Atlantic Monthly compared it to Tennyson's Idylls of the King, writing that

Sigurd, the Volsung is the second great English epic of our generation...and it ranks after Tennyson's "Arthuriad" in order of time only. It fully equals that monumental work in the force and pathos of the story told, while it surpasses it in unity and continuity of interest.[23]

Edmund Gosse, in The Academy, enthused: "The style he has adopted is more exalted and less idyllic, more rapturous and less luxurious – in a word, more spirited and more virile than that of any of his earlier works."[24]The Literary World agreed that it was "the manliest and the loveliest work of Mr. Morris's genius", going on to predict that "Whatever its immediate reception may be, William Morris's Sigurd is certain eventually to take its place among the few great epics of the English tongue."[25] The note of caution as to the reaction of the 19th century reading public was sounded more strongly by several other critics. Theodore Watts wrote in The Athenaeum, "That this is a noble poem there can be no doubt; but whether it will meet with ready appreciation and sympathy in this country is a question not so easily disposed of." He thought it "Mr. Morris's greatest achievement", but worried about the choice of metre, which he thought monotonous in effect.[26] In an unfavourable review for Fraser's Magazine, Henry Hewlett complained that "The narrative seldom rises above mediocrity...the memory finds little to carry away, and the ear still less to haunt it." He was particularly repulsed by the Dark Age outlook he believed Morris to have adopted:

A poem...which, like Sigurd, reflects, with hard, uncompromising realism, an obsolete code of ethics, and a barbarous condition of society, finds itself irreconcilably at discord with the key of nineteenth-century feeling. Deprived of its strongest claim to interest, a sympathetic response in the moral and religious sentiment of its readers, it can only appeal to the intellect as a work of art, or as a more or less successful attempt at antiquarian restoration. It may be admired and applauded by the lettered few; but it will not be taken to the nation's heart.[27]

By contrast, the North American Review believed it to be Morris's method "To reproduce the antique, not as the ancients felt it, but as we feel it,– to transfuse it with modern thought and emotion."[28]

After Morris's death interest in his poems began to fade, but a few enthusiasts for Sigurd the Volsung continued to speak out in its favour. Arthur Symons wrote in 1896 that Sigurd the Volsung "remains his masterpiece of sustained power", and in 1912 the young T. E. Lawrence called it "the best poem I know"[4][29] According to the philologistE. V. GordonSigurd the Volsung is "incomparably the greatest poem – perhaps the only great poem – in English which has been inspired by Norse literature", and George Bernard Shaw went so far as to call it "the greatest epic since Homer".[5][30] However the novelist Eric Linklater, while acknowledging that "Morris tells his story with endless invention, with a brilliant profusion of detail", complained that the poem's "Thames-side heroism" conveyed too facile a sense of tragedy.[31] It has never had a wide readership, and contemporary judgements on Sigurd tend to depend upon the judge's opinion of Morris's verse in general. Some find its length and archaic diction off-putting, but many modern critics agree with Morris that it is his finest poem.[6][32][33][34]


The poem was published by Ellis and White in November 1876, although the date appeared on the imprint as 1877. They issued a second edition in 1877 and a third in 1880. The book was brought out again in 1887 by Reeves and Turner, and in 1896 by Longman.[11][35] In 1898, two years after Morris's death, a revised text was published by the Kelmscott Press in an edition limited to 160 paper copies and 6 vellum copies, with wood cuts by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.[36] In 1910 Longman issued an edition in which some passages were replaced with prose summaries by Winifred Turner and Helen Scott.[37] In 1911 the same firm reprinted the original version as volume 12 of The Collected Works of William Morris, with an introduction by May Morris; in the absence of a critical edition this is the one generally cited by scholars.[38] In recent years Sigurd the Volsung has been frequently reprinted, sometimes in the Turner and Scott abridged version.[39][40][41]

Influence on later fantasy writers[edit]

Magnússon and Morris remained the only English translation of Volsunga saga until Margaret Schlauch's version in 1930. As such it influenced such writers as Andrew Lang, who adapted it in his Red Fairy Book, and J. R. R. Tolkien, who read it in his student days.[7][8] In a letter, Tolkien mentions that he wished to imitate Morris's romances,[42] and indeed among his works is a version of the Sigurd story, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun (published posthumously in 2009).[43] Stefan Arvidsson compares Morris's Sigurd and Tolkien's Legend:

In contrast to Morris’ work, written as it is in heavily archaic, difficult-to-penetrate prose, Tolkien's recently-published draft[43] was closer in both style and content to the heroic sagas of The Poetic Edda.[20]

Other authors have been inspired more or less directly by the Volsung cycle, following Morris' lead. For example, Kevin Crossley-Holland published his own translation of the myths, Axe-age, Wolf-age.[44]

Fight for Right[edit]

In 1916, during World War I, composer Edward Elgar set to music words taken from The Story of Sigurd, producing the song "Fight for Right". It was dedicated to Members of the Fight for Right Movement, a pro-war organisation dedicated to continuation of the war until victory. William Morris' words were deemed fitting to express this idea.[45]


  1. ^"Siegfried". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. 2003. 
  2. ^Ennis, Jane Susanna (1993). "A Comparison of Richard Wagner's Der Ring Des Nibelungen and William Morris's Sigurd the Volsung". University of Leeds. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  3. ^ abHenderson, Philip (1967). William Morris: His Life, Work and Friends. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 170. 
  4. ^ abAllen, M. D. (1991). The Medievalism of Lawrence of Arabia. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-271-02612-X. 
  5. ^ abREAL: The Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature, vol 5. De Gruyter, Walter, Inc. 1988. p. 161. ISBN 978-3-11-011498-0. 
  6. ^ abGentry, Francis G. (2002). The Nibelungen Tradition: An Encyclopedia. London: Routledge. p. 273. ISBN 0-8153-1785-9. 
  7. ^ abByock, Jesse L. (trans) (1990). The Saga of the Volsungs:The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-520-27299-4. 
  8. ^ abCarpenter, Humphrey (2000). J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography. Mariner Books. p. 77. ISBN 0-618-05702-1. 
  9. ^Charles Harvey; Jon Press (1996). Art, Enterprise, and Ethics: The Life and Works of William Morris. Routledge. p. 71. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  10. ^Gentry, Francis G. (2002). The Nibelungen Tradition: An Encyclopedia. London: Routledge. p. 273. ISBN 0-8153-1785-9. 
  11. ^ abcdClark, David; Phelpstead, Carl (2007). Old Norse Made New: Essays on the Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse Literature and Culture. London: Viking Society for Northern Research. pp. 45–53. ISBN 0-903521-76-8. 
  12. ^J. W. MackailThe Life of William Morris (London: Longmans, 1922) vol. 1, p. 46.
  13. ^Silver, Carole G. (1982). The Romance of William Morris. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-8214-0706-6. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  14. ^Morris, William (1870). Völsunga Saga: The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs, with Certain Songs from the Elder Edda. Magnússon, Eiríkr (trans.). London: F. S. Ellis. p. xliv–xlv. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  15. ^Thompson, Edward P. (1976). William Morris. Stanford University Press. p. 178. ISBN 0-8047-1509-2. 
  16. ^Mackail, J. W. (1901). The Life of William Morris, vol. 1. London: Longmans. p. 319. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  17. ^Harvey, Charles; Press, Jon (1991). William Morris: Design and Enterprise in Victorian England. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 232. ISBN 0-7190-2418-8. 
  18. ^Clark, David; Phelpstead, Carl (2007). Old Norse Made New: Essays on the Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse Literature and Culture. London: Viking Society for Northern Research. p. 54. ISBN 0-903521-76-8. 
  19. ^Evans, Ifor (1966). English Poetry in the Later Nineteenth Century. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 122. ISBN 0-404-18399-9. 
  20. ^ abArvidsson, Stefan (Spring 2010). "Greed and the Nature of Evil: Tolkien versus Wagner". Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. 22 (1). 
  21. ^Bk. 1, line 137.
  22. ^Bk. 3, line 109.
  23. ^Faulkner p. 249
  24. ^Faulkner p. 233
  25. ^Faulkner pp. 243–245
  26. ^Faulkner pp. 230–232
  27. ^Faulkner pp. 261–263
  28. ^Faulkner p. 247
  29. ^Symons, Arthur (1897). Studies in Two Literatures. London: Leonard Smithers. p. 157. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  30. ^Harvey, Charles; Press, Jon (1991). William Morris: Design and Enterprise in Victorian Britain. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-7190-2418-8. 
  31. ^Simpson, Jacqueline (1965). The Northmen Talk. London: Phoenix House. p. x. 
  32. ^Thompson, Paul (1993). The Work of William Morris. Oxford University Press. p. 197. ISBN 0-19-283149-6. 
  33. ^Harvey, Charles; Press, Jon (1991). William Morris: Design and Enterprise in Victorian England. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 232. ISBN 0719024196. 
  34. ^Horsley, Edith M. (1970). The McKay One-Volume International Encyclopedia. New York: McKay. p. 754. 
  35. ^Morris Online Edition.
  36. ^"Catalogue entry at Copac". Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  37. ^"Reprint edition from". Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  38. ^"Catalogue entry at Copac". Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  39. ^"WorldCat Catalogue entry". Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  40. ^"Open Library Catalogue entry". Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  41. ^"Copac Catalogue entry". Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  42. ^Carpenter, The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, letter no. 1.
  43. ^ abJ.R.R. Tolkien. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. 2009. ASIN: B004SHWTNM
  44. ^Kevin Crossley-Holland, Axe-age, Wolf-age, a Selection from the Norse Myths, Andrew Deutsch, London, 1985, ISBN 0-571-14844-1
  45. ^Michael Kennedy, Portrait of Elgar (Oxford University Press, 1968) ISBN 0-19-315414-5


External links[edit]

First page of first edition. "In this book is told of the earlier days of the Volsungs, and of Sigmund the father of Sigurd, and of his deeds..."
Type faces designed by Morris for the Kelmscott Press.

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