The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise. — Tacitus

Gudrun - George Upton

Gudrun is a major character in Norse mythology and is loosely based on Kriemhild, wife of Siegfried. Her story, however, ends cheerfully as her faithfulness is ultimately rewarded by a reunion with her knightly lover. Her story is a romance of the old heroic period, written by a German poet of the thirteenth century and after the Nibelungen Lied, is the foremost of the German epic poems.

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Translator's Preface

The charming story of Gudrun is a romance of the old heroic period, written by some unknown poet of Austria or Bavaria in the thirteenth century. Next to the Nibelungen Lied, it is the most important of the German epic poems. Indeed some of the personae in Gudrun are found in the Lied, though varying in personal characteristics, probably because they were taken from different legends.

The scenes of Gudrun are principally laid along the shores of the North Sea and in Normandy. The men and women in this poem resemble generally those in the Lied. The same elemental passions are depicted. The men are brave, vigorous heroes, rejoicing in battle and feats of prowess; the women are beautiful, constant, and courageous. There are many fine delineations of character in the original, as well as vigorous sketches of northern scenery.

The figure of Gudrun stands out in bold relief among the maidens. There are few more beautiful characters, indeed, in the poems of the old heroic period, and it adds to the charm of the epic that she does not suffer the tragic fate of Kriemhild in the Nibelungen Lied, but that her constancy and devotion are rewarded by her ultimate reunion with her knightly lover, King Herwig. There at many serious passages, but from the very first then is the conviction that Gudrun and Herwig, in spite of all the dangers and vicissitudes through which they pass, will in the end be reunited. And so it happens. Gudrun's name is always spoken by he people with reverence. "Her courage and constancy were extolled by them, and in after days her fame was as radiant as the stars in the heavens."

G. P. U.

CHICAGO, July 1, 1906.

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