Saturday, 19 March 2011

Niebelungenlied. . .

IS in fact a word!

This is the title of an epic German poem from the middle ages, which I had never heard of until today, but which possesses much of the charming epic epicness that characterizes the poetry of the period. I just didn't realize the Germans were being epicly epic as well. I should have known.

(just look at this epic badassery: siegfried killing the dragon)

I found a translation online 
As with many translations of poetry into English, this is a little awkward and nursery rhyme-ish. Then again, it is translated from German, which isn't known for its beauty (zing!). 
You could read it yourself, but I think I'd rather provide a Stevie's notes version:

Chapter 1: 

Kriemhild, our heroine, doesn't want to get married. Her three thuggish brothers, who are all very manly and have unhealthy obsessions with protecting their sister, vow to do just that, and keep her virginity safe from anyone not related to them.

Chapter 2: 

Enter Siegfried, a young knight who is described as having the looks of Brad Pitt, the charm of Cassanova, and the penis of Adonis (ok, I made that up). Kid likes to party, enter long description of jousting/feasting/drinking, littered with poorly veiled sexual references to "swords". Oh, and did I mention Siegfried is a badass?

Chapter 3: 

Siegfried has a hard-on for Kriemhild of Worms (which is just about the sexiest name ever), and decides to take a bunch of his good looking knight friends (because everyone in the middle ages was fek hawt) to her kingdom. There, they get the kings panties in a knot by not telling him anything about who they are and why they are there. Luckily, the king has a know-it-all brother, who guesses Siegfried's identity. Siegfried in a moment of senseless faux pas brags about his martial prowess, and this "chafes" the king's "thanes" . It looks like a brawl is going to break out, but everyone calms down, and Siegfried gets to stay for a year, while Kriemhild the Worms princess falls for him. As well she should, for "none there that was his equal-so mickle was his might-- if they the stone were putting, or hurling shaft with rival Knight" (which just sounds dirty).

She starts to stalk him. Its creepy, but his heart aches for her affection. 

Chapter 4: 

The Saxons are angry at King Gunther of Worms for having an overly appealing name! Twelve weeks (which is dam quick in medieval time) until the helm clefting begins! Siegfried, with his epic badass ways, offers to save the day, saying in his tacit manner "stay here with your whores, old man, I've got this one", or something to that effect. King Gunther illogically sends the Saxon kings a return threat and some gifts of gold, and, angered by this mixed messages, they gather up forty thousand men for WAR. 

Scouting out the enemy forces, and finding his Knights greatly outnumbered, the brave hero Siegfried becomes greatly excited and jumps up and down waving his arms about, getting the attention of one of the Saxon kings. They joust, they fight, sparks fly, the world turns, and in a final round of rock paper scissors, Siegfried defeats the saxon king. Woe to Saxony! This put the defeated saxon king into a "gloomy mood", causing him to beg Siegfried for his life (that's what I do when I'm feeling gloomy too). Siegfried takes the king captive, after killing thirty of his men in a fit of bloodthirsty badassery. Still not satisfied, Siegfried leads Gunther's whole army against the saxons. Enter battle montage.  

The win, of course, taking both of the Saxon kings prisoner, and then doing the logical thing, which is throwing a party for them. Everyone gets happily drunk, gold and silver are tossed about, and Siegfried doesn't even kill anyone.  

Chapter 5: 

The party is so good, they decide to pick it up a month later (you know, after the wounded had healed from the war they just fought and won in a day). Apparently things got a little violent, when the thirty two princes present "vied with one another to deck themselves the ladies all". All wife beating aside, something very important did happen at the party pt. deux: Siegfried FINALLY got his chance to meet Kriemhild up close and personal. *cue angelic chorus as Kriemhild walks on stage*   

Obviously, its love at first sight.  Obviously, there is foreshadowing of woe to come from this loving meeting. 

"’Twas her surpassing beauty / that made the knight to stay.
With many a merry pastime / they whiled the time away;
But love for her oppressed him, / oft-times grievously.
Whereby anon the hero / a mournful death was doomed to die."

(oh, and the captive Saxon kings were finally let free)

Chapter 6: 

King Gunther gets all hot and bothered about a broad named Brunhild (who wouldn't). The thing about Brunhild though, is that she's in a constant state of uber-PMS and tends to kill anything with a penis that comes near her (I'm sure many of us can relate). King Gunther, knowing Siegfried is the biggest badass he has, promises to let Siegfried marry his sister Kriemhild, if Siegfried will win Brunhild for him. (Gotta love pre-feminist times. Go chattel!) 
In a surprising plot twist, Siegfried's plan is not to just kill everything in Brunhild's kingdom and steal her away, but to have Kriemhild make him and his companions some very fancy clothes to try to impress the lady. Huh. 

So, off Siegfried goes with his companions in a wee little boat (well provisioned with wine) in a contest for two wives, wearing a bunch of fancy new clothes (described in detail for about eight verses, for anyone who is interested) and the magic invisible cloak he won off of a dwarf prior to these annals. (I'm not joking)

Chapter 7:

"their ship did forward glide So near unto the castle / that soon the king espied Aloft within the casements / many a maiden fair to see. That all to him were strangers / thought King Gunther mournfully."

(horny bastard)
Luckily for Gunther, it seems that these maids have not (unsurprisingly) seen a man in a very, VERY long time: 

"Unto the narrow casements / came the crowding on, When they spied the strangers: / that they might also see"

So, we have a horny king, and a castleful of sex deprived maidens. Sounds like the setup to a porno to me.

Things get even kinkier as Brunhild prepares herself for the customary feats of strength, her shield and spear and shot-put so large and heavy that it takes three chambermen to carry what she can carry on her own. 

Grunther, seeing her absurd strength, shits himself. 

Luckily, he has an invisibly cloaked Siegfried to help him.

The Spear Throwing Contest: Siegfried helps brace the shield against the spear Brunhild hurls with awe-inspiring strength at Gunther. Siegfried throws the spear back, but not wanting to hurt the maid, hurls it so she is only hit with the butt end (is this possible?)

The Shot Put: Equally did Siegfried aid Gunthor in pwning the robust maiden at the hurling of the rocks. 

Gunthor and Brunhild get married, and live happily ever after (that is except for when Brunhild shatters three of Gunther's vertibrae in bed on the wedding night). 

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