Wednesday, May 20, 2009

J.R.R. Tolkien and the Legend of Siegfried

Now that we're in full swing of rehearsals for The Ring of the Nibelung we thought we should recommend some nice, light summer reading to get you all ready!

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his own version of the Siegfried myth. The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun is Tolkien's retelling of the Norse epic that he worked on throughout his life. His son, Christopher, edited and compiled these poems and includes a fair amount of commentary regarding the text as well. While the original sagas, the Volsung Saga, as well as the Edda's, are great stories, they aren't always the most accessible. Tolkien's retelling captures the grandeur of the originals, but also brings them to life with the passion of a true master of languages. The action jumps off the page in these tales in a vivid and life-like manner. Here is Siegfried's encounter with the dragon Fafnir:

In deep hollow
on the dark hillside
long there lurked he;
the land trembled.
Forth came Fafnir,
fire his breathing;
down the mountain rushed
mists of poison.

The fire and fume
over fearless head
rushed by roaring;
rocks were groaning.
The black belly,
bent and coiling,
over hidden hollow
hung and gilded.

Gram was brandished;
grimly ringing
to the hoary stone
heart it sundered.
In Fafnir's throe
were threshed as flails
his writhing limbs
and reeking head.

Black flowed the blood,
belching drenched him;
in the hollow hiding
hard grew Sigurd.
Swift now sprang he
sword withdrawing:
there each saw other
with eyes of hate.

Every Ring goer will find this book an indispensable part of their collection as another great artist tells the tale of the old Norse myths. It may not be exactly the story you know, but it sure makes for great reading!

Call Amusements, the Seattle Opera gift shop, at 206.774.4990 and get your copy today!