[In 1860 two leaves of Anglo-Saxon manuscript were discovered at Copenhagen. These two fragments are all that survive in English of what was apparently a poem of considerable length. The story was well known on the Continent and is told in a spirited Latin poem by Ekkehard of St Gall (d. 973). Its main outlines are as follows: Hildegund, a Burgundian princess, Walter of Aquitaine, and Hagen, a warrior of the Franks, are hostages with Attila, king of the Huns. They remain together at the court of Attila until Hagen escapes to join Gunther, the new king of the Franks. Walter and Hildegund, who are lovers, also escape, and flee to the west, taking with them great store of treasure. Gunther, hearing of their flight, is eager to rob them, and persuades the unwilling Hagen to join him in the cowardly enterprise. With eleven other warriors, they come upon Walter and Hildegund in a narrow pass. Walter's offers of rings are refused, and the onset begins. The Franks come forward one by one up the path and all except Hagen and Gunther are slain. So the day's fighting ends. The next morning Gunther and Hagen attack Walter, and in the struggle Gunther loses a leg, Hagen an eye, and Walter his right hand. The fight ends.
The first fragment of the Old English Waldhere is part of a speech by Hildegund encouraging Walter.
The second fragment opens with the end of a speech, apparently by Gunther, and then gives Walter's reply.]
. . . she encouraged him eagerly: 'Surely the work of Weland will fail not any of men, of those who can hold stout Mimming.1 Often in the battle one warrior after another has fallen bloodstained and stricken with the sword. Best warrior of Attila, let not thy might now perish to-day, thy valour fail. Now the day has come, when thou, son of Æfhere, must do one of two things -- lose thy life or achieve lasting glory among men. Never shall I blame thee in words, my friend, that I saw thee at the sword-play flee from any man's onset as a craven, or fly to the wall to save thy life, though many foes cut thy corslet with swords. But thou soughtest ever to press the fight further. Wherefore I feared for thy fate, that thou shouldest seek the fight too keenly, battle with another man on the field. Win fame by valiant deeds, and may God guard thee the while.____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Anglo-Saxon Poetry. Contributors: R. K. Gordon - Translator, R. K. Gordon - Compiler. Publisher: J. M. Dent & Sons. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1954. Page number: 65.