Hárbarðsljóð – Poetic Edda

Hárbarðsljóð Hárbard’s Song

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Thor was on his way back from a journey in the East, and came to a sound; on the other side of the sound was a ferryman with a boat. Thor called out:

[1] “Who is the fellow yonder, | on the farther shore of the sound?”

The ferryman spake:

[2] “What kind of a peasant is yon, | that calls o’er the bay?”

Thor spake:

[3] “Ferry me over the sound; | I will feed thee therefor in the morning;
A basket I have on my back, | and food therein, none better;
At leisure I ate, | ere the house I left,
Of herrings and porridge, | so plenty I had.”

The ferryman spake:

[4] “Of thy morning feats art thou proud, | but the future thou knowest not wholly;
Doleful thine home-coming is: | thy mother, me thinks, is dead.”

Thor spake:

[5] “Now hast thou said | what to each must seem
The mightiest grief, | that my mother is dead.”

The ferryman spake:

[6] “Three good dwellings, | methinks, thou hast not;
Barefoot thou standest, | and wearest a beggar’s dress;
Not even hose dost thou have.”

Thor spake:

[7] “Steer thou hither the boat; | the landing here shall I show thee;
But whose the craft | that thou keepest on the shore?”

The ferryman spake:

[8] “Hildolf is he | who bade me have it,
A hero wise; | his home is at Rathsey’s sound.
He bade me no robbers to steer, | nor stealers of steeds,
But worthy men, | and those whom well do I know.
Say now thy name, | if over the sound thou wilt fare.”

Thor spake:

[9] “My name indeed shall I tell, | though in danger I am,
And all my race; | I am Othin’s son,
Meili’s brother, | and Magni’s father,
The strong one of the gods; | with Thor now speech canst thou get.
And now would I know | what name thou hast.”

The ferryman spake:

[10] “Harbarth am I, | and seldom I hide my name.”

Thor spake:

[11] “Why shouldst thou hide thy name, | if quarrel thou hast not?”

Harbarth spake:

[12] “And though I had a quarrel, | from such as thou art
Yet none the less | my life would I guard,
Unless I be doomed to die.”

Thor spake:

[13] “Great trouble, methinks, | would it be to come to thee,
To wade the waters across, | and wet my middle;
Weakling, well shall I pay | thy mocking words,
if across the sound I come.”

Harbarth spake:

[14] “Here shall I stand | and await thee here;
Thou hast found since Hrungnir died | no fiercer man.”

Thor spake:

[15] “Fain art thou to tell | how with Hrungnir I fought,
The haughty giant, | whose head of stone was made;
And yet I felled him, | and stretched him before me.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?”

Harbarth spake:

[16] “Five full winters | with Fjolvar was I,
And dwelt in the isle | that is Algrön called;
There could we fight, | and fell the slain,
Much could we seek, | and maids could master.”

Thor spake:

[17] “How won ye success with your women?”

Harbarth spake:

[18] “Lively women we had, | if they wise for us were;
Wise were the women we had, | if they kind for us were;
For ropes of sand | they would seek to wind,
And the bottom to dig | from the deepest dale.
Wiser than all | in counsel I was,
And there I slept | by the sisters seven,
And joy full great | did I get from each.
What, Thor, didst thou the while?”

Thor spake:

[19] “Thjazi I felled, | the giant fierce,
And I hurled the eyes | of Alvaldi’s son
To the heavens hot above;
Of my deeds the mightiest | marks are these,
That all men since can see.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?”

Harbarth spoke:

[20] “Much love-craft I wrought | with them who ride by night,
When I stole them by stealth from their husbands;
A giant hard | was Hlebarth, methinks:
His wand he gave me as gift,
And I stole his wits away.”

Thor spake:

[21] “Thou didst repay good gifts with evil mind.”

Harbarth spake:

[22] “The oak must have | what it shaves from another;
In such things each for himself.
What, Thor, didst thou the while?”

Thor spake:

[23] “Eastward I fared, | of the giants I felled
Their ill-working women | who went to the mountain;
And large were the giants’ throng | if all were alive;
No men would there be | in Mithgarth more.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?”

Harbarth spake:

[24] “In Valland I was, | and wars I raised,
Princes I angered, | and peace brought never;
The noble who fall | in the fight hath Othin,
And Thor hath the race of the thralls.”

Thor spake:

[25] “Unequal gifts | of men wouldst thou give to the gods,
If might too much thou shouldst have.”

Harbarth spake:

[26] “Thor has might enough, | but never a heart;
For cowardly fear | in a glove wast thou fain to crawl,
And there forgot thou wast Thor;
Afraid there thou wast, | thy fear was such,
To fart or sneeze | lest Fjalar should hear.”

Thor spake:

[27] “Thou womanish Harbarth, | to hell would I smite thee straight,
Could mine arm reach over the sound.”

Harbarth spake:

[28] “Wherefore reach over the sound, | since strife we have none?
What, Thor, didst thou do then?”

Thor spake:

[29] “Eastward I was, | and the river I guarded well,
Where the sons of Svarang | sought me there;
Stones did they hurl; | small joy did they have of winning;
Before me there | to ask for peace did they fare.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?”

Harbarth spake:

[30] “Eastward I was, | and spake with a certain one,
I played with the linen-white maid, | and met her by stealth;
I gladdened the gold-decked one, | and she granted me joy.”

Thor spake:

[31] “Full fair was thy woman-finding.”

Harbarth spake:

[32] “Thy help did I need then, Thor, | to hold the white maid fast.”

Thor spake:

[33] “Gladly, had I been there, | my help to thee had been given.”

Harbarth spake:

[34] “I might have trusted thee then, | didst thou not betray thy troth.”

Thor spake:

[35] “No heel-biter am I, in truth, | like an old leather shoe in spring.”

Harbarth spoke:

[36] “What, Thor, didst thou the while?”

Thor spake:

[37] “In Hlesey the brides | of the Berserkers slew I;
Most evil they were, | and all they betrayed.”

Harbarth spake:

[38] “Shame didst thou win, | that women thou slewest, Thor.”

Thor spake:

[39] “She-wolves they were like, | and women but little;
My ship, which well | I had trimmed, did they shake;
With clubs of iron they threatened, | and Thjalfi they drove off.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?”

Harbarth spake:

[40] “In the host I was | that hither fared,
The banners to raise, | and the spear to redden.”

Thor spake:

[41] “Wilt thou now say | that hatred thou soughtest to bring us?”

Harbarth spake:

[42] “A ring for thy hand | shall make all right for thee,
As the judge decides | who sets us two at peace.”

Thor spake:

[43] “Where foundest thou | so foul and scornful a speech?
More foul a speech | I never before have heard.”

Harbarth spake:

[44] “I learned it from men, | the men so old,
Who dwell in the hills of home.”

Thor spake:

[45] “A name full good | to heaps of stones thou givest
When thou callest them hills of home.”

Harbarth spake:

[46] “Of such things speak I so.”

Thor spake:

[47] “Ill for thee comes | thy keenness of tongue,
If the water I choose to wade;
Louder, I ween, | than a wolf thou cryest,
If a blow of my hammer thou hast.”

Harbarth spake:

[48] “Sif has a lover at home, | and him shouldst thou meet;
More fitting it were | on him to put forth thy strength.”

Thor spake:

[49] “Thy tongue still makes thee say | what seems most ill to me,
Thou witless man! Thou liest, I ween.”

Harbarth spake:

[50] “Truth do I speak, | but slow on thy way thou art;
Far hadst thou gone | if now in the boat thou hadst fared.”

Thor spake:

[51] “Thou womanish Harbarth! | here hast thou held me too long.”

Harbarth spake:

[52] “I thought not ever | that Asathor would be hindered
By a ferryman thus from faring.”

Thor spake:

[53] “One counsel I bring thee now: | row hither thy boat;
No more of scoffing; | set Magni’s father across.”

Harbarth spake:

[54] “From the sound go hence; | the passage thou hast not.”

Thor spake:

[55] “The way now show me, since thou takest me not o’er the water.”

Harbarth spake:

[56] “To refuse it is little, to fare it is long;
A while to the stock, and a while to the stone;
Then the road to thy left, till Verland thou reachest;
And there shall Fjorgyn her son Thor find,
And the road of her children she shows him to Othin’s realm.”

Thor spake:

[57] “May I come so far in a day?”

Harbarth spake:

[58] “With toil and trouble perchance,
While the sun still shines, or so I think.”

Thor spake:

[59] “Short now shall be our speech, for thou speakest in mockery only;
The passage thou gavest me not I shall pay thee if ever we meet.”

Harbarth spake:

[60] “Get hence where every evil thing shall have thee!”

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“Thor threatens Greybeard” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.