Hárbarðsljóð – The Poem of Harbarth

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.”

* Bellows has changed the way he did his footnotes, the number on the footnote reflects the stanza number.

1. Prose. Harbarth (“Gray-Beard”): Othin. On the nature of the prose notes found in the manuscripts, cf. Grimnismol, introduction. Thor: the journeys of the thunder-god were almost as numerous as those of Othin; cf. Thrymskvitha and Hymiskvitha. Like the Robin Hood of the British ballads, Thor was often temporarily worsted, but always managed to come out ahead in the end. His “Journey in the East” is presumably the famous episode, related in full by Snorri, in the course of which he en countered the giant Skrymir, and in the house of Utgartha-Loki lifted the cat which turned out to be Mithgarthsorm. The Hymiskvitha relates a further incident of this journey.

2. The superscriptions to the speeches are badly confused in the manuscripts, but editors have agreed fairly well as to where they belong.

3. From the fact that in Regius line 3 begins with a capital letter, it is possible that lines 3-4 constitute the ferryman’s reply, with something lost before stanza 4.

4. Thy mother: Jorth (Earth).

5. Some editors assume a lacuna after this stanza.