Hárbarðsljóð – The Poem of Harbarth

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.”

6. Three good dwellings: this has been generally assumed to mean three separate establishments, but it may refer simply to the three parts of a single farm, the dwelling proper, the cattle barn and the storehouse; i.e., Thor is not even a respectable peasant.

9. Hildolf (“slaughtering wolf”): not elsewhere mentioned in the Edda. Rathsey (“Isle of Counsel”): likewise not mentioned elsewhere.

In danger: Thor is “sekr,” i.e., without the protection of any law, so long as he is in the territory of his enemies, the {footnote p. 125} giants. Meili: a practically unknown son of Othin, mentioned here only in the Edda. Magni: son of Thor and the giantess Jarnsaxa; after Thor’s fight with Hrungnir (cf. stanza 14, note) Magni, though but three days old, was the only one of the gods strong enough to lift the dead giant’s foot from Thor’s neck. After rescuing his father, Magni said to him: “There would have been little trouble, father, had I but come sooner; I think I should have sent this giant to hell with my fist if I had met him first.” Magni and his brother, Mothi, inherit Thor’s hammer.

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