Hárbarðsljóð – The Poem of Harbarth

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?”

12. This stanza is hopelessly confused as to form, but none of the editorial rearrangements have materially altered the meaning. Doomed to die: the word “feigr” occurs constantly in the Old Norse poems and sagas; the idea of an inevitable but unknown fate seems to have been practically universal through out the pre-Christian period. On the concealment of names from enemies, cf. Fafnismol, prose after stanza 1.

13. This stanza, like the preceding one, is peculiarly chaotic in the manuscript, and has been variously emended.

14. Hrungnir: this giant rashly wagered his head that his horse, Gullfaxi, was swifter than Othin’s Sleipnir. In the race, which Hrungnir lost, he managed to dash uninvited into the home of the gods, where he became very drunk. Thor ejected him, and accepted his challenge to a duel. Hrungnir, terrified, had a helper made for him in the form of a dummy giant nine miles high and three miles broad. Hrungnir himself had a three-horned heart of stone and a head of stone; his shield was of stone and his weapon was a grindstone. But Thjalfi, Thor’s servant, told him the god would attack him out of the ground, wherefore Hrungnir laid down his shield and stood on it. The hammer Mjollnir shattered both the grindstone and Hrungnir’s head, but part of the grindstone knocked Thor down, and the giant fell with his foot on Thor’s neck (cf. note on stanza 9). Meanwhile Thjalfi dispatched the dummy giant without trouble.

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