Hárbarðsljóð – The Poem of Harbarth

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.”

16. Fjolvar: not elsewhere mentioned in the poems; perhaps the father of the “seven sisters” referred to in stanza 18. Algrön: “The All-Green”: not mentioned elsewhere in the Edda.

17. Thor is always eager for stories of this sort; cf. stanzas 31 and 33.

19. Lines 1-2 are obscure, but apparently Harbarth means that the women were wise to give in to him cheerfully, resistance to his power being as impossible as (lines 3-4) making ropes of sand or digging the bottoms out of the valleys. Nothing further is known of these unlucky “seven sisters.”

Thjazi: this giant, by a trick, secured possession of the goddess Ithun and her apples (cf. Skirnismol, 19, note), and carried her off into Jotunheim. Loki, through whose fault she had been betrayed, was sent after her by the gods. He went in Freyja’s “hawk’s-dress” (cf. Thrymskvitha, 3), turned Ithun into a nut, and flew back with her. Thjazi, in the shape of an eagle, gave chase. But the gods kindled a fire which burnt the eagle’s wings, and then they killed him. Snorri’s prose version does not attribute this feat particularly to Thor. Thjazi’s daughter was Skathi, whom the gods permitted to marry Njorth as a recompense for her father’s death. Alvaldi: of him we know only that he was the father of Thjazi, Ithi and Gang, who divided his wealth, each taking a mouthful of gold. The name is variously spelled. It is not known which stars were called “Thjazi’s Eyes.” In the middle of line 4 begins the fragmentary version of the poem found in the Arnamagnæan Codex.

20. Riders by night: witches, who were supposed to ride on wolves in the dark. Nothing further is known of this adventure.

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