Hárbarðsljóð – The Poem of Harbarth

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.”

26. The reference here is to one of the most familiar episodes in Thor’s eastward journey. He and his companions came to a house in the forest, and went in to spend the night. Being disturbed by an earthquake and a terrific noise, they all crawled into a smaller room opening from the main one. In the morning, however, they discovered that the earthquake had been occasioned by the giant Skrymir’s lying down near them, and the noise by his snoring. The house in which they had taken refuge was his glove, the smaller room being the thumb. Skrymir was in fact Utgartha-Loki himself. That he is in this stanza called Fjalar (the name occurs also in Hovamol, 14) is probably due to a confusion of the names by which Utgartha-Loki went. Loki taunts Thor with this adventure in Lokasenna, 60 and 62, line 3 of this stanza being perhaps interpolated from Lokasenna, 60, 4.

29. The river: probably Ifing, which flows between the land of the gods and that of the giants; cf. Vafthruthnismol, 16. Sons of Svarang: presumably the giants; Svarang is not else where mentioned in the poems, nor is there any other account of Thor’s defense of the passage.

30. Othin’s adventures of this sort were too numerous to make it possible to identify this particular person. By stealth: so the Arnamagnæan Codex; Regius, followed by several editors, has “long meeting with her.”

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