Hárbarðsljóð – The Poem of Harbarth

Harbarth spoke:
36. “What, Thor, didst thou the while?”

Thor spake:
37. “In Hlesey the brides | of the Berserkers slew I;
Most evil they were, | and all they betrayed.”

Harbarth spake:
38, “Shame didst thou win, | that women thou slewest, Thor.”

Thor spake:
39. “She-wolves they were like, | and women but little;
My ship, which well | I had trimmed, did they shake;
With clubs of iron they threatened, | and Thjalfi they drove off.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?”

Harbarth spake:
40. “In the host I was | that hither fared,
The banners to raise, | and the spear to redden.”

37. Hlesey: “the Island of the Sea-God” (Hler = Ægir), identified with the Danish island Läsö, in the Kattegat. It appears again, much out of place, in Oddrunargratr, 28. Berserkers: originally men who could turn themselves into bears, hence the name, “bear-shirts”; cf. the werewolf or loupgarou. Later the name was applied to men who at times became seized with a madness for bloodshed; cf. Hyndluljoth, 23 and note. The women here mentioned are obviously of the earlier type.

39. Thjalfi: Thor’s servant; cf. note on stanza 14.

40. To what expedition this refers is unknown, but apparently Othin speaks of himself as allied to the foes of the gods.

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