The Northern Way

Harbarðslióð

The Lay of Harbard.

Page 1

Thor journeying from the eastern parts came to a strait or sound, on the other side of which was a ferryman with his boat. Thor cried out: -

1. Who is the knave of knaves,
that by the sound stands yonder?

Harbard
2. Who is the churl of churls,
that cries across the water?

Thor
3. Ferry me across the sound,
to-morrow I´ll regale thee.
I have a basket on my back:
there is no better food:
at my ease I ate,
before I quitted home,
herrings and oats,
with which I yet feel sated.

Harbard
4. Thou art in haste
to praise thy meal:
thou surely hast no foreknowledge;
for sad will be thy home:
thy mother, I believe, is dead.

Thor
5. Thou sayest now
what seems to every one
most unwelcome to know -
that my mother is dead.

Harbard
6. Thou dost not look like one
who owns three country dwellings,
bare-legged thou standest,
and like a beggar clothed;
thou hast not even breeches.

Thor
7. Steer hitherward thy boat;
I will direct thee where to land.
But who owns this skiff,
which by the strand thou holdest?

Harbard
8. Hildolf he is named
who bade me hold it,
a man in council wise,
who dwells in Radsö sound.
Robbers he bade me not to ferry,
or horse-stealers,
but good men only,
and those whom I well knew.
Tell me then they name,
if thou wilt cross the sound.

Thor
9. I my name will tell,
(although I am an outlaw)
and all my kin:
I am Odin’s son,
Meili’s brother,
and Magni’s sire,
the gods’ mighty leader:
With Thor thou here mayst speak.
I will now ask
how thou art called.

10. I am Harbard called;
seldom I my name conceal.

Thor
11. Why shouldst thou thy name conceal,
unless thou crime has perpetrated?

Harbard
12. Yet, thou I may crime have perpetrated,
I will nathless gaurd my life
against such as thou art;
unless I death-doomed am.

Thor
13. It seems to me a foul annoyance
to wade across the strait to thee,
and wet my garments:
but I will pay thee, mannikin!
for thy sharp speeches,
if o’er the sound I come.

Harbard
14. Here will I stand,
and here await thee.
Thou wilt have found no stouter one
since Hrugnir’s death.

Thor
15. Thou now remindest me
how I with Hrugnir fought,
that stout-hearted Jötun,
whose head was all of stone;
yet I made him fall,
and sink before me.
What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?

Harbard
16. I was with Fjölvari
five winters through,
in the isle
which Algrön hight.
There we could fight,
and slaughter make,
many perils prove,
indulge in love.

Thor
17. How did your women
prove towards you?

Harbard
18. Sprightly women we had,
had they but been meek;
shrewd ones we had,
had they but been kind.
Of sand a rope
they twisted,
and from the deep valley
dug the earth:
to them all I alone was
superior in cunning.
I rested with the sisters seven,
and their love and pleasures shared.
What meanwhile didst thou, Thor?

Thor
19. I slew Thiassi,
that stout-hearted Jötun:
up I cast the eyes
of Allvaldi’s son
into the heaven serene:
they are signs the greatest
of my deeds.
What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?

Harbard
20. Great seductive arts I used
against the riders of the night,
when from their husbands I enticed them.
A mighty Jötun I believed
Hlebard to be:
a magic wand he gave me,
but from his wits I charmed him.

Thor
21. With evil mind then
thou didst good gifts requite.

Harbard
22. One tree gets that
which is from another scraped:
each one in such case is for self.
What meanwhile didst thou, Thor?

Thor
23. In the east I was,
and slew the Jötun brides,
crafty in evil,
as they to the mountain went.
Great would have been the Jötun race,
had they all lived;
and not a man
left in Midgard.
What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?

Harbard
24. I was in Valland,
and followed warfare;
princes I excited,
but never reconciled.
Odin has all the jarls
that in conflict fall;
but Thor the race of thralls.
Thor
25. Unequally thou wouldst divide
the folk among the Æsir,
if thou but hadst the power.

Harbard
26. Thor has strength overmuch,
but courage none;
from cowardice and fear,
thou wast crammed into a glove,
and hardly thoughtest thou was Thor.
Thou durst not then,
through thy terror,
either sneeze or cough,
lest Fjalar it might hear.

Thor
27. Harbard, thou wretch!
I would strike thee dead,
could I but stretch my arm across the sound.

Harbard
28. Why wouldst thou
stretch they arm across the sound,
when there is altogether no offence?
But what didst thou, Thor?

Thor
29. In the east I was,
and a river I defended,
when the sons of Svarang
me assailed,
and with stones pelted me,
though in their success they little joyed:
they were the first
to sue for peace.
What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?

Harbard
30. I was in the east,
and with a certain lass held converse;
with that fair I dallied,
and long meetings had.
I that gold-bright one delighted;
the game amused her.

 

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