The Northern Way

Harbarthsjloth

Thor was on his way back from a journey in the East, and came to a sound; on the other side of the sound was a ferryman with a boat. Thor called out:

1. "Who is the fellow yonder, on the farther shore of the sound?"

The ferryman spake:
2. "What kind of peasant is yon, that calls o'er the bay?"

Thor spake:
3. "Ferry me over the sound; I will fee thee therefor in the morning;
A basket I have on my back, and food therein, none better;
At leisure I ate, ere the house I left,
Of herrings and porridge, so plenty I had."

The ferryman spake:
4. "Of thy morning feats are thou proud, but the future thou knowest not wholly;
Doleful thine home-coming is: thy mother, methinks, is dead."

Thor spake:
5. "Now hast thou said what to each must seem
The mightiest grief, that my mother is dead."

The ferryman spake:
6. "Three good dwellings, methinks, thou hast not;
Barefoot thou standest, and wearest a beggar's dress;
Not even hose dost thou have."

Thor spake:
7. "Steer thou hither the boat; the landing here shall I show thee;
But whose craft that thou keepest on the shore?"

The ferryman spake:
8. "Hildolf is he who bade me have it,
A hero wise; his home is at Rathsey's sound.
He bade me no robbers to steer, nor stealers of steeds,
But worthy men, and those whom well do I know.
Say now thy name, if over the sound thou wilt fare."

Thor spake:
9. "My name indeed shall I tell, thou in danger I am,
And all my race; I am Othin's son,
Meili's brother, and Magni's father,
The strong one of the gods; with Thor now speech canst thou get.
And now would I know what name thou hast."

The ferryman spake:
10. "Harbarth am I, and seldom I hide my name."

Thor spake:
11. "Why shouldst thou hide thy name, if quarrel thou hast not?"

Harbarth spake:
12. "And thou 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?"

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 can see.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?"

Harbarth spake:
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."

Thor spake:
21. "Thou didst repay good gifts with evil mind."

Harbarth spake:
22. "The oak must have what it shaves from another;
In such things each for himself.
"What, Thor, didst thou the while?"

Thor spake:
23. "Eastward I fared, of the giants I felled
Their ill-working women who went to the mountain;
And large were the giants' throng if all were alive;
No men would there be in Mithgarth more.
What, Harbarth, didst thou the while?"

Harbarth spake:
24. "In Valland I was, and wars I raised,
Princes I angered, and peace brought never;
The noble who fall in the fight hath Othin,
And Thor hath the race of the thralls."

Thor spake:
25. "Unequal gifts of men wouldst thou give to the gods,
If might too much thou shouldst have."

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."

Thor spake:
31. "Full fair was thy women-finding."

Harbarth spake:
32. "Thy help did I need then, Thor, to hold the white maid fast."

Thor spake:
33. "Gladly, had I been there, my help to thee had been given."

Harbarth spake:
34. "I might have trusted thee then, didst thou not betray thy troth."

Thor spake:
35. "No heel-biter am I, in truth, like an old leather shoe in spring."

Harbarth spake:
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 spears to redden."

Thor spake:
41. "Wilt thou now say that hatred thou soughtest to bring us?"

Harbarth spake:
42. "A ring for thy hand shall make all right for thee,
As the judge decides who sets us two at peace."

Thor spake:
43. "Where foundest thou so foul and scornful a speech?
More foul a speech I never before have heard."

Harbarth spake:
44. "I learned it from men, the men so old,
Who dwell in the hills of home."

Thor spake:
45. "A name full good to heaps of stones thou givest
When thou callest them hills of home."

Harbarth spake:
46. "Of such things speak I so."

Thor spake:
47. "Ill for thee comes thy keeness of tongue,
If the water I choose to wade;
Louder, I ween, than a wolf thou cryest,
If a blow of my hammer thou hast."

Harbarth spake:
48. "Sif has a lover at home, and him shouldst thou meet;
More fitting it were on him to put forth thy strength."

Thor spake:
49. "Thy tongue still makes thee say what seems most ill to me,
Thou witless man! Thou liest, I ween."

Harbarth spake:
50. "Truth do I speak, but slow on thy way thou art;
Far hadst thou gone if now in the boat thou hast fared."

Thor spake:
51. "Thou womanish Harbarth! here hast thou held me too long."

Harbarth spake:
52. "I though not ever that Asathor would be hindered
By a ferryman thus from faring."

Thor spake:
53. "One counsel I bring thee now: row hither thy boat;
No more of scoffing; set Magni's father across."

Harbarth spake:
54. "From the sound go hence; the passage thou hast not."

Thor spake:
55. "The way now show me, since thou takest me not o'er the water."

Harbarth spake:
56. "To refuse it is little, to fare it is long;
A while to the stock, and a while to the stone;
Then the road to thy left, til Verland thou reachest;
And there shall Fjorgyn her son Thor find,
And the road of her children she shows him to Othin's realm."

Thor spake:
57. "May I come so far in a day?"

Harbarth spake:
58. "With toil and trouble perchance,
While the sun still shines, or so I think."

Thor spake:
59. "Short now shall be our speech, for thou speakest in mockery only;
The passage thou gavest me not I shall pay thee if ever we meet."

Harbarth spake:
60. "Get hence where every evil thing shall have thee!"

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