The Lay Of Harbard

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Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English BY BENJAMIN THORPE,


THE LAY OF HARBARD.


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 coun try 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 fie is named who bade me hold it, a man in council wise, who dwells in Radso sound. Robbers he bade me not to ferry, or horse-stealers, but good men only, and those whom I well knew. Tell me then thy 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 mayest speak. I will now ask how thou art called.

Harbard.

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

Thor.

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

Harbard.

12. Yet, though I may crime have perpetrated, I will nathless guard 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 Hrungnir's death.

Thor.

15. Thou now remindest me how I with Hrungnir fought, that stout-hearted Jotun, 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 Fiolvari five winters through, in the isle which Algron 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?

[Pg 66]Thor.

19. I slew Thiassi, that stout-hearted Jotun: 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,[36] when from their husbands I enticed them. A mighty Jotun 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 requitè 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 Jotun brides, crafty in evil, as they to the mountain went. Great would have been the Jotun 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.

36. Thor has strength over-much, but courage none; from cowardice and fear, thou wast crammed into a glove, and hardly thoughtest thou wast Thor. Thou durst not then, through thy terror, either sneeze or cough, lest Fialar 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 thy arm across the sound, when there is altogether no offence? But what didst thou, Thor?

Thor.

39. 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.

Thor.

31. Then you had kind damsels there?

Harbard.

32. Of thy aid I had need, Thor! in retaining that maiden lily-fair.

Thor.

33. I would have given it thee, if I had had the opportunity.

Harbard.

34. I would have trusted thee, my confidence if thou hadst not betrayed it.

Thor.

35. I am not such a heel-chafer as an old leather shoe in spring.

Harbard.

36. What meanwhile didst thou, Thor?

Thor.

37. The Berserkers' brides I on Læsso cudgeled; they the worst had perpetrated, the whole people, had seduced.

Harbard.

38. Dastardly didst thou act, Thor! when thou didst cudgel women.

Thor.

39. She-wolves they were, and scarcely women. They crushed my ship, which with props I had secured, with iron clubs threatened me, and drove away Thialfi. What meanwhile didst thou, Harbard?

Harbard.

40. I in the army was, which was hither sent, war-banners to raise, lances to redden.

Thor.

41. Of that thou now wilt speak, as thou wentest forth us hard terms to offer.

Harbard.

42. That shall be indemnified by a hand-ring, such as arbitrators give, who wish to reconcile us.

Thor.

43. Where didst thou learn words than which I never heard more irritating?

Harbard.

44. From men I learned them, from ancient men, whose home is in the woods.

Thor.

45. Thou givest certainly a good name to grave-mounds, when thou callest them, homes in the woods.

Harbard.

46. So speak I of such a subject.

Thor.

47. Thy shrewd words will bring thee evil, if I resolve the sound to ford. Louder than a wolf thou wilt howl, I trow, if of my hammer thou gettest a touch.

Harbard.

48. Sif has a gallant at home; thou wilt anxious be to find him: thou shalt that arduous work perform; it will beseem thee better.

Thor.

49. Thou utterest what comes upmost, so that to me it be most annoying, thou dastardly varlet! I believe thou art lying.

Harbard.

50. I believe I am telling truth. Thou art travelling slowly; thou wouldst have long since arrived, hadst thou assumed another form.

Thor.

51. Harbard! thou wretch! rather is it thou who hast detained me.

Harbard.

52. I never thought that a ferryman could the course of Asa-Thor retard.

Thor.

53. One advice I now will give thee: row hither with thy boat; let us cease from threats; approach the sire of Magni.

Harbard.

54. Go farther from the sound, the passage is refused thee.

Thor.

55. Show me then the way, if thou wilt not ferry me across the water.

Harbard.

56. That's too little to refuse. 'Tis far to go; 'tis to the stock an hour, and to the stone another; then keep the left hand way, until thou reachest Verland; there will Fiorgyn find her son Thor, and point out to him his kinsmen's ways to Odin's land.

Thor.

57. Can I get there to-day?

Harbard.

58. With pain and toil thou mayest get there, while the sun is up, which, I believe, is now nigh.

Thor.

59. Our talk shall now be short, as thou answerest with scoffing only. For refusing to ferry me I will reward thee, if another time we meet.

Harbard.

60. Just go to where all the powers of evil may have thee.