Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorbjǫrn hornklofi (Þhorn)

9th century; volume 1; ed. R. D. Fulk;

1. Glymdrápa (Gldr) - 10

Skj info: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, Norsk skjald; omkr. 900. (AI, 22-29, BI, 20-26).

Skj poems:
1. Glymdrápa
2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)
3. Lausavísa

Little is known about the Norwegian Þorbjǫrn hornklofi ‘Horn-cleaver (?)’. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 253, 261, 273) names him as a poet of Haraldr hárfagri ‘Fair-hair’ (r. c. 860-c. 932). Judging from Fsk (ÍF 29, 59), he seems to have spent his whole life at the court of this king. Þorbjǫrn is the composer of two poems about Haraldr, Glymdrápa (Þhorn Gldr) and Haraldskvæði (Þhorn Harkv). Skálda saga, an anecdote about skalds preserved in Hb, and hardly likely to be historical, depicts him as one of three skalds, the other two being Auðunn illskælda ‘Bad-poet’ and Ǫlvir hnúfa ‘Snub-nose (?)’, each of whom attempts a romantic encounter with the same rich widow and then bemoans his failure in a lausavísa (see Auðunn Lv 2, Þhorn Lv, Ǫlv Lv 2). The three skalds are also named in Egils saga (ÍF 2, 19) as Haraldr’s favourites. They occupy places of honour in his hall, with Þorbjǫrn between the other two.

In the prose sources Þorbjǫrn is predominantly referred to only by his nickname Hornklofi. To date there is no satisfying explanation of this word. It is attested in the Þulur as a raven-heiti (see Þul Hrafns 1/5III and Note), but it does not occur in that sense in the surviving body of skaldic poetry. Scholars have claimed that the nickname refers to Þorbjǫrn’s device, in Þhorn Harkv, of having a raven speak in his stead (SnE 1848-87, III, 408; ÍF 26, 101 n. 1). Fidjestøl (1991, 126) is, however, justified in doubting this interpretation. An alternative possibility would be to link the nickname to Egill Hfl 16/6-7V (Eg 49): en jǫfurr heldr lǫndum hornklofi ‘and the ruler holds his lands by a hornklof’. But hornklofi here must be the dative of neuter hornklof, whereas Þorbjǫrn’s nickname is a masculine n-stem, and unfortunately the meaning of this passage is obscure, though hornklof seems to be some kind of tool.

my abbr.

Glymdrápa — Þhorn GldrI

Edith Marold with the assistance of Vivian Busch, Jana Krüger, Ann-Dörte Kyas and Katharina Seidel, translated from German by John Foulks 2012, ‘(Introduction to) Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 73.

 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9 

for reference only:  4x 

Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi: 1. Glymdrápa (AI, 22-4, BI, 20-1); stanzas (if different): 3, 4/1-4 | 4/5-8

SkP info: I, 88

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

8 — Þhorn Gldr 8I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: Edith Marold (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Glymdrápa 8’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 88.

Menfergir bar margar
margspakr — Niðar varga
lundr vann sókn á sandi —
sandmens í bý randir,
áðr fyr eljunfróðum
allr herr Skota þverri
lǫgðis seið af láði
lœbrautar varð flœja.

{Margspakr menfergir} bar margar randir í bý {sandmens}; {lundr {varga Niðar}} vann sókn á sandi, áðr allr herr varð flœja {seið lǫgðis} af {láði {lœbrautar}} fyr {eljunfróðum þverri Skota}.

{The very wise ring-destroyer} [GENEROUS MAN = Haraldr] bore many shields into the settlement {by the shore-ring} [SEA]; {the tree {of the wolves of Nidelven <river>}} [SHIPS > SEAFARER = Haraldr] made an attack upon the shore, before all the host had to flee {from the incantation of the sword} [BATTLE] out of {the land {of the pollack-path}} [SEA > ISLAND] before {the mettle-wise destroyer of Scots} [= Haraldr].

texts: HHárf 16 (I 48), ÓT 103, Hkr 58 (I 48)

editions: Skj Þórbjǫrn hornklofi: 1. Glymdrápa 8 (AI, 23-4; BI, 21); Skald I, 13, NN §§234 Anm., 1021; Hkr 1893-1901, I, 129, IV, 37-8, ÍF 26, 121, Hkr 1991, I, 75 (HHárf ch. 22), F 1871, 50; Fms 1, 194, Fms 12, 46, ÓT 1958-2000, I, 212 (ch. 95).


AM 35 folx (Kx) 64v, 15 - 64v, 22 (Hkr)  transcr.  image  image  
AM 45 fol (F) 11rb, 5 - 11rb, 8 (Hkr)  image  image  image  image  
AM 37 folx (J1x) 36r, 21 - 36v, 3 (Hkr)  image  
AM 38 folx (J2x) 37r, 6 - 37r, 13 (Hkr)  image  
AM 61 fol (61) 22ra, 2 - 22ra, 4 [1-4] (ÓT)  image  image  
AM 54 fol (54) 18vb, 28 - 18vb, 31 (ÓT)  image  
Holm perg 1 fol (Bb) 29rb, 30 - 29rb, 33 (ÓT)  transcr.  image  
AM 761 a 4°x (761ax) 21r, 6 - 21r, 13  image  
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