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Þorbjǫrn hornklofi (Þhorn)

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

2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) (Harkv) - 23

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.

Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) — Þhorn HarkvI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘ Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál)’ 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. 91. <> (accessed 27 May 2022)

stanzas:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23 

Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi: 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál), Flere af de herhenhørende vers tillægges i forskellige håndskrifter Tjodolf hvinverske. (AI, 24-9, BI, 22-5)

SkP info: I, 106

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

11 — Þhorn Harkv 11I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 11’ 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. 106.

‘Á baki létu blíkja         — barðir vôru grjóti —
Sváfnis salnæfrar         seggir hyggjandi.
Œstusk austkylfur         ok of Jaðar hljópu
heim ór Hafrsfirði         ok hugðu á mjǫðdrykkju.

‘Hyggjandi seggir létu {{Sváfnis sal}næfrar} blíkja á baki; vôru barðir grjóti. Austkylfur œstusk ok hljópu of Jaðar, heim ór Hafrsfirði, ok hugðu á mjǫðdrykkju.

‘Sensible men made {shingles {of the hall of Sváfnir <= Óðinn>}} [(lit. ‘hall-shingles of Sváfnir’) = Valhǫll > SHIELDS] gleam on their backs [in flight]; they were pelted with stones. The east-cudgels were stirred up and ran across Jæren, homewards from Hafrsfjorden, and concentrated on mead-drinking.

Mss: (62v), F(10vb), J1ˣ(35r), J2ˣ(36r) (Hkr); 51ˣ(4v-5r), FskBˣ(5v-6r), 302ˣ(8r), FskAˣ(17), 52ˣ(7v), 301ˣ(6r) (Fsk); Flat(76vb) (Flat); R(1r), Tˣ(2v) (ll. 1-4), W(9), U(2r) (SnE)

Readings: [1] létu: leitu J1ˣ;    blíkja: so F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, R, Tˣ, W, U, blika Kˣ, Flat    [3] Sváfnis: Svǫlnis F, U, ‘svafins’ FskAˣ;    sal‑: sval‑ J1ˣ, Tˣ    [4] hyggjandi: so F, J2ˣ, 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, Flat, R, W, U, ‘hyggiando’ Kˣ, Tˣ    [5] Œstusk: œstisk J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    aust‑: auð‑ F, austr J1ˣ, J2ˣ, Flat;    ‑kylfur: so F, J1ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, ‘‑kylpur’ Kˣ, ‘kylfr’ J2ˣ, ‘‑kylgur’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, om. Flat    [6] ok of Jaðar (‘ok vm jaðar’): um Jaðarbyggðir Flat    [7] ‑firði: so all others, ‘fyrþi’ Kˣ    [8] mjǫð‑: mjaðar 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 11: AI, 26, BI, 23, Skald I, 15; Hkr 1777-1826, I, 96, VI, 18, Hkr 1868, 62, Hkr 1893-1901, I, 125, IV, 36, ÍF 26, 117, Hkr 1991, I, 72 (HHárf ch. 18/19), F 1871, 49; Fsk 1902-3, 17 (ch. 2), ÍF 29, 68-9 (ch. 3); Fms 10, 191, Fms 12, 226, Flat 1860-8, I, 574 (HarHárf); SnE 1848-87, I, 34-5, SnE 1931, 13, SnE 2005, 7; Möbius 1860, 229, Jón Helgason 1946, 144-5, Jón Helgason 1968, 18.

Context: In Fsk, Hkr and Flat, as for st. 7. In SnE (Gylf), ll. 1-4 are cited as evidence for the remark that Valhǫll was roofed with shields.

Notes: [1-4]: In SnE the helmingr is attributed to Þjóðólfr ór Hvini. — [3] Sváfnis ‘of Sváfnir <= Óðinn>’: Etymologically ‘one who puts to sleep’, i.e. kills (see Note to Þul Óðins 4/3III). On the variant reading Svǫlnis, another name for Óðinn, see Note to Þul Óðins 6/5III and Falk (1924, 29). — [3] salnæfrar ‘hall-shingles’: Birch bark was used for laths under the thatch (cf. Note to ÞjóðA Magn 6/7II). The kenning derives its meaning from the belief that the roof of Valhǫll was formed of gilded shields (see Grí 9/5; SnE 2005, 7). — [4] hyggjandi ‘sensible’: The meaning is clearly ironic, given the open contempt for the enemy throughout the stanza. — [5] austkylfur ‘the east-cudgels’: A dismissive term for Kjǫtvi’s fleeing men: like ModIcel. drumbur, kylfa signifies both a piece of wood and a contemptible person. As for aust- ‘east’, regardless of whether Kjǫtvi was king of Agðir (Agder), as Hkr indicates, his men’s flight across Jaðarr (Jæren) indicates that their home was (south and) east of Hafrsfjǫrðr (Hafrsfjorden). See also Notes to sts 7/4, 7/5 (austan) and 9/3. — [6] Jaðar ‘Jæren’: The region along the North Sea coast south of Stavanger.

Runic data from Samnordisk runtextdatabas, Uppsala universitet, unless otherwise stated