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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Þorbjǫrn hornklofi (Þhorn)

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

2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) (Harkv) - 23

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.

notes
my abbr.

Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) — Þhorn HarkvI

R. D. Fulk 2012, ‘(Introduction to) 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.

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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, 95

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

2 — Þhorn Harkv 2I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 2’ 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. 95.

Vitr þóttisk valkyrja;         verar né óru þekkir
feimu inni framsóttu,         es fugls rǫdd kunni.
Kvaddi in kverkhvíta         ok in glæ*hvarma
Hymis hausreyti,         es sat á horni of bjarga.

Valkyrja þóttisk vitr; verar né óru þekkir inni framsóttu feimu, es kunni rǫdd fugls. In kverkhvíta ok in glæ*hvarma kvaddi {hausreyti Hymis}, es sat á horni of bjarga.

The valkyrie thought herself wise; men were not pleasing to the aggressive maid, who understood the voice of the bird. The white-throated and the bright-eyelashed one greeted {the skull-picker of Hymir <giant>} [RAVEN], which sat on the edge of a cliff.

Mss: 51ˣ(1v-2r), FskBˣ(2r), 302ˣ(2v), FskAˣ(6), 52ˣ(3r), 301ˣ(3r) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] Vitr: víg FskBˣ    [3] feimu: ‘suamo’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘‑ren no[…]’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, ‘‑fenn no[…]’ 301ˣ;    ‑sóttu: ‑leitu FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [6] glæ*hvarma: gløggarma 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘glæghvarma’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [7] ‑reyti: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, ‘rꝍya’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, ‘ro᷎yti’ corrected from ‘ro᷎ya’ 302ˣ, ‘‑rꝍyta’ 301ˣ    [8] horni of: horni vin‑ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘hormum’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, ‘bormum’ 301ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 2: AI, 24, BI, 22, Skald I, 14, NN §§1023, 1024; Fsk 1902-3, 6-7, ÍF 29, 60 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 228, Jón Helgason 1946, 134-5, Jón Helgason 1968, 15.

Context: As for st. 1.

Notes: [1] þóttisk ‘thought herself’: Alternatively, ‘appeared’. — [1] valkyrja ‘the valkyrie’: On valkyries, see Note to Eyv Hák 1/1. — [2] óru ‘were’: On the form, see ANG §77.11. The form without v- is required, or illicit alliteration would result. — [3] feimu ‘maid’: I.e. ‘girl’. The readings of the FskA transcripts are best understood as corruptions of feimonni (i.e. feimunni, with the article attached). The reading supplies the necessary alliteration; it was proposed by von Friesen (1902, 62-6) and subsequently widely adopted (see Jón Helgason 1968, 15 on the paleography). — [3] framsóttu ‘aggressive’: Lit. ‘forward-seeking’. Cf. ModIcel. framsækinn ‘eager to advance’. That this is how the word was understood is demonstrated by the reading ‑leitu for ‑sóttu, of similar meaning, in the FskA transcripts. Some eds emend to fránleitu ‘bright-eyed’ (Fsk 1902-3, Skj B, and Skald, following Möbius 1860 and LP (1860): fránleitr; Sueti 1884, 23 has -leita). — [4] es ‘who’: Here taken with feimu ‘maid’ (l. 3). Kershaw (1922, 83) may be right that it has causal significance here, meaning ‘for, because’. Most eds would have es directly modify valkyria ‘valkyrie’ in l. 1, yet although this has the advantage of drawing a more direct connection between vitr ‘wise’ and the valkyrie’s understanding of bird language, it makes of ll. 2-3 an intercalary clause, producing a syntactic style that is not very common in this poem (though see st. 11). — [5-6]: To rectify the faulty alliteration, Fsk 1847 and Munch and Unger (1847, 112), followed by Wisén (1870, 49), Fsk 1902-3 and Lindquist (1929, 2), reverse the order of kverkhvíta and glæhvarma. Note that glæ- in the latter word is emended from ‘glæg’- in the FskA transcripts, and Möbius (1860) and Wisén (1870, 49) read gløgg- ‘sagacious’. — [7] hausreyti Hymis ‘the skull-picker of Hymir <giant> [RAVEN]’: Hymir is an adversary of Þórr and subject of the late eddic poem Hymiskviða (and SnE 2005, 44-5), but on what occasion a raven picked flesh from the skull of Hymir is unknown. There may be confusion with the primeval giant Ymir, from whose skull the sky was made (Vafþr 21, 28, Vsp 3, Arn Magndr 19/4II; SnE 2005, 10, 11, 12, 15, and 170 on confusion between Hymir and Ymir in mss). Kock (NN §1024) accordingly emends to Ymis here, also reversing the order of the words for the sake of the alliteration. Skj B reads -rofa ‘reaver, robber’ for ‑reyti, and Möbius (1860) reads -reyta (so 301ˣ), as if -reyti were the nom. of a weak noun. — [8] of bjarga ‘of a cliff’: In the pl., bjarg ‘rock’ is used in a collective sense to mean ‘precipice, cliff’: see CVC: bjarg. Here it is gen. pl., hence á horni bjarga ‘on the edge of a cliff’. The next syllable is problematic. (a) The FskA transcripts read ‘-um’, which is here taken as the expletive particle, normalised to the more archaic of; this appears before nouns, though more commonly before verbs (LP: of C). All the ms. readings, ‘horni vin-’, ‘hormum’ and ‘bormum’, are readily understood as due to copyists’ misdivisions of the minims of horni um. The form ‘hormum’ is presumably for hǫmrum ‘crags’, the reading adopted by Wisén (1870, 49), following LP (1860): hausreyti. (b) Previous eds, following the FskB transcripts, generally read vinbjarga, which LP: vinbjǫrg defines as klipper ved (omgivende) eng(e) ‘rocks with (surrounding) field(s)’. The first constituent of the cpd would then be vin f. ‘meadow’, a word common in Norwegian place names (see Jón Helgason 1946, 134-5). Kershaw (1922, 83) adopts the vin- reading, but it is not represented in her translation, ‘as he sat on a jutting ledge of rock’; similarly Magerøy (1963, 82): som sat høgt på eit berg. Von Friesen (1902, 66-9; so Noreen 1926, 163) would emend to vindbjarga ‘wind-rocks’, which he interprets as a kenning for ‘clouds’.

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