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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.

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.

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, 115

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

21 — Þhorn Harkv 21I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 21’ 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. 115.

‘Ulfheðnar heita,         þeir es í orrostu
        blóðgar randir bera;
vigrar rjóða,         es til vígs koma;
        þeim es þar sist saman.
Áræðismǫnnum einum,         hygg ek, þar undir felisk
skyli sá inn skilvísi,         þeim es í skjǫld hǫggva.’

‘Þeir heita ulfheðnar, es bera blóðgar randir í orrostu; rjóða vigrar, es koma til vígs; þar es þeim sist saman. Þar, hygg ek, felisk sá inn skilvísi skyli undir einum áræðismǫnnum, þeim es hǫggva í skjǫld.’

‘They are called wolf-skins, who bear bloody shields in combat; they redden spears when they come to war; there [at Haraldr’s court] they are seated together. There, I believe, he, the sovereign wise in understanding, may entrust himself to men of courage alone, those who hew into a shield.’

Mss: 51ˣ(3r), FskBˣ(3v-4r), 302ˣ(5v), FskAˣ(11), 52ˣ(4v-5r), 301ˣ(4r) (Fsk); Flat(76ra)

Readings: [1, 2] heita þeir: þeir heita FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [2] orrostu: orrostum FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [4] vigrar: vígr FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, vígr at Flat    [5] es (‘er’): þá er FskAˣ, 301ˣ, þá er corrected from þar er 52ˣ    [6] sist: sízt 52ˣ, sýst Flat    [8] undir felisk: undir felask 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, om. Flat    [9] skyli sá: hœfa at standa þá er skatnar Flat;    inn (‘hinn’): en 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, om. Flat;    ‑vísi: vísir Flat    [10] þeim es (‘þæim er’): om. Flat

Editions: Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 21: AI, 28, BI, 25, Skald I, 16, NN §3206 anm.; Fsk 1902-3, 11-12, ÍF 29, 63-4 (ch. 2); Flat 1860-8, I, 568 (HarHárf); Möbius 1860, 230, Jón Helgason 1946, 140, Jón Helgason 1968, 20.

Context: In Fsk, as for st. 20; Flat is very similar.

Notes: [All]: The stanza is ascribed in Flat to Auðunn illskælda. It contains the raven’s reply to the valkyrie’s previous question. — [1] ulfheðnar ‘wolf-skins’: Berserks; see Note to st. 8/5.  — [6] sist ‘seated’: Most eds have read (with Flat) the word as sýst, p. p. of sýsla (LP: 2. sýsla 1) or sýsa (CVC: sýsa) ‘do, work, effect, transact business’. Thus, for example, Kershaw (1922, 85) renders the line, ‘and then they act all in a body’. Yet the reading ‘sist’ found in most of the mss is presumably intended to represent the p. p. of the verb sissa ‘to seat’ (so Lindquist 1929, 6-7; Jón Helgason 1946, 140 and 1968, 20, n.), which takes a dat. object. This produces less colourful (and perhaps less apposite) meaning, but the sense and syntax are less strained (since it is usually the work done that is in the dat. after sýsla). — [7-10]: Here the metre changes from ljóðaháttr to málaháttr. The Flat readings could give Áræðismǫnnum einum | hygg ek þar hœfa at standa, | þá es skatnar skilvísir | í skjǫld hǫggva, presumably ‘I believe it is fitting for men of courage alone to stand there when men wise in understanding hew into a shield’ (so Möbius 1860), but they lack proper alliteration in ll. 7-8.

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