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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, 98

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

5 — Þhorn Harkv 5I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance


Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 5’ 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. 98.

‘Kunna hugða ek þik konung myndu,         þann es á Kvinnum býr,
dróttin Norðmanna;         djúpum ræðr hann kjólum,
roðnum rǫndum         ok rauðum skjǫldum,
tjǫrgum ôrum         ok tjǫldum drifnum.

‘Hugða ek þik myndu kunna konung, þann es býr á Kvinnum, {dróttin Norðmanna}; hann ræðr djúpum kjólum, roðnum rǫndum ok rauðum skjǫldum, tjǫrgum ôrum ok drifnum tjǫldum.

‘I thought you would recognise the king, the one who lives at Kvinnar, {lord of Norwegians} [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr]; he commands deep ships, reddened shield-rims and red shields, tarred oars and foam-spattered awnings.

Mss: 51ˣ(2r), FskBˣ(2v), 302ˣ(3r), FskAˣ(7-8), 52ˣ(3v), 301ˣ(3v) (Fsk)

Readings: [1] ek: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, om. 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ;    myndu: mynda 301ˣ    [2] Kvinnum: ‘kymnum’ FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [3] dróttin: dróttinn FskBˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [6] ok: so FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, om. 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [7] tjǫrgum: tjǫrguðum FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ    [8] ok: om. 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ;    tjǫldum drifnum: drifnum skjǫldum FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 5: AI, 25, BI, 22, Skald I, 14; Fsk 1902-3, 8, ÍF 29, 61 (ch. 2); Möbius 1860, 228, Jón Helgason 1946, 135-6, Jón Helgason 1968, 16.

Context: As for st. 1.

Notes: [All]: For Haraldr’s war-band and life at his court, see also sts 6, 13, 15-23 below, Þjóð Har 1-3, Þjóð Lv 1 and Hhárf Lv 1 . — [1]: Sievers (1879, 296), followed by Sueti (1884, 25) would emend to Kunna munt konung ‘You probably know the king’.  — [2] á Kvinnum ‘at Kvinnar’: There is considerable doubt as to the nom. form (Kvinnar f. pl. is assumed), whether this is a p. n., and if so, where the place is. (a) It has been identified (Fsk 1847, 213) with Kvinnherad in Sunnhordland. Von See (1961b, 108) is convinced that a place in Kvinnherad is meant, and Steinnes (1949-51, 384-6) would narrow the location to Omviksdalen. (b) Kvinnum has been taken as a corruption of í Kǫrmtu, in reference to Karmøy in Rogaland, where Haraldr is known to have had an estate at Avaldsnes (Ǫgvaldsnes; so Olsen 1913; Koht 1955, 34, 37; Tveiten 1966, 18). (c) Lie (1956a) asserts rather that the word does not refer to a place (and in any case not a place on land, as this and the following stanza portray Haraldr as a sea-king) but is a scribal error of a common sort for knúum, dat. pl. of masc. knúi. The actual meaning of knúi is not known for certain (Faulkes in SnE 1998, II, 336 gives ‘knuckle’), but it is used as a heiti for ‘ship’ in Þul Skipa 4/1III. — [4] kjólum ‘ships’: Some eds read kjǫlum ‘keels’ (Munch and Unger 1847, 112; Möbius 1860). — [5] rǫndum ‘shield-rims’: To avoid two references to shields, Skj B emends to rǫngum ‘ship’s ribs’ (which Hallberg 1975, 117, takes to be the meaning of rǫndum), and Lindquist (1929, 4) and Skald emend to brǫndum ‘prows’. Kiil (1958a, 32) interprets rǫndum to refer to the upper edge of the ship’s sides. Sievers (1879, 296) would delete l. 6 altogether. — [7] tjǫrgum ‘tarred’: From tjǫrugr. Though the eds have generally preferred tjǫrguðum (p. p.) ‘tarred’, the reading of the FskA transcripts, it is easier to see why a scribe would have altered tjǫrgum to the more common tjǫrguðum than the reverse. — [8] tjǫldum ‘awnings’: When ships were in harbour, awnings or ‘tents’ were erected on board to provide shelter (see Falk 1912, 10-13; Jesch 2001a, 154, 164-5).

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