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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, 103

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

9 — Þhorn Harkv 9I

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: R. D. Fulk (ed.) 2012, ‘Þorbjǫrn hornklofi, Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 9’ 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. 103.

‘Freistuðu ins framráða,         es þeim flýja kenndi,
allvalds austmanna,         es býr at Útsteini.
Stóðum Nǫkkva brá stillir,         es honum vas styrjar væni;
hlǫmmun vas á hlífum,         áðr Haklangr felli.

‘Freistuðu {ins framráða allvalds austmanna}, es kenndi þeim flýja, es býr at Útsteini. Stillir brá {stóðum Nǫkkva}, es honum vas væni styrjar; hlǫmmun vas á hlífum, áðr Haklangr felli.

‘They tested {the forward-striving mighty ruler of the Norwegians} [NORWEGIAN KING = Haraldr], who taught them to flee, who resides at Utstein. The ruler set in motion {the stud-horses of Nǫkkvi <sea-king>} [SHIPS] when he expected combat; there was thundering on shields before Haklangr fell.

Mss: (62v), F(10vb), J1ˣ(35r), J2ˣ(35v) (Hkr); 51ˣ(4v), FskBˣ(5v), 302ˣ(7v), FskAˣ(16), 52ˣ(7r), 301ˣ(5v) (Fsk); Flat(76vb) (Flat)

Readings: [2] es (‘er’): at FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ;    flýja: fylgja F    [3] ‑valds: so F, 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, ‑valdr Kˣ, Flat, ‘‑vast’ J1ˣ, J2ˣ    [4] býr: byrr J1ˣ, J2ˣ;    at: á 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ    [5] Stóðum: so 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, stǫðum Kˣ, F, J1ˣ, J2ˣ, stóðu Flat;    Nǫkkva brá: nǫkkvar steindir er Flat    [6] es honum: átti enn Flat;    vas (‘var’): vôru FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ, om. Flat;    væni: vænni J1ˣ, J2ˣ, væns FskBˣ, nenni Flat    [7] hlǫmmun: ‘glommon’ 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, ‘hlaumon’ FskAˣ;    hlífum: hlífðum 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, lofðum 301ˣ    [8] áðr: áðr en 51ˣ, FskBˣ, 302ˣ, FskAˣ, 52ˣ, 301ˣ

Editions: Skj: Þórbjǫrn hornklofi, 2. Haraldskvæði (Hrafnsmál) 9: AI, 26, BI, 23, Skald I, 14-15; Hkr 1777-1826, I, 95, VI, 17, Hkr 1868, 62, Hkr 1893-1901, I, 124, IV, 35, ÍF 26, 116, Hkr 1991, I, 72 (HHárf ch. 18/19), F 1871, 48; Fsk 1902-3, 16-17 (ch. 2), ÍF 29, 68 (ch. 3); Fms 10, 190-1, Fms 12, 225-6, Flat 1860-8, I, 574 (HarHárf); Möbius 1860, 229, Jón Helgason 1946, 143-4, Jón Helgason 1968, 17-18.

Context: As for st. 7.

Notes: [3] austmanna ‘of the Norwegians’: Lit. ‘of East-men’. The context here points to Norwegians, but the term has somewhat fluctuating usage (see Fritzner: austmaðr; Notes to Þhorn Lv 1/8, Þfagr Sveinn 8/2II). Þjóðólfr ór Hvini uses austrkonungr to refer to the king of Sweden (Þjóð Yt 13/19), and austmǫrk refers to Swedish land in Yt 14/9 (if this reading from J2ˣ is correct); this has been used as an argument against his authorship of Harkv (Sueti 1884, 17). — [4] Útsteini ‘Utstein’: A place north of Stavanger, Rogaland, where Haraldr gained an estate after the battle (cf. ÍF 26, 143). Hence, Haraldr rules in both the east and the west in Norway (Koht 1955, 22) and the references to Utstein here and to Kvinnar in st. 5/2 point to the peripatetic nature of early kingship. On Útsteinn, see further Note to Sigv Erlfl 5/7. — [5] stóðum ‘stud-horses’: I.e. groups of stallion and mares. The mss of Hkr read stǫðum (dat. pl.) ‘places’, which is adopted in most eds, and already in Munch and Unger (1847, 112). Hkr 1991 then tentatively interprets brá stǫðum nǫkkva to mean ‘changed the position of the ships’; cf. Nygaard (1875, 316), ‘launched the ship from the land’. Yet Jón Helgason (1968, 17) remarks that o in the inflectional syllable of ‘stoðom’ (and similar) in the transcripts of Fsk indicates that the root vowel intended in that text is ó not ǫ. Certainly, in any case, the root vowel in the transcripts of Fsk is consistently spelt <o>, in contrast with the Hkr forms. — [5] stillir ‘the ruler’: Fsk 1902-3 and Skj B omit, presumably on metrical grounds. — [8] Haklangr: According to Hkr (ÍF 26, 114), his full name was Þórir haklangr and he was the son of Kjǫtvi (cf. st. 7/4 and Note) and a great berserk. The epithet probably means ‘having a long chin’, though Lind (1920-1, 130-1) takes it to mean ‘tall man with hare-lip or cleft palate’. He may be the same Haklangr mentioned on a C10th rune stone from Lolland (von See 1961b, 110). Storm (1880) would instead identify him with Óláfr, son of Guðrøðr Rǫgnvaldsson, king of Dublin according to Irish sources.

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