(Lay of Hárbarðr
) is one of the poems of the Poetic Edda
, found in the Codex Regius
and AM 748 I 4to
manuscripts. It is a flyting
poem with figures from Norse mythology
In the conventional interpretation of this poem the deities Odin and Thor compete with each other. Odin, disguised as Hárbarðr (Greybeard), a ferry man, is rude and obnoxious towards Thor who is returning to Asgard after a journey in Jötunheimr, the land of the giants. Hárbarðr boasts of his sexual prowess, his magical powers, his gambantein, and his tactical abilities. Thor then tells of how he defeated the Giants.
The poem is significantly less structured than most Eddic poems, and is predominantly written in a metric form known as málaháttr
or "conversational style". However, other metrical forms are also to be discerned, while some of the text is pure prose.
The early commentators F. W. Bergmann and Viktor Rydberg
argued that there is doubt to be cast on assigning the persona of Odin
to Hárbarðr, since many of the characteristics of Hárbarðr were alleged to be more akin to those of Loki
For example, Hárbarðr repeatedly boasts of his prowess among women, as do both Odin in Havamal
and Loki in Lokasenna
; and the speakers in both Lokasenna
accuse Thor's wife Sif
. This theory was forcefully rejected before the end of the 19th century by Finnur Jónsson
, Fredrick Sander, and Felix Niedner, and has not been accepted by Eddic scholars since their time.
Old Norse editions