This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help

Note to stanza

8. Breta saga 24 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II, 24) [Vol. 8, 157]

[4] sás villir fira ‘that will lead men astray’: This is Gunnlaugr’s amplification of DGB, perhaps in allusion to the notion of the heron seen in Hávm 13/1-3 (NK 19): Óminnis hegri heitir, | sá er yfir ǫlðrom þrumir, | hann stelr geði guma ‘He is called the heron of forgetfulness, who hovers over the ale-feasts; he steals the wits of men’. How the heron gained this reputation is unclear (Evans 1986, 80). Dronke (1984, 54-5) notes a traditional association of this bird with vomiting and flapping around as if drunk, but it is hard to see why such behaviours would ‘lead men astray’, as required by the context in Hávm and Merl. Invective against drunkenness on Gunnlaugr’s part is seen again in II 56-7. In modern times the Black-crowned Night Heron (nátthegri, Nycticorax nycticorax) is an occasional visitor and resident in Iceland (Gunnlaugur Pétursson 2006).


© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.