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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Gunnlaugr Leifsson (GunnLeif)

13th century; volume 8; ed. Russell Poole;

VIII. 2. Merlínusspá II (Merl II) - 68

Skj info: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Islandsk munk, d. 1218 (AII, 10-36, BII, 10-45).

Skj poems:
Merlínússpá I
Merlínússpá II

Gunnlaugr Leifsson (GunnLeif, d. 1218 or 1219) was a monk at the Benedictine house of Þingeyrar, a monastery near the shores of Húnaflói, in northern Iceland, that maintained close relations with the seat of the bishop at Hólar (Turville-Petre 1953, 135). Nothing is known concerning Gunnlaugr’s place of birth, upbringing or social origins. He was regarded in his own time as a man of singular Latin learning (LH II, 394-5) and worked in a distinguished historiographic and hagiographic milieu (de Vries 1964-7, II, 246). In a rare personal anecdote, perhaps apocryphal, Arngrímr Brandsson, a Benedictine monk and abbot at Þingeyrar (d. 1361 or 1362), tells that Gunnlaugr attempted to recite his new history of Saint Ambrose at the church at Hólar but was rebuffed by Bishop Guðmundr Arason (LH II, 394-5; Ciklamini 2008, 1). The two men were evidently on good terms at an earlier stage, however (Ciklamini 2004, 66), and, while bishop at Hólar, Guðmundr commissioned Gunnlaugr to prepare a life of Jón helgi ‘the Saint’ Ǫgmundarson and an account of portents and miracles pertaining to Þorlákr Þórhallsson, both in Latin (LH II, 394-5). 

Works ascribed to Gunnlaugr that survive in one form or other include the Latin life of Jón helgi, represented by a close Icelandic translation; the account of Þorlákr’s miracles; a Latin expansion of Gunnlaugr’s Þingeyrar colleague Oddr Snorrason’s life of King Óláfr Tryggvason, extant in the shape of excerpts translated into Icelandic; an Icelandic original version of Þorvalds þáttr víðfǫrla ‘The Tale of Þorvaldr the Far-traveller’ that may at one time have formed part of the life of Óláfr; and a now entirely lost life of Saint Ambrose (LH II, 394-403; Turville-Petre 1953, 194-200; Bekker-Nielsen 1958; de Vries 1964-7, II, 245-7; Würth 1998, 205-6; Ciklamini 2004, 66; Katrín Axelsdóttir 2005). The only work ascribed to Gunnlaugr that appears to survive in a relatively complete state is Merlínusspá ‘The Prophecies of Merlin’ (Merl I and II). It is also the sole medieval instance of a direct verse translation into Icelandic from Latin prose (Würth 1998, 206).

notes
no FJ abbr

Merlínusspá II — GunnLeif Merl IIVIII (Bret)

Russell Poole 2017, ‘(Introduction to) Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 134.

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Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson: Merlínússpá I, fri oversættelse (AII, 10-21, BII, 10-24); stanzas (if different): 43, 45/1-4 | 44 | 45/5-8

SkP info: VIII, 168

old edition introduction edition manuscripts transcriptions concordance search files

38 — GunnLeif Merl II 38VIII (Bret 38)

edition interactive full text transcriptions old edition references concordance

 

Cite as: Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 38 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 38)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 168.

‘En galti þat
gengr at reyna;
blæss hann í andlit
ok í augu gram.
En refr við þat
ræðr á galta;
fær hann af hánum
fót inn vinstra
hlust ina hœgri
ok hryggjar nes.

 

And the boar will go to test that; he will blow in the face and eyes of the ruler. But thereupon the fox will attack the boar; he will take from him the left foot, the right ear, and {the headland of the back}. [TAIL]

notes: Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 155.193-6; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecy 42): Mox adibit ipse cadauer et dum superstabit anhelabit in oculos eius et faciem. At ipsa, non oblita præteriti doli, mordebit sinistrum pedem ipsius totumque ex corpore euellet. Saltu quoque facto, eripiet ei dexteram aurem et caudam ‘It will at once approach the fox’s body and, standing over it, will breathe into its eyes and face. But the fox, not forgetting its old cunning, will bite the boar’s left foot and tear it from its body. Then, leaping up, it will bite off its right ear and tail’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 154).

texts: Bret 38

editions: Skj Gunnlaugr Leifsson: Merlínússpá I 38 (AII, 17; BII, 18); Skald II, 11, NN §2163F; Bret 1848-9, II, 29 (Bret st. 38); Hb 1892-6, 275; Merl 2012, 102-3.

sources

AM 544 4° (Hb) 50r, 16 - 50r, 18 (Bret)  transcr.  image  image  image  image  
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