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 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).
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