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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 37VIII (Bret 37)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 37 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 37)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 167.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘En refr gerir         ráða á galta;
þvíat hann reisa mát         rǫnd við hánum,
svá lætr dǫglingr,         sem hann dauðr séi;
esat lík hulit         lofðungs Breta.

‘En refr gerir ráða á galta; dǫglingr lætr svá, sem hann séi dauðr, þvíat hann mát reisa rǫnd við hánum; lík lofðungs Breta esat hulit.
‘‘But the fox will prepare to attack the boar; the ruler [the fox] will act as if he were dead, because he [the fox] is unable to raise a shield against him [the boar]; the body of the prince of the Britons [the fox] will not be buried.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.192-155.193; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecy 42): Quae cum certamen inierit, finget se defunctam et aprum in pietatem mouebit ‘When it enters into battle the fox will feign death and move the boar to pity’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 152-4). — [5-6]: The notion that the fox plays dead in order to ensnare its prey was familiar in the Middle Ages, with a locus classicus in the Physiologus (Curley 2009, 27; cf. Merl 2012, 102). — [7]: For this sense of hylja cf. I 36/8, II 7/10.


Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínússpá I 37: AII, 17, BII, 17-18, Skald II, 11; Bret 1848-9, II, 29 (Bret st. 37); Hb 1892-6, 275; Merl 2012, 101-2.


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