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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 18VIII (Bret 18)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 18 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 18)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 152.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘Borg mun falla,         — veitk bana þjóðum —
þvíat hon eiðrofa         áðr of gerðisk.
Munu griðbítar         gǫrla drepnir;
geldr Vintóna         vándra manna.

‘Borg mun falla, þvíat hon áðr of gerðisk eiðrofa; veitk bana þjóðum. Griðbítar munu gǫrla drepnir; Vintóna geldr vándra manna.
‘‘The city will fall, because it had previously perjured itself; I know of death for the people. The breakers of the truce will [be] comprehensively put to death; Winchester will pay for the wicked men.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.168-9; cf. Wright 1988, 108, prophecy 35): ‘“festinat namque dies qua ciues ob scelera periurii peribunt’” ‘“The day is at hand when your citizens will perish because of their crimes of betrayal”’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). This concludes the speech from the Forest of Dean in DGB. In Merl motifs from prophecies 35 and 36 are intermixed here and in II 19; it is not clear where the Forest’s speech is regarded as ending, but since Gunnlaugr’s use of 2nd pers. sg. forms is confined to II 16 the placement of quotation marks in this edn follows Skald and Merl 2012, which treat only II 16 as direct speech. Bret 1848-9 and Skj B do not use quotation marks in this passage. — [7-8]: The verb gjalda with gen. denotes the cause for which payment is made or suffering incurred (CVC: gjalda 2; Fritzner: gjalda 6). The English idiom ‘pay for’ covers both of these senses.



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 18: AII, 13, BII, 14, Skald II, 8; Bret 1848-9, II, 20-1 (Bret st. 18); Hb 1892-6, 273; Merl 2012, 84.


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