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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 23VIII (Bret 23)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 23 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 23)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 156.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘Þá munu ór moldu         mæla steinar
ok verþjóðar         vél upp koma.
Ey mun víðask,         en Valir skjalfa,
ok sær saman         sœkja fíkjum,
svát millim landa         mál of heyri.

‘Þá munu steinar mæla ór moldu ok vél verþjóðar koma upp. Ey mun víðask, en Valir skjalfa, ok sær sœkja saman fíkjum, svát mál of heyri millim landa.
‘‘Then stones will speak from the earth and the machinations of the sea-people be revealed. The island will be widened, and the French will tremble, and the sea will come together greatly so that speech can be heard between the lands.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.177-81; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecy 38): In tempore illo loquentur lapides et mare quo ad Galliam nauigatur infra breue spacium contrahetur. In utraque ripa audietur homo ab homine, et solidum insulae dilatabitur. Reuelabuntur occulta submarinorum, et Gallia prae timore tremebit ‘At that time stones will speak and the sea where one sails to France will become a narrow strait. Men on opposite shores will be within earshot and the island’s surface will grow larger. The secrets of the people beneath the sea will be revealed, and France will tremble in fear’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). Gunnlaugr appears to alter the sequence of ideas in DGB by associating the revelations concerning the submarini ‘people beneath the sea’ with the capacity of stones to speak rather than with the drying up of the English Channel. Through his re-use of the heiti verþjóð, Gunnlaugr clearly identifies Geoffrey’s submarini with the sea-people mentioned in II 12/8; they are presumably the Ruteni ‘Flemings’, who were frequently accused of machinations in respect of both trade and mercenary service.



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 23: AII, 14, BII, 15, Skald II, 9; Bret 1848-9, II, 23 (Bret st. 23); Hb 1892-6, 273; Merl 2012, 88-9.


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