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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 24VIII (Bret 24)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 24 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 24)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 157.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘Kemr ór skógi         Kalatérío
fogl fljúgandi,         sás fira villir.
Flýgr of nôttum,         nýsir gǫrla;
kallar hegri         hvern fogl til sín;
es um tvívetri         tálráð samit.

‘Fogl kemr fljúgandi ór skógi Kalatérío, sás villir fira. Flýgr of nôttum, nýsir gǫrla; hegri kallar hvern fogl til sín; tálráð es samit um tvívetri.
‘‘From the forest of Calaterium a bird will come flying that will lead men astray. It will fly at night, spy thoroughly; the heron will call every bird to itself; treachery will be devised over a two-year span.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.181-3; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecy 39): Post haec ex Calaterio nemore procedet ardea, quae insulam per biennium circumuolabit. Nocturno clamore conuocabit uolatilia et omne genus uolucrum associabit sibi ‘Afterwards a heron will emerge from the forest of Calaterium and will circle the island for two years. It will summon the birds of the air with its cry at night and assemble all their species’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). Gunnlaugr partially rationalises the prophecy of a charismatic new leader and adds the notion of his treachery. The forest of Calaterium is unidentified but evidently located in Albania (Scotland), as appears from DGB III (Reeve and Wright 2007, 50-1; cf. Tatlock 1950, 17-18). — [6]: The idea of the heron acting as a spy (or scout?) is introduced by Gunnlaugr.



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 24: AII, 14, BII, 15, Skald II, 9; Bret 1848-9, II, 23-4 (Bret st. 24); Hb 1892-6, 273-4; Merl 2012, 89-90.


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