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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 25VIII (Bret 25)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 25 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 25)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 158.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘Flykkjask foglar;         fara þeir í sæði;
eyða þeir ǫkrum         ok aldini.
Sultr verðr ok sótt         — sék mart fyrir —
manndauðr mikill;         mein gengr of þjóð.

‘Foglar flykkjask; þeir fara í sæði; þeir eyða ǫkrum ok aldini. Sultr verðr, ok sótt, manndauðr mikill; sék mart fyrir; mein gengr of þjóð.
‘‘The birds will flock together; they will go into the crops; they will devastate the fields and fruit. Famine will develop, also sickness, great mortality of men; I see many things to come; harm will afflict the people.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.183-5; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecies 39 and 40): In culturas mortalium irruent et omnia grana messium deuorabunt. Sequetur fames populum atque dira mortalitas famem ‘They will fall upon men’s crops and eat all the grains of corn. The people will be afflicted by hunger and after that by a deadly plague’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). For grana ‘grains’ a variant reading is genera ‘kinds’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153, Wright 1988, 109) and the expansion of the Latin seen in Merl could be interpreted as an attempt to incorporate the sense of both readings by mentioning the different types of produce. Ms. D of the First Variant Version has genera in the main text and grana noted in the margin as a variant (Wright 1988, 109), and Gunnlaugr’s source ms. may have been similar in this respect. — [5]: This edn follows Kock (FF §63) in its analysis of the components of the subject; Skj B, apparently followed by Merl 2012, takes manndauðr as the subject of gengr, with mein in apposition, but that, as Kock notes, is less consonant with poetic style.


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 25: AII, 15, BII, 15, Skald II, 9, FF §63; Bret 1848-9, II, 24 (Bret st. 25); Hb 1892-6, 274; Merl 2012, 90.


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