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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 27VIII (Bret 27)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 27 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 27)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 160.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘Þrjá klekr hann unga         því hreiðri í;
eigi es hegra kyn         hugþekkt firum.
Þars vargr ok bjǫrn         ok at vísu refr
slœgr ok sínum         sjaldan verr alinn.

‘Hann klekr þrjá unga í því hreiðri; kyn hegra es eigi hugþekkt firum. Þars vargr ok bjǫrn ok at vísu refr slœgr ok sjaldan alinn verr sínum.
‘‘It will hatch three young in that nest; the offspring of the heron is not loved by men. A wolf will be there, also a bear and assuredly a fox sly and seldom born [one] worse to its own [kind].

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.188-9; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecy 41): Tria oua procreabuntur in nido, ex quibus uulpes et lupus et ursus egredientur ‘In the nest it will lay three eggs, from which will hatch a fox, a wolf and a bear’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). Gunnlaugr does not show awareness of the variant quattuor ‘four’ found in some mss (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153): see Introduction. In the ensuing stanzas Gunnlaugr somewhat amplifies Geoffrey’s story of the fox; some details of Gunnlaugr’s characterisation and kenning diction are very similar to those in Skaufhala bálkr (Svart Skauf); see further II 28/8, 9 and Notes there. — [3-4]: Gunnlaugr again amplifies on the nature of the heron, taking his cue from detestabilis ales ‘accursed bird’ in DGB 116 (see II 26 Note to [All]).


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 27: AII, 15, BII, 15-16, Skald II, 10; Bret 1848-9, II, 25 (Bret st. 27); Hb 1892-6, 274; Merl 2012, 91-2.


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