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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl II 30VIII (Bret 30)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 30 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá II 30)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 162.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá II

text and translation

‘Ok suðr skulu þeir         sveitar leita;
vekr vargr ok bjǫrn         villigalta.
En galti þeim         gengi sínu
heitr hvatliga,         þvít hann hug trúir.

‘Ok þeir skulu leita sveitar suðr; vargr ok bjǫrn vekr villigalta. En galti heitr þeim gengi sínu hvatliga, þvít hann trúir hug.
‘‘And they will have to seek for an army in the south; the wolf and the bear will rouse a wild boar. And the boar will promise them his support with alacrity, since he trusts in his [own] courage.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 153.191-2; cf. Wright 1988, 109, prophecy 42): At ipsi excitabunt aprum dentosum in illa et nauigio reuecti cum uulpe congredientur ‘They will stir up a tusked boar against it and sail back with a fleet to fight the fox’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 152). Gunnlaugr expands on the characterisation of the boar, introducing indirect speech and an element of irony, since the boar, despite his trust in his own courage, will emerge as rather a pathetic figure. — [1]: Emended in NN §97 (cf. Skald) from ms. skal (refreshed) to skulu ‘must’. While syntactically speaking skal might be used impersonally, as in Bret 1848-9 and Skj B (followed by Merl 2012), the line as it stands in the ms. is metrically deficient and skal for skulu could have arisen through abbreviation. In this edn þeir is added by analogy with II 31/3 and similar lines, with its antecedent in barmar ‘brothers’ in II 29/7. In Bret 1848-9 ms. ok (refreshed) is emended to í, which is accepted in Skj B with further emendation of suðr to suðri, which might also be right; Merl 2012 rejects this further emendation.



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 30: AII, 15-26, BII, 16, Skald II, 10, NN §97; Bret 1848-9, II, 26 (Bret st. 30); Hb 1892-6, 274; Merl 2012, 93-4.


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