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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 12VIII (Bret 80)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 80 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 12)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 56.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Sofa þar í dimmu         djúpi niðri
tvennir ormar         tveim hellum í.
Þeir eru lindar         lands ólíkir;
sék rauða seil         rás ok hvíta.

‘Tvennir ormar sofa þar í dimmu djúpi niðri í tveim hellum. {Þeir lindar lands} eru ólíkir; sék {rauða ok hvíta seil rás}.
‘‘Two snakes sleep there in the dark depth down in two caves. Those girdles of the land [SNAKES] are unlike [one another]; I see a red and a white rope of the earth [SNAKE].

notes and context

Cf. DGB 108 and 111 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 141.573-4, cf. 145.25-6): et uidebis in fundo duos concauos lapides et in illis duos dracones dormientes … quorum unus erat albus et alius rubeus ‘and at the bottom you will see two hollow rocks with two dragons asleep in them …, one white, one red’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 140, cf. 144). Gunnlaugr interprets the ‘hollow rocks’ as caves. The decasyllabic version of the Anglo-Norman Verse Prophecies of Merlin also uses this interpretation (Blacker 2005, 80), but probably this agreement arises through independent anticipation of Prophecy 1 (see I 21 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 II 12: AII, 23, BII, 26, Skald II, 16; Bret 1848-9, II, 42-3 (Bret st. 80); Hb 1892-6, 278; Merl 2012, 137-8.


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