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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 16VIII (Bret 84)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 84 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 16)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 59.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

Gerisk sókn mikil         snáka tveggja;
gapa grimmliga         grundar belti.
Hǫggvask hœknir         hauðrs gyrðingar,
blásask eitri á         ok blôm eldi.

Mikil sókn snáka tveggja gerisk; {belti grundar} gapa grimmliga. {Hœknir gyrðingar hauðrs} hǫggvask, blásask eitri ok blôm eldi á.
‘A great fight commences between the two snakes; the belts of the ground [SNAKES] gape savagely. The vicious girdles of the earth [SNAKES] strike each other, blow venom and blue fire on each other.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 111 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145.27-8): commiserunt diram pugnam et ignem anhelitu procreabant ‘they fought a terrible battle and created fire with their breath’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 144). Gunnlaugr goes beyond DGB in specifying the emission of venom and the colour of the flame (on the latter see Note to l. 8 below).


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 16: AII, 24, BII, 27, Skald II, 17; Bret 1848-9, II, 44 (Bret st. 84); Hb 1892-6, 278; Merl 2012, 140.


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