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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 17VIII (Bret 85)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 85 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 17)’ 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

Forflótti vas         fránn inn rauði;
bar inn ljósi hann         liðr at bakka.
En hann hagliga         hrøkkr at móti;
elti hann inn hvíta         hugtrúr dreka.

Inn rauði fránn vas forflótti; inn ljósi liðr bar hann at bakka. En hann hrøkkr hagliga at móti; hugtrúr elti hann inn hvíta dreka.
‘The red serpent took flight, the white snake drove it to the bank. But it [the red snake] nimbly twists to resist; valiant, it pursued the white serpent.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 111 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145.28-30): Praeualebat autem albus draco rubeumque usque ad extremitatem lacus fugabat. At ille, cum se expulsum doluisset, impetum fecit in album ipsumque retro ire coegit ‘The white dragon began to get the upper hand and drove the red to the edge of the pool. But it was irked at being driven back and attacked the white, forcing it back in turn’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 144).


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 17: AII, 24, BII, 27, Skald II, 17; Bret 1848-9, II, 44 (Bret st. 85); Hb 1892-6, 278; Merl 2012, 141.


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