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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 20VIII (Bret 88)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 88 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 20)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 61.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

Grét gumna vinr,         es hann greiða bað
þengill gǫfugr         þessa hegju.
Ok eptir þat         aldar snytrir
rǫkstælta spá         rekkum sagði.

Vinr gumna grét, es gǫfugr þengill bað hann greiða þessa hegju. Ok eptir þat sagði {snytrir aldar} rekkum rǫkstælta spá.
‘The friend of men wept when the noble king bade him explain this happening. And after that the teacher of the people [PROPHET = Merlin] spoke well-grounded prophecy to the men.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 111 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145.32-3): Mox ille, in fletum erumpens, spiritum hausit prophetiae et ait ‘He burst into tears and was inspired to prophesy thus’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 144). Gunnlaugr’s added characterisations of the prophet (‘teacher of the people’) and the prophecy (‘well-grounded’) may be part of his determined advocacy of the material’s veracity, seen most explicitly in I 95‑102.


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 20: AII, 24, BII, 28, Skald II, 17; Bret 1848-9, II, 45-6 (Bret st. 88); Hb 1892-6, 278; Merl 2012, 143.


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