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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 22VIII (Bret 90)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 90 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 22)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 62.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Es harmr mikill         hǫlðum at segja;
segik sigr hafa         snák inn hvíta.
Láð mun leggjask         ok lýða fjǫlð;
munu dreyrgar ár         ór dǫlum falla.

‘Mikill harmr es at segja hǫlðum; segik inn hvíta snák hafa sigr. Láð mun leggjask ok fjǫlð lýða; dreyrgar ár munu falla ór dǫlum.
‘‘A great sorrow is to be told to men; I say the white snake has the victory. The land and the multitude of people will be subjugated; blood-stained rivers will fall from the valleys.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 145.34, 36-7; cf. Wright 1988, 102, prophecy 1): Vae rubeo draconi; nam exterminatio eius festinat Montes itaque eius ut ualles aequabuntur, et flumina uallium sanguine manabunt ‘Alas for the red dragon, its end is near … Its mountains will be levelled with the valleys, and the rivers in the valleys will flow with blood’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 144). Gunnlaugr’s handling of Montes aequabuntur is consistent with his tendency to rationalise the allegory.



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 22: AII, 25, BII, 28, Skald II, 18; Bret 1848-9, II, 46 (Bret st. 90); Hb 1892-6, 278; Merl 2012, 144.


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