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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 40VIII (Bret 108)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 108 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 40)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 77.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Mun sáð koma         sinni ǫðru
útlent yfir         óra garða.
En samt yfir         á svǫlum barmi
eylands þrumir         ormr inn rauði;
fær hann lítit         af landinu.

‘Mun útlent sáð koma ǫðru sinni yfir garða óra. En inn rauði ormr þrumir samt yfir á svǫlum barmi eylands; hann fær lítit af landinu.
‘‘Foreign seed will come a second time over our precincts. And still the red snake remains on the cool fringe of the island; he will gain little from the land.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 112 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147.63-4; cf. Wright 1988, 103, prophecy 6): Replebuntur iterum ortuli nostri alieno semine, et in extremitate stagni languebit rubeus ‘Our gardens will be filled again with foreign seed and the red dragon will languish at the pool’s edge’. This prophecy alludes to the restriction of British occupation to Wales, narrated in DGB XI (Reeve and Wright 2007, 280-1). Gunnlaugr replaces the symbolic pool with the literal island and appears to freely add the notion that the British king will gain little from his occupation of Wales, in a theme of land use and productivity that appears occasionally elsewhere; for other instances see Note to I 32/5-8. DGB speaks disparagingly about the British dynasties in Wales but does not address this specific point (Reeve and Wright 2007, 280-1). — [9-10]: Previous eds have placed these lines at the beginning of I 41, but they are clearly integral to the present stanza, just as they are clearly extraneous to the subject-matter of I 41. The stanza division in Hb, signalled by rubricated majuscule <F> initial in fær, is likely to be erroneous; for the reverse error, cf. I 34/9-10 and I 35/7-10.



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 40: AII, 27, BII, 32, Skald II, 20; Bret 1848-9, II, 52 (Bret st. 108); Hb 1892-6, 279; Merl 2012, 157-8.


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