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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 47VIII (Bret 115)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 115 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 47)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 82.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Sá mun lofðungr,         es liði stýrir,
brátt brezkum her         byggva jarðir.
Mun sáð tekit         snáks ins hvíta
endr ór órum         aldingǫrðum.

‘Sá lofðungr, es stýrir liði, mun brátt byggva jarðir brezkum her. Sáð ins hvíta snáks mun tekit endr ór aldingǫrðum órum.
‘‘The lord who leads the army will swiftly settle the lands with British people. The white snake’s seed will be taken once more out of our orchards.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 113 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147.73-4; cf. Wright 1988, 103, prophecy 9): Restaurabit pristinis incolis mansiones, et ruina alienigenarum patebit. Germen albi draconis ex ortulis nostris abradetur ‘They [the people from Normandy] will restore the original inhabitants to their dwellings, and the ruin of the foreigners will be plain to see. The seed of the white dragon will disappear from our gardens’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 146). Gunnlaugr appears to have worked from a source ms. that contained the reading albi draconis ‘of the white dragon’, characteristic of the Ω group of mss (Reeve and Wright 2007, 147); see Introduction. With the phrase lofðungr, es stýrir liði ‘The lord who leads the army’ Gunnlaugr makes more explicit reference to William the Conqueror than does Geoffrey. Geoffrey’s notion of a Breton resumption of residency in Britain may be owed in part to an awareness that William brought over a large Breton contingent as part of his army, with the support of the Breton aristocracy (cf. Stenton 1971, 594). Many Breton lords and their followers were given lands in England during the two decades after the Conquest (Stenton 1971, 629).



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 47: AII, 28, BII, 33, Skald II, 21, NN §103; Bret 1848-9, II, 55 (Bret st. 115); Hb 1892-6, 280; Merl 2012, 163.


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