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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 68VIII (Bret 136)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 136 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 68)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 104.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Hrapa hræva gǫr,         hátt gjalla spjǫr,
es malmþrima         mest á hjarli.
Verðr einn við einn         valkǫstr hlaðinn;
munu blóðgar ár         af bjǫðum falla,
en vígroða         verpr á hlýrni.

‘Gǫr hræva hrapa, spjǫr gjalla hátt, {malmþrima} es mest á hjarli. Einn valkǫstr verðr hlaðinn við einn; blóðgar ár munu falla af bjǫðum, en vígroða verpr á hlýrni.
‘‘Heaps of corpses tumble, spears scream loudly, the weapon-tumult [BATTLE] is greatest on the earth. One pile of slain is built up beside another; bloody rivers will fall from the lands, and the redness of battle is cast up into heaven.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 115 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 149.111-12; cf. Wright 1988, 105, prophecy 20): tunc flumina sanguine manabunt ‘then the rivers will flow with blood’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 148). Gunnlaugr reverses the order of this and the following clause from DGB (see I 69 Note to [All]). The rest of the material represents battle commonplaces in skaldic style. — [1-2]: The end-rhyme is reminiscent of runhent but, aside from I 69/5-6, Gunnlaugr does not maintain the treatment consistently; a more thorough-going attempt is seen in II 36.


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 68: AII, 31, BII, 37-8, Skald II, 24, NN §2406; Bret 1848-9, II, 62-3 (Bret st. 136); Hb 1892-6, 281; Merl 2012, 180-2.


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