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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 8VIII (Bret 76)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 76 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 8)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 53.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

Kalla lét fylkir         fróða seggi;
frá gunnþorinn         gramr hvat olli,
es gǫrla hvarf         grundvǫllr sá brott,
se*m grund gǫmul         gleypði steina
eða †hamloðin         harmin seldi†.

Fylkir lét kalla fróða seggi; gunnþorinn gramr frá hvat olli, es sá grundvǫllr hvarf gǫrla brott, se*m gǫmul grund gleypði steina eða †hamloðin harmin seldi†.
‘The king had wise men summoned; the battle-bold lord inquired what was the cause, when that foundation completely vanished, as if the ancient earth swallowed stones or … .

notes and context

Cf. St. 7 for DGB. Also DGB 106 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 137.506-7): Cumque id Vortegirno nunciatum fuisset, consuluit iterum magos suos ut causam rei indicarent ‘When Vortigern was informed of this, he again consulted his magicians in order to find out what was causing it’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 136). — [9-10]: No satisfactory explanation of the obelised words has so far been proposed. They occur in a heavily refreshed passage in Hb. Scheving proposed eða hám glóða garmi seldi ‘or gave to the lofty wolf of embers [FIRE]’. This scarcely makes sense, in the apparent absence of an appropriate grammatical subject, and is rejected in Bret 1848-9, although the translation there retains the idea of fire. Skj B prints hamloðin | har … eldi and offers no translation. Kock (NN §1282) compares harmin, the apparent ms. reading, with ME harmin, ModSwed. hermelin ‘ermine’, but this word has no cognate in Old Norse and the motif as a whole has no counterpart in Geoffrey’s text (cf. Merl 2012).



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 8: AII, 23, BII, 25, Skald II, 16, NN §1282; Bret 1848-9, II, 41 (Bret st. 76); Hb 1892-6, 277; Merl 2012, 133-5.


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