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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 84VIII (Bret 152)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 152 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 84)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 120.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Kømr þar af lœgi         landnyrðingr hvass;
lýstr hann illum byl         einn af stofni.
Þar munu kvistir,         es þruma eptir,
þess rúm taka;         þat sék gǫrla.

‘Hvass landnyrðingr kømr þar af lœgi; hann lýstr einn af stofni illum byl. Kvistir, es þruma eptir, munu taka rúm þess þar; sék þat gǫrla.
‘‘A sharp northeast wind will come there from the sea; it will knock one [branch] from the trunk with a malevolent gust. The branches that remain afterwards will take up its space there; I see that clearly.

notes and context

Cf. DGB 115 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 151.134-5; cf. Wright 1988, 106-7, prophecies 27 and 28): Huic aduersarius Boreas superueniet atque iniquo flatu suo tercium illi ramum eripiet. Duo uero residui locum extirpati occupabunt ‘The North wind will come as its enemy and with its cruel blast will rip off the third branch. The remaining two will take the place of the one that has been removed’ (cf. Reeve and Wright 2007, 150). Here Geoffrey re-uses his earlier prophecy of Viking raids in England, not altogether incongruously since sporadic raiding from Scandinavia continued through his life-time. Raids carried out in England and Scotland by Eysteinn Haraldsson of Norway in the 1150s are alluded to in ESk RunII and ESk EystdrII; for historical commentary see A. B. Taylor (1965) and references there. — [8]: A free addition on Gunnlaugr’s part, emulating vernacular prophetic poems such as Vsp and Gríp. Cf. I 89/4 and 6.



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 84: AII, 34, BII, 41, Skald II, 26; Bret 1848-9, II, 68 (Bret st. 152); Hb 1892-6, 282; Merl 2012, 194-5.


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