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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 91VIII (Bret 159)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 159 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 91)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 124.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

‘Verðr tuttugu         tjón þúsunda
ljóna ferðar         Lundúnum í.
Þeir munu drengir         drepnir allir;
gerir karla tjón         Tems at blóði.

‘Tjón tuttugu þúsunda ferðar ljóna verðr í Lundúnum. Þeir drengir munu allir drepnir; tjón karla gerir Tems at blóði.
‘‘The loss of twenty thousand of the host of men will come to pass in London. Those men will all be slain; the loss of men will turn the Thames to blood.

notes and context

The stanza divisions for I 91, 92, and 93, as printed in this edn, following Bret 1848-9 and Skj B, are uncertain. Hb has a capital <V> with red colouring at I 91/1, a small <m> with no colouring at I 92/1, a capital <E> with red at I 91/5 and a small <h> without colouring at I 93/1. It might be that Gunnlaugr had only two stanzas here, each of 12 lines, but I 92/5-8 would be awkward to sever from the previous helmingr and similar stanza division errors have been detected elsewhere in the ms. (see Notes to I 34/9-10 and I 35/7-10). Cf. DGB 116 (Reeve and Wright 2007, 151.144-5; cf. Wright 1988, 107, prophecy 30): Lundonia necem uiginti miliorum lugebit, et Tamensis in sanguinem mutabitur ‘London will grieve for the demise of twenty thousand, and the Thames will turn to blood’ (Reeve and Wright 2007, 150).


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 91: AII, 35, BII, 42, Skald II, 27, NN §3144; Bret 1848-9, II, 70-1 (Bret st. 159); Hb 1892-6, 282; Merl 2012, 199.


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