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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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GunnLeif Merl I 97VIII (Bret 165)

Russell Poole (ed.) 2017, ‘Breta saga 165 (Gunnlaugr Leifsson, Merlínusspá I 97)’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 129.

Gunnlaugr LeifssonMerlínusspá I

text and translation

Virði engi         þat vitlausu,
þótt hann hoddskǫtum         heiti gæfi
viðar eða vatna         eða veðrs mikils
eða alls konar         orma eða dýra.
Táknar eðli         talðrar skepnu
spjǫrráðanda        spjǫll eða kosti.

Virði engi þat vitlausu, þótt hann gæfi {hoddskǫtum} heiti viðar eða vatna eða veðrs mikils eða alls konar orma eða dýra. Eðli talðrar skepnu táknar spjǫll eða kosti {spjǫrráðanda}.
‘ Let nobody think it nonsense if he gives treasure-chieftains [RULERS] the name of a wood or lakes or a great storm or all kinds of serpents or beasts. The nature of the creature described signifies the flaws or strengths of the wielders of the spear [WARRIORS].

notes and context

Here, following up on the preceding stanza, Gunnlaugr succinctly explains Geoffrey’s system of allegory and foreshadows that some members of his audience might find it nonsensical. — [3]: The pron. hann is omitted in Skj B and Skald for metrical reasons. — [6]: Cf. the mentions of the landnyrðingr ‘northeast wind’ in I 44/3, I 84/2.


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 97: AII, 35-6, BII, 43-4, Skald II, 27; Bret 1848-9, II, 73 (Bret st. 165); Hb 1892-6, 283; Merl 2012, 205.


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