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Laxdæla Dreaming: A Saga Heroine Invents Her Own Life

Illustration to Laxdœla saga, chapter 55. Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir smiles as Helgi Harðbeinsson wipes his spear clean on her garment. Helgi has killed Bolli, Guðrún's husband, with the spear.Laxdæla Dreaming: A Saga Heroine Invents Her Own Life

Ármann Jakobsson

Leeds Studies in English: n.s. 39 (2008), 33-51.

Abstract

The four dreams It is probably not a matter of debate that one of the most memorable scenes in the entire saga corpus is when the young GuSriin Osvifrsdottir relates her four dreams to the renowned sage Gestr Oddleifsson from Hagi on BarQastrond, in chapter 33 (out of 87) of Laxdcela saga. The dream narrative goes as follows:

Uti bottumk ek vera stodd vi5 loek nokkurn, ok hafSa ek krokfald a hof5i ok botti mer ilia sama, ok var ek fusari at breyta faldinum, en margir tol5u um, at ek skylda bat eigi gera. En ek hlydda ekki a bat, ok greip ek af hof5i mer faldinn, ok kastaSa ek lit a loekinn,—ok var bessi draumr eigi lengri […] J>at var upphaf at 65rum draum, at ek bottumk vera stodd hja vatni einu; sva botti mer, sem kominn vasri silfrhringr a hond mer, ok bottumk ek eiga ok einkarvel sama; botti mer pat vera allmikil gersemi, ok astlaSa ek lengi at eiga. Ok er mer varu minnstar vanir, pa renndi hringrinn af hendi mer ok a vatnit, ok sa ek hann aldri si’San. J>6tti mer sa skaSi miklu meiri en ek maetta at glikendum ra5a, J^ott ek hef5a einum grip tynt. SiSan vaknaSa ek. […] Sa er inn priSi draumr minn, at ek pottum hafa gullhring a hendi, ok bottum ek eiga hringinn, ok botti mer boettr skaSinn; om mer bat i hug, at ek mynda bessa hrings lengr njota en ins fyrra; en eigi botti mer sja gripr pvi betr sama, sem gull er dyrra en silfr. SiSan bottumk ek falla ok vilja sty5ja mik me5 hendinni, en gullhringrinn mffitti steini nokkurum ok stokk f tva hluti, ok botti mer dreyra or hlutunum. I>at botti mer likara harmi en skaSa, er ek bottumk ba bera eptir; kom mer ba i hug, at brestr hafSi verit a hringnum, ok ba er ek hugda at brotunum eptir, ba bottumk ek sja fleiri brestina a, ok botti mer bo, sem heill myndi, ef ek hefSa betr til gaett, ok var eigi bessi draumr lengri. […] Sa er inn fjor3i draumr minn, at ek bottumk hafa hjalm a h6f5i af gulli ok mjok gimsteinum settan. Ek bottumk eiga ba gersemi; en bat botti mer helzt at, at hann var nokkurs til bungr, bvi at ek fekk varla valdit, ok bar ek hallt hofu5it, ok gaf ek bo hjalminum enga sok a bvi ok aetlaSa ekki at loga honum, en bo steypSisk hann af hof5i mer ok lit a HvammsfjrS, ok eptir bat vaknaSa ek. Eru per nu sagSir draumarnir allir.’

‘I seemed to be standing outdoors, by a stream, wearing a tall head-dress that I felt did not suit me at all well. I wanted to change the head-dress but many people advised against it. I refused to listen to them, tore the head-dress from my head and threw it into the stream. The dream ended there. […] In the beginning of the second dream I seemed to be standing by a lake. I seemed to have a silver ring on my arm which belonged to me and suited me especially well. I treasured it greatly and intended to keep it long and well. But the ring slid from my arm when I least expected it and fell into the lake and I never saw it again. I was filled with a sense of loss much greater than 1 should have felt at losing a mere object. After that I awoke. […] In the third dream I seemed to have a gold ring on my arm; it was my own and seemed to make up for my loss. I expected to have the pleasure of owning this one longer than the previous one. All the same it wasn’t as if it suited me so much better, not if compared with how much more costly gold is than silver. Then I fell and reached out my hand to break my fall, but the gold ring struck a stone and broke in two, and I thought I saw blood seep from the pieces. My feelings afterwards were more like grief than regret. I realised that there had been a flaw in the ring, and upon examining the pieces I could see other flaws. All the same I had the impression that if I’d looked after it better the ring might still have been in one piece. The dream ended here. […] In my fourth dream I seemed to have a gold helmet on my head, set with many gems. This treasure was mine. But it did seem to me that it was too heavy for me to bear.

Click here to read this article from Leeds Studies in English

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