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Saturday 16 November 2019

Saturday Rave: Iceland by Jonas Hallgrimsson.

Jónas Hallgrimsson (1807-1845), the son of an Icelandic curate, discovered in himself a great interest for the history and natural history of his native country. 

He lived for much of his adult life in Denmark, but he returned home regularly, and wrote for the pro-independence magazine Fjölnir, which he had helped to found.

He was a poet, too, rather a romantic one (there was unrequited love in his past which would have helped with the wistful-longing side of things). He wrote about the Icelandic natural world movingly and beautifully, and experimented with forms new to Icelandic literature.

Here's an example of his verse:


Charming and fair is the land,
and snow-white the peaks of the jokuls.
Cloudless and blue is the sky,
the ocean is shimmering bright,
But high on the lava fields, where 
still Osar river is flowing
Down into Altmanna gorge
Althing no longer is held,
Now Snorri's booth serves as a sheepfold,
the ling upon Logberg the sacred
Is blue with berries every year,
for children's and ravens' delight.
Oh, ye juvenile host
and full-grown manhood of Iceland!
Thus is our forefathers' fame
forgotten and dormant withal.

(translated by Gudmund J Gislason)

Since 1996 November 16, Jónas's birthday, has been recognised as the national Day of the Icelandic Language, and today the Jónas Hallgrimsson Award will be given for outstanding contribution to the Icelandic.

Word To Use Today: icicle, perhaps, as a the word jokul means glacier and is basically the same word as our word icicle.

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