Jónas Hallgrímsson, Icelandic Romantic poet
June 17, 2007 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807-45) was an Icelandic Romantic poet and natural scientist. Dick Ringler, a professor at The University of Wisconsin, has a site that contains 50 poems and prose texts by Jónas in parallel English/Icelandic versions. Also on the site, a guide to traditional Icelandic verse, a biographical sketch of the poet and a map of Iceland with places Jónas wrote about marked. Here's his short Above the Ford: The cliffs on life's swift current/are cleft by shallow valleys./Masses have queued to cross there ---/crowds of billy-goat milkers./We'll go upstream, God willing,/to walk the hawk-high ridges/and pitch ourselves --- impetuous ---/plumb in the roaring torrent! [Today is Iceland's Independence Day]
posted by Kattullus (13 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
"The Vastness of the Universe": "I watched the stars/in the womb of youth/rise from the still/streams of heaven,/eager to make/their million year/race through the thin/ethereal blue."

Terrific post. Thanks for this.
posted by blucevalo at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2007

Excellent. No time to explore now, but I shall enjoy this.
posted by Abiezer at 10:37 AM on June 17, 2007

Suicide seems to be a theme! e.g.. This is a nice plain, simple, straightforward no B.S. site, information rich, easy to get around (kind of like Iceland itself). Thanks, Kattallus.
posted by Rumple at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2007

A great site indeed.

Suicide seems to be a theme! e.g.

Not saying suicide isn't a theme (what else do Icelanders have to do besides get drunk and kill themselves or each other?), but that warn't no suicide:
I hate it here on Moon Island,
but I have to stay, you see,
with my ribcage ripped to pieces
when the rockslide fell on me.
posted by languagehat at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2007

How the fuck did I misread that? kills self

OK, morbid contemplation of death then.
posted by Rumple at 11:12 AM on June 17, 2007

You wouldn't believe how much more beautiful these are in Icelandic. Wow. I didn't appreciate the beauty of his form until i saw the english / original versions side by side.
posted by krilli at 1:01 PM on June 17, 2007

It seems to me like one feature of the form of the poems is that you can't really help but read them beautifully out loud. Badass.
posted by krilli at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2007

I think this is the first time I've heard Jónas Hallgrímsson referred to as "badass." Though this (possibly untrue) story always brings smile to my face.
In the night between 20 and 21 May, returning home to his new quarters in Sankt Peders Stræde, Jónas lost his footing on the stairs --- either because he was not yet familiar with the staircase (which was steep and fairly narrow, as is common in old houses in central Copenhagen), or because he had been drinking, or both129 --- and broke his right leg very badly above the ankle. "Even so," Konráð tells us, "he managed to get to his feet and make it up to his room, where he lay down fully clothed and waited for the night to pass. When they came to him in the morning and asked why he hadn't called for help, he said he had seen no point in disturbing people in the middle of the night when he knew he wasn't going to live anyway."
Blessaður, krilli, gleðilegan sautjánda júní!
posted by Kattullus at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2007

What a coincidence. I've been rereading his poetry recently and am enjoying it much more than when I last read them, years ago.

One of my favorites is Stökur(Quatrains), a gloriously gloomy poem.

Oh, and btw, it's my birthday today as well. It's always nice to have the entire nation celebrate the date of one's birth.

Gleðilegan seytjánda, Kári og Krilli!
posted by aldurtregi at 4:46 PM on June 17, 2007

I hate it here on Moon Island,
but I have to stay, you see,
with my ribcage ripped to pieces
when the rockslide fell on me.

Well, idunno, that could still be a suicide attempt.

Didn't the lead character in Knut Hamsun's Pan kill himself by detonating dynamite on a cliff & causing the rockslide to crush him?

Aside from that, happy Independence Day, Iceland! Keep those Aminas, Sigur Rosses, Bjorks, Mums & Stafrænn Hákons coming!

(as a side note, i have an uncle who spent some time in iceland studying the language as part of a thesis on ancient icelandic sagas. never did much with this knowledge, other than singing the sagas with some friends at the avant-garde art festival, the sydney biennale)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:47 PM on June 17, 2007

There sure are a lot of Icelanders around here.

Too many.

Let's get 'em, boys!
posted by languagehat at 5:45 PM on June 17, 2007

Your longboat or mine?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:13 PM on June 17, 2007

(once we've put all the menfolk to the sword, i get first dibs on all those ~dottirs!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:15 PM on June 17, 2007

« Older The World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.   |   I vant to be aloooone ... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments