Icelandic Lyrics: The West Wind

When I first went away to college, I think it was, I took a book with me, from off my mother's bookshelf in the kitchen. It was a book called Icelandic Lyrics by Richard Beck, published 1930. The book has a selection of poems from poets that lived between 1830 and 1930, and features the Icelandic original with facing English translation. Beck was a professor of Scandinavian Languages and Literature at the University of North Dakota. I don't think they have a professor of Scandinavian there anymore, which is a shame. It is also a shame that I have carried this book around with me for 20 years, and never really read it. I think the first time I tried, I was so disappointed by how little I understood of the Icelandic originals, and how little I liked the English translations that I put it aside. This morning, I was in the mood for poetry, and gave the book another try. So well it has taken acquiring a PhD in Icelandic literature, but I think I can finally appreciate many of these poems in the original for their artistic merit and content.

Here is one, not so hard to understand anyhow, but amazingly beautiful, that seemed appropriate for my poor neglected blog.

Vestanvindurinn  
eftir Bjarna Thórarensen

Þú, sem, þegar vorar,
þínum hlýja anda
hlíðar steini studdra
storða ísa fjalla
hrímþaki sviftir hörðu
og hjúpi grænum sveipar,
hefirðu, vestanvindur,
viðurtal okkar munað?

Hefirðu of hafið spánska
heitan munað mér færa
kossinn kæru minnar
kinnrjóðrar, er þú hézt mér?

Sótta ég koss þinnar kæru
kinnrjóðrar, er ég hét þér,
bar ég hann blár yfir unnir
hið bjarta loft í gegnum,
Þó máttu því ei reiðast,
að þér hann fært getkat:

Því ég leit í lundi
lilju fagra í myrgin
bleiku höfði halla
til helfarar snúna,
blaðfögur mig beiddi
að bjarga fjörvi sínu;
gleymdi ég gefnu heiti
og gaf henni kossinn.

Færðist líf í liðna,
svo lyfti upp höfði
við ylsending ástar
og upp á mig brosti.
Þýð má þakka lífið
þinnar meyjar kossi.

Comments

Skúli Páls said…
Ekki beint auðvelt mál á þessu.
Lissy said…
Nei, kanski ekki. En ég skildi þessu með fyrsta lesun og án þess að nota orðabók. That's my definition of easy, I guess!

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