Jonas Hallgrimsson

(1807-1845 / Iceland)

To Mr. Paul Gaimard At A Banquet Of Icelanders In Copenhagen - Poem by Jonas Hallgrimsson

Standing on Hekla's stony height
you stared at braided rivers gleaming
over the peaceful plains and streaming
out to an ocean broad and bright,
while Loki lurked among the boulders
lying beneath the mountain's shoulders --
were you not awed by Iceland then,
this ancient realm of crag and glen?

Riding a steed of rugged stock
you roamed through many an upland valley,
pausing where tumbling torrents dally
dimly with dwellers in the rock,
while high in steep and stony passes
straggle-haired sheep ate fragrant grasses --
were you not awed by Iceland then,
this ageless land of moor and fen?

Looking on lava's vast extent
along the stream where chieftains hosted
back in the days when Iceland boasted
her proud and ancient parliament
(its towering tents are long forgotten,
their turf foundations wrecked and rotten) --
did you not ache for Iceland then,
openly shamed before all men?

Here, beneath Copenhagen's towers,
a host from Iceland greets you, knowing
Frenchmen will never fail in showing
love for a land as free as ours,
where liberty still laughs and dances
though lamed by tyrannous circumstances,
and all its natives need or want
is nourishment from wisdom's font.

Progress depends on truth and lore.
Patient research, pursued with rigor,
restores a people's stagnant vigor,
bringing them boons unknown before.
Therefore we place supreme reliance
upon the work of men of science,
who toil up pathways never trod
to tend the holy flame of God.

Honor to you, Paul, evermore!
Honor for your immense successes
drawing from nature's dim recesses
puzzles and prodigies galore!
Well-earned renown was never clearer;
never has guest of ours been dearer!
God be your aid in all you do --
Iceland will long remember you

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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