In Iceland, “Poetry is a national pastime, but not a particularly ‘specialist activity'”


On an Island Named for Ice, the Poets Are Just Getting Warmed Up – Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura – New York Times – 11/30/16

This article includes a downloadable book by “Birgitta Jonsdottir, the leader of the anarchist-leaning Pirate Party, ” who “describes herself rather loftily as a ‘poetician.’”

According to the article,

“When they’re not at their day jobs, a great many of [Iceland’s] 330,000 inhabitants dabble in verse, including politicians, businessmen, horse breeders and scientists who study the genetic isolation of the island in pursuit of medical breakthroughs….

“… The most popular verse form…is called ‘ferskeytla,’ four rhymed lines that can be divided into two parts.”

For more on “ferskeytla,” see this excerpt from  Bard of Iceland: Jónas Hallgrímsson, Poet and Scientist and this Wikepedia entry, which says

“An example of the form is this verse by Jónas Hallgrímsson, with a translation into the same metre by Dick Ringler.[3] Alliteration is emboldened and rhyme is italicised:”

Hóla bítur hörkubál,
hrafnar éta gorið,
tittlingarnir týna sál,
tarna’ er ljóta vorið!

Hillsides raked by raging frost,
ravens eating offal,
buntings giving up the ghost
God, this spring is awful!

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