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Tag Archives: poetry

Icelandic kennings. Posted by on Jul 16, 2015

What is “a wave’s horse”? If someone’s talking of “Ymir’s skull”, what are they talking about? What or who is being called Hringaná in the old song Hættu að gráta Hringaná? And who is “the possessor of the fallen slain and the owner of Sessrúmnir”? Kennings, or circumlocutions, form a large part of traditional Icelandic…

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Icelandic – unchangeable? Posted by on Jun 11, 2015

At some point or another anyone interested in Icelandic will come across the popular idea that Icelandic is being kept unchanged, or at least that it has changed very little with time. Occasionally you’ll even hear people claim that Icelandic is so close to Old Norse that Icelanders can still understand it. Alas, all of…

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Vatnsenda-Rósa: a legendary poet. Posted by on Apr 9, 2015

The most famous love poem of Iceland is written by a woman. Though little is actually known of her the amount of legends that circle around Rósa Guðmundsdóttir, also known as Skáld-Rósa (= Rósa the poet) or Vatnsenda-Rósa (= Rósa of Vatnsendi), would suggest she was a striking and noteworthy person in her time just the same…

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An Icelander walked past a bar. Posted by on Jan 29, 2015

It happened years ago on an evening in May. I had just met my SO and we were sitting together in a garden swing talking of this and that, and eventually started telling each other jokes. This was the first one he told me. (To understand the following you’ll have to know that reipi means rope, and…

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Sunny with a hint of poisonous gas. Posted by on Oct 9, 2014

The whole capital city region has been engulfed in a sulfur dioxide cloud since Monday, and it seems to go on for at least until the wind changes direction. Yes, the volcanic eruption is still going on. The world may have forgotten it by now but a volcano does not care about whether it’s being watched or…

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Reykjavík ravens. Posted by on Sep 18, 2014

Autumn, nothing makes its arrival clearer than seeing a familiar shape fly over Reykjavík, perch on lamp posts and sing – er, cronk – from the rooftops. Ravens are back in town after spending the long summer in the countryside, during which time their place in the city is claimed by seagulls. Now its their turn…

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Apples in the oak tree. Posted by on Apr 24, 2014

Happy Sumardagurinn fyrsti, First of Summer, everyone! Easter is almost over now, the lamb’s eaten, Easter beer gone, the chocolate eggs opened and now the only thing left to do is to try to understand the proverbs that the eggs gave you. One of you, dear readers, asked me about a particularly difficult proverb which prompted me…

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