Seasons Greetings (PS)

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palli-dlBernard Scudder (1954-2007) was the most gifted translator of Icelandic literature into English.

His book, Icelandic Poetry (c. 870-2007) was published this year by Saga Forlag ehf., selected and edited by Joe Allard and Sigrún Á. Eiríksdóttir.

This must be the best book in English, published this year in Iceland.

Here are some samples.

Merry Christmas.

Prayer

Hark, heaven’s maker,

hear the poet’s prayer:

may thy merciful grace

grant me its embrace.

Thus I vow to thee

who have created me.

I am thy slave,

thou art my Lord.

Kolbeinn Tumason (1173-1208)

I Will Praise Her and Laud

Mary good, good, good,

Mary good, good, good,

Mary good, so modest and mild,

of all maidens the brightest.

Anonymous (c.a. 1480)

Wonderful Was That Winter’s Night

Wonderful Was That Winter’s Night,

around the world the light shone bright -

in man’s distress it is his plight

to fail to see him duly.

With that lullaby I rock the cradle gently.

In Bethlehem a child was born

who heals the soul where it is worn

and him the angels all have sworn

to be the redeemer truly.

With that lullaby I rock the cradle gently. 

That precious prize the shepherds won,

there they found God and man in one,

in a lowly manger lay the son

yet the world’s saviour truly.

With that lullaby I rock the cradle gently.

Praise and glory to heaven’s king

with choirs of angels we all sing

peace on earth and worshipping,

all men rejoicing duly.

With that lullaby I rock the cradle gently.

Einar Sigurðsson (1538-1626)

Travel Hymn

My journey I begin,

Jesus, in your name.

Lead me with holy hand,

resolve all fear I face.

Jesus, follow me in peace with your angel’s fair host.

From my maternal ground

your gentle, noble care

led me with fortune sweet

easing my every fear.

Jesus, follow me in peace with your angel´s fair host.

Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-1674)

Travel Verses

We have travelled far across the land,

marshes, deserts, lava, sand,

glaciers, rivers, mountains steep,

caves, cliffs and chasms deep -

a comfort journey from start to end.

Eggert Ólafsson (1726-1768)

Pall Stefánsson - ps@icelandreview.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.