March 14, 2013

Sigfús Daðason


Sigfús Daðason [Iceland]
1928-1996

Sigfús Daðason is often spoken of in his homeland of Iceland as having changed the poetic outlook of Icelandic poetry. He published his first book of poety, Ljóð in 1951, and soon after wrote his important essay, “Defence of Poetry” on new poetic trends.

     After spending eight years studying in France, including Latin language and culture, and French and German literature at the Sorbonne, he returned to Iceland, where he became the director of a publishing house and edited one Iceland’s leading literary magazines, Tímarit Máls og mennigar. Daðason wrote several essays on literature and culture as well as further books of poetry. The poet was a member of the “Atom Poets.”

BOOKS OF POETRY

 Ljóð (1951); Hendur og orð (1959); Fáein ljóð (1977); Útlinur bak við minnið (1987); Maðurinn og skáldið (1987); Province í endursýn (1992); Ljóð 1947-1996 (2008)
 
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS

 selected poems in Sigurdur A. Magnússon, ed. and trans. The Postwar Poetry of Iceland (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1982
 

Pop Melody

The dream is as moonlight
the moonlight as a dream
as moonlight
the dream I finally had last night
 
as the sea as the moon as the wake
as eyes deep in the sea
as you forget me
as you recall me tonight
as sailing across the sea lonely and gray
as you come to me
as you come at last this night
as the wake in the moonlight
as the moon in the wake and the sea wide and lonely
 
—Translated from the Icelandic by Sigurdur A. Magnússon


Hands and Words, III
 
Take a revolver in your hand
take a revolver in each hand
 
Stretch out your arms
and fire
as it may happen.
 
Fire without forethought
and without afterthought
—someone will be within range.
 
The witness to this murder
have—when all is said and done—
been absent or absent-minded.

The judge will at most
consider the revolvers
the murder
and the witnesses to the murder
as symbols in a work of art.
 
—Translated from the Icelandic by Sigurdur A. Magnússon

 
Hands and Words, IX
 
The great joy: not to know when you took my hand
whether you took my hand,
or whether our hands were only hands.
When we talked together: not to know whether we talked,
together,
or whether our words were only words.
 
And the greatest joy when the time arrived that our hands and
words were alive and perfect but not merely hands and not
merely words.  
 
—Translated from the Icelandic by Sigurdur A. Magnússon

__________
English language translation copyright ©1982 by Sigurdur A. Magnússon. Reprinted from Sigurdur A. Magnússon, ed. and trans., The Postwar Poetry of Iceland (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1982).

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