Kaldidalur og Fyrir Íslensku Landvættirnar

About my recent four-week trip to Iceland, I could write a very long time. Here, I’ll briefly mention a particular spot connected to poetry that I got to see, which I had not expected. I got to see it on July 20, on a bus tour that stopped in Kaldidalur on the way between Þingvellir and Hraunfoss. I have a poem and a picture after the cut.

In Kaldidalur (with a view of Eiríksjökull and Langjökull) and right next to the road is a cairn of stones, about ten feet high. I had heard that it was traditional for poets to put some of their verses into the pile of stones for others to find. Fortunately, I had some of my poems with me. I put a copy of Six Treasures and Fyrir Íslensku Landvættirnar into the rocks. Perhaps they have been found by other travelers; if not, rain or snow will eventually destroy them. In the extremely unlikely event one of you readers found or finds my poems in Kaldidalur, I’d like to hear your story. You can contact me through the comments, and I’d like to see a picture of the page you found. (The picture at the bottom of this post is me sitting on top of this pile of rocks.)

The poem Fyrir Íslensku Landvættirnar is nine stanzas of ljóðaháttr, and I wrote it as part of a ritual offering to the four major Icelandic land spirits prior to my trip to Iceland. They appear on the country’s coat of arms and on the reverse of the coins. And so it seemed the most appropriate poem to put into the rocks.

Hail the Dragon
at home in the East
who is warding Iceland well!
Swim forth now
and accept my gift,
O spirit of Iceland’s awe.

Dread and defense
is the draught you give:
now let’s deeply drink.
Guard me well
as I go to Iceland
to live and learn in your realm!

Hail the Eagle
at home in the North
who is warding Iceland well!
Fly forth now
and find my gift,
O spirit of Iceland’s awe.

Insight and seeing
is the sip you give
now let’s deeply drink.
Inspire me well
as I speed to Iceland
to read and write in your tongue!

Hail the Bull
at home in the West
who is warding Iceland well!
Charge forth now
and achieve my gift,
O spirit of Iceland’s awe.

Might and main
is the mead you give:
now let’s deeply drink.
Invigorate me well
as I visit Iceland
to meet and mix with your folk!

Hail the Rock-Giant
at home in the South
who is warding Iceland well!
Stride forth now
and strive for my gift,
O spirit of Iceland’s awe.

Steadfastness strong
is the stout you give:
now let’s deeply drink.
Fortify me well
as I fare to Iceland
to grow and gain in your culture!

I’ve called to the quarters
and have come to the center
to rightly end this rite.
Forth I go now
and fare to Iceland:
Hail its special spirits,
Hail my journey in joy!

Eirik at Kaldidalur

Eirik at Kaldidalur, looking contemplative.

Copyright © 2013 Eirik Westcoat.
All rights reserved.

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