Iceland’s Poet Laureate

While the Sagas are famous within the literary tradition of Iceland, the island has continued to produce outstanding authors and poets of merit. Stephan G. Stephansson was born on the rocky northern coast of Iceland in 1853. He was the typical Icelander — hard-working and poetic. During the day he would work on his farm and at night, write his poems. He moved to the United States and then to Canada. He was once called “the greatest poet of the Western World.”





From his poem, “Northern Lights”:

Gleaming through the gloaming,
Geysers, wild, arising,
Tip the rocks with tapers,
Twos and more afusing.
Lambent rays illumine
Living bows aquiver.

Rainbows, lined with lanterns,
Light the way so brightly,
‘Round the summits running
Rills of golden spillings.

Winter’s hand, in hundreds,
Heaves the flares at even.
Icy cones, like candles,
Quicken till they flicker.
Spangles thrown asprinkle
Spray the night with daylight.

Glossy reaches glisten,
Glasslike, to the flashes
Of the fireworks’ fury
Far beyond the Arctic.

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