Day 3, day 4, 27th-28th July.

Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2eq): 361 kilos
Sigurðar saga fóts: 62/252 (STILL…)

Arrrgh, I am very busy!

  • Partly with hanging out with cool people. Yay! Day 3 saw me getting back into the Árnastofnun coffee routine rather than just hiding in the National Library, which was good. And I’m not as bad at Icelandic as I expected to be! This may just be because when you’ve been living somewhere and getting better at the language gradually all you really notice is the continual uphill struggle; whereas coming back, you notice how much better you are than last time you arrived. It also, however, has something to do with the noble willingness of some of the Leeds grads to spend the last couple of months having an Icelandic conversation group. They’re stars!
  • Quite a lot with keeping the inbox from overheating. Arrrgh!
  • BUT also, it can’t be denied, I have done some actual RESEARCH! Mostly STILL on the ever-monstrous and all too nearly untameable manuscript family trees that I was already going on about back in 2009 (here and thereafter ad tedium). Albeit it’s nothing, so far, that I couldn’t have done in Leeds… Hopefully I’ll get to the manuscripts next week. I’ve got this aspiration to get a working paper up online before I leave for Canada. We’ll see!
  • Okay, admittedly also with writing this blog…
  • Arrrgh! I’ve already been here FOUR DAYS! Where did they go?!

The evening of Day 3 was especially pleasant. I met up with a St Andrean who’s in town to learn Icelandic; and that was inherently fun, but it turned out her homework was to read and think over some poems by Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir. (It’s okay, I hadn’t heard of her either.) I was a bit, like, hmmmm, these don’t alliterate. Or even rhyme. Or have punctuation, for that matter… But still, I’m an open-minded, twenty-first century guy. If you can have gay marriage, I guess you can have free verse. And it was fun trying to work out what the poems said and chewing over them. (Albeit that, in retrospect, a couple of my misunderstandings were more interesting than the real text.) Should do that more often. Here’s one that I can actually translate all the way through (though with no attempt at artfulness):

Sjá þessa litlu eyju
þessa stóru einmana eyju
þar sem enginn hleypur
berfættur
um svarta sanda á haustin
sjá þessa þrjósku voga
og voguðu þorp
þar sem fólkið vakir
bátarnir farast
og kunnuglega masturshúna rekur á land

See this little island
this big, lonely island
where no-one runs
barefoot
on the black sands in autumn
see these stubborn bays
and undaunted villages
where people lie waking
the boats sink
and familiar mastheads wash up on land

And one of my housemates lent me a cool book she’d illustrated. It was itself about a book–and I disapprove, as a rule, of writers writing about books–but this book was on the run from a wicked stepmother, and you can’t say fairer than that. Actually, now I think about it, I bumped into another friend on Day 3 (and wait, what’s this, yes, inevitably he has a blog too…), who seemed to be busily translating some Icelandic poems into Basque. Reykjavík, to me, is like this. These people aren’t all Icelanders by any means: it’s clearly a sort of international magnet for dodgy arty types. Maybe I bump into them because I’m foreign too, you know the way how foreigners somehow have their own special gravity that draws them together despite all the efforts they may make to go native. But I encounter these characters a lot more than in Helsinki. So yeah, downtown Reykjavík, a city with a poet round every corner.

Meanwhile, the weather remains obligingly bad.

About alarichall

http://www.alarichall.org.uk
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One Response to Day 3, day 4, 27th-28th July.

  1. Pingback: Day 12, 5th August: you heard it here first! | alarichall

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