Up on the mountain

The Vastness of the Universe - Alheimsvíðáttan
Jónas Hallgrímsson

I am the speeding
spark of light
flung by God
from the forge of Chaos.
I soar on wings
swifter than wind
above the paths
of the pulsing stars.

Faster! faster !
to find the place
where cosmic waves
crash ashore :
to cast anchor
off that empty coast,
that far frontier
and final reach
of created things : —
the edge of heaven.

I watched the stars
in the womb of youth
rise from the still
streams of heaven,
eager to make
their million year
race through the thin
ethereal blue.

Later they flickered
faintly behind me
as I rushed on
to the rim of worlds.
I peered with anxious
eyes about me :
now I was steering
through starless voids.

Faster! faster !
to find the place
where Nothingness reigns
and inane Chaos,
wending my way
on wings of light,
steering toward port
with steady courage.

As I dart on
through dim greyness,
I encounter clouds
of cosmic dust.
Behind me I hear,
hushed in distance,
dark cataracts
of dying suns.

Suddenly, something
comes swiftly toward me
through empty night —
an image that speaks :
"Stay, oh traveller
tired with flight !
Tell me, wanderer —
what are you seeking ?"

"My way leads on
to the worlds you come from!
My flight is destined
to those distant shores,
that far frontier
and final reach
of created things: —
the edge of heaven."

"Cease your search,
sojourner! end
your futile wandering
through wastes of ether!
Know that ahead of you
lie nothing
but infinite tracts
of endlessness."

"Cease your search,
sojourner! end
your futile wandering
through wastes of ether !
Behind me, too,
lie torrents of stars
and infinite, empty

Oh eagle-mounting
Cease your soaring,
descend to earth !
Oh swift voyager,
venturesome poet :
tired of creating,
cast your anchor here !



Journey's End - Ferðalok
Jónas Hallgrímsson

The star of love
over Steeple Rock
is cloaked in clouds of night.
It laughed, once, from heaven
on the lad grieving
deep in the dark valley.

I know where all hope —
where my whole world —
flames with the fire of God.
I throw off the chains
of thought, I fling
myself into your soul.

I sink myself,
see into your being,
live your very life ;
each gracious moment
that God loves you
blooms in my burning heart.

Alone together
we gathered flowers
high on the heath at dawn.
I wove you wreaths,
reverently laying
loving gifts in your lap.

You heaped my forehead
with fragrant rings
of bright blue flowers,
one, then another;
you nodded and smiled
and swiftly snatched them away.

We laughed in the highlands
while heaven grew clear,
bright at the mountain brim.
Not a single joy
seemed to exist
apart from living our life.

The wise flower-elves
wept in the hollows,
they knew we would need to part.
We thought it was drops
of dew, and kissed
cold tears from the crossgrass.

I held you on horseback
in the hurtling stream
and felt with fond assurance
I could lift and carry
so light a flower
over all the leagues of life.

Beside the bank
of Boar River
I carefully combed your hair ;
eye stars flash,
flower lips smile,
cheeks turn ruby red.

He is far from your fair
friendship, the lad
deep in the dark valley.
The star of love
over Steeple Rock
is burning back of clouds.

The heavens part
the high planets,
blade parts back and edge;
not even eter-
nity can part
souls that are sealed in love.