Bard of Iceland makes available for the first time in any language other than Icelandic an extensive selection of works by Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807–1845), the most important poet of modern Iceland. Jónas was also Iceland’s first professionally trained geologist and an active contributor in a number of other scientific fields: geography, botany, zoology, and archaeology. He played a key role as well in Iceland’s struggle to gain independence from Denmark. "Descriptive power and fullness of spirit were the hallmarks of his soul," wrote a contemporary admirer.
Dick Ringler, one of the premier scholars of Icelandic literature in the world, offers a substantial biography of Jónas, a representative selection of his most important poems, and some of his prose work in science and belles lettres. Ringler also provides extended commentaries and an essay on Icelandic prosody.
The poems are translated into English equivalents of their original complex meters in Icelandic and Danish. As a poet Jónas was intimately familiar with his nation’s medieval literary inheritance—the sagas and eddas—and also with the groundbreaking work of contemporary German and Danish Romanticism (Chamisso, Heine, Oehlenschläger). A master of poetic form, Jónas not only exploited and enlarged the possibilities of traditional eddic and skaldic meters, but introduced the sonnet, triolet stanza, terza and ottava rima, and blank verse into the Icelandic metrical repertory.