Sjón – 2 poems

Two poems by the contemporary Icelandic poet Sjón (Sigurjón Sigurðsson), in my translation:

the stone collector’s song

I remember the thirst and the darkness
I remember one-way streets
I remember closed alleys
and you

you pointed to a cellar door
there used to be a pub there
which we visited
a lot

here it is you said comfortingly
your stone collection
it isn’t

on the shelves behind the bar
waits the iceland spar
all my

sulphur  – pyrite – opal
and jasper – dear friends!
none of you have I

and up there on the ceiling hang
the obsidian sacks
heavy with


that is the poem I sing
as I squat under house-walls
when the winter denies me shelter



family life

after doing the washing-up the man stumbles
across a reindeer
that is lying under the coffee table

it notices him
and rears up in fright

starts running out of the parlour
along the passage
where it jumps
over a pair of sandals
and a woman’s shoe.

he chases it into the bedroom

the beast creeps
the double bed

he gets down on all fours
watches it
join the herd

it grunts

and the man disappears


(from söngur steinasafnarans [2007])


See also in this blog: an icelandic economist in soho


  1. Wonderful poems. I love the fluid reality that allows the poet to vanish the man into the world of the reindeer herd. I am looking forward to his From the Mouth of the Whale when I can get a copy in English. Thanks for posting/translating the poems.

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