1. The Farmer in Wet Weather (Dalabóndinn í óþurrknum)

Color photo of rainy field, small version.
[larger image/full caption]

Hay in the rain.

The Farmer in Wet Weather

Dalabóndinn í óþurrknum

Goddess of drizzle,
driving your big
cartloads of mist
across my fields!
Send me some sun
and I'll sacrifice
my cow — my wife —
my Christianity!

recording available

Hví svo þrúðgu þú
um sveitir ekur?
Þér man eg offra
til árbóta
kú og konu
og kristindómi.

Form:One fornyrðislag strophe.
Manuscript:KG 31 b I, where it has the title "Dalabóndinn í óþurrknum" (facsimile KJH4; image).
First published:1847 (A15; image).
Sound recording:Anton Helgi Jónsson reads "Dalabóndinn í óþurrknum." recording available [0:26]

Commentary:        Not surprisingly, the weather has always been a popular subject for verse in Iceland. The present poem is Jónas's earliest surviving "weather song" (veðurvísa). It suggests very amusingly — and poignantly — the desperation of Icelandic farmers, in the days before mechanized agriculture, when hay needed to keep their livestock alive over the winter lay rotting in the fields and there was no sunshine to dry it. The image of the "goddess of drizzle" (suldanorn) scattering mist across the fields contains a witty allusion to Icelandic agricultural practice. The prayer-format of the poem, and the ironic progression in its last two lines, may owe something to an Icelandic joke about a farmer who prayed to God about his wife, his mistress, and his horse: "Dear Lord, you can take Dæsa. But let Valka live. And if you kill Rauðka, you and me are through" (5Íþs364).

Since the poem is an imaginative projection, a sort of miniature dramatic monologue, there seems little point in making guesses about when and where it was written.1


1 Matthías Þórðarson speculated (lD374-5) that it was composed at Steinsstaðir in 1826, when Jónas was home from school for the summer: it was a very damp summer that caused widespread damage to the hay crop. But the next summer was just as bad ("men could hardly remember a worse summer in the north part of the country" [ÁfÍ227]).

Copyright © 1996-8 Dick Ringler. All rights reserved.

Jonas' MS flourish for the end of a poem For technical assistance:
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