29. Bósi (Bósi)

Gaimard lithograph of Icelandic dog, small version.
[larger image/full caption]

Icelandic dog.



Growl, my Bósi, never bite —
better heed this warning!
Or someone — turning snappish — might
smash your jaw some morning.

And never join the gibing pack
of "gentlefolk" that flatters
until a man has turned his back —
then tears his name to tatters.

Bósi! geltu Bósi minn!
en bíttu ekki, hundur!
ella dregur einhvur þinn
illan kjaft í sundur.

Hafðu' ekki' á þér heldra snið
höfðingja, sem brosa,
en eru svona aftan við
æru manns að tosa.

Form:Two stanzas of alternating four-stress and three-stress lines with the rhyme scheme aBaB and the alliteration pattern 22.
Manuscript:ÍB 13 fol., where it is entitled "Bósi" (facsimile KJH221; image).
First published:1847 (A193; image) under the title "Bósi".

Commentary:        Although the circumstances that occasioned this poem are not known, it has been speculated that "its origins can be traced to Jónas's summer expedition of 1842, since he seems not to have been particularly popular with many influential men in Iceland around that time" (4E198). Indeed, Páll Melsteð wrote Jón Sigurðsson in March 1843: "I'm inclined to think that various people here would have been just as happy if Jónas Hallgrímsson had died this past fall" (BPM40).

The poem might also, of course, reflect Jónas's uneasy relations with the Danes and his sense of being insufficiently valued by them — even, perhaps, betrayed to some extent by his Danish mentors J. G. Forchhamer and J. C. H. Reinhardt (see 2E138-9, 140-1).

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

Jonas' MS flourish for the end of a poem For technical assistance:
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University of Wisconsin-Madison
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