Bard of Iceland makes available for the first time in any language other than Icelandic an extensive selection of works by Jonas Hallgrimsson (1807-1845), the most important poet of modern Iceland. Jonas 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 Jonas, 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 Jonas 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, Oehlenschlager). A master of poetic form, Jonas 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.
Dick Ringler is professor emeritus of English and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include the third edition of Bright's Old English Grammar and Reader (with Frederic G. Cassidy) and Old English and New (with Joan Hall and Nick Doane). He has lived, studied, and taught intermittently in Iceland for more than three decades.