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Oxnadalur is a magnificent valley in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. Priest, poet and translator Jon Thorlaksson lived there in his later days and to his daying day, at the farm Baegisa. Jonas Hallgrimsson, one of Iceland's most beloved poets, was born in the valley, at the farm Hraun.

Jon was one of the champions of the Elightenment in Iceland. As well as being a notable priest and poet, he translated such major works as John Milton‘s Paradise Lost, Alexander Pope‘s Essay on Man and Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock‘s Messias. His translation of Paradise Lost is generally held to be the best of those.

As well as being a poet, Jonas Hallgrimsson was a naturalist and a leading figure of the 19th century independence movement. At Hraun you can visit a museum dedicated to his memory.

The knife-edged lava peaks over Hraun, shaped by glaciers and frosty weather, are an incredible sight. The best known of these is Hraundrangi ('Steeple Rock'), as one of Jonas's most famous poems, the love poem Ferdalok ('Journey's End') refers to the clouded love star over the peak.

The star of love
over Steeple Rock
is cloaked in clouds of night.
It laughed, once, from heaven
on the lad grieving
deep in the dark valley.

The poem does end with a glimmer of hope, however:

The heavens part
the high planets,
blade parts back and edge;
not even eternity can part
souls that are sealed in love


Translation by Dick Ringler. Shared with kind permission.

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