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Connecting Yore to Yonder

By Sam Hodge

My time in Iceland is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. Not in the sense that it will cast a shadow over my soul, but in the sense that it will forever be caught in my mind. Iceland has changed my view of the world, and my understanding of my own place within it will never be the same. To return to a place your ancestors left is to feel more at home than one could ever know.

Arriving on June 12th, the people around me quickly felt like family, a group of strangers in a new place that was incredibly warm and inviting. Learning about the history, language, and culture did nothing but bring us closer and closer with the idea of calling a brand new place home. I know most of us left trying to find ways that we could call Iceland our home for good.

As part of the Snorri program, we needed to give a short presentation on the final day of the trip. I decided to do my own presentation on the topic of Rímur, Iceland’s ancient poetic form. I am someone who finds studying language to be one of the most powerful interactions one could have with a given culture, and I had a wonderful time exploring the history of the art-form and how it functioned. I decided to finish my presentation with a poem of my own that follows the rules of rhyming, alliteration, and syllabic structures one finds in the works of old:

Frá Íslandi

The lands that once were left

Lure us back from the west,

Brimstone, hellfire, beckon:

What lies back, you reckon?

Obsidian sands old,

Basalt opened, soul sold

The land’s heart is laid bare,

Lacerated to share.

The rock’s rage grows below,

Boiling remnants churn slow.

People who, promised more,

lost progenitor shore.

In exchange, endless cold,

Winter’s endless dark hold

Kept them moored, kindle dead,

Know no peace in one’s head.

And yet they lived and thrived,

Those who always survived

Eternal enmity

Weather’s extremity

The soul made iron, struck

Until hot, seldom luck

Showed any hand to spare,

But strong wills need no care.

People’s perseverance,

Pride’s great reappearance

Burns and thrives in our blood,

Through each battle, each flood.

To proceed where they tread

Reinforces that thread

Connects yore to yonder

Ever one may wander.

I give my deepest and most humble thanks to Sunna, Icelandic Roots, and the many members who helped to make this experience possible. I am incredibly fortunate to have the privilege of being able to take part in the Snorri program. They are 5 short weeks that will surely define this section of my life.

Sam Hodge


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