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Janus Djurhuus: Yrkingar 1914-2014

On the occasion of the centenary of the poetry collection Yrkingar by Janus Djurhuus the Department for Language and Literature, University of the Faroe Islands, will honour the poet’s memory by a ceremony at his grave in Nýggi kirkjugarður. The ceremony will take place at noon on May 1.
Janus DjurhuusJanus Djurhuus
Perman á yrkingasavninum. Mynd: Erhard JacobsenPerman á yrkingasavninum. Mynd: Erhard Jacobsen

The first individual collection of Faroese poems turns hundred 

This spring a century has gone since the collection Yrkingar (i.e. poems) by Janus Djurhuus was published.

The book is dedicated to the memory of “skaldið Jens Christian Djurhuus, bónda við Sjógv í Kollafirði” (i.e. the poet Jens Christian Djurhuus við Sjógv in Kollafjørður) who was Janus Djurhuus’ greatgrandfather. The prologue, “Ver sterk mín sál” (i.e. Be strong my soal), strikes the rebellious, ponderous note which characterizes  the book as a whole with the exception of one poem, “Várlátur” (i.e. spring laughter) says Kristin í Geil in his recension in Tingakrossur on May 27 1914 and he is right.

Many of the poems had been published earlier in newspapers and periodicals, for example “Ódn” (i.e. Tempest), “Gleðigentan” (i.e. the prostitute”), “Eg sovi mær megi” (i.e. In sleep I gather strength), and “Um eg kundi kvøðið” (i.e. If I could sing) – all these were, in Kristin í Geil’s words, major events in Faroese poetry. Faroese history, culture and language are important subjects in many of the poems, handled in Djurhuus’ personal way and in powerful images and symbols. 

Janus Djurhuus, Yrkingar 1914 is a landmark in Faroese poetry. The publication was subsided by the Faroese youth organizations. Its impact has been strong and long lasting.

 

Janus Djurhuus: In the cage (Í búri 1933)

Lonely you sit now songbird of mine,
Sad and listless in bondage,
Fading your music once was so fine,
Nothing to you now the world as you pine,
Songbird of mine,
Stilled by the prison darkness.

Remember your freedom in meadows green,
Sad and listless in bondage,
Remember the hills and the woods you have seen,
Memories of wings that so light have been,
Shadows between
Hide from the silent captive.

Of what are you dreaming now as you rest,
Sad and listless in bondage,
Seeing again the trees you loved best,
Evening song to the sun in the west,
Home to your nest
Freed from the cruel prison.  

Translated by N. S. Kiernan 1948

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