Poems in Brushstrokes of Blue: The Young Poets of Iceland


Poems by Gyrðir Elíasson, translated to English by Bernard Scudder.

Poems by Gyrðir Elíasson from Brushstrokes of Blue:


At the break of dawn
I shall wake up,
wake up to the knives
the knives that ought
to restore my
sight, the knives
I lay in the grass,
the shining grass that
grows and I cannot see,
outside my
door. And I let the sun
shine on the blades
before I lay
them upon my
eyes and cut
and see the sky
spread out like a
blue watercolour
on a black page

Warm, Bright Summer’s Day

A little boy fishing down on
the beach by the drain at the crack
of dawn and the sun beaming
although it has just got up

A trout lies on
the rocky beach
unable to breathe

Then suddenly a car
stops on the ridge and out steps
a little man in a dark

The boy reels in his line
and looks back at
the arrival, sees a tail
dangling below the coat-tails
and neat horns projecting beneath his cap

Together they board a cork boat
that lies moored to the drainpipe
and launch it

A nice glint on
the fibre and horns

Midnight Flight

beneath the finely polished surface of the wall lie
countless pipes in unpredictable bends
hum at night keep him awake
he becomes one with the darkness listens splays
his ears like a bat feels the drums
moving drums forming on his skin snaps his fingers
at a disconcerting memory that darts out of
a nook sees that the wings have become
nothing can now hold him to the
earth he squeezes out through the sash-window
soars like an eagle in his flight above the superman-
less city        
the night crimsons and in-
finite echo sounders ensure
lack of collision

An Eye for an Eyeglass

becomes clear that morning
on waking that something
the hell’s going on
the row of houses opposite vanishes
I new eyes shake my head
open them again but all to no
those forty-plus flats (in the evenings
I would often see blue flashes darting
through the windows from inside the living
rooms) vanished        
the parking lot too
no trace of buildings af any
description (and now at last the mountains stands
out again after ten years in
hiding) barely restrain myself
from tearing my hair         my abode
dances before my eyes
sweat pours forth the cold water
rush to the mirror
nail down my suspicions
reflects nothing      
like a man
struck blind it stares
a white membrane spread across
a cataract on a square eye that fails to perceive
when I slip fall forwards on to the dressing-table
the pupil