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Type: Paperbook
Categories: Poetry
Translation: Alexandur Kristiansen
Making up: Sára Mikkelsen
ISBN: 978-99972-1-323-5
Date of publication : 24. April 2019
Pages: 604

Fjøtrað á flogi

Alexandur Kristiansen
Heimslýrikkur - bind 1

Thriving definite language

The Faroese words týða (translate) and tjóð (nation) are etymologically related. With translations, we integrate others’ ideas and sentences into our own language – we bring their thoughts to life in our language. This is an important endeavour in all nation-building. Every year, billions are spent on translating good ideas, good texts between languages. For the simple reason, that most people understand their mother tongue better than other languages.

And language must never become a barrier for accessing the ideas of others. That is why so much is translated.

But only a few – very few – dare to take on the challenge of translating poetry, for it is not so straightforward. A poor translation can spoil the most magnificent poem and wipe out every last drop of sophistication until it shrinks into nothing. Robert Frost is frequently quoted for saying that “Poetry is what gets lost in translation”. It is not hard to understand, because lyricism often uses the language of the heart – language that is culture specific and therefore not easily translated – we see it for example, when foreigners describe our ræst (fermented) cuisine. They miss the mark, because the word, with all its ideational and sensational associations, does not exist in their language.

Alexandur has excelled with his translated collection of renowned poetry – some of it among the most celebrated that we know of in the Western World.

Alexandur works in the 100-year-old tradition of Janus Djurhuus, Viderø, Jákup Dahl, Christian Matras, Karsten Hoydal, and all the other brilliant poets and translators we have had and still have, who each have added their piece to the collection. And now he has brought together these works in an impressive anthology, spanning over 2700 years of literature. We begin with an excerpt from Homer’s epic ballad of Odysseus’ return from the battle of Troy – the tale of the hero, who in all his fatigue embarks his ship and sets sails for his homeland. The poem, which was written 2700 years ago, reveals, that deep down, human beings have not changed all that much over the millennia. Nor has the captivating story changed very much.

With Alexandur’s new book, we can now select among the best of the best through the ages up to our day, in our language. Schiller, Baudelaire, Goethe, Keats, Blake, and the rest are all available now in our language.

The completion of this masterpiece required exceptional skill and linguistic understanding.

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