Sunday, 13 September 2009

Postcard from Iceland

by Joseph Brodsky

(previously unpublished)

In general, the place is rather bleak.
The locals never learned to make a brick;
They build with corrugated iron.
Their talk is either morbid or oblique.
(Here goes my letter to Lord Byron).

Sun´s never setting. All night long
The natives and their guest are able
To read small letters on the label
Of liquid so distilled and strong
It sends you straight under the table.

They import everything (I wish
I had no reason to report it).
Potato´s Polish. Every dish
Has this potato. As for fish,
It´s also, in a sense, imported.

Still, I appreciate its summer´s cold,
These hills for being like this author bald.
Now I can take on lover after lover
And blame it all on the volcanic lava
(beware the crater though it´s gray and old!)

And then, those geysers! Glaciers! Countryside!
I hardly ever saw a vista greater!
They stretch the mind and can excite
A humble tourist and the creator
Himself, who´s briefly out of sight.

So is my boat to take me off, down south-
To guilt, to worry, to memento mori,
To rubbing shoulders, loosely uttered "sorry",
To politicians with their big bad mouth
Well matching, as a rule their story.

To you, my reader. Though you hardly fit
This title - in this life and hereafter.
And if I dare to call myself an author.
It´s not because I can display my wit
In order to extract a bit of laughter
But thanks for strolling Iceland for a bit.

(written in English, in 1978)

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