The University of Wisconsin Press

Biography / Poetry / Scandinavian Studies / History of Science

Bard of Iceland
Jónas Hallgrímsson, Poet and Scientist
Dick Ringler

"Ringler’s work is simply groundbreaking. It makes the most important poet of Iceland available to readers of English throughout the world."
—Sveinn Yngvi Egilsson, University of Iceland

Bard of Iceland
makes available for the first time in any language other than Icelandic an extensive selection of works by Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807–1845), the most important poet of modern Iceland. Jónas was also Iceland's first professionally trained geologist and an active contributor in a number of other scientific fields: geography, botany, zoology, and archaeology. He played a key role as well in Iceland's struggle to gain independence from Denmark. "Descriptive power and fullness of spirit were the hallmarks of his soul," wrote a contemporary admirer.

Dick Ringler, one of the premier scholars of Icelandic literature in the world, offers a substantial biography of Jónas, a representative selection of his most important poems, and some of his prose work in science and belles lettres. Ringler also provides extended commentaries and an essay on Icelandic prosody.

The poems are translated into English equivalents of their original complex meters in Icelandic and Danish. As a poet Jónas was intimately familiar with his nation's medieval literary inheritance—the sagas and eddas—and also with the groundbreaking work of contemporary German and Danish Romanticism (Chamisso, Heine, Oehlenschläger). A master of poetic form, Jónas not only exploited and enlarged the possibilities of traditional eddic and skaldic meters, but introduced the sonnet, triolet stanza, terza and ottava rima, and blank verse into the Icelandic metrical repertory.

Dick Ringler is professor emeritus of English and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His many books include the third edition of Bright's Old English Grammar and Reader (with Frederic G. Cassidy) and Old English and New (with Joan Hall and Nick Doane). He has lived, studied, and taught intermittently in Iceland for more than three decades.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

July 2002
LC: 2001005831 PT
504 pp.   6 x 9   11 color photos,
17 b/w photos

Book icon
Cloth $45.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-17720-1
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout

A major undertaking brilliantly accomplished. The scholarship is massive, but worn lightly. Ringler has essentially created (for English-speakers) the field of modern Icelandic literature."
—Joseph Harris, Harvard University

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated June 23, 2013

© 2013 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System