Sthephan G. Stephansson Poetry

GESTUR
(The poet's son, killed by lightning)

The law that smites a life with harm, or slays,
Gave little time for anguished hope and fear.
It flung to earth a random ray ablaze
And rent the heart of one to me so dear.
But it is well that I should get the news
Without a warning — since I had to lose.

Yea, it is well to understand and know
That it was not a sentient thing, my dear,
With evil for its aim, that struck you so,
But accident upon its chance-career.
No cosmic law, but simple savagery,
Designs and wills the keenest agony.

It helps the lorn to bear what has to be
If bitterness and fear are held at bay.
Benevolence could have no hate for thee,
Nor heave the bolt that took your life away;
And Love could never cause such cruelty
To countless hearts that mourn your destiny.

No evil force can overcome the good,
As eons prove, in spite of what may seem.
It lacks the moral strength and hardihood.
And heaven's lightning with its deadly beam
Was innocent of ill-intent or wrath
As even you, who walked into its path.

And lovingly I wrap you in my ode
With anguished calm and feelings bitter-sweet.
And there will ever be thy warm abode
Where bliss and goodness, in the spirit, meet.
And so, content, I close each sore that sears
And say farewell, with thanksgiving and tears.

I know that all is well, but wince to feel
How weak and ill-equipped I am to share
The load that others also would conceal
Within their hearts, and find so hard to bear.
Thy being with my songs itself will blend
And so be with me to the very end.

Thy kindness never will be spoiled or spent;
The spool of time will keep the thread intact.
Though visions for thy glory with thee went,
The ones you gave inspired so much I lacked.
And when I pass from out the sphere of song
The soul of life their essence will prolong.

O dearest child! Thy kind and helping hand
Gave hope and strength, in my declining days,
To save the lines that I with pain had penned
And piece together half-forgotten lays.
That treasure, jointly ours, I'd alienate
Could I have dared to bargain with thy fate.

And yet it will be sweet to sing to thee
A song of greeting from a heart at peace,
Until the final sun has set for me
Beside thy greening hill amid the trees.
And so will be ensanctified the ground
In songs that to thy memory redound.

Written in 1909

Translated by Paul Bjarnason.



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