Previously Unknown Work by National Poet Discovered Skip to content

Previously Unknown Work by National Poet Discovered

Fifteen poems by one of Iceland’s most treasured poets, Davíd Stefánsson from Fagraskógur (1895-1964), were advertised for sale by an antiquarian last week. He found them in a letter when he bought a collection of books from an estate owned by relatives of the poet’s friends.

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From Davídshús, the Davíd Stefánsson museum in Akureyri. Courtesy of the museum.

“It was inside one of Davíd’s poetry books, Kvaedi, which was published in 1922. He seems to have given the book to his friend and handwritten one poem in it. There are in fact 16 unpublished poems, including the one in the book,” Thorvaldur Thór Maríuson, the antiquarian, described to Morgunbladid.

The letter which was kept inside the book was four pages long including 15 poems, written on both sides of the pages. It is more of a private letter written as poems about everyday topics. They were handwritten and signed by the poet.

“The handwriting and style is typical for him,” stated Maríuson. “I would think that it must have been a very dear friend of Davíd’s who received the poems. He died about 50 years ago so it has just been lying inside the book and people haven’t thought about it.”

There was no envelope and Maríuson said it is impossible to tell where the letter was sent from. “The letter is dated 1922. Davíd was so young at that time, just 27 years old. It is around the time that he moved abroad but the letter doesn’t state from where it was sent.”

Maríuson said he is fairly certain that the poems have never been published. “I have reviewed all of his poetry collections and they are nowhere to be found. […] He also asks his friend at the end of the last poem to burn this crap.”

“If all of this is true, this is a pretty remarkable discovery,” commented Fridrik G. Olgeirsson, the author of Stefánsson’s biography.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there are poems by him that haven’t been published. For example, I know that he attended a birthday party once where he wrote a poem in the birthday book,” he said.

Olgeirsson added that it would be good if Davídshús, the Davíd Stefánsson museum in Akureyri, would come into possession of the poems. According to Maríuson, the museum’s executives are considering buying them.

Click here to read more about the poet and here to read about another recent discovery of previously unknown Icelandic poems.

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