The cold makes me a lair from fearplaces a pillow ofdowny driftunder my heada blanket of snowto swaddle me inI’d lay my ear tothe cracking of the icein the hope of hearing itretreatif I didn’t knowI’d be frozen fastThe ice lets no one goMy countrya spread deathbedmy initials stitchedon the icy linen
Explication The cold makes me a lair from fearplaces a pillow ofdowny driftunder my heada blanket of snowto swaddle me in She is saying that her country, even though it is cold and snowy always protects her. It makes her feel safe and wraps her in a “blanket” of comfort. It is similar to the feeling you get when you are laying in bed. You have your soft pillows and warm blankets, they bring you comfort and a sense of safety and well being.
I’d lay my ear tothe cracking of the icein the hope of hearing itretreatif I didn’t knowI’d be frozen fastThe ice lets no one go She wants to escape from the ice and the snow and the cold. Every time something new and different, a “crack” forms in her life, she is hoping that she will find an escape. She also knows that if she lays down and gives up she will be stuck in Iceland, frozen and unable to forage a new life. For in all her experience, the ice never lets anyone leave. Even if people can escape the land, the snow and ice will always stay with them in body or mind.
My countrya spread deathbedmy initials stitchedon the icy linen She knows that she will die in her country. She knows that after all Iceland has done for her, she couldn’t leave it. She has already left her mark in her land and because of that Iceland is now and forever her home.
Historical and Cultural Context The Patriotic Poem was written in 2006. January and February of that year where colder then average. There was also more snow that usual. These two condition resulted in many avalanches. Some houses where crushed and there were city wide evacuation. This may have had some affect on GerðurKristný’s writing of the Patriotic poem.
Biography Gerður Kristný was born on June 10, 1970 inReykjavík, Iceland. She graduated from the University of Iceland in French and comparative literature. After graduating she became the editor for the magazine, Mannlíf from 1998 to 2004. After this she became a full time writer. She has written poetry, short stories, novels and a few books for children as well. One of her most famous books, Myndinafpabba - saga Thelmu (A Portrait of Dad - Thelma's Story) received the Icelandic Journalism Award in 2005. Some other awards she has received are first place in the National Broadcasting Service short story competition, first place in the TV cultural program poetry competition. Her book Höggstaður (Weak Spot), in which the Patriotic Poem was published, was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize. Today Gerður Kristný lives with her husband and two sons in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Poet Interview Q: I was wondering if you could tell me something about your poem ÆTTJARÐARLJÓÐ, like when did you write it, and what were you thinking while writing it? A: Ættjarðarljóð is about patriotism … no matter how your country treats you that’s where you feel safe – as silly as that sounds. It was published in a book called Höggstaður (Weak Spot) in 2007. I guess I wrote it in 2006 wondering why we live in this cold country. The book was nominated to the Icelandic Litterature Award and so is my latest, Blóðhófnir (Bloodhoof). The Whole Interview: http://us.mg4.mail.yahoo.com/dc/launch?.gx=1&.rand=fa9kqqd782mga