New photo book by Marthe Bijman and Mike O’Brien

New photo book: A Thousand-Year Silence – Iceland, 2017

Iceland is a rocky, harsh, windy island, packed with ravening tourists, but the scenery is spectacular. This book is the result of a trip there in August – click to view it.


(If you want to see the pages full-screen, click on the two diagonal arrows above the centre fold of the book.)

The name of the book comes from a poem which, in its tone and imagery, reminded me of the Icelandic landscapes.

SONG OF ODYSSEUS by Vyacheslav Kupriyanov

When my ship moors at the shore,
a poem will come ashore with me,
To which before only the sea was listening,
as it was competing with the call of the sirens.
It will have only soft vowel sounds,
That sound like this in pale translation
From the language of roaming to the language of mooring:

I love you with the hoarse cry of the seagulls,
With the scream of the eagles,
flying toward the scent of Prometheus’ liver,
With a thousand year silence of the sea turtle,
With a click of the cachalot that wants to be a roar,
With a pantomime, executed by the tentacles of the octopus,
Before which all seaweeds stand on end.

I love you with all my body coming from the sea,
With all its rivers, tributaries of the Amazon and the Mississippi,
With all the deserts, considering themselves seas,
You hear their sand sift through my desiccated throat.

I love you with all my heart, lungs and the medulla,
I love you with the earth’s crust and the star-studded sky,
With the fall of the waterfalls and conjugation of verbs,
I love you with the invasion of Europe by the Huns,
With the One-Hundred year war and the Mongolian Horde,
With the uprising of Sparta and the Big migration of people,
With Alexander’s column and the Tower of Pisa,
With the speed of the Gulf Stream to warm the North Pole.

I love you with the letter of the law of gravity
And the sentence of the death penalty,
To the death penalty through the eternal fall
Into your bottomless Bermuda triangle.

By Vyacheslav Kupriyanov (Russian, b. 1939), translated by Dasha C. Nisula from Russian. In: Modern Poetry in Translation (MPT) Magazine, Polyphony, Series 3 No.14, Edited by David Constantine, translated by Helen Constantine.

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