Snorri Hjartarson

1981 Snorri Hjartarson, Iceland: Hauströkkrið yfir mér

About the author

Snorri Hjartarson (1906 - 1986) - Iceland

Snorri Hjartarson grew up in an Icelandic village. His father was a farmer and council member. Snorri Hjartarson lived for a long time in Norway, where he studied painting at the Oslo Academy of Art. His first novel published in 1934 was written in Norwegian, Høit flyver ravnen. Later, he worked as a librarian in Reykjavik. However, posterity remembers him primarily as a poet writing in Icelandic.

About the winning piece

Hauströkkrið yfir mér

Published by: Mál og menning
Publication year: 1979

Hauströkkrið yfir mér is a painter’s poetry, poetry painted with a brush. Nature is rendered with a clarity in tinges and a colourfulness which can only be discerned by sensitive artist's eyes. On the surface, his pictures have a simple clarity, but the patient reader will also perceive a subtle tone, an atmosphere that speaks softly of secrets from an inaccessible mystery. Snorri Hjartarson is both innovative and a classicist, in his work readers can feel the ancient Icelandic forms of poetry, fused with modernistic, freely functioning poems.

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

After presentation of the nominated works and after a vote, the committee decided to award the Literature Prize 1981 to the Icelandic poet Snorri Hjartarson his for poetry collection “Hauströkkrið yfir mér “ which clearly and with restraint gives expression to a personal experience of nature that grows into world consciousness.



Hljóð er náttborgin
löng strætin
þar sem ekki er grænt ljós
nema í eina átt

og hægt berst ég austur
með svefnþungum straumnum

hægt gegnum dimmuna
til hins ókunna sem bíður
þar sem strætunum sleppir
og borgin er öll

borgin sem reist var
til einnar nætur.

(s. 28-29, Mál og menning, 1979)

English translation by Alan Boucher

The City of Night

The city of night is silent
long the streets
where no green lights
are seen save in one direction

and eastwards slowly I am
borne with a sleep-heavy stream

slowly through the twilight
to the unknown that awaits
where the streets end
and the city is left behind

the city that was built

for a single night.

(p. 9, Northern Voices, Wilfion Books, 1984)

See all nominated in 1981  


  • Cecil Bødker - Evas Ekko
  • Ivan Malinowski - Vinterens hjerte


  • Eeva Joenpelto - Sataa suolaista vettä
  • Irmelin Sandman Lilius - Främlingsstjärnan


  • Snorri Hjartarson - Hauströkkrið yfir mér
  • Sigurður A. Magnússon - Undir kalstjörnu


  • Olav H. Hauge - Janglestrå och Dikt i samling
  • Idar Kristiansen - Den salte åkeren och Stiene fører til havet


  • Verner Aspenström - Tidigt en morgon sent på jorden
  • P.C. Jersild - En levande själ