Sitting in his office in Iceland, Kari Stefansson, one of the world’s leading geneticists, was “a little bit depressed” – so he wrote a poem about Dolly, the cloned sheep.
Where do I find, lost in the brightness of a sunlit day,
The happiness of an unhappy man
Fortunate only to be just one copy of himself.
Everything else stinks.
Cheering yourself up by writing a poem it seems, is everyday life in Iceland, where a great many of the island’s 330,000 inhabitants, including politicians, businessmen, horse breeders and scientists, dabble in verse. It’s the weather, they say. People get bored during those long winters.
“It’s part of being an Icelander,” says a professor of Icelandic literature, Sveinn Yngvi Egilsson, “Yes, it’s charming, isn’t it?”
And Icelanders love to read poetry too. It’s the third most popular category after fiction and the arts.
What a country! We just have to see it for ourselves. And so we’re off for the next five weeks. We’ll try to send the occasional message in a bottle, depending on favourable winds. Otherwise, we’ll be back at the end of July.
Waiting….as you will be for our infrequent reports from the land of fire and ice.