Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Icelandic Color of Night

 "From the seventh heav'n to the ocean's rim,
The suns hold a dance with the curtain lifted.
And white-capped billows of light are shifted,
Then break on a strand of shadows dim.
An unseen hand directs at its whim
This glittering round of streamers flowing.
To regions of light from the darkness grim,
All earth-life now turns with fervor growing.
-- And a crystal gaze on the glowing haze|
The hoary cliffs bestowing."

- Einar Benediktsson (1864 - 1940)

Benediktsson, one of Iceland's most revered Poets, is here musing on Iceland's northern lights. Alas, my family and I were not lucky enough to witness this most wondrous of nature's displays during this trip (but is something we certainly aim to do the next time we visit). However, this did not preclude us from experiencing Iceland's other remarkable "colors of night," in this case, the post-sunset afterglow of warm "Appelsínugulur" (Orange) and deep blacks ("Svartur") infused with subtly warm hues of blue ("blár"). Kandinsky would have had a field day "listening to" and painting Iceland's intensely beautiful iridescent polychromatic (and both under- and over-) saturated tones. (The reference is to Kandinsky's well-known aphorism, "Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposely, to cause vibrations in the soul.")

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