Our recently completed Circumnavigation of Iceland expedition left quite the impression on some, including Zegrahm renaissance man, Kevin Clement. Enjoy his poem below, and water colors above.
Ode to Iceland
(with apologies to Robert Service)
There are strange things done in the Midnight sun
And one of those was our trip
Through Iceland wild, but in highest style
On the Clipper Odyssey ship.
To Iceland we came on various planes,
In a stupor induced by jet lag,
And made prayers to Odin, with a certain forebodin’,
That we’d arrive with all of our bags.
We took a big lick of old Reykjavik
And found it much to our liking,
This far northern home of trolls and of gnomes,
And sometime or other, some Vikings.
It made our hearts sing to see the old Thing
We were growing amazed and amazed-er.
A huge waterfall, and that wasn’t all:
We saw geezers—sorry, that’s “gay-sir”.
We found Odyssey, and with due modesty,
We can say she’s the perfect small size.
She was awaiting, and without hesitating,
We set sail. Our direction: clockwise.
Flatey was flat; no doubt about that,
And the terns keep their little beaks honed
It made you wanna throw rocks at the whole goddamn flock,
If you did…you’d leave no tern un-stoned.
The puffin’s a creature whose colorful features
Made it one we all wanted to see.
It lives in a burrow, or crevice, or furrow…
Since when did birds not nest in trees?
At Latrabjarg, the cliffs loomed up large
And so did the waves crashing round them.
But we found a beach, within easy reach,
Went searching for puffins, and found them.
Isafjordur’s museums are great—you should see ‘em;
But what left an indelible mark
On our memory’s slate was the moment we ate
That hideous putrefied shark.
On the island of Vigur, the terns were most eager:
They came at you from farther and wider.
If someone yelled “Duck!” you might be out of luck…
Unless they were talking ‘bout eider.
Our next hike’s destination, the old radar station
At Adalvik, lay up a steep trail.
But I sure was beat after just 700 feet…
That is, on the Mike Messick scale.
Hornvik had horns, in dozens of forms,
And zillions of seabirds to boot.
We got to know pronto the fragrance of guano—
But still, those damn puffins are cute.
We sailed ever north, and in due course
Reached the half-Arctic island of Grimsey.
We couldn’t agree where the Circle should be;
Where they put up the sign was pure whimsy.
And in a short time, we sailed to the Line
Where the Arctic Sea truly does start
With water so frigid, the swimmers went rigid
Well, except for certain parts.
Siglufjordur has a show made to order
For those who like herring and history.
The museum’s displays explain the old ways,
But that movie shall remain a mystery.
At Lake Myvatn, you might wonder what in
The heck those weird formations are.
The short explanation is that, in this nation,
Trolls are as real as you are.
In Seydisfjordur, you might say the order
Of the day was waterfalls on high.
But a bigger surprise, quite hard on the eyes,
Was this strange bright ball in the sky.
On Vatnajokull we met with some locals
Who taught us to drive snowmobiles.
And then let us go to live or die in the snow…
Now we know how a young puffin feels.
It’s always a fine day out there on Heimaey,
A town that a volcano threatened.
The locals fought back and stopped the attack,
By keeping the lava flow wettened.
For those who are jaded; the luster has faded
From the old, the familiar, the cutesy--
We offer a view that is guaranteed new:
The brand spanking-new island of Surtsey.
And so back to the outset, and we just cannot let
Ourselves give in to temptation
To pause or retreat, or we mightn’t complete
Our Icelandic circumnavigation.
Through the Icelandic best, with hardly a rest
We’ve come with our trusty small ship.
Our story must end, but there’s a moral, my friends,
And it’s not to let protections slip.
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
And Iceland’s a wild destination.
I think you can see, when you get home you’ll need
A vacation from your vacation.