Jónas Hallgrímsson (16.11.1807-26.05.1845) was an Icelandic poet and naturalist.  He was a productive author, poet and translator, and was one of the producers of the magazine Fjölnir.

Jonas was the son of Hallgrímur Þorsteinsson, assistant priest at Bægisá, and Rannveig Jónasdóttir.  Jónas lost his father when he was 9 years old and was confirmed in the spring of 1821 at his home in Öxnadal.  He took his high school exams at Bessastaðir School in 1829.  Jónas went to Copenhagen to study in 1832.  He began studying Law, but later changed to literature and natural sciences, and is famous for his work on that subject.  Jónas received a grant from the government for research on Icelandic Nature, and also to write a description of the Icelandic land.  He worked on this from 1839 to 1842.  He was the editor of Fjölnir magazine which he had established during his student years.  There he printed many of his poems and essays.  In addition to this, he also worked as a translator. One of his works was an international book on astronomy which was published in 1842, printed in Viðey.  Jónas invented many new words in Icelandic, for example words for electricity, ellipse, physics, shorts, venous system and horoscope, about 100 words altogether.

He died in Copenhagen in 1845.

In 1946, the remains of Jónas were returned to Iceland. The coffin lay in the church at Bakka for a week, before being driven to the south and buried in the National Cemetery at Þingvellir 16th November 1946, which was the birth date of Jónas and has since been known as the day of Icelandic Language.

Here are two of his best known poems:

I Send Greetings! – Poem by Jonas Hallgrimsson

Serene and warm, now southern winds come streaming
to waken all the billows on the ocean,
who crowd toward Iceland with an urgent motion —
isle of my birth! where sand and surf are gleaming.

Oh waves and winds! embrace with bold caresses
the bluffs of home with all their seabirds calling!
Lovingly, waves, salute the boats out trawling!
Lightly, oh winds, kiss glowing cheeks and tresses!

Herald of spring! oh faithful thrush, who flies
fathomless heaven to reach our valleys, bearing
cargoes of song to sing the hills above:

there, if you meet an angel with bright eyes
under the neat, red-tasselled cap she’s wearing,
greet her devoutly! That’s the girl I love.

Iceland, fortunate isle! Our beautiful, bountiful mother!
Where is your fortune and fame, freedom and virtue of old?
All things on earth are transient: the days of your greatness and glory
flicker like flames in the night, far in the depths of the past.
Comely and fair was the country, crested with snow-covered glaciers,
azure and empty the sky, ocean resplendently bright.
Here came our famous forebears, the freedom-worshipping heroes,
over the sea from the east, eager to settle the land.
Raising their families on farms in the flowering laps of the valleys,
hearty and happy they lived, hugely content with their lot.
Up on the outcrops of lava where Axe River plummets forever
into the Almanna Gorge, Althing convened every year.
There lay old Þorgeir, thoughtfully charting our change of religion.
There strode Gissur and Geir, Gunnar and Héðinn and Njáll.
Heroes rode through the regions, and under the crags on the coastline
floated their fabulous ships, ferrying wealth from abroad.
O it is bitter to stand here stalled and penned in the present!
Men full of sloth and asleep simply drop out of the race!
How have we treated our treasure during these six hundred summers?
Have we trod promising paths, progress and virtue our goal?
Comely and fair is the country, crested with snow-covered glaciers,
azure and empty the sky, ocean resplendently bright.
Ah! but up on the lava where Axe River plummets forever
into the Almanna Gorge, Althing is vanished and gone.
Snorri’s old site is a sheep-pen; the Law Rock is hidden in heather,
blue with the berries that make boys — and the ravens — a feast.
Oh you children of Iceland, old and young men together!
See how your forefathers’ fame faltered — and passed from the earth!