The First Two Years
News from Shawano County
- Sandy Bar
Guttormur J. Guttormsson
Stories of the Settlement
Guđjón Árnason and others.
A poem by Guttormur J. Guttormsson
Magnús Elíasson recites the poem
Recording from the Library of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV 1981)
Translated by Paul A. Sigurdson
Once a walk at midnight taking,Gusts of rain around me shaking,
Sky and earth alight and quaking,
Lightning-blaze and thunder-jar;
There beneath the poplars tow'ring,
In my footprints soaked from show'ring,
Traces of a camp were showing,
Mired deep at Sandy Bar;
Long forsaken, near forgotten
Settlers' home at Sandy Bar.
They sleep nameless. To this dreary
Land they ventured, brave but weary;
And how cold and lonely, eerie,
Huddled neath the northern star;
Where it seemed, awake or sleeping,
Death was silently up-creeping;
Just as if its raven blackness
Hovered over Sandy Bar;
For its shadow-doom was waiting,
Watching all at Sandy Bar.
The last call came. The sturdy-hearted,
Stricken, one by one departed;
-Heaven's passage yet uncharted;
Death had come intruding there.
Even the strongest felt their failing,
Feared the unknown deep for sailing;
-Were their souls prepared for crossing?-
Doubts prevailed at Sandy Bar.
Nameless, nagging fears beset them,
Haunting all at Sandy Bar.
Here I lingered, sorrow-shaken,
Thinking on what death had taken;
Homes of promise, burnt, forsaken;
Ashes from a fallen star.
Heaven's flashing shafts were telling
Of the skeletons here dwelling;
Where the settlers' dreams were buried,
In the mounds at Sandy Bar;
Infant-hopes of sturdy manhood,
Came to naught at Sandy Bar.
Here in vain, they struggled, mired;
Sinewed bodies hunger-tired;
Lost the years they most desired,
Overcome with care.
Body-broken went on dreaming;
Victory-vision faintly gleaming;
Vowed to gain their own distinction,
From the depths at Sandy Bar;
Rise to dignity and honour,
From despair at Sandy Bar.
With me the heavens wept. The thunder
Sobbed and split the clouds asunder;
And I bowed in tearful wonder,
Knowing how they suffered there.
Suddenly I heard a singing;
Axe and hammer faintly ringing;
As the spirits of the fallen,
Came to life at Sandy Bar.
Clearing trails to truth and honour;
Pioneers at Sandy Bar.
May their hopes go onward streaming;
Help the settlers' vision-dreaming;
Be a constant beacon gleaming,
Like a faithful guilding star.
May their spirit never perish;
Mey the men with honour cherish,
And fulfill their worthy labour,
On the land at Sandy Bar;
Reaching for the high ideals,
Willed to them at Sandy Bar.
They have left a half-told story;
Deeds begun which promise glory.
-All the grasses frozen hoary,
Sprout again tho withered there;
They, like grass-tips first to waken,
Bore the brunt and first were taken;
But I know the frozen, fallen,
Live again at Sandy Bar;
Flourish with a sweeter fragrance,
Round the graves at Sandy Bar.
Suddenly my heart was glowing;
Refreshed, I felt my hopes upflowing;
From every grave that light was showing,
Pure and eternal as a star!
So let their potent bodies golden,
Forever in their tombs be holden;
Leased of God and now retaken,
Buried deep at Sandy Bar.
More than flesh and all its grandeur
Lives today at Sandy Bar.
Now I knew the storm was failing,
Thunderheads were northward sailing;
Dark and heavy clouds were trailing,
Heaven-opening star by star;
There I saw a highway streaming,
Bright with constellation-gleaming;
Clean and true as men had dreamed it,
Soaring over Sandy Bar;
Heaven, homestead of the settler
Shining over Sandy Bar!