Jonas Hallgrimsson

The Pipit

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Out in the fields, one autumn,
when easy southern breezes1
blew, I blew into straw-blades,
blissfully making whistles.

Later a brute wind blustered,
bracing men to face danger.
They made me sit inside then,
sullen, dull, with the women.

I feared the freezing blizzard,
fretted about my pet ram
and Toppa too, my stripling
two-year-old colt, my jewel.

These were my joys, my gentle
jealously treasured pleasures;
I thought they both, that bitter
biting cold night, might perish.

By dawn the wind had dwindled.
Day broke, brilliant but chilly.
We suited up and set out
to search the blowing snowfields.

My ram and tripping Toppa,
the two I loved unduly,
fetching but foolish creatures,
floundered around the ice-slopes.

I felt at fault. I needed
to feed my pets, to lead them ---
both of my youthful beauties ---
back unharmed to the farmstead.

What happened next? I'm happy
to hail our frail endowments:
men have, though hopelessly evil,
a heart that God imparted.

I saw, deep in a snowdrift
somewhere among the hummocks ---
cowering --- an olive-colored
crippled meadow pipit.

Frozen fast to the mosses,
flight and hiding denied it,
the weary creature watched me,
wary with fear and terror.

If God had suddenly sent me
psalm-singing angels who promised
rams by the ton and twenty
Toppas, I swear, declaring:

Out in Iceland, a little
ardent boy could hardly
aim at imitating
Abraham's brave behavior.

But now, zealously kneeling,
knees in the freezing snowdrifts,
he lay down flat and let his
lips brush the thin, cold pinions.

Unfaltering mercy melted
the maiming, laming fetters
those ranting winds of winter
had wound around our darling.

Surely "our darling" --- surely!
for sheer affection yearly
hurries the happy pipits,
heading back to our meadows.

--- Bolting aloft, it lilted
its love to God above me;
down below, but not downcast ---
deep in joy! --- I sat weeping.

Frozen in fate's dark blizzard,
felled to the earth --- quite mirthless ---
I'd flourish were my Father's
informing breath to warm me!

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Jonas Hallgrimsson