When Gunnar wrote the shore of life in 1915 and noted the land is ringed with a deadly surf, that one must cross, either for fish or for the world and back home again for shelter, I think he had the eiðars in mind. Look at them here in Neskaupstaðir, fishing with their chicks in the swells. Some of the chicks get tossed a metre into the air, and then dragged down a metre under the waves.
And yet they must be here. If I’m right, this is Gunnar’s image of World War I. So much has gone into portrayals of its butchery and horror and senselessness for a century now. At the time, to deal with his own horror, Gunnar chose an image of life, and one at the heart of the Icelandic soul.
The Shore of Life.Gunnar wrote and published in Danish. Most copies, however, were in German.
Icelandic horses came over with the first settlers. They know a thing or two. Here in Eiðar, you can see the technique for getting at the good stuff: you can strrrrrrretch that border, but you never, technically, really, for honest and for true, cross the line.
Also in Eiðar, you can see just how flexible this rule is below. The Icelander on the left has one hoof back behind the line, and the one on the right has the line running right down his midline.
No matter how you cut its, lines are lines and that’s it.