William Morris’ Visit to Iceland Part 4

19th September 2014

In July 1871 William Morris took a journey to Iceland, at the time a huge journey. The journey was one of adventure, but partly the journeys purpose was escapism. Morris’s marriage was breaking down at home, his wife of 13 years Jane Burden was having an affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti- his best friend at the time. He left his wife and Rossetti in his martial home Kelmscott Manor, and embarked on his journey to Iceland. It was this journey that he wrote the poem, “Iceland First Seen” which we wish to share with you in a six part Friday series to celebrate the incredible writer Morris was, showcasing his many talents- from poetry to design, his creative side seems to have known no bounds!

This is part 4 of his poem- please look out for more in this series to celebrate Morris’ writing!


“Or rather, O land, if a marvel it seemeth that men ever sought
Thy wastes for a field and a garden fulfilled of all wonder and doubt,
And feasted amidst of the winter when the fight of the year had been fought,
Whose plunder all gathered together was little to babble about;
Cry aloud from thy wastes, O thou land, “Not for this nor for that was I wrought.
Amid waning of realms and of riches and death of things worshipped and sure,
I abide here the spouse of a God, and I made and I make and endure.”

-William Morris


Photos published by kind permission of Catherine Gallagher and Robert Askew (copyright 2013)