William Morris’ Visit to Iceland Part 3

12th 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 3 of his poem- please look out for more in this series to celebrate Morris’ writing!


“O land, as some cave by the sea where the treasures of old have been laid,
The sword it may be of a king whose name was the turning of fight;
Or the staff of some wise of the world that many things made and unmade,
Or the ring of a woman maybe whose woe is grown wealth and delight.
No wheat and no wine grows above it, no orchard for blossom and shade; 
The few ships that sail by its blackness but deem it the mouth of a grave;
Yet sure when the world shall awaken, this too shall be mighty to save.”

– William Morris


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