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Myth of a Woman



When does history become myth? How does that myth record a truth? Myths surrounding women in Iceland hold truth in poetry and song.

None other have gripped my curiosity more than “Móðir mín í kví, kví,” an Icelandic poem sung in East Iceland. This poem tells the tale of a woman haunted by the death of her newborn child.

Throughout Iceland’s history women that bore children from circumstances that were not acceptable at the time would abandon the newborn to die in the wilderness. Either they thought they would not be able to feed and care for the infant? Maybe they were shamed for the pregnancy? Maybe they were scared that their families, friends or society would dismiss them?

When faced with such choices these women would leave their newborns out in the wil-derness to die of exposure.

“Móðir mín í kví, kví,” tells of a woman haunted by the voice of her abandoned child and driven to madness by her choice.

I cannot imagine the grief that consumed such women.

Since immigrating to Iceland 10 years ago I’ve been asked often, “Why did I choose to live in Iceland?” My reasons range from the rural lifestyle that I’ve adopted here, a good job, beautiful nature, and more often my response ends on the topic of Icelandic women.

In my eyes the female spirit in Iceland encompasses strength and community. This strength has served as an inspiration in my life as an immigrant in this new land I now call my home.

As a woman I am unable to bear children. This painful fact had affected my sensibility. In a way I connect with these Icelandic women and their sacrifices.