Location: In camp at the same place

Published in Collected Works

  • Volume 8, 1911

Notes by Gary Aho

'People thought us lucky to have seen this, as Geysir had gushed the morning of Evans' and my arrival, and he doesn't often go off within six days of his last work' 
And we are lucky too, since WM's descriptions of the Geysir's 'work' are particularly fine, as in the lines just prior to these, of the 'Gusher growling,' of its 'rumblings and thumpings,' striking characterizations indeed.

'Sigurdr the bonder of Hawkdale. . . our guide on the morrow' 
Hugh Bushell, in "News from Iceland," (JWMS 1.1 Winter, 1961, 7-12) notes that the Sigurd is the grandfather of another Sigurd, a guide, that his party hired in 1961 to take them over the same rough roads. Bushell also points out that WM was 'still well-known in Iceland' and that WM is 'a good person to go to Iceland with." Quite true, as I found out some years ago: "Following in the Footsteps of WM" (Atlantica and Iceland Review 20 (Winter 1982), 84-93).

'would have been a desirable way'
Indeed it would have been desirable as well for readers of the Icelandic Journals, for WM's descriptions of Drangey would surely have been interesting, for this is the island, a very steep, becliffed isle, where Grettir met his doom. And the saga of Grettir, one of the most beloved and famous of the Family Sagas, Morris and Magnússon had just translated, in 1869.



Images are of photographs taken by Martin Stott in July 2013 during a William Morris Society expedition which retraced the route of Morris's 1871 and 1873 journeys.

28 July 1871 Geysir 1

‘I had been sleeping rather restlessly, when about 6 a.m. I was awoke by the Gusher growling in a much more obstinate way than we had heard him yet; then the noise seemed to get nearer till it swelled into a great roar in the crater, and were all out in the open air in a moment, and presently saw the water lifted some six feet above the crater’s lip, and then fall again heavily, then rise again a good bit higher and again fall, and then at last shoot up as though a spring had been touched into a huge column of water and steam some eighty feet high, as Faulkner and Evans guessed it; it fell and rose again many times, till at last it subsided much as it began with rumblings and thumpings of the earth, the whole affair lasting something less than twenty minutes: afterwards about 9.30 a.m. as we were busy washing our clothes in the Blesi-stream there was a lesser eruption: this one being over we put on our shoes and went off to the crater and walked over the hot surface of the outer one to look at the inner one where the water was sunk a long way down. People thought us lucky to have seen this, as Geysir had gushed the morning of Evans’ and my arrival, and he doesn’t often go off within six days of his last work: nay sometimes people will stay a fortnight at the Geysirs without seeing it’ (IJ p 73).