1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Thomsen, Grímur

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Thomsen, Grímur (1820-1896), Icelandic poet and man of letters, was born in 1820. He came in 1837 to the university of Copenhagen, where he first studied law and philology, but later, philosophy and aesthetics. He became an enthusiastic follower of the Pan-Scandinavian movement, although this was not generally favoured by his countrymen. After some years of foreign travel, in 1848 he entered the Danish diplomatic service, and remained in it till 1851, when he returned to Copenhagen, where he became the chief of one of the departments of the Danish foreign office. He retired in 1866, and then went back to Iceland, where he passed the rest of his life, active in the politics and the literature of his native island. He died in 1896. He is the best ballad poet Iceland has produced. His poems are unaffected and mostly free from rhetoric, the besetting sin of Icelandic poets. His subjects are principally taken from Icelandic or Scandinavian history and mythology. He is very unlike most of his contemporaries, both in style and thought: he is Icelandic to the core, and on that account is perhaps the modern Icelandic poet most appreciated by foreigners Besides his poems (two separate collections, Reykjavík, 1880, and Copenhagen, 1895), he is the author of numerous critical and historical essays in Icelandic and Danish, and some larger works in Danish, of which his dissertation on Lord Byron (Copenhagen, 1845) deserves to be mentioned. Grímur Thomsen was a warm admirer of Greek literature, and translated a great number of poems from that language into Icelandic. (S. Bl.)