Why Astrup?


Nikolai Astrup, Funeral Day in Jølster, Before 1908. Photo © Dag Fosse/KODE

Blenched and stark, occluded
in almost perpetual dark in winter
and wintered in autumn,
(see allotment cabbages already burned by early snow!),
this aweful landscape of jagged and rounded rocks
was all the idyll Astrup seemed to know.
And summer, so short lived and mired in damp
that midsummer’s midnight-revellers stamp
their boots gratefully in the searing blaze of pagan fires –
(And look, kingcups flowering in icy marshes as late as June!)
and Jorsland’s  full moon of May ‘s as metalled
a plate of silver as any moon of Le Douanier,
but it does not serve to quicken blood or
help the Nordic race to procreate….

Here life is both harsh and late.
Funerals dour, pastors stern, millstones heavy
and Astrup, in his late twenties, is mated
to a girl of barely fifteen, and begets seven offspring
to people his empty Lutheran world.

About this article


  1. Even though (perhaps superficially) this seems quite negative about astrup, it made me like his work all the more.

    • Jane Russell 14 Apr 2016

      Dear Greg,

      Delighted that my poem bolstered your admiration of Astrup…although I don’t like his work, I think my criticism validated its authenticity…..

      best wishes

      • I liked your poem, its funny how strong negative critisism can have a positive effect by focusing opinions and as you say validating authencity, because for art, surely no response is more damning than silence.


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *