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Janus Djurhuus
(1881 - 1948)

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Faeroe Islands 1984. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus.

The first Faeroese poet to write modern and lyrical poetry was Jens Hendrik Oliver Djurhuus from Tórshavn. In daily use his name was Janus Djurhuus, which also became his pen name. 

Janus Djurhuus studied the classical languages and was influenced by Greek and Hellenistic culture. He graduated in Law in 1911 and practiced as a lawyer in Denmark and in the Faeroe Islands. 

But more than anything else he was a writer, and his first poem was published in 1901. 

  • Faeroe Islands 1984. Janus Djurhuus. The stamp was engraved by Czeslaw Slania. 

It was obvious from the very beginning that here was something different from the patriotic poetry of the time when the Faeroese national movement began around the end of the 19th century. This was personal poetry in a fixed and powerful form, and in his best poems he makes the Faeroese language sound as if it was one of the ancient classical languages. His first collection, “Yrkingar”, was published in 1914 and was the first collection of poems in Faeroese. Later he published another four collections of poetry. 

In September 2004, the Faeroese Post Office issued a souvenir sheet containing 10 stamps, each depicting one of the poems from "Yrkingar". Each stamp has the face value of 7,50 kr., valid for postage on letters up to 20 grams within Europe. Click here to see the full sheet. The link will open in a new window. 

Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #1 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #2 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #3 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #4 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #5 from the series "Yrkingar".

Janus Djurhuus received his "linguistic baptism" as he used to call it, when he was in secondary school and heard the poem "Nu er tann stundin komin til handa" by Jóannes Patursson, recited by one of the other pupils (the later so well known rural dean, poet and bible translator Jákup Dahl).

As a student of ancient languages, Djurhuus was initiated in the Greek and Latin literature, which saturated his poetry, but linguistically he is deeply rooted in the old Nordic literature and traditional Ballad poetry. 

Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #6 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #7 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #8 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #9 from the series "Yrkingar". Faeroe Islands 2004. Expressionism. Janus Djurhuus. Stamp #10 from the series "Yrkingar".

Janus Djurhuus was a romantic poet, and through him we can hear the echo of some of Europe's greatest poets, whose works he has most congenially translated into Faeroese. Many of them are characterized by heroic power and vast nature poetry, whereas in other poems he is troubled and discouraged by his fellow countrymen and his country, whom he castigates, but never seems to be done with. 

As a translator his most important work is the translation of Homer’s Iliad into Faeroese. 

The poetry and translations of Janus Djurhuus have left deep impressions in Faeroese literature.  He is the great classic, and a great part of Faeroese literature in the native language is more or less indebted to him. 

"Yrkingar" have been translated by the artist Anker Eli Petersen, as well as these stamps were designed by him. His skills in stamp design and his engagement in the Internet is legendary. He is the designer of such websites as FaeroeArtStamps, the official website of Faeroe Post, and their discussion forum "Tjatsi". In a public poll the stamps shown on this page were voted the most beautiful stamps for the year 2004. 

Sources and Links:

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