Jens Hendrik Oliver Djurhuus, called Janus Djurhuus, (26 February 1881, Tórshavn – 1 September 1948, Tórshavn) was the first modern Faroe Islands, Faroese poet. He and his younger brother Hans Andreas Djurhuus, also a poet, are called the ''Áarstova'' brothers after the house where they grew up.

Life and work

Djurhuus's parents were Óla Jákup Djurhuus (1832–1909) and Else Marie ''née'' Poulsen, from Hósvík (1847–1897). He was a great-grandson of Jens Christian Djurhuus. Djurhuus said that his "poetic baptism" came in school, when he heard Jákup Dahl (later a Provost (religion), provost and Bible translation, Bible translator and author of the first school grammar of the Faroese language) declaim Jóannes Patursson's ''Nú er tann stundin komin til handa'' (Now is the hour come for acting), the anthem of the Christmas Meeting of 1888 which began the rise of Faroese nationalism.John Frederick West, ''Faroe: The Emergence of a Nation'', London: Hurst, 1972,
p. 235
Djurhuus trained as a lawyer. After passing the preliminary examinations in 1897, he went to Denmark for university preparation, first in Copenhagen and then in Bornholm. He passed the qualifying examinations in 1900, graduated with the ''cand. jur.'' degree in 1911, and then practised in Copenhagen until the late 1930s, when he returned to the Faroes to practise there. However, he kept in touch with his homeland through students. His first published poem was "Blíð er summarnátt á Føroya landi", in 1901. In 1914 he published ''Yrkingar'' (Poems), the first collection of a single poet's work published in Faroese.Sven H. Rossel, tr. Anne C. Ulmer, ''A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870–1930'', Nordic series 5, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1982, , p. 222.Martin Næs, ''Færøsk Litteratur: Udvikling og Vilkår'', Studier fra Danmarks Biblioteksskole 42, Copenhagen: Danmarks Biblioteksskole, 1981,
p. 16
He published four further collections of poems. Djurhuus had also studied classical philology, and also published accomplished Faroese translations of Ancient Greek and Latin works, including some of Plato's Dialogues and poetry by Sappho, and (posthumously) a poetic translation of the ''Iliad''. (He also published translations of poetic works by Goethe, Dante, Heinrich Heine and Gustaf Fröding).West, p. 236. There is a story that on one occasion when a Greek steamer called at Tórshavn, he went on board and sent a cabin boy for the captain. On his arrival, he began to recite the ''Odyssey'' in Ancient Greek. The astonished captain joined in. His poetry combines Classical and Norse mythology.W. Glyn Jones, "Faroese Literature", ''Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature'', ed. Virpi Zuck, Niels Ingwersen and Harald S. Naess, New York: Greenwood, 1990, , pp. 159–61, p. 159. The language of his poems draws on both modern Faroese and the language of Kvæði, the traditional ballads, as well as ancient and modern poetry in other Scandinavian languages; their rhythm is also influenced by ancient Greek and modern German poetry.

Literary reputation

Djurhuus's poetry represented the breakthrough into modern literature in Faroese. His poetry has been judged "among the best" of modern Scandinavian writing, "splendid . . . of great vision and musicality" and some consider him the greatest Faroese poet, "the first Faroese writer of genius", "without a doubt a great poet".''Scripta Islandica'' 45–49 (1995
p. 58
He was a national romantic, but his works show what has been described as poetic idealisation and love of his homeland conflicting with "something of a revulsion from [its] reality" and as "doubt and pessimism, a result of the clash between [his] powerful, pathetic dream of beauty and petty, miserable reality". "Útlegd" (Exile—referring to his many years in Denmark) is an example of this pessimism.

Selected works


* ''Yrkingar''. Copenhagen: Hitt Føroyska Studentafelagið, 1914. Rev. ed. 1923. * ''Nyggjar Yrkingar''. Copenhagen: Hitt Føroyska Studentafelagið, 1938. * ''Carmina''. Tórshavn: H.N. Jacobsen, 1941. * ''Moriendo''. Tórshavn: Norrøna forlagið, 1944. * ''Yrkingar 1898-1948''. Ed. Christian Matras. Copenhagen: Mentunargrunnur Studentafelagsins, 1988. (Collected edition)


* Plato. ''Symposion—Gorgias''. Copenhagen: Føroyingafelag, 1938. * Homer. ''Ilionskvæði''. Tórshavn, 1967.


On 20 September 2004, the Postverk Føroya, Faroese post office honoured Djurhuus with a block of ten stamps, designed by Anker Eli Petersen, depicting ten of his poems."Janus Djurhuus—Yrkingar", FO 493–502
Faroese Stamps 1975 – 2006
, p. 27 (pdf)
It was chosen as the popular favourite amongst their stamp issues for the year. File:Faroe stamp 493 Djurhuus poems - atlantis.jpg, "Atlantis" File:Faroe stamp 494 Djurhuus poems - grimur kamban.jpg, "Grímur Kamban" File:Faroe stamp 495 Djurhuus poems - tronds chanting.jpg, "Gandkvæði Tróndar" (Curse of Tróndur í Gøtu) File:Faroe stamp 496 Djurhuus poems - to the faroes I-III.jpg, "Til Føroya I–III" (To the Faroes I–III) File:Faroe stamp 497 Djurhuus poems - min sorg.jpg, "Mín Sorg" (My Sorrow) File:Faroe stamp 498 Djurhuus poems - Loki Laufey's Son.jpg, "Loki" File:Faroe stamp 499 Djurhuus poems - Songbird and Gossip.jpg, "I búri" and "Slatur" ("Songbird" and "Gossip") File:Faroe stamp 500 Djurhuus poems - The Return of Nolsoyar Pall.jpg, "Heimferð Nólsoyar Páls" ("Return of Nólsoyar Páll") File:Faroe stamp 501 Djurhuus poems - Moses on Sinai Maountain.jpg, "Móses á Sinai fjalli" (Moses on Mount Sinai") File:Faroe stamp 502 Djurhuus poems - Cello.jpg, "Cello"



* Chr. Holm Isaksen. ''Føroyskur skaldskapur í 19. øld: Páll Nólsoy; Jóannes Paturrson; J. H. O. Djurhuus''. Bókmentagreinir 1. Tórshavn: Fannir, 1981. * Hanus Andreassen. ''J.H.O. Djurhuus: ein bókmentalig ævisøga''. Volume 1 ''1881 – 1904'', Volume 2 ''1904 – 1929'', Volume 3 ''1929 – 1948''. Tórshavn: Mentunargrunnur Studentafelagsins, 1994–97. * Hanus Kamban, tr. Kirsten Brix. ''J. H. O. Djurhuus: en litterær biografi'' Volume 1 ''1881 – 1922'', Volume 2 ''1922 – 1948''. Odense University studies in Scandinavian languages and literatures 46. Odense: Odense University, 2001, 2002. (translation of above)

External links

J.H.O. Djurhuus
at Rithøvundafelag Føroya (Writers' Association of the Faroes), 7 March 2007.
Faroeartstamps, Faroepost, 21 November 2005: the 2004 stamp sheet, with translations of many of the poems {{DEFAULTSORT:Djurhuus, Janus Faroese male poets Faroese-language poets 1881 births 1941 deaths 20th-century Faroese poets People from Tórshavn 20th-century Danish male writers