The Sagas of Iceland

Jonas Kristjansson's blue eyes light with a mild scholarly gleam as he show visitors the manuscripts which are the most precious national treasure of Iceland. "Here," he says, as the turns the vellum pages of the Flateyjarbok, hundreds of pages covered with a strong confident easily legible script, "here are our sagas, the stories of how our land and people created themselves many centuries ago, and which we have all listened to and read and learned by heart ever since.

"Here is the saga of Egil Skallagrimsson, which I first read when I was seven years old."

The scholarly voice of Jonas quickens as he recalls that reading. "There was no electricity in the north of Iceland then, and I read it as my ancestors had read it, by the light .of an oil lamp in the long winter nights. Here are the chapters on the childhood of Egil. He is three years old, but the size of seven, when he begins writing verses and is reproved by his father Skallagrim for drinking too heavily. When he is six and a half he gets involved in a ballgame in the course of which he is bullied and beaten and jeered at by a boy almost twice his age named Grim son of Hegg of Heggstead. He runs off the field, gets his hands on a battle-axe and buries it in the skull of Grim. It sets off a battle between their two families in which seven men and boys are killed, and Egil's mother exclaims: 'What a fine little Viking we have in our family!'

"I was barely a year older than Egil at the time of that ballgame. For the first time, I realized that I too could become a man."

The Flateyjarbok was the most prized of the manuscripts brought back to Iceland in 1971 by a Danish warship from Copenhagen, where they had lain in the royal library for some 200 years. Many of them had been taken there for safe-keeping by Arni Magnusson, a professor at the University of Copenhagen, who traveled around Iceland, then part of the domains of the King of Denmark, in the 1700's collecting all the ancient books he could find; on his deathbed he bequeathed them to the University. It was a time of global cooling when conditions were so hard that the entire population of Iceland dwindled down to a few wretched thousands.

In 1944, Iceland, now relatively populous and thriving, declared itself a republic, independent of Denmark which was under Nazi occupation, and as soon as the was over demanded the return of the Magnusson collection. It took years of aggressive negotiation to pry it loose from the Danes, who considered it to be legally and rightfully theirs, the way the British do the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens which were carried off to London in the same century. During the long wait, true patriots said they could not consider themselves wholly free till the day the books came home,

For as Jonas said, it was these sagas in these books which created Iceland. No other people, except perhaps the Jews with their Bible, has had its life to intimately found up with a carefully preserved body of literature. For about 600 years Iceland was a neglected province under a foreign king, cold, poor, disregarded. But the wretched island always thought of itself as a separate nation, defined and given shape by tales of its early settlers and early heroes, Egil's Saga, the Saga of Burnt Njal, the Laxdaela Saga, the Vinland Sagas, and a hundred more. They tell stories of proud free expansive old days when the first pioneers, fleeing from the tyranny of Harald Fairhair the first king of Norway or simply looking for adventure and plunder, took off from the Norwegian fjords in their revolutionary clinker-built longships, the first craft in human history that could sail with confidence over open ocean. Some of them found the land of their dreams in empty spaces of Iceland, previously inhabited only by a few Irish monks who had managed to paddle their way there over the stormy seas, and could make fortunes by raising sheep, by trading in wool and walrus tusks and sulfur, and by piratical raids on the undefended coastlines of Europe. They were only part of the great expansionist Viking movement, originally caused it is said by global warming of the ninth and tenth centuries which caused the population to icnrease far beyond the capacity of the Scandinavian lands to feed it and thus forced them to turn to foreign war and piracy if they wanted to survive. They pillaged and plundered everywhere, and sometimes settled down to build trading houses and farmhouses all over an immense arc from Novgorod in Russia, where one Rurik created the Russian monarchy, all around the coasts of Europe to Constantinople where they formed by the bodyguard of the Byzantine emperor. They built commercial centers which became the first cities ever built in Ireland. They discovered and then colonized Greenland and kept going west past Baffinland and Labrador till reached L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland or wherever it was that, according to the Graenlendinga Saga, the celebrated sailor-merchant Bjarni Herjolfsson first sighted America in 925 AD. Bjarni never landed there.Leif Eiriksson, however, son of Eirik the Red who had discovered Greenland, did, and got credit for the discovery in Eirk's Saga and all subsequent histories.

In Iceland, almost all prose narratives are called sagas (the word means, something said). Barely had they settled in the new land toward the end of the ninth century than Icelanders began telling stories of the appalling difficulties they had to overcome in getting there and getting settled. In the course of time they began to write them down. They have never lost their popularity, they are read and reread from childhood to old age. It is because of them that the Icelanders, practically alone among the peoples of the world, still speak the same language their forefathers spoke a thousand years ago, the original "Old Norse tongue" once common to all Scandinavia but as incomprehensible to present-day Swedes, Norwegians and Danes as Anglo-Saxon is to us.

The earliest sages that survive are rather bald and clumsy. After about 1300 they become a bit Frenchified, full of romantic posturing and fantastic adventures. But for a century or so in between, a group of superbly talented stort-tellers flourished who turned out a collection of masterpieces, rich and racy, full of movement and the breath of life, which count among the summits of world literature. The most popular have always been a half dozen or so of the so-called family sagas, long and complex narratives tracing the lives of early settlers and their descendants over several generations.

Njal's Saga, the most masterly of them all, starts quietly enough with a quarrel and a lawsuit over money. In what is considered an excellent match on both side, Hrut Herjofsson, a prosperous farmer, marries Unn, daughter of Mord Fiddle, reputed to be the best lawyer in Iceland. Unfortunately, Hrut in his younger wilder days had been a Viking, who picked up a large legacy in Norway and won the favors of Gunnhild, the nymphomaniac Queen Mother of Norway. When she finds that he is unable to keep him from going back to his beloved home in Iceland, Gunnhild puts a spell on him so that he will never have sexual satisfaction with any woman he prefers to her. The spell works,, and Unn goes back to her father.

Mord sues to get back her dowry, but Hrut will not disgorge. More and more relatives are drawn into the quarrel on both sides, killings and more lawsuits and more killings follow, and each killing demands revenge. When the men grow weary and start thinking of a settlement, the women come forward waving the bloodstained shirts of murdered husbands and calling for more blood. Members of all the feuding families take part in Viking raids into the Baltic. They take part in the meeting of the Allthing, the first parliament in the world, in 1000 AD which by majority vote decreed Christianity to be the national religion of Iceland. They fight in the battle of Clontarf which will decide the fate of Ireland. Scores of men have been killed or maimed, wise old Njal who gives the saga its name has been burned alive in his farmhouse, and the feud hs reached into a third generaion before the surviving leaders are at last reconciled.

Saga prose is clear, straightforward, colloquial and concise. "Eirik the Red," says the first line of his saga, had to leave Norway on account of some killings." That is all you are going to be told about his formative years, and it is all you need to know. The details are so lifelike that the reader who comes upon the sagas for the first time is apt to assume that they are rigorously accurate, that this is what really happened in Iceland seven or eight hundred years ago. Icelanders would like to believe just that, and they get angry when people - even their own Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Halldor Laxness - say it isn't so. Modern scholarship has shown pretty conclusively that the sagas are mostly carefully crafted works of art, historical novels rather scholarly history, free embroideries on more or less genuine family traditions, with details borrowed from older authors who never heard of Iceland, like the unicorn who appears on the North American tundra in the Vinland sagas and who comes straight out of a book by Isidore the sixth-century bishop of Seville.

Egil Skallagrimsson was a genuine historical figure, a famous pirate and poet who ended his days as a rich farmer. It is considered quite likely that he composed the numerous poems attributed to him, including the moving threnody on the death of his son by drowning. But it is hard to believe that he could pack all the deeds with which he credits himself into a single lifetime. The saga shows him as a rude, moody, excesively ugly, excessively violent man, faithful to friend and unmerciful to foe, strong, courageous, a colossal drinker with a colossal appetite for women and for gold. In the year 937 Egil played the major role in the battle of Brunanburh, winning a great victory over the King of Scotland for King Athelstan of England. He was invited to a banquet afterwards, sitting opposite the King but not saying a word or drinking a drop, just sitting there with a hard cruel look of his face, with one black eyebrow sinking down to his cheek and the other lifting up to the roots of his hair and "did nothing but pull his eyebrows up and down, now this one, now the other," till finally the King got the point and pulling a big gold bracelet off his arm hung it on the point of his sword and passed it across the table to Egil; who transferred it his own sword-point and then to his right arm, and then composed an eight-line flok (a short poem of praise) ending with the lines

Honor was earned

By the feaster of eagles

and then joined jovially in the talking and drinking.

Later, Egil finds himself shipwrecked on the northeast coast of England where he is displeased to find that his old enemy Eirik Blood-Axe, chased from the throne of Norway by a people tired of all that blood, has now made himself King of York. "Strike off his head," cries Queen Gunnhild, reminding Blood-Axe that Egil had butchered their son, along with about 20 other people, in one glorious days of pillage and arson back in Norway..Condemned to be executed at dawn, Egil spends the night composing a drapa (a long poem of praise) of 20 stanzas, conforming to all the rigorous rules of Old Norse prosody, in praise of the mighty ever-generous and ever-victorious King Eirik

. Dawn comes, and Eirik is carried away by all the fire and fury of the verse ("Carrion birds fly thick/ To the body stack/ For eyes to pick/ and flesh to hack;' The raven's beak is crimson red,/ The wolf goes seek/ His daily bread."), and lets Egil go, with a warning never to show his face in York again.

Egil improvises one more stanza in praise of the "great-hearted gallant" king and takes off for the court of Athelstan, where he writes one more stanza about Eirik, "that juggler of justice,/ That gift-lord of jackals," and goes on to more adventures while his drapa, now known as The Head Ransom goes down in the anthology of deathless Old Norse poems.

The adventures eventually came to an end, and Egil eventually settled down on a farm at Mosfell, growing old and blind and deaf --

My bald pate bobs and blunders.

I bang it when I fall;

My cock's gone soft and clammy

And I can't hear when they call --

but writing poems to the end, and as ornery as ever. One day he announced that he was going to ride to a meeting of the Althing at Thingvellir, and after he had told someone in confidence why, ("I want to take my two coffers with me, the ones I got from King Athelstan, both full of English silver. I want them carried up to the Law Rock when the crowd gathered there is at its biggest, and I'm going to throw the silver about, and it will be a big surprise to me if people agree to divide the silver evenly. I'll bet there'll be a bit of pushing and punching.. Maybe in the end the whole assembly will start fighting."), he had to be restrained, "and there was an ugly look about him." An evening or so later he said he was going down to the bath-house, and ordered two slaves to bring him a horse. He brought his two chests with him, mounted his horse, and they all went off into the fields. Next morning they saw him come stumbling back leading the horse, but neither the coffers nor the slaves were ever seen afterwards. English silver coins have sometimes turned up in neighboring ravines after spring floods, and there is much specullation about what may be buried in the deep bogs in the vicinity. But Egil never said a word about the matter.

Years after he died, they dug up Egil's bones, and the local priest amazed by the thickness of the skull which was ridged all over like a scallop shell. To see just how thick, he struck it as hard as he could with the back side of a heavy axe but could not even dent the bone.

Egil's Saga is generally believed to have been written by one of his direct descendants, Snorri Sturluson, who has a good claim to be called the greatest prose writer of the Middle Ages. He was an important figure in thirteenth-century Iceland, a great landowner and politician as well as the producer of a considerable body of literature. He wrote the Heimskringla, a wonderfully vivid and for its time a wonderfully objective history of the kings of Norway. He wrote the Prose Edda, which is partly as textbook of poetic technique and partly a memory of the myths of the old Norse gods, who remained a living presence in the land long after it had formally adopted Christianity. Without it we would know next to nothing of Odin and his hall Valhalla, where slain warriors spend half their time feasting and half killing each other all over again; of the Valkyries who collect the bodies of the slain on battlefields; of Baldur the Beautiful and scheming Loki; of Yggdrasil the ash tree that hold up the world; of Ragnarok, the last day, and gods and the world together are swallowed up by the wolf Fenris.

Icelanders have always believed that life can be reduced to anecdotes, and there is one about how Snorri came to acquire his immense learning. His father Sturla Thordarson, a self-made man, overbearing and ambitious, got into a fight with a priest over an inheritance. The priest's wife tried to gouge out one of Sturla's eyes with a knife, but only gashed his cheek. Sturla enlarged the wound while pretending to clean it, producing a great deal of blood and justifying him in his demand for a huge fine, the equivalent of 200 cows, in wergeld or blood-money from the terrified priest. A chain of family feuds and mayhem might have got started, had no the priest's kinsman Jon Loftsson, the richest man in Iceland, proposed a settlement. In return for giving up his 200 cows, Sturla agreed to have Jon adopt his three-year-old child Snorri as a foster-son. Snorri was brought up on Jon's family estate at Oddi, the traditional center of learning in Iceland.

How does it happen, you may ask, that the priest who quarreled with Sturla had a wife? Though the Icelanders voted themselves Roman Catholic in the year 1000, an over-narrow observance of religious commandments has never been one of their characteristics. They knew well enough that their new faith required celibacy on the part of the clergy, but as this did not make sense to them they simply disregarded it. All sorts of people in Iceland today can trace their ancestry back to one of the innumerable sons of John Arason, the last Roman Catholic bishop, who was beheaded for political reasons by the Lutheran King of Denmark in 1550.

As Bjorn Fridfinsson, a city administrator in Reykjavik, puts it, "We are not an either/or people. We are a both/and people." Witness the famous seaman in one of the sagas who "believed in Christ by prayed to Thor when the weather was bad."

The both/and principle was at work from the beginning. The sage writers liked to think that their ancestors, the first settlers, were Norwegian noblemen who preferred to give up their land and riches rather bend the knee to the centralizing tyranny of King Harald Fairhair. Perhaps some of them were. They were also land-hungry farmers, fishermen, sailors who saw a chance to get rich by crossing seas that no one had ever crossed before.

The ones who made their way to Iceland picked up many Celtic concubines and slaves, chiefly in Ireland, on the way. Since there has been virtually no immigration to Iceland in the last 800 years, the populations is remarkably homogeneous, a valuable lode for geneticists and epidemiologists. "We are the descendants," says Bjorn Firdfinnsson, "of the most boring people in Europe, the Norwegians, and the drinkingest, the Irish." That is why Icelanders are such a combination of dependability and unpredictability. You can always count on an Icelander to do what he promises, but you can never tell when; for he is apt to disappear at any moment, for a few minutes or a few days or weeks. But he unfailingly reappears.

Iceland is a thoroughly modern country today, urbanized - half of its quarter of a million people live in Reykjavik and its surroundings - motorized, computerized, unionized. But if the social landscape has changed completely, the countryside has vistas that are little different from those of saga days. Then, everyone lived on isolated farmsteads. The body politic consisted of fiercely independent yeoman farmers. There was not so much as a village in the land. This world has vanished, but traces of it linger everywhere. You can see it in the quasi-mystic regard Icelanders have for their horses, the hardy, long-maned Iceland ponies, which helped them tame the land a thousand years ago.

You can also see it in their matter-of-fact acceptance of supernatural presences. Iceland is virtually a treeless land and the wind blows freely - in winter it blows interminably. This makes a good breeding ground for ghosts, elves, trolls. There is, it is true, nothing in modern days like the ghost of the thrall {slave] Glam who snapped roof rafters like matchsticks and tried to break all the bones of the hero of the Saga of Grettir the Strong. But there are plenty of less malevolent ghosts around these days, solid and three-dimensional as they appear in the sagas. If you hear thumps upstairs at dinner, you hostess may say, "Don't pay any attention to it, it's only great-grandmother Freydis; she always turns up on the children's' birthdays." A German ghost named Frau Schwartzkopf puts in regular appearances at the residence of the president of the republic.

Look in the phone book and every is listed alphabetically as he or she would have been in the saga age, by first name and father's first named followed by "son" or "dottir" (Bjorn Thomasson, Helga Thomasdottir). Only foreigners and a few eccentrics use family names. All the familiar names from the old heroic tales are here in the phone book:

Asgrim, Thorbjorn, Gunnar. Only one of the names is conspicuously absent: Mord, which was a popular enough name in the thirteen century but which no parent would dream of saddling a son with today. It was the cowardly, scheming Mord Valgardsson whose deceitful deeds led the sons of Njal Thorgeirsson to murder Hoskuld, Chieftain of Hvitaness, and set off the climactic round of slaughter in Njal's saga. To this day, where we would say, "son of a bitch," the Icelander says "lying Mord," and when he says that he had better smile.

Everybody reads the sagas in school and phrases from them come readily to people's lips on every sort of occasion. Recently, when the Reykjavik city council was interminably debating a proposal to reduce the size of some committee, the mayor settled the issue by quoting Olaf Peacock, a Viking who liked to dress up, in the Laxdaela Saga. His ship was drifting in a fog in the Irish sea, and one sailor wanted to turn to starboard, another to port, another straight ahead. Olaf then said, "The counsel of fools is all the more dangerous the more of them there are," and he sailed off in his own direction, which proved to be the right one.

The youth of this land, the late President Kristjan Eldjarn noted a little sadly some years ago, is more concerned with the death of Elvis Presley than with the death of Gunnar Hamundarson, a central figure in Njal's saga. And it is true that you can see pop rockers with shaved or overgrown scalps roaming the roads on motorcycles with their electronic bullhorns. But in homes all over Iceland you can still find children learning from their parents some of the 2l,226 metrical patterns in the rousing old songs that tell tales of the old saga heroes or celebrate the traditional saga values: "As long as life lasts/ I will love women and horses/ And be drunk most of the time."

As for Gunnar Hamundarson, his death will still kick up plenty of talk if you mention him in almost any company. Gunnar was a big, affable farmer and the best fighting man of his time. He was married to Hallgerd Longbreeches, the Lady Macbeth of the North, who had already killed off two previous husbands. She had glorious golden hair that could cover her nakedness. Gunnar, besieged in his home by 25 enemies, and holding them off with rapid-fire archery, was dismayed when his bowstring broke. "Quick" he said to Hallgerd, "cut off two tresses of your hair, and my mother and you and can twist me another bowstring." "Is it important?" she asked. "My life depends on it," she said, "for they will never come to close quarters with me if I can keep them off with my bow."

"Well," said Hallgerd,"now I will call to thy mind that slap on the face which thou gavest me {some years before, when he found that she had ordered a slave to steal a neighbor's cheese]; and I care never a white whether thou holdest out a long time or a short." So Gunnar went down fighting against 18 surviving foes. The women's liberationists of Iceland have chosen Hallgerd as their patron saint.

Gunnar had had a chance to escape certain attack and death by going abroad on a Viking voyage, but as he was riding down to it, he horse stumbled and he looked back on his farm at Hildarendi. "How lovely the slopes are," said Gunnar in words that most Icelanders know by heart, "more lovely than they have ever seemed to me before, golden wheatfields and new-mown hay. I am going back home and I will not go away."

The landscape that so enchanted Gunnar may seem, to some eyes, stark to the point of bleakness. American visitors find it a bit reminiscent of the Far West, the same endless emptiness, the barren mountainsides, the tormented rock formations, the magnificent openness. And the human Iceland of the saga days was very much like that of the Old West, with isolated families struggling against inhospitable nature, the absence of central authority, a pervading atmosphere of violence. No wonder the Icelanders have always been rabid fans of movie Westerns. They are accustomed to stories of how strong and solitary men and women struggle to triumph over adversity. .

The sagas, composed in a hard unyielding world, naturally put great emphasis on physical strength and courage. So do modern Icelamders. They are fond of reading about old Viking sports like the one played by Kjartan, son of Olaf Peacock, with a powerful man he met one days while swimming in the river near Trondheim, the old capital of the kings of Norway. The game was to pull the other fellow under water and see who could stay down longer. "They stayed under for what seemed to Kjartan a very reasonably time" and came up with great respect for each other. The other fellow turned out to be King Olaf Tryggvason, a magnificent athlete who loved to run up and down the length of his flagship, the Long Serpent, leaping from oar to oar, all 110 of them, while his men rowed.

Sometimes the feats the sagas describe may seen a little exaggerated. Did Skarpheddin Njalsson really leap over the Markar River and come gliding along the smooth ice on the bank "as fast as a bird flies" and smash his axe into the skull of Thrain Sigfusson, cleaving down to the jaw so that his jaw-teeth fell about on the ice, and then slide on to safety before any of Thrain's companions could strike a blow? Skeptics have dared to doubt that Grettir the Strong swam an icy stream in Norway in air so cold that his cloak froze solid around him when he came ashore.

But the last time I was in Iceland everyone was talking about the fisherman of the Westman Island who swam three miles from his overturned boat in near-freezing ocean water and then climbed a coastal cliff and walked two miles on a road of crushed lava in his bare feet and knockdc on doors where he was greeted with cries of "Are you back again, you dirty drunk?" till he found a kindly one that would open for him. When asked what the water was like, he said, "Cold."

Icelanders also take it as a matter of course that the winner of the annual international competition to choose the Strongest Man in the World, For 200 years their young men have striven to lift the Kviahella Stone which weighs 400 pounds, knowing that raising it an inch will bring them no end of prestige in their home towns.

But even more than strength of the body, the sagas value strength of mind, shrewdness mixed with determination. Their true heroes are men like Njal Thorgeirsson, who tried to impose order and rationality and a spirit of compromise on the raw passions of a frontier land. "With law shall our land be built," he says in his Saga, "but without law will we destroy it.": The words are written to\day on the shields of the Icelandic police.

The first republic of Iceland lasted for about 300 years. Since it had no executive officer, no king, on national army, no wars, it has no formal history in the conventional sense. Since no trees more substantial than birches grow there, its buildings had to be made of driftwood, stone and sod, rarely with expensive imported wood, and virtually none of them have survived. When Icelanders look for monuments, they go to the empty spaces where once the great scenes of the sagas were acted out.

The go to Thingvellir, the cliff-rimmed plain east of Reykjavik where people from all over the land congregate in June of every year to commemorate the althing. It was the first European parliament, where the people listened to the Lawspeaker read out the laws, passed judgments, levied blood-payments, and negotiated marriages and commercial ventures.

They go on pilgrimages to the farm of Bergthorsknoll where Njal and his family were besieged and burned; where old Bergthora, refusing a chance to escape, lay down on an oxhide by her husband::"I was promised to Njal young, and I promised him this, that we would both share the same fate."

They go to Reykholt, the favorite home of Snorri Sturluson, and dip their toes in a pool fed by underground hot springs, around which Snorri must have sat with his friends debating the rules of poetry. Behind the pool is a door to an underground passage leading to the cellar of his house, where he was tracked down and murdered by his enemies in the year 1241.

Snorri's death marked the end of Iceland's golden age. As head of the Sturlung family, he had tried, not too scrupulously, not too successfully, both to increase his own power and preserve Iceland's independence from the imperialist encroachments of the kings of Norway. He was not ruthless enough to be a leader in those dark days. The climate was getting colder, the land was overrun with a surplus population of homeless ruffians, the scramble for land and power among the leading families was becoming more and more bloody and brutal.

The whole . northern world was in decline: the great days when a man could make a fortune as a Viking were over. A Norwegian pirate like Olaf the Thick, later to become Olaf the Saint,, might once have spread terror from Finland to Spain, and pulled down London Bridge with his ships' ropes, launching a deathless nursery rhyme in the English-speaking world. Olaf's great-grandson Magnus Bareleg (he spent much time in Scotland and wore kilts), though Snorri provided him with a splendid saga line - "kings are made for honor and not for long life" - could do no better than die wretchedly as a cattle-thief in Ireland. So the Norwegians had nothing left they could safely attack but impoverished Iceland. King Hakon Hakonarson personally ordered his henchman in Iceland, Gissur Thorvaldsson, to murder Snorri.

Gissur later came to terms with the Sturlung family and married his son to one of their daughters, but no temporary accords could halt the cycle of treachery and violence A band of Sturlungs attacked Gissur in his house and burned it. They slaughtered everyone in his family, but he himself survived by jumping into a tub of skyr - fermented milk, a kind of thick yogurt - in dark cellar and hiding there for hours, managing to escape the exploratory pokes of the spearpoints of his enemies. It was said of him that he rarely smiled before and never smiled after this event, though he triumphantly achieved his lifelong goal of betraying Iceland to the King of Norway. That was in 1262. For centuries thereafter Iceland languished. Cold and poor, ravaged by catastrophic volcanic eruptions, its population dwindled to the point that there was talk of extinguishing it entirely by evacuating the miserable survivors to Denmark, which had temporarily gobbled up Norway. The precious manuscripts of the sagas found their way to libraries in Copenhagen. But in the lonely farmhouses, by the flickering lamps, the grandfathers went on reading to their families the old tales of Egil and Njal and King Harald Fairhair and the ghost of Thoriolf Twist-Foot which was so heavy that four oxen broke down drying to drag it to a decent resting place.

©1986 Robert Wernick

Smithsonian Magazine January 1986