Icelandic: enginn gengur vísum að


New Member
English - US
Hi, I am enjoying trying to learn Icelandic, and as I've often used songs when teaching languages to others, I've been selecting songs to help me remember Icelandic phrases. So many styles of music on youtube, having a lot of fun. So, there is a lovely song, "Líttu sérhvert sólarlag" and I feel pretty confident of my translation except that I cannot sort out the grammar of this phrase. Can a native speaker help?

I read we can post up to 4 lines of a song, and this just takes 2 for context!

Líttu sérhvert sólarlag, sem þitt hinsta væri það.

I translate : Look at every sunset, as if it were the last

Því morgni eftir orðinn dag enginn gengur vísum að.

I struggle : Because in the morning once it's day - none will be shown to us again ???

Því morgni eftir orðinn dag : More words than needed, I think, buy hey it's a song;
Því morgni = in the morning
eftir orðinn dag = when it's become day

But what is "enginn gengur vísum að" ? I get the strong sense that it's no one sunset will be seen again, or will show again. But while "enginn gengur" seems straightforward "none is going...." that's 3rd person singular and "visum" I can't find any sense of except for we / 1st person plural so ... what am I missing about this phrase? with "að" ?

Many thanks to anyone who can sort this out. Grammatical explanation is as important as the meaning, if you can.
  • Segorian

    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    As you probably know, word order in Icelandic is somewhat freer than in a language such as English. The possibility to vary the word order is used most often in poetry, including many song lyrics. The rules for this are not easy to describe, so an example will have to suffice:

    When referring to a ship, or someone sailing on a ship, one way to say reaches land would be “kemur að landi”, and this is the word order everyone would use ordinarily. In a poem, however, it would be permissible to say “kemur landi að”, especially if this was needed for reasons of meter or rhyme. The line you are asking about is a relatively complicated example of this.

    It is also important to note that the line uses the expression “ganga að einhverju(m) vísu(m)”, which means to take something (someone) for granted.

    To make clear the structure of the sentence, and how the above expression works in that context, reorder the words as follows:

    Því enginn gengur að morgni vísum eftir orðinn dag.

    “Because no one can take a new morning for granted after the day has ended.”


    New Member
    English - US
    Wow. Thank you so much.
    When I tried to find how "visum" could fit grammatically, I did come across the possibility of "take for granted" and I puzzled over that. But as much as I might have wanted to leap to an acceptable-sounding phrase, I could not justify my guesses. I was thinking, "no one should take (another sunset) for granted" .... But, it was a shot in the dark.
    Absolutely I accept inverted order and the flexibility in phrasing that poems and songs utilize. But I am far too much a novice to have sorted that line out.
    I appreciate your reply more than you can imagine!