Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir was born near Seydisfjördur in the Eastern Fjords, grew up in a tradional community, still largely untouched by the modern world. Despite her traditional upbringing, she converted to communism before she was eighteen and went to Reykjavik to study. She became a confirmed communist and an equally confirmed feminist, and for years took an active role in Iceland's political life.
From 1955 she worked as a teacher in Reykjavik.
Politics and feminism live only in oblique references in her poems, mostly when she reflects on the poetry and personalities of like-minded poets whose work she has translated.In these particular poems she may take an original view of famous heroins in sagas and novels.
The bulk of her poetry, however, deals with different matters: the search for one's self and the struggle to come to terms with one's essential loneliness and the pain of irrecoverable loss. Loneliness, she says, is a fundamental theme in her work, expressed in ever recurring images such as night, moon, the dark depths of water, the relentless clock which chimes the hours in many a poem in her latest collection, The Clock in the Tower.
In many poems she shows herself a keen and loving observer of children, and a sympathetic understander of their, often harrowing, doubts and fears.
Vilborg's poetic output is small, resulting from her habit of living with a poem for months, even years, before deciding to publish it. Although she has the ability to write poems in the Icelandic tradition (with prescribed alliteration, occasional internal rhyme, and end-rhyme) she has always preferred a free form for her poetry. She tries to be simple and clear, with careful control of sound and rhythm.
[Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 1999. This text was written on that occasion.]