Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gullfoss (A Poem)

I've just returned from a week's trip to Iceland, one of the many highlights of which was giving a talk at the University of Reykjavik (in both English and Icelandic). I also wrote a poem while I was there about the happiness I find being in Iceland:

Yesterday I went to Gullfoss
Appeared a rainbow there
I stepped on it by mistake
And climbed into the sky

Looking down I could see
The light-swept land
Wet moss and gleaming stones
Bathed in warm and rippling air

I saw my friends, like angels
Disappear into the shining spray
Wearing the waterfall
Close against their skin, against their hearts

Elsewhere I saw rivers, their floors coated
With travellers’ silvered hopes
Flung below like falling stars
Into the streaming darkness

In the distance I could see
Turrets of steam
Pulling at the horizon

And in the towns and cities
I watched people talking among themselves
Stitching their breath
With soft and coloured words

In a harbour “Sólfarið”,
A sunfaring man
With outstretched arms
Hugs time
Remembering the tide-washed dreams of men
Born and those still yet to be


drew said...

I just finished your book today. It was wonderful. This is the first time that I have ever read about someone else who sees numbers in their mind. I've seen the calendar of time as a big scroll unrolling through time and space since I was a kid. I'm not autistic. Just very different from the rest of the people that I grew up with. I have an ability to remember numbers , but nothing like you.

Now. about the poem. It is very beautiful.

Peace and love Drew

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Daniel both for your excellent lecture and this wonderful poem. I loved it when you recited it for us at the lecture and I also would like to repeat how unbelievable your progress in Icelandic has been. Hope you will be back in Iceland.
Warm regards, Ingibjorg G. Gudmundsdottir

Anonymous said...

Lovely poem! I missed your visit to Iceland, my home country, because I am traveling in the USA. I am very glad you had a good time. Catch you next time :)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful poem!
I think you are also a wonderful man.

Bruna_Scolastica said...

Salutation from the country of rising-sun.
Last Sunday, I found your self-biography at the bookstore and arrived here.
It's a wonderland made of rhythm. Please continue to send us your beautiful works with numbers and words.

Shaun Jex said...

Curious, there's something about the poem that reminds of the language and poetry of the Book of Revelations. I quite enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

What evocative images you've conjured up there Daniel. I'm glad this visit has been a productive ones and that it has inspired you to conjure up the Muses of poetry!

Anonymous said...

You are truly amazing. You have helped countless people around the world understand Autism a bit more. I have a wonderful Grandson who is 5 years old, and has Autism. He lights up our whole life! I hope I can be as instrumental in his life, as your parents were, and are, in yours.
Thank you for all you do,

Red said...

salut je viens de te découvrir(ton passage à la télévision française) et je te trouve tellement fascinant en tant que personne(pas pour tes prouesses uniquement) que je souhaite vraiment que l'on devienne amis et que l'on puisse se rencontrer. je te donne mon e-mail si ça t'interesse :kzerta@hotmail.fr
et à bientôt j'espère !!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,
Is it possible to ignore seeing colours and emotions in everything perceived around? Would that be like suppressing one's own hearing, or rather like setting oneself free? Can you only perceive them, or can you change them as well, say, turn wednesday grey?

Anonymous said...

Great poem. I have purchased your book but have not yet read it.

I have a question I'm hoping you can answer. Do savants such as yourself that relate colors to numbers all see the same or at least similar colors for the same numbers? For instance, is the number 9 blue or near blue for all savants?

Anonymous said...

Komdu sæll og blessaður, Daniel. Ég er líka að læra íslensku, mér finnst það svo fallegt tungumál eins og þú. En já mér finnst það svo erfið til læra.

Þó heiti ég Andrés. Ég er frá Kúbu en ég bý á bandaríkjunum.

Það er skrautlegt kvæði. Geturðu skrifað það á íslensku?

Anonymous said...

Just finished your book and enjoyed it very much. I like to learn about brain function and how it affects how people think. I went to college in the early 60's and at that time, it was thought that autism was caused by parents being cold and distant to their babies. I can remember when our psych professor found out differently and had us cross out that statement in our psych books. I taught school for 37 years in CA and then retired to AZ, where I subbed for a while. We had another sub who had Aspergers! The way it came out was we were in the lunch room and a teacher had to do a paper on Aspergers and so the sub with Aspergers told us all about it. In the few minutes before that, I had almost left the lunch room because he was being so offensive. One of the teachers was talking about her wedding plans, and he made 3 totally inappropriate, sexually suggestive jokes in a row without being at all aware that people were rolling their eyes. He told us about how he had to memorize socially appropriate responses. I'm not sure that subbing in elementary school was the right place for him. A little boy who had autism was at that same school and I subbed in his class one time. The other children were very accepting of him and just told me to leave him alone and that "he does his own thing." He was very affectionate, and would come up and hug me. Thanks for your book. Sally

portia said...

Dear Daniel-
Hello and I hope everything is going well. I have some friends in Iceland and I plan to visit there next year - I am really looking forward to it. I would love to meet you someday as well.
Best wishes, -Portia Iversen
(Author 'Strange Son')

Anonymous said...

Bonjour Daniel,
je m'appelle Ratry. Je suis française d'origine taï dam. C'est une région qui se trouve au Nord du vietnam. J'essais d'apprendre cette langue qui est à l'origine du thaïlandais et du laosien d'après mes recherches sur mes origines.
Je suis entrain de lire ton livre et je le trouve incroyable. Il ya beaucoup d'amour , d'authenticité dans ce que tu écris.
A bientôt

Anonymous said...

Tere Daniel Paul!
Nägin Sinust saadet telerist ja see oli mulle suureks inspiratsiooniks. Eriti suur rõõm oli märgata, et Sulle meeldib eesti keel! Eesti keel on väga ilus aga raske keel ja ma loodan, et su arvuti mõistab ka täpitähti. Tihtipeale jään isegi eestlasena mõne sõna käänamisel hätta. On palju eestlasi, kes ei suuda hääldada meie sõna "lõokene" ja vähe välismaalasi, kes suudavad öelda "jüriöö ülestõus" (see tähistab ajaloolist päeva).

Soovin Sulle kõike head!!

Anonymous said...

I like your poem and your book very much. Your description of meeting Neil was probably the most romantic thing I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

Hola Daniel. Me llamo Mado. Soy española y ayer acabé de leer tu libro, Nacido en un día azul. Me ha encantado. Te invito a visitar mi web, a dejar tus comentarios en ella y a que te sientas con la libertad de poder hablar y comunicarte conmigo cuando quieras, si te apetece. Un abrazo mediterráneo desde España.

DJ Kirkby said...

Toby sent me here. I think your poem is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I am a circus performer and i have seen many people with strange and beautiful skills. Today i just watched the movie and wanted to tell you that I am really happy that you are alive and posses your unique and magnificent skills.
~Rita Riggs

Anonymous said...

Daniel you are a brilliant mind of depths that are still yet to be discovered. I hope that the power that is restless within you is used on calculations of infinite discomfort to common man. Space, Time, and the Universe beckons your brilliance, I hope you gain the courage to answer its call.

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel
Just finished your book, it was fantastic to see life from your perspective. I have worked with children on the autistic spectrum for 10 years and can relate to so many things you said. I hope the children i work with can one day have an independent life and find happiness as you have. I wish you continued happiness and success in the future. The peom is beautiful.
Elaine, Scotland.

Stella said...

Hii Daniel! I had read the newspaper last day and I saw an article telling about you and your capacities. I'm a french girl living in Bordeaux (do you know?). Your poem is wonderful, and I think I'm gonna read your book. It can be fantastic to have a such power! I'll be please if you'll answer to me.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I just watched the program on Channel 9 Australia, the 60 Minutes about you. I wish I could see just a glimpse of how you see the world in colours - it must be beautiful. It's also amazing how you learn Icelandic in just one week..

It's my birthday this Saturday, and I'm planning to get your book as a present for myself.

You are extraordinary..

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

I was inspired by the documentary about you, and I blogged about it .

It appears that my handicap is your genuis, but your handicap (understanding emotions) may be my forte.

Yet despite our differences, I connect deeply with you through the beauty of the imagery of your poem. His outstretched arms holds all things together.

I am excited about you. We will begin to understand so much more about cognition in ways we never understood before because of you. You are a blessing to the world!


Anonymous said...

Daniel - I too saw the documentary and would like to say this: you don't owe the world any understanding of how your mind works. Do what thou wilt, and let that be the whole of the law.

And to the rest of the world, especially scientists and the media: please give Daniel space and don't simply use this man for your own purposes. Let him live free and enjoy life.

Anonymous said...

bonjour Daniel,
Je viens de finir votre livre et je l'ai trouvé magnifique, sincère et très touchant. J'ai un proche qui est aussi atteint d'un autisme assez leger mais qui ne lui permet pas d'interagir avec les autres et je dois avouer que la lecture de votre histoire m'a permis de mieux comprendre les mécanismes de son esprit et pour cela je vous adresse mes sincères remerciements.
Je voudrais également vous remercier pour le message de tolérance et de respect de la différence que vous véhiculer à travers vos témoignages, cela me conforte dans l'idée que nous avons encore beaucoups à apprendre les uns des autres.
Merci encore pour tout et bon courage pour la suite.
Souad, Lyon.

Anonymous said...

c'est un très joli texte, qui a des accents de dylan thomas. j'adore...

Unknown said...

You, Daniel, are my new hero.

Anonymous said...

Radiantly beautiful from beginning to end. Echoes of Kunitz at his best; and I'm tickled to think 'Transition' may have subconsciously influenced your embrace of time. Binomy forever! :)

Anonymous said...

I read your book in a total of 4 hours, and I Just loved it! Although I am not like you, I have a large intrest in the study of Autism, and a collegue at my school has a type which allows him to remember anything that he wants to but nothing that he doesnt want to learn. He can recite a whole movie only after seeing it once. That it why I am amazed at how autistic people function.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Daniel, for one of the most beautiful poems I have read in a long time.


Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, ever since I read your first interview, I was fascinated with your abilities. I have an interest in spiritual enlightenment. You describe what it is to be enlightened and thus one with the spirit when you speak about your inner existence and external existence. Your poem also reflects this. I am wondering if you recognize this. Even the 'silence' you love or better said, you are.

Anonymous said...

You've allowed me to search myself deeper and understand you better. Thank you for sharing. Have you read The Holy Bible? We'd be curious about your findings. You seem to have a quite a miraculous gift...have you found your purpose.?

Anonymous said...

Ce fut un réel plaisir de te lire, tant ton poème que ton livre.
Merci de nous faire partager ton expérience ainsi que tes réflexions sur l'actualité dans un monde qui, aujourd'hui, manque cruellement de tolérance et d'ouverture d'esprit.

Sincères salutations du soleil azuréen,

Ricky said...

thank you very much for this wonderful poem. Iceland is my favourite country! I have been looking at some icelandic paintings to see how icelanders interact with their landscape through paintings. However most of the 20th century icelandic paintings are futuristic and heavily influenced by international zeitgeist, so i am put off when i saw few are vernacularly icelandic. I like your poem very much because it sort of gave me a suggestion on how to use this wonderful large space in Gullfoss: to see it in an aerial view. When I was in iceland, I kept imagining what you can do with this piece of space. To throw a large party on it? to practise rites/meditate on it(like in the movie Cold Fever) because it is so barren that it feels so spiritual or to bathe in the running stream of glacial water? Now, when I feel stressed or wanting to calm down, I would close my eyes and imagine myself walking through the desolate space i walked slowly in the Skaftafell National Park. I always feel a sense of freedom and can breath sweet air when i think of those images. Sorry for the messiness of this comment, i think i m a bit too excited about that.

CarriCoffee said...

I just finished your book also! I don't read much anymore, but when i found your 'Born on a Blue Day' in my sisters room i finished reading it in only three days! I don't have synaesthesia but i identify with having a world of your own in your head that makes you very happy and relaxed. Often i dissappear off into my own head when i see something beautiful that i think no one else has noticed and it feels something like the way you feel about numbers. It's hard to explain it to other people and your book made me so happy. It was my best friend for three days :)

Anonymous said...

Ich habe gelesen,dass du auch deutsch sprechen bzw.schreiben kannst.Deshalb mache ich mir nicht die Mühe englisch zu schreiben.Wahrscheimlich liest du sowieso keine Kommentare.
Ich finde dich und dein Leben interessant.Gott hat dich fantastisch gemacht.Ende.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I think your amazing. I got your book out of my school library yesterday and finished reading it this morning. It's wonderful and astonishing that you can do these things and I love it.

The poem is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

This poem reminds me of one written by the great scientist Richard Feynman, in that both were written by intelligent men who, although writers, may not focus on poetry specifically. And yet they stand up to the poems of those who do, and both manage to be enlightening in their own way. Life affirming is a good description, but human affirming might be even better:

There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart
yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the sun
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves
and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity
living things
masses of atoms
DNA, protein
dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea, wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.

- Feynman

Anonymous said...

You must be a genius:)

From another autistic guy

Anonymous said...


I'm 14 from Singapore and I think you're really remarkable! If only I had a brain like yours :D

I like Math and I hope one day I'll be able to calculate like you too!

Regards, Cassandra

Anonymous said...

Just finished your autobiography and have to ask if you plan on writing any more books, specifically how and what you learned to make your social skills better. As a mother of a 15-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome, I often worry about how well he is socializing with classmates, etc. I will definitely be thinking about you when my son goes out into the world on his own. You are a true inspiration for those with Autism and for those without it. I had checked your book from the library but will now be buying it so my son and the rest of my family can read it. Thanks again for writing such a wonderful book.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I hope this date is synaesthetically pleasing to you. I just finished Born On A Blue Day. Thank you. There is not enough space here to tell you why, but thank you! The poem is beautiful. I am excited to learn more about you.

Jessica said...

daniel, i saw your brain man documentary this monday. read your book when it came out here (malaysia) in june and it rocked! i liked your writing style and i found your initial struggles with socialising / adapting to social norms and behaviours very relatable.

it's good news for me to hear that social skills are something that can be picked up and don't remain at a stunted level forever. and i like the fact that you were humble in your writings, even though you're touted as a breakthrough study in science.

and with reference to a previous post of yours, i agree with your remarks on dawkins' the god delusion. i didn't just have blind faith when i became a christian either...logic / reason played a part too. (there's also a book countering dawkins' arguments called the dawkins delusion, if you haven't already heard of it.)

glad i found your blog..i'll definitely be reading it often.

any chance of visiting malaysian shores to give talks here someday? haha.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures building up in my mind through your poem on iceland.

Anonymous said...

que poema maravilhoso!
cuide-se daniel.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful poem, I'm deeply touched. Thank you :-)

Anonymous said...

hi daniel,

I've just read an article about you in De Morgen, a belgian newspaper. I have a 13 year old son who is asperger too and highly gifted. Accepting his way of seeing things made my life more complete. We discuss a lot and I try to give him the best I can find to make him happy with himself. Sometimes people forget that after all we are all humans, with our own talents. I do hope you have a happy life, it's inspiring to see how you cope with all your talents. Your parents must be very pride (I hope so).

All the best,

mnuez said...

Hey Daniel, I just watched a few videos of yours online and I was lucky enough at some point to find a link here to your blog (probably on the wikipedia page).

I hope that you're continuing to blog as I would love to read more of what you have to say.

In any event, I hope that everything is fantastic for you, I hope that you'll be writing more, and it would be a pleasure to communicate with you personally at some time.

All the very best,


Lindsay said...

I just finished your book last night. It touched me in ways I can't even describe. Though I don't have autism, your words motivated me to work harder at my daily life and to pursue those things that I want most. Thank you.

The poem is fantastic.

Love, Lindsay

Anonymous said...

I read your book a while ago and am now doing a review of it for a school project. I think that you are amazing and you are an inspriation to me. Thank you for your amazing book

Anonymous said...

Við vorum að horfa á myndina ,,Brain man" og við lásum líka ljóðið þitt. Kærar þakkir, hvort tveggja var mjög áhrifaríkt! Það kom upp spurning í hópnum hver er atvinna þín. Getur þú sagt okkur það?
Nemendur og kennari í sálfræðivali í Menntaskólanum við Sund

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,
It was awesome that you were in Amsterdam to talk to us in the NEMO, and your speech was really interesting! I am proud to have 'met' you (maybe you remember a young girl dressed in green, in the audience)! I am a synesthete too, numbers and letters have also vivid colours for me. I don't see them in textures or personalities as you do, but they have genders. And to me, you're born on a pink day (that's my wednesday color) :)
Looking forward reading your book..
Good luck with everything and greetings from Enschede!

Alan said...

I am going to add myself to the list of people who are totally amazed and astounded by not only your ability, but in the your good nature and modesty.

Anonymous said...

I just received your book as an early Christmas gift as I have been recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as an adult...so much of what you write I can relate to in my childhood years. I would like to share a poem that I wrote as beautiful, but shorter than yours...

"Bright Star"

First out again...
If you find the empty sky so lonely
Why don't you go back in?
Nobody cares if a bright star fades
For they love the sun best.

Anonymous said...

Hello Daniel,

Hope this message finds you in great health and happiness. I've watched the Brainman documentary, read your book and now your poem. In a nutshell, you're everything that's great about the human spirit and an inspiration for all of us!

Anonymous said...

beautiful poem. I enjoyed it greatly.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, I just finished your book. I could not stop reading, it was so interesting. Having studied autism during University studies in Psychology and having worked with people with autism, I believe that we all have some autistic traits, some people just have more than others. What we don't all have is synesthesia. I cannot imagine what it is like to have this wonderful gift. Your poem sent shivers down my spine, it was so beautiful. Your ways of thinking are truly amazing. Thank you for opening my eyes to new ways of thinking, even if I cannot really use or understand them properly.



Anonymous said...

Some Dylan Thomas, some Hendrix. Freshets! I liked it!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Such an amazing variety of languages in these comments. Immediately Icelandic, Estonian, French, German, Japanese.. I could go on. Anyways.. I'm 17 and I have Asperger's Syndrome as well. If only I could grasp the beauty of languages as you do! Your poem was beautiful, and it painted such lovely images in my mind. I found your site after reading your book (which is also amazing). You're honestly an inspiration.


Anonymous said...

hi daniel!

what do you think about the song
"if 6 was 9" from jimi hendrix? i would love to understand those feelings about numbers :-)