And she was part of this! The first full tone Thrilled her breast too and woke a thousand mem'ries Of something that she ne'er before had known! On that first evening, when the curtain rose, With timid step one clad in white came forth And begged for Norway's art, for our young drama A home in Norway,—but with so great fear, The gentle voice was trembling, dim the eyes; Yet from the voice, the eyes, the form, the bearing Was heard a promise in sweet modesty; For she who spoke those first words on this Stage, That maiden dark with eyes so deep and true, Lo, it was she!
And soon her art shone clear And softly radiant through the evening hours.— With fairy lightness fell its magic gleams On hidden longings, sorrows half-concealed,— But gently, tenderly. If joy she touched, 'T was always softly. But we all could feel A stream of power so full, that if she had In an unguarded hour let it flow free With all its deep and swelling tide sincere, It would have borne herself from earth away.
In truth, the calmness of her course through life Was never weakness, but was strength controlled; Was never fear, but veneration deep For those whose souls are great: a model she For noble women as for forceful men,— This wreath we weave for her pure memory.
But what she thus had early taught herself, She taught to others. When upon the stage She stood, depicting woman's painful conflict With rudeness, violence, and wild desire, Then,—though she wielded but a woman's weapons, Her silent dignity, her subtle smile, Her light derision, all-subduing laughter,— A spirit-dawn gleamed from their flashing play, To usher in a day of victory. She barriers raised around the woman weak (Down-trodden in a half-built social order), She stood forth here so many an evening-hour And talked to thousands of a woman's worth. though her call was not fully to free All that a woman's heart may hope and dream, She shielded it secure in all its beauty.
This conflict made her reticent, severe;— But sometimes in a song her spirit could Send forth glad tidings, messages of freedom, Her large free soul revealing. Then we heard Such longing after full, unbroken peace, Our thoughts were captive held by sad foreboding.—
'T is now come true!—The crape of mourning droops About her name, the tolling bell is still. Her final summons gather us once more Before her stage, and here our thanks we utter For what she gave us. So as she had given, Has no one given. She gave of her sorrow, With bleeding heart beneath her winsome smile. She shared with us the tears her conflict brought, The radiant glory of her victory.
Thanks, prayer-borne thanks, you noble soul, From all your brothers, from your sisters all! From Norway's youthful art enduring thanks! From women to their pure interpreter Farewell and thanks!—From all those whom you lifted On pinions of the spirit high to beauty Once more a wreath is brought,—it is the last.
(Laying it before the bust) Now God in His bright heaven makes you glad, And we will make you glad with good remembrance.
CHORUS (Behind the scenes, softly) Farewell, farewell! Now in your grave No want is known; But what you gave, We ever own. Your spirit's seed Shall blossom here, Bear fruit in deed, And sad hearts cheer.
TO JOHAN DAHL, BOOKDEALER (ON HIS SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY) (See Note 31)
Our glasses we lift now and drink to our host! "Hurrah!" Give heed to our ditty, we sing you our toast! "Aha!" The first thing appearing is what he was nearing, When uproar not fearing he came for a hearing 'Fore skerry-bred eagle And Wergeland regal. Oh! Ha!
He came like an innocent spring-lambkin ewe-born, Oh, woe! So neat and so fine in his guilelessness new-born Like snow. The flesh so delicious was chopped up to farce-meat, And later by Wergeland found for a farce meet, And gayly 't was swallowed, And all the bones hollowed And strown.
But swift as Thor's he-goats to life again skipping, He sprang Whole skinned together, and gave them a whipping That rang. This made him seem worthy to join the gay party, At once they received him in fellowship hearty! And soon was no other More loved as a brother Than Dahl.
The light from his shop spread afar and made brighter Our day. His drawing-room gathered so many a fighter In play. Our taste there was made and our critical passion, The shop was a power, new Norway to fashion. Though little, its story Shall some time in glory Be writ.
For what you have kindled, endured, and aspired, Our thanks! For hearts you have gladdened and souls you have fired, Our thanks! For all your good faith in your fervor and ranting, Yes, for your whole-heartedness free from all canting, You whimsical, queer one, Old fellow, you dear one, Our thanks!
TO SCULPTOR BORCH (ON HIS FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY) (See Note 32)
With friends you stalwart stand and fair, To-day of fifty years the heir; The past your works rejoicing praise, But forward goes your gaze. Your childlike faith, your spirit true, Your hand that never weary grew, A home's sweet music, love of wife, Make ever young your life.
You dared believe with heart alive That here in Norway art can thrive. You forced the hardness of our stones To harmony of tones. You laid our wild world's secrets bare And caught "The Hunter" near the lair. Our nation's moods, of beauty born, Your "Girl with Eggs" adorn.
As o'er a slope's snow-covered brow A youth came swiftly flying now, You saw him, raised your hand, and lo! He stood there, chiseled snow. But your "Ski-runner's" courage good, It was your own, when forth you stood Art's champion by the world unawed, And with your faith in God.
You won your victory supreme Through rock-like faith and will's full stream While with unnumbered hours of rest Your love has others blessed. Were all now here from west and east Whose hearts you own, oh, what a feast! From Akershus the convicts e'en Would bear a freeman's mien.
Now we whose lives with good you filled For you to-day a palace build, On heights of heart's-ease lifting square Its golden tower of prayer. In peace you oft shall dwell in it, Whene'er you need to rest a bit, And feel through them who hold you dear Yourself to heaven near.
Long since our country to you gave The meed of thanks that most you crave; It gave a maid with golden hair, Its springtime's image fair. She came from where the fairies dwell, With nixie's charm and wood-nymph's spell, With peace all holy, sweet, and calm, To sing of life the psalm.
So may your life yet long endure To light our gland, your home secure! May all that from your heart you gave, Still blossom on your grave! May God's protecting mercy hold Your spirit ever fresh and bold,— May He to genius oft impart Just such a mind and heart!
Oh, what was it he meant By his question as he went? "I am making a loom, 'T will be up in April's bloom; If you think it may be, Spin for me!"
Oh, what shall I believe? Does he think himself to weave? And the yarn that I spin, Lo, he thinks to weave it in? And so soon as the Spring Flowers shall bring?
And he laughed when he'd done; Oh, he is so full of fun. Dare I trust all my skein To so young and wild a swain?— May God help to bind in All I spin!
THE WHITE ROSE AND THE RED ROSE
The white rose and the red rose, So sisters two were named, yes, named. The white one was so quiet, The red one laughed and flamed. But different was their doing, yes, When came the time of wooing, yes. The white one turned so red, so red, The red one turned so white.
For him the red one favored, Him father would not bless, not bless. But him the white one favored, He got at once his "Yes." The red one now was paling, yes, With sorrow, psalms, and wailing, yes. The white one turned so red, so red, The red one turned so white.
Then father grew so fearful And had to give his "Yes," oh, yes! With songs and music cheerful The wedding rang, oh, yes! And soon sprang children rosen, yes, In shoes and little hosen, yes. The red one's, they were white,—and oh, The white one's, they were red.
YOUTH Mood of youth, Mood of youth, Eagle-like must seek the blue, Dauntlessly its course pursue, All the mountain-heights must view. Blood of youth, Blood of youth, Steam-like puts full-speed to sea, E'en though storm and ice there be, Makes its way and romps in glee. Dream of youth, Dream of youth, Rogue-like stealing sets its snare In the maiden's morning-prayer; All the springtime, fragrant, glowing, In its airy waves is flowing. Joy of youth, Joy of youth, Waterfall-like foams in truth, Laughing, rainbow-gifts forth flashing, Even while to death 't is dashing. Joy of youth, Dream of youth, Blood of youth, Mood of youth, Clothe the world with colors golden, Singing songs that never olden.
THE BLONDE MAIDEN
Though she depart, a vision flitting, If I these thoughts in words exhale: I love you, you blonde maiden, sitting Within your pure white beauty's veil. I love you for your blue eyes dreaming, Like moonlight moving over snow, And 'mid the far-off forests beaming On something hid I may not know.
I love this forehead's fair perfection Because it stands so starry-clear, In flood of thought sees its reflection And wonders at the image near. I love these locks in riot risen Against the hair-net's busy bands; To free them from their pretty prison Their sylphs entice my eyes and hands.
I love this figure's supple swinging In rhythm of its bridal song, Of strength and life-joy daily singing With youthful yearnings deep and long. I love this foot so lightly bearing The glory of sure victory Through youth's domain of merry daring To meet first-love that hers shall be.
I love these hands, these lips enchanting, With them the God of love's allied, With them the apple-prize is granting, But guards them, too, lest aught betide. I love you and must say it ever, Although you heed not what you've heard, But flee and answer: maidens never May put their trust in poet's word.
THE FIRST MEETING (FROM THE FISHER MAIDEN)
The first fond meeting holy Is like the woodbirds' trilling, Is like a sea-song thrilling, When red the sun sinks slowly,— Is like a horn on mountain, That wakes time's sleep thereunder And summons to life's fountain To meet in nature's wonder.
GOOD-MORNING (FROM THE FISHER MAIDEN)
Day's coming up now, joy's returned, Sorrow's dark cloud-castles captured and burned; Over the mountain-tops glowing Light-king his armies is throwing. "Up now, up now!" calls the bird, "Up now, up now!" child-voice heard, Up now my hope in sunshine. "
MY FATHERLAND (FROM THE FISHER MAIDEN)
I will fight for my land, I will work for my land, Will it foster with love, in my faith, in my child. I will eke every gain, I will seek boot for bane, From its easternmost bound to the western sea wild.
Here is sunshine enough, Here is seed-earth enough, If by us, if by us all love's duty were done. Here is will to create; Though our burdens be great, We can lift up our land, if we all lift as one.
In the past we went wide O'er the sea's surging tide, And the Norman's high walls stand on many a shore. But our flag flies its way Ever farther to-day And is red with life's vigor as never before.
Great our future shall be; For the Northern lands three Shall unite once again and their true selves shall know. Give your strength and your deed, Where you nearest see need, As a brook to the river that forward shall flow.
Yes, this land where we dwell, Oh, we love it so well, All was, all it is, all it can be again. As our love had its birth In this homeland's dear earth, Shall the seed of our love bring it increase again.
CHOICE (See Note 33)
April for me I choose! In it the old things tumble, In it things new refresh us; It makes a mighty rumble,— But peace is not so precious As that his will man shows.
April for me I choose, Because it storms and scourges, Because it smiles and blesses, Because its power purges, Because it strength possesses,— In it the summer grows.
NORWEGIAN SEAMEN'S SONG (FOR THE STAVANGER REGATTA, 1868) (See Note 34)
Norwegian seamen are A folk grown strong 'neath sail and spar; Where boats can find a way, The best men there are they. On high seas or at home, In calm or when the storm-waves comb, To God their prayer they make, Their lives they gladly stake.
Incessant is their strife, They wage with death a war for life, And dear their souls they sell In conflicts none can tell. All that is commonplace In history seldom leaves its trace, And often none is there, The tidings home to bear.
But fishing-boats in need Have shown so many a daring deed Of courage fine and skill, Though unrecorded still. And many a seaman's head A wreath of sea-weed wore when dead, Whose name should shine in gold Among great heroes bold.
Saint Olaf's Cross's praise Would on that pilot fitly blaze Who saved a hundred men, And hundred once again. To many a boy so young, Who riding home to boat's keel clung, His father set on board, We honor should accord.
In Norway's mountain-coast Our land's own mother-breast we boast, With food for us and tears For sons whom danger nears. In it each deed has lot, And there no brave son is forgot, From Hafurfjord's great day To the last castaway.
This each one felt and found Who homeward came and looked around; This each one felt who went, In the last look he sent. They felt the ocean o'er: Their ships our country's fortune bore; Honor and power it sought,— And these the white sails brought.
Hurrah for them to-day Who the Norwegian flag display! Hurrah for pilots true Who forth to meet them flew! Hurrah for them who ply Their fishing-boats 'twixt sea and sky! Hurrah for all our boast, Our skerry-skirted coast!
HALFDAN KJERULF (1868) (See Note 35)
Winter had sought his life's tree to o'erthrow, Youthful and strong. But his blood's vernal flow Saved it from death through the cold and the maiming; Late in the summer bright flowers were flaming, Late in the autumn they swelled to completeness,— Fruits that were few, but of fragrance and sweetness.
Poets received them to endless seed-sowing, Where for his folk endless summer is glowing,— While more and more, Stricken he hung o'er the death-river's shore, Fighting in weakness the winter abhorred, Fighting for summer, the singer's reward, Fighting while failing, with modesty rare, Soon but in prayer.
Summer received him! He now is victorious! Now, while they harvest the yellowing corn, Now, while the hills hear the notes of the horn, He enters glorious.
Mirrored in him is true poetry's force, Marked by our winter, in summer its source. E'en as the air with its quivering sheen, Leaves of the forests and red peaks serene, Waters that wander 'mid meadows delaying Sound with the music the sunshine is playing,— Poetry also shall leap with new life, If it, though failing, is faithful in strife:— Leap from death's thronging:— Soon comes the summer with summer's pure longing.
NORWEGIAN STUDENTS' GREETING WITH A PROCESSION
TO PROFESSOR WELHAVEN (See Note 36)
Hear us, O age-laden singer! Streams of your tones are returning, Touching your heart! Spirit of youth is their bringer, Under your window with yearning Called by your art. Now our soul's echoes abounding Soar in the blue, In the sun-shimmering blue, High where your silvery song-notes are sounding.
Smile on your labor now lightened, You who in winter perfected Seeds to be sown! All that your courage has brightened, All that your pity protected, Now it is grown; Over your shoulders upswinging, Folds round your frame, Bringing in roses your name, Joyous the sprite of your poetry bringing.
Onward our life is now marching, Banner-like high thoughts are flying, Lifted to view. One 'mid the foremost o'erarching Leads where the pathway is lying,— It came from you! Runes of our past with their warning Carved on its shaft, Show us the spring you have quaffed, Leading our land to the light of the morning.
FOR A CHARITY FAIR (IN A COPY OF MINOR PIECES)
Some poor man in need To bless and to feed, I bring at its worth, This day of my birth, A book,—from my youth I must own. But Who in His power Gave bud and gave flower, To bread can transform In want's winter-storm Each leaf that my Springtime has grown.
FORWARD (See Note 37)
"Forward! forward!" Rang our fathers' battle-cry. "Forward! forward!" Norsemen, be our watchword high! All that fires the spirit and makes the heart's faith bright, For that we forward go with might And faithful fight.
"Forward! forward!" Whoso loves a home that's free. "Forward! forward!" Freedom's course must ever be. Though it shall be tested by doubt and by defeat, Who will the losses' count repeat When vict'ries greet?
"Forward! forward!" Whoso trusts in Norway's day. "Forward! forward!" Whoso goes our fathers' way. Hid in Northern mountains are spirit-treasures true They shall, when dawns the morning's blue, Come forth anew.
THE MEETING (AT THE STUDENT MEETING OF 1869) (See Note 38)
Thoughts toward one another coursing To their pole must run, Hearts that meet, all bonds are forcing, Like the springtime sun. Though to-day too heavy sorrow Dull the mind of youth, Higher on the meeting's morrow Roll the tides of truth.
Though each man with courage fired Hundreds forward bore, Though a thousand died inspired, There is need of more. May a Northern Spring come blowing Over wood and field, Wake the hundred thousands, knowing Meeting-hour revealed!
Hail! A Northern day is written In the brightening sky; Darksome dread, that erst had smitten, Flees, now dawn is nigh. After Gjallar-horn blasts hollow, Tears and shame and blood, As so often, now shall follow Full the spirit's flood.
In our people's life deep-seated This is felt each day: Who grows stronger when defeated, Victor stands for aye. Our Spring-meeting's fullness swells now, Bearing prophecy Of the Spring whose hope upwells now: Hail, the Northern three!
NORSE NATURE (IN RINGERIKE DURING THE STUDENT MEETING OF 1869) (See Note 39)
We wander and sing with glee Of glorious Norway, fair to see. Let sweetly the tones go twining In colors so softly shining On mountain, forest, fjord, and shore, 'Neath heaven's azure arching o'er.
The warmth of the nation's heart, The depth, the strength, its songs impart, Here opens its eyes to greet you, Rejoicing just now to meet you, And giving, grateful for the chance, In love a self-revealing glance.
Here wakened our history first, Here Halfdan dreamed of greatness erst, In vision of hope beholding The kingdom's future unfolding, And Nore stood and summons gave, While forth to conquest called the wave.
Here singing we must unroll Of our dear land the pictured scroll! Let calm turn to storm of wildness, Bring might into bonds of mildness: Then Norsemen mustering, each shall see This is our land's whole history.
To them first our way we wing, The hundred harbors in the spring, Where follow fond love and yearning, When sea-ward the ships are turning. For Norway's weal pure prayers exhale From sixty thousand men that sail.
See sloping the skerried coasts, With gulls and whales and fishing-posts, And vessels in shelter riding, While boats o'er the sea are gliding, And nets in fjord and seines in sound, And white with spawn the ocean's ground.
See Lofoten's tumult grand, Where tow'ring cliffs in ocean stand, Whose summits the fogs are cleaving, Beneath them the surges heaving, And all is darkness, mystery, dread, But 'mid the tumult sails are spread.
Here ships of the Arctic sea; Through snow and gloom their course must be; Commands from the masthead falling The boats toward the ice are calling; And shot on shot and seal on seal, And souls and bodies strong as steel.
On mountains we now shall guest, When eventide to all brings rest, In dairy on highland meadow, On hay-field 'neath slanting shadow, While to the alphorn's tender tone Great Nature's voice responds alone.
But quickly we must away, If a11 the land we would survey,— The mines of our metal treasures, The hills of our hunters' pleasures, The foam-white river's rush and noise, The timber-driver's foot-sure poise.
Returning, we linger here, These valleys broad to us are dear, Whose men in their faithful living To Norway are honor giving; Their fathers, strong in brain and brawn, Lent luster to our morning-dawn.
We wander and sing with glee Of glorious Norway fair to see. Our present to labor binds us, Each how of the past reminds us, Our future shall be sure and bright, As God we trust and do the right.
I PASSED BY THE HOUSE (See Note 40)
I passed by the house one summer day, Morning sunshine upon it lay; Toward the windows that blood-red burned Flaming my soul was turned, was turned. There spring had found me And captive bound me To lissome hands and soft lips enthralling, To smiles now stained by the teardrops falling.
Till the view from my vision dies, To it backward I send my eyes; All that was becomes new and near, The forgotten grows warm and dear; Mem'ries wander, While this I ponder, And from the springtime all love's sweet dreaming Forward and back in my soul is streaming.
Joyous that time and joyous now, Sorrow that time and .sorrow now. Sun on meadows bedewed appears, Soul in mem'ries of smiles and tears. When they waking Their bounds are breaking, When streams their ebbing with sinking power, The soul bears poetry's bud and flower.
THOSE WITH ME (See Note 41)
As on I drive, in my heart joy dwells Of Sabbath silence with sound of bells. The sun lifts all that is living, growing, God's love itself in its symbol showing. To church pass people from near and far, Soon psalms ascend from the door ajar. —Good cheer! Your greeting hailed more than me, But that in hastening you failed to see.
Here's goodly company with me riding, Though oft they cunningly keep in hiding; But when you saw me so Sunday-glad, It was because of the mates I had. And when you heard me so softly singing, The tones attuned to their hearts were ringing.
One soul is here of such priceless worth, For me she offered her all on earth; Yes, she who smiled in my boat storm-driven, And blanched not, braving the waves wind-riven, In whose white arms that in love caressed me Full warmth of life and of faith possessed me.
The snail in this I am like when faring,— My home I ever am with me bearing; And who believes it is burdensome, He ought to learn how it's good to come And creep in under the roof thereafter, Where she gives light amid children's laughter.
No poet paints nor can thinker tell So vast a vault or so deep a well, As where the glory of God's own love On cradle-mirror falls from above. Your soul is brighter, your heart more tender, When by the cradle your thanks you render.
Who knows not love in the small and near, The many in memory hold not dear. Who cannot build him a house his own, What towers he builds will be soon o'erthrown. From Moscow victor to Carthagena, He vanquished dies on his Saint Helena.
When such a stronghold you've reared with labor, It often safely protects your neighbor; Though work of woman's and children's hands, Your soul finds strength where that fortress stands, You go hence braver to battle-dangers, Can courage give unto countless strangers.
One home bore often a whole land's fate, And sent the hero who saved the state; Thousands of homes, when the war was o'er, The land delivered in safety bore. So bear it onward in peace and beauty The hearts of homes beating true to duty.
Though foreign perfumes be fine and rare, Still pure alone is the home's sweet air. Naught meets you there but the childlike, truthful, And sin is kissed from your forehead ruthful. To heaven's home leads its door ajar, For thence it came and it lies not far.
Good cheer, to church on your way not staying! For those we love we shall both be praying; In prayer together the way we wander That leads from this to the home up yonder. You enter in; I must journey far, While follow psalms from the door ajar. Good cheer! Your greeting hailed more than me, But that in hastening you failed to see.
TO MY FATHER (UPON HIS RETIREMENT) (See Note 42)
In all the land our race was once excelling. In richer regions it e'en now possesses Broad seats and fruitful; but by fate's hard stresses Our branch was bent and bowed to blows compelling. Now toward the light again it lifts aloft Its top, and fresh buds crown it, fair and soft. The flowing fountain of your faith has laved it, To life's late evening thus your strength has saved it.
As rests the race in time of chill and rigor, And from the deeps that lie within its being Draws to it what alone can nourish, freeing Its powers to full prophecy of vigor,— So I divined the unseen stir in you Of nature's might that you could not subdue; It was so strong, from sire to son surviving, In mystery mute descends this power's striving.
Upon this poured its radiant warmth pervading My mother's soul; of wedded joy the glory Crowns not alone your aged heads and hoary; But it shall death outlive in light unfading. And if my people ever truly prize The pictured home that in my writings lies, Honor of love and faith serene, unbroken,— Of father, mother, both, shall praise be spoken.
If men remember the Norwegian peasant, As from the field of toil or saga fateful I conjured him; to you they shall be grateful, Father, in whom love let me find him present. And if the woman whom I made them view In sun-like splendid faith and spirit true, By women is approved, it is the other Who has their homage, my sweet-natured mother.
And now you'll rest the evening long and cheery From the day's work in fair or troubled weather, And of the by-gone time you'll talk together, Of many a mile you trod with footsteps weary,— Now will as sunlight on the winter's snow, A warmth of thanks in through the window glow, Harsh memories mellow with its golden shining, Your life in faith complete find its refining.
But none gives thanks as now that son in gladness, For whom you lived in anxious fear unceasing, Since forth he flew with strength of wing increasing, For whom to God you prayed in joy and sadness. Oh, know, when hot my blood burned over-much, I felt your soothing hands my forehead touch, And oft, my heart in mute repentance bleeding, In thoughts of you I heard God's gentle pleading.
And so I pray that I may have the power (Since we again for life shall be united, And hope 'mid mirthful mem'ries be relighted), To brighten now their every evening-hour! When children's children in their arms shall be, Oh, let them morning in their evening see! So shall they gladly lay, when death gives warning, Their gray heads down to greet the dawning morning.
TO ERIKA LIE (See Note 43)
When Norse nature's dower Tones will paint with power, There is more than mountain-heights that tower,— Plains spread wide-extending, Whereon at their wending Summer nights soft dews are sending.
Forests great are growing, And in long waves going Glommen's valley fill to overflowing,— There are green slopes vernal, Glad with joy fraternal, Open to the light supernal.
For revealing wholly All things fine and holy— As in sunshine birds are soaring slowly, Or, their spells transmitting, Northern Lights are flitting,— None but maiden-hands are fitting.
Your hands came, and playing, O'er their secrets straying Picture after picture are portraying, As the poet dreamed them, In soul-travail teemed them, Till your artist hands redeemed them.
Now their light far-flinging We see flashing, swinging, Sparks as from your father's humor springing; Now there meets us nigher, Mirroring the higher, Mother's eye of softer fire.
Child-heart tones are holding All our minds and molding, So its faith the wide world is enfolding, While your sweet sounds sally, Truth to tell and rally, Maiden blonde from Glommen's valley.
+ AT MICHAEL SARS'S GRAVE (See Note 44)
Ever he would roam Toward th' eternal home; From the least life deep in ocean To each gleam of stars in motion, Worth of all he weighed. Now the Lord lends aid.
Still he passed beyond, Softly dreaming; fond Nature met him as her lover. God with strength his soul shall cover 'Mid the starry throng Through the spheres' pure song.
Even here on earth Harmony's sweet birth— When discovery new truth sunders, When the small reveals its wonders— Filled his soul with song For the ages long.
Where his watch he kept, Eyes a hundred swept. Where millenniums sand assembled, Where the tiniest life-pulse trembled, There he sought the clue, Silent, wise, and true.
In a water glass Searching he saw pass All the ocean's life; his thinking To unfathomed deeps was sinking; Where lay riddles locked, There he came and knocked.
Fair our fatherland, While such faith shall stand! With an eye so true and tender, With a sense so fine for splendor In the small and still,— Great ends we fulfil!
TO JOHAN SVERDRUP (See Note 45)
When now my song selects and praises Your forceful name, think not it raises The rallying-flag for battle near; The street-fight shall not reach us here. If sacred poetry's fair hill Lies open to assassination,— Is this the newer revelation, Then I withdraw and hold me still. Then I the words of Einar borrow, When southern change of kings brought sorrow, And Harald's hosts their ravage spread: I follow rather Magnus dead Than Harald living thus,—and then I sail away with ships and men. Nor therefore do I lift anew The flag of song just now for you, Because my spirit's deepest yearning To you for new light now is turning. No, where the greatest questions started, Just there it is our ways were parted— From where the deepest thought can reach, To plan and goal of daily speech. My childhood's faith unshaken stands, And thence our equal rights deriving, I for a people free am striving And brotherhood in kindred lands. Though both of us are Christian men, So wide a gulf between us lies; Though both are true Norwegian men, We Norway see with different eyes. If but to-day we victory gain, We must to-morrow fight amain. But now I honor you in singing, Because what ought just now to be With strongest will you clearly see, And foremost to the fight are springing. When sinks the land 'neath heavy fogs And no fair prospect cheers the eye, The thickening air our breathing clogs, Yes, all things dull in torpor lie,— Then mounts your mind with freest motion, Its thunder-wings the mist-banks driving, Its lightning-talons cloud-walls riving, Till sunlight spreads o'er land and ocean. You are the freshening shower clean Upon our sluggish day's routine. You are the salt sea-current poured Into each close and sultry fjord. Your speech a mine-shaft is, deep-going To where the veins of ore are showing. And by your flashing eyes far-sighted The past is for our future lighted. So long as Sverre's sword you wield, So long as you our hosts are heading, We know we'll win on every field; Foes flee, your battle trumpet dreading. We see their struggling ranks soon rifted, We see them set so many a snare: Your head unharmed in thought's pure air Above the waves of war is lifted. We love you for this courage good, That e'er before the banner stood, We love the strength you boldly stored In your self-forged and tempered sword. Your vigilance we love and prize, That sickness, slander, loss defies, We love you, that at duty's call You gave your peace, your future, all, We love you still—hate cannot cleave!— Because you dared in us believe. How can they hope that backward here Our land shall go? No, year by year, Forward in freedom and in song, Forward the truly Norse disclosing. What might can now avail, opposing The travail of the centuries long? People and power no more divided; In peace to save or war to kill, Our freedom with one guard provided, One nation only and one will. The spirit of our nation's morn, The unity of free gods dreaming, And all things great to be great deeming, Forever must the spurious scorn. The spirit that impelled the viking 'Gainst kingly power for freedom striking,— That, threatened, sailed to Iceland strong With hero-fame and hero-song, And further on through all the ages,— That spirit never dwells in cages. The spirit that at Hjrung broke For thousand years the foreign yoke, By might of king ne'er made to cower, Defying e'en the papal power,— The spirit that, to weakness worn, Held free our soil with rights unshorn, Held free, with tongue and hand combined, 'Gainst foreign host and foreign mind,— By which our Holberg's wit was whetted, And Wessel's sword and Wessel's pen, And to whose silent forge indebted The thoughts that armed our Eidsvold-men,— The spirit that in faith so high Through Odin could to God draw nigh, As bridge the myth of Balder threw, And almost found the free way new To truth's fair home in radiant Gimle, When this was closed and warded grimly By monkish lies and papal speech,— That threw a second bridge to reach On freedom's lightly soaring arches To heights whereon the free soul marches,— So, when for Luther blood was shed, The North but razed a fence instead, —The spirit that, when men were deeming True faith in all the world were dead, Brun, Hauge, and their lineage spread, From soul-springs in our nation streaming,— Though pietism's fog now thickens, Still guards the altar lights and quickens;— Can this they make the fashion better, By modern bishop-synod's letter? Is this by politics provided, When into "Chambers" 't is divided? Can this into a box be juggled And o'er the boundary be smuggled?
And that just now when beacons lighted On all the mountain-tops are sighted, And when our folk-high-school's young day The Norse heart kindles with its ray, Renewing mem'ries, courage bringing, While they are hearing, trusting, singing;— Just when the deep in billows surges, Responsive to the tempest's might, And over it the Northern Light Of Youth's refulgent hope emerges;— Just when the spirit everywhere, While walls lie low as trumpets blare, Is breaking from the ancient forms, And will of youth the heights now storms.
A battle-age,—and we are in it! The greatest thing on earth: to be Where powers that are bursting free, Self-shaping seek their place and win it;— Our fusing passion all to give, To cast the statue that shall live, To press the mold of our own form On what shall be the future's norm, Into the age's soul thus breathed The spirit God to us bequeathed.
'T was this that now I wished to say To you, who late and early, aye Within time's workshop great are going, What is, what shall be, ever knowing;— To you, who all our people's might Have roused for freedom new to fight;— To whom our people gave this power, And sorrow, its eternal dower.
THE CHILD IN OUR SOUL
Toward God in heaven spacious With artless faith a boy looks free, As toward his mother gracious, And top of Christmas-tree. But early in the storm of youth There wounds him deep the serpent's tooth; His childhood's faith is doubted And flouted.
Soon stands in radiant splendor With bridal wreath his boyhood's dream; Her loving eyes and tender The light of heaven's faith stream. As by his mother's knee of yore God's name he stammers yet once more, The rue of tears now paying And praying.
When now life's conflict stirring Leads him along through doubtings wild, Then upward points unerring Close by his side his child. With children he a child is still And whatsoe'er his heart may chill, Prayer for his son is warming, Transforming.
The greatest man in wonder Must ward the child within his breast, And list 'mid loudest thunder Its whisperings unrepressed. Where oft a hero fell with shame, The child it was restored his name, His better self revealing, And healing.
All great things thought created In child-like joy sprang forth and grew; All strength with goodness mated, Obeyed the child's voice true. When beauty in the soul held sway, The child gave it in artless play;— All wisdom worldly-minded Is blinded.
Hail him, who forward presses So far that he a home is worth For there alone possesses The child-life peace on earth. Though worn we grieve and hardened grow, What solace 't is our home to know With children's laughter ringing And singing.
+ OLE GABRIEL UELAND (See Note 46)
Of long toil 't is a matter Through many a silent age, Before such power can shatter Time-hallowed custom's cage. The soul-fruit of the peasant, Though seldom seed was sown, It is our honor present,— Our future sure foreknown.
The fjords that earnest waited 'Mid mountain-snows around His childhood's thoughts created And depth of life profound. The highlands' sun that played there On fjord and mountain snow So wide a vision made there As one could wish to know.
When he to Ting repairing Would plead the peasant's right, Each word a beam was bearing. To make our young day bright. It came like ancient story Or long-lost song's refrain; What crowned our past with glory It made our present gain.
Though in his boat a seaman, A farmer in his field, Ne'er finer thoughts did freeman In royal council wield. His years bear witness ready That we shall yet achieve Our people's self-rule steady, He taught us to believe.
When weary, worn, and aged, His faith was ever strong; The people's war he wagd For victory erelong. Beneath the banner dying, He would not yet give o'er, And him Valkyries flying Home to Valhalla bore.
From wintry night and bitter He was with stately tread In Saga's hall a-glitter Before the high-sear led. Old heroes proud or merry Rising to greet him went, But first of all King Sverre, From whom was his descent.
+ ANTON MARTIN SCHWEIGAARD (IN THE CHURCH AFTER THE FUNERAL ORATION) (See Note 47)
Give us, God, to Thee now turning, Fullness of joy, tears full and burning, Of will the full refining fire! Hear our prayer o'er his inurning: His will was one, the whole discerning, His whole soul would to it aspire. Yes; give us yet again, With power to lead, great men,— Power in counsel our folk to lead, Our folk in deed, Our folk in gladness and in need!
Thou, O God, our want preventest; To raise the temple him Thou lentest, A spirit bright and pure and great. When Thou from time to call him meantest, Her tender soul to him Thou sentest Who went before to heaven's gate. When Thou didst set him free, An epoch ceased to be. Men then marveled, the while they said: "Living and dead, O'er all our land he beauty spread."
Help us, God, to wiser waring, When to our land Thou light art bearing, That we Thy dayspring then may know. God, our future Thou'rt preparing, Oh, give us longing, honor's daring, That we the great may not forego! Thou sentest many out,— Cease not, our God, nor doubt! Let us follow Thy way, Thy call, Men, words, and all! Thy mercies shall our North enwall!
+ TO AASMUND OLAFSEN VINJE (SUNG AT HIS WIFE'S GRAVE) (See Note 48)
Your house to guests has shelter lent, While you with pen were seated. In silent quest they came and went, You saw them not, nor greeted. But when now they Were gone away, Your babe without a mother lay, And you had lost your helpmate.
The home you built but yesterday In death to-day is sinking, And you stand sick and worn and gray On ruins of your thinking. Your way lay bare Since child you were, The shelter that you first could share Was this that now is shattered.
But know, the guests that to you came In sorrow's waste will meet you; Though shy you shrink, they still will claim The right with love to treat you. For where you go To you they show The world in radiant light aglow Of great and wondrous visions.
What once you saw, now passing o'er, Will but be made the clearer; It is the far eternal shore, That on your way draws nearer. Your poet-sight Will see in light All that the clouds have wrapped in night;— Great doubts will find an answer.
And later when you leave again The waste of woe thought-pregnant, Whom you have met shall teach us then. Your pen in power regnant. From sorrow's weal With purer zeal, Inspiring light, and pain's appeal Shall shine your wondrous visions.
GOOD CHEER (1870) (See Note 49)
So let these songs their story tell To all who in the Northland dwell, Since many friends request it. (That Finland's folk with them belong In the wide realm of Northern song, I grateful must attest it.)
I send these songs—and now I find Most of them have riot what my mind Has deepest borne and favored: Some are too hasty, some too brief, Some, long in stock, have come to grief, Some with raw youth are flavored.
I lived far more than e'er I sang; Thought, ire, and mirth unceasing rang Around me, where I guested; To be where loud life's battles call For me was well-nigh more than all My pen on page arrested.
What's true and strong has growing-room, And will perhaps eternal bloom, Without black ink's salvation, And he will be, who least it planned, But in life's surging dared to stand, The best bard for his nation.
I heard once of a Spanish feast: Within the ring a rustic beast, A horse, to fight was fated; In came a tiger from his cage, Who walked about, his foe to gauge, And crouching down, then waited.
The people clapped and laughed and cheered, The tiger sprang, the horse upreared, But none could see him bleeding; The tiger tumbling shrinks and backs Before the horse's rustic whacks, Lies on his head naught heeding.
Then men and women hooted, hissed, With glaring eyes and clenchd fist Out o'er the balcony bending; With shouts the tiger's heart they tease, Their thirst for blood soon to appease, To onset new him sending.
The people clapped and laughed and cheered The tiger sprang, the horse upreared; No blood to see was given, For fortune held the horse too dear, To him the tiger could not near, In flying curves hoof-driven.
To say who won I will not try; For lo, this rustic horse am I, And on the conflict's going;— The city, though, where it occurs, And where it cheers and laughter stirs, Is known without my showing.
I fight, but have no hate or spite, From what I love draw gladness bright, My right to wrath reserving. It is my blood, my soul, that goes In every line of all my blows, And guides their course unswerving.
But as I stand here now to-day, Nor grudge nor vengeance can me sway, To think that foes I'm facing. So in return some friendship give To one who for the cause would live, With love the North embracing!
But first my poet-path shall be With veneration unto thee, Who fill'st the North with wonder; In wrath thou dawn didst prophesy Behind the North's dark morning-sky, That lightnings shook and thunder.
Then, milder, thou, by sea and slope, The fount of saga, faith, and hope Mad'st flow for every peasant;— Now from the snow-years' mountain-side Thou seest with time's returning tide Thine own high image present.
To thee, then, in whose spring of song Finland's "the thousand lakes" belong And sound their thrilling sorrow:— Our Northern soul forever heard Keeps watch and ward in poet's word 'Gainst Eastern millions' morrow.
But when I stand in our own home, One greets me from the starry dome With wealth of light and power. There shines he: HENRIK WERGELAND, Out over Norway's pallid strand In memory's clear hour.
OLD HELTBERG (See Note 50)
I went to a school that was little and proper, Both for church and for state a conventional hopper, Feeding rollers that ground out their grist unwaiting; And though it was clear from the gears' frequent grating They rarely with oil of the spirit were smeared, Yet no other school in that region appeared. We had to go there till older;—though sorry, I went there also,—but reveled in Snorre.
The self-same books, the same so-called education, That teacher after teacher, by decrees of power royal, Into class after class pounds with self-negation, And that only bring promotion to them that are loyal!— The self-same books, the same so-called education, Quickly molding to one type all the men in the land, An excellent fellow who on one leg can stand, And as runs an anchor-rope reel off his rote-narration!— The self-same books, the same so-called education From Hammerfest to Mandal—('tis the state's creation Of an everything-and-every-one-conserving dominion, Wherein all the finer folk have but one opinion!)— The self-same books, the same so-called education My comrades devoured; but my appetite failed me, And that fare I refused, till, to cure what had ailed me, Home leaving I leaped o'er those bars of vexation. What I met on the journey, what I thought in each case, What arose in my soul in the new-chosen place, Where the future was lying,—this to tell is refractory, But I'll give you a picture of the "student factory."
Full-bearded fellows of thirty near died of Their hunger for lore, as they slaved by the side of Rejected aspirants with faces hairless, Like sparrows in spring, scatter-brained and careless. —Vigorous seamen whose adventurous mind First drove them from school that real life they might find— But now to cruise wide on the sea they were craving, Where the flag of free thought o'er all life wide is waving. —Bankrupted merchants who their books had wooed In their silent stores, till their creditors sued And took from them their goods. Now they studied "on credit." Beside them dawdling dandies. Near in scorn have I said it! —"Non-Latin" law-students, young and ambitious, "Prelims," theologs, with their preaching officious; —Cadets that in arm or in leg had a hurt; —Peasants late in learning but now in for a spurt:— Here they all wished through their Latin to drive In one year or in two,—not in eight or in five. They hung over benches, 'gainst the walls they were lying, In each window sat two, one the edge was just trying Of his new-sharpened knife on an ink-spattered desk. Through two large open rooms what a spectacle grotesque!
At one end, half in dreams, Aasmund Olavsen Vinje's Long figure and spare, a contemplative genius; Thin and intense, with the color of gypsum, And a coal-black, preposterous beard, Henrik Ibsen. I, the youngest of the lot, had to wait for company Till a new litter came in, after Yule Jonas Lie.
But the "boss" who ruled there with his logical rod, "Old Heltberg" himself, was of all the most odd! In his jacket of dog's skin and fur-boots stout He waged a hard war with his asthma and gout. No fur-cap could hide from us his forehead imperious, His classical features, his eye's power mysterious. Now erect in his might and now bowed by his pain, Strong thoughts he threw out, and he threw not in vain. If the suffering grew keener and again it was faced By the will in his soul, and his body he braced Against onset after onset, then his eyes were flaming And his hands were clenched hard, as if deep were his shaming That he seemed to have yielded! Oh, then we were sharing Amazed all the grandeur of conflict, and bearing Home with us a symbol of the storms of that age, When "Wergeland's wild hunt" o'er our country could rage! There was power in the men who took part in that play, There was will in the power that then broke its way. Now alone he was left, forgotten in his corner:— But in deeds was a hero,—let none dare to be his scorner! He freed thought from the fetters that the schools inherit, Independent in teaching, he led by the spirit; Personality unique: for with manner anarchic He carved up the text; and absolute-monarchic Was his wrath at mistakes; but soon it subsided, Or, controlled, into noblest pathos was guided, Which oft turned in recoil into self-irony And a downpour of wit letting no one go free.— So he governed his "horde," so we went through the country, The fair land of the classics, that we harried with effront'ry! How Cicero, Sallust, and Virgil stood in fear On the forum, in the temple, when we ravaging drew near! 'T was again. the Goths' invasion to the ruin of Rome, It was Thor's and Odin's spirit over Jupiter's home, —And the old man's "grammar" was a dwarf-forged hammer, When he swung it and smote with sparks, flames, and clamor. The herd of "barbarians" he thus headed on their way Had no purpose to settle and just there to stay. "Non-Latins" they remained, by no alien thought enslaved, And found their true selves, as the foreign foes they braved.
In conquering the language we learned the laws of thought, And following him, his fine longing we caught For wanderings and wonders, all the conqueror's zeal, To win unknown lands and their mysteries reveal. Each lesson seemed a vision that henceforth was ours, Inspiring each youth's individual powers. His pictures made pregnant our creative desire, His wit was our testing in an ordeal of fire, His wisdom was our balance, to weigh things great and small, His pathos told of passions, burning, but held in thrall,
Oft the stricken hero scarce his tedious toil could brook, He wished to go and write, though it were but a single book, To show a little what he was, and show it to the world: He loosed his cable daily, but ne'er his sails unfurled.
His "grammar" was not printed! And he passed from mortal ken To where the laws of thought are not written with a pen. His "grammar" was not printed! But the life that it had, In ink's prolonging power did not need to be clad. It lived in his soul, so mighty, so warm, That a thousand books' life seems but poor empty form. It lives in a host of independent men, To whose thought he gave life and who give it again In the school, at the bar, in the church, and Storting's hall, In poetry and art,—whose deeds and lifework all Have proved to be the freer and the broader in their might, Because Heltberg had given their youth higher flight.
FOR THE WOUNDED (1871) (See Note 51)
A still procession goes Amid the battle's booming, Its arm the red cross shows; It prays in many forms of speech, And, bending o'er the fallen, Brings peace and home to each.
Not only is it found Where bleed the wounds of battle, But all the world around. It is the love the whole world feels In noble hearts and tender, While gentle pity kneels;—
It is all labor's dread Of war's mad waste and murder, Praying that peace may spread; It is all sufferers who heed The sighing of a brother, And know his sorrow's need;—
It is each groan of pain Heard from the sick and wounded, 'T is Christian prayer humane; It is their cry who lonely grope, 'T is the oppressed man's moaning, The dying breath of hope;—
This rainbow-bridge of prayers Up through the world's wild tempest In light of Christ's faith bears: That love and loving deeds May conquer strife and passion; For thus His promise reads.
LANDFALL (See Note 52)
And that was Olaf Trygvason, Going o'er the North Sea grim, Straight for his home and kingdom steering, Where none awaited him. Now the first mountains tower; Are they walls, on the ocean that lower?
And that was Olaf Trygvason, Fast the land seemed locked at first, All of his youthful, kingly longings Doomed on the cliffs to burst,— Until a skald discovered Shining domes in the cloud-mists, that hovered.
And that was Olaf Trygvason, Seemed to see before his eyes Mottled and gray some timeless temple Lifting white domes to the skies. Sorely he longed to win it, Stand and hallow his young faith within it.
TO HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (AT A SUMMER-FTE FOR HIM IN CHRISTIANIA, 1871) (See Note 53)
We welcome you this wondrous summer-day, When childhood's dreams on earth are streaming, To bloom and sing, to brighten and to pale; A fairy-tale, A fairy-tale, our Northland all is seeming, And holds you in its arms a festal space With grateful glee and whisperings face to face. Th' angelic noise, Sweet strains of children's joys, Bears you a moment to that home Whence all our dreams, whence all our dreams have come.
We welcome you! Our nation all is young, Still in that age of dreams enthralling, When greatest things in fairy-tales are nursed, And he is first, And he is first, who hears his Lord's high calling. Of childhood's longings you the meaning know, And to the North a goal of greatness show. Your fantasy Has just that path made free, Where, past the small things that you hate, We yet shall find, we yet shall find the great.
TO STANG (1871) (See Note 54)
May Seventeenth in Eidsvold's church united, To hallow after fifty years the day When they who there our charter free indited, Together for our land were met to pray,— We both were there with thanks to those great men, With thanks to God, who to our people then In days of danger courage gave unbounded.
And when so mighty through the church now sounded "Praise ye the Lord!" lifting our pallid prayer To fellowship with all her sons, our brothers, I saw you, child-like, weep in secret there Upon the breast we love, our common mother's.
Then I remembered that from boyhood's hour With all your strength to serve her you have striven, Your youthful fire, your counsel cool have given, And till it waned, your manhood's wealth of power. With blessing then and praise of you I thought In thankful prayer, as one of those who fought To shield our land from storms of fate's hard weather, Till 'neath the roof in peace we sat together.
Of you I thought;—but so think few and fewer. Your manhood's fame ere you yourself has crumbled, And you, alas, will not find justice truer, Till you and yours one day have fallen, humbled.
For see, the roads you drew o'er hill and plain For all our people's onward-pressing longing, You dare not travel with the joyous train, That greater grows while towards its future thronging. You knew not what it was your labor wrought, When steam and powder, bursting every barrier, Gave new-born cravings each its speedy carrier And to the people's spirit power brought. The new day's work, as 't were the tempest's welter, In din about you seemed a dream, a fable, And with your like you built in fear a shelter From soul-unrest, a looming tower of Babel.
While now you wait for the impending fight, With gentle eye and stately head all hoary, And o'er the mountains gleams the morning's glory,— Your foes half hid amid the mists of night,— As from an outpost in the wooded wild, These words I send, of peace a token mild.
You fear the people? 'Tis your own that rally, And like the fog arisen from the valley. You think them rebels, void of sense and oneness? Yes, spring's full floods obey no rule precise; Storm-squalls and slush render the roads less nice, The snow's pure white is partly soiled to dunness. But spring is born! The man of genius free, Prophetic, heeds its holy harmony; For genius shares the soul of what shall be. This you have not and never had an hour, And so you shrink before the people's power.
You were a foreman with the gift of leading, When pioneers cleared up a pathless tract; Your lucid thinking and your gracious tact Oft helped them over obstacles impeding. But what new growths the ancient fields have filled, From western seed to feed our land's wants tilled, And what new light shines through your window-pane, Longing for truth beneath religion's reign, And what new things but whispering we say,— And what foretells the dawning reckoning-day,— You fail to understand and find but madness In our young nation's fairest growth and gladness.
You answer: Poet's deeming is but dreaming, And in the statesman's art most unbeseeming. I answer: None has might men's life to sway, If impotent the worth of dreams to weigh. From cravings, powers that seek their form, ascending, They fill the air; their right to be defending, Till all men wakened to one goal are tending. His nation's dreams are all the statesman's life, Create his might, direct his aim in strife, And if he this forgets, the next dreams blooming Bring forth another, unto death him dooming.
The tempest-clouds that mount afresh and thicken Cannot so dense before the morn's light hover That we may not through cloud-rifts clear discover Great thoughts that new-born victories shall quicken.
Such thoughts are radiant over me to-day, And to my heart the warmer blood is streaming, And all we live for, all that we are dreaming, Its summons sends and strengthens for the fray.
The war-horns soon beneath the woods shall bray, Through dewy night th' assailing columns dash, Amid the sudden gleams of shot and slash The fog dissolve before our new-born day.
Soon, though you threaten, will the heights be taken For future ages, and our nation's soul Can thence o'erlook the land in might unshaken, With even hand and right to rule the whole. It soon shall roll war's billows on to battle, While from the clouds the fathers' weapons rattle! O aged man, look round you where you stand, For soon you have against you all our land.
But when you fall defeated on the field, Then shall we say by your inverted shield: He stood against us, since he knew not better, A noble knight and never honor's debtor.
ON A WIFE'S DEATH (See Note 55) With death's dark eye acquainted she had been made ere this, When to her son, her first-born, she gave the farewell kiss, And when afar she hastened beside her mother's bed, It followed all her faring with warning fraught and dread; It filled her with foreboding when standing by the bier: More sheaves to gather hopeth the harvester austere. So soon she saw her husband, that man of strength, succumb, She said with sorrow stricken: I knew that it would come!" She thought that he was chosen by God from earth to go, Would check, her hands upthrusting, the harsh behest of woe; And with her slender body, too weak for such a strife, Would ward her gallant consort,—and gave for him her life.
She smiled, serene and blissful, as death's dark eye she braved; Her sacrifice was given, her heart's proud hero saved. Our love and admiration lifted a starry dome Of happiness above her in life's last hour of gloam, And snow-white pure she passed then to her eternal home. Such tender love and holy to heaven's bounds can bear The souls that it embraces in sacrifice and prayer.
THE BIER OF PRECENTOR A. REITAN (1872) (See Note 56)
With smiles his soft eyes ever gleamed, When God and country thinking; With endless joy, his soul, it seemed, Faith, fatherland, was linking. His word, his song, Like springs flowed strong; They fruitful made the valley long, And quickened all there drinking.
Poor people and poor homes among In wintry region saddest, In Sunday's choir he always sung, Of all the world the gladdest: "The axis stout It turns about, Falls not the poorest home without, For thus, O God, Thou badest."
With sickness came a heavy year And put to proof his singing, While helpless children standing near His trust to test were bringing. But glad the more, As soft notes soar When winds o'er hidden harp-strings pour, His song his soul was winging.
His life foretold us that erelong With faith in God unshaken Shall all our nation stand in song, And church, home, school, awaken, In Norway's song, In gladness' song, In glory of the Lord's own song, From life's low squalor taken.
Fair fatherland, do not forget, The children of his bower! He, poor as is the rosebush, yet Gave gladness till death's hour— With failure's smart Let not depart From this thy soil so glad a heart,— His garden, let it flower!
Song brings us light with the power of lending Glory to brighten the work that we find; Song brings us warmth with the power of rending Rigor and frost in the swift-melting mind. Song is eternal with power of blending Time that is gone and to come in the soul, Fills it with yearnings that flow without ending, Seeking that sea where the light-surges roll.
Song brings us union, while gently beguiling Discord and doubt on its radiant way; Song brings us union and leads, reconciling Battle-glad passions by harmony's sway, Unto the beautiful, valiant, and holy —Some can pass over its long bridge of light Higher and higher to visions that solely Faith can reveal to the spirit's pure sight.
Songs from the past of the past's longings telling, Pensive and sad cast a sunset's red glow; Present time's longings in sweet music dwelling, Grateful the soul of the future shall know. Youth of all ages in song here are meeting, Sounding in tone and in word their desire; —More than we think, from the dead bringing greeting, Gather to-night in our festival choir.
ON THE DEATH OF N. F. S. GRUNDTVIG (1872) (See Note 57)
E'en as the Sibyl in Northland-dawn drew Forth from the myth-billows gliding, Told all the past, all the future so true, Sank with the lands' last subsiding,— Prophecies leaving, eternally new, Still abiding
Thus goes his spirit the Northland before,— Though, that he sank, we have tiding,— Visions unfolding like sun-clouds, when o'er Sea-circled lands they are riding, Northern lands' future, till time is no more, Ever guiding.
FROM THE CANTATA FOR N. F. S. GRUNDTVIG (1872)
His day was the greatest the Northland has seen, It one was with the midnight-sun's wonders serene: The light wherein he sat was the light of God's true peace, And that has never morning, nor night when it must cease.
In light of God's peace shone the history he gave, The spirit's course on earth that shall conquer the grave. Might of God's pure peace thus our fathers' mighty way Before us for example and warning open lay.
In light of God's peace he beheld with watchful eye The people at their work and the spirit's strivings high. In light of God's pure peace he would have all learning glow, And where his word is honored the "Folk-High-Schools" must grow.
In light of God's peace stood 'mid sorrow and care For Denmark's folk his comfort, a castle strong and fair; In light of God's pure peace there shall once again be won And thousand-fold increased, what seems lost now and undone.
In light of God's peace stands his patriarch-worth, The sum and the amen of a manful life on earth. In light of God's pure peace how his face shone, lifted up, When white-haired at the altar he held th' atoning cup.
In light of God's peace came his word o'er the wave, In light of God's pure peace sound the sweet psalms he gave. In light of God's pure peace, as its sunbeam curtains fall To hide him from us, stands now his memory for all.
AT A BANQUET FOR PROFESSOR LUDV. KR. DAA (See Note 58)
Youthful friends here a circle form, Elder foes now surrender. Feel among us in safety, warm, Toward you our hearts are tender. Once again on a hard-fought day Hero-like you have led the way, Smiting all that before you stood;— But now be good!
With no hubbub, without champagne, Dress-suit, and party-collar, We would honor o'er viands plain Grateful our "grand old scholar"! When all quiet are wind and wave, Seldom we see this pilot brave;— When storm-surges our ship might whelm, He takes the helm!
—Takes the helm and through thick and thin (Clear are his old eyes burning), Steers the course with his trusty "grin," Straight, where the others are turning! Thanks gave to him I know not who, For he scolded the skipper, too!— Back he went to his home right soon: We had the boon.
He has felt what it is to go Hated, till truth gains the battle; He has felt what it is to know Blows that from both sides rattle. He has felt what the cost is, so Forward the present its path to show: He, whose strength had such heights attained, Stood all disdained.
Would that Norway soon grew so great That it with justice rewarded Heroes who its true weal create, Who are no laggards sordid. Shall we always so slowly crawl, Split forever in factions small, Idly counting each ill that ails?— No! Set the sails!
Set the sails for the larger life, Whereto our nation has power! Daily life is with death but rife, If there's not growth every hour. Rally to war for the cause of right, Sing 'neath the standard of honor bright, Sail with faith in our God secure, And strong endure
OH, WHEN WILL YOU STAND FORTH? (See Note 59)
Oh, when will you stand forth, who with strength can bring aid, To strike down the injustice and lies That my house have beset, and with malice blockade Every pathway I out for my powers have laid, And would hidden means find With deceit and with hate To set watch on my mind And defile every plate In my beautiful home where defenseless we wait?
Oh, when will you stand forth? This detraction through years For my people has made me an oaf, Hides my poetry's fount in the fog of its fleers, So it merely a pool of self-worship appears; Like a clumsy troll I Am contemned with affront, Whom all "cultured" folk fly, Or yet gather to hunt, That their hunger of hate at a feast they may blunt.
When I publish a book: "It is half like himself;" If I speak, 't is for vanity's sake. What I build in the stage-world of fancy's free elf Is but formed from my fatuous self. When for faith I contend And our land's ancient ways, When the bridge I defend From our fathers' great days, 'Tis because my poor breast no king's "Order" displays.
Oh, when will you stand forth, who shall sunder in twain All this slander so stifling and foul, And shall sink in the sea all the terror insane That they have of heart-passion and will-wielding brain,— And with love shall enfold A soul's faith wide and deep, That in want and in cold Would its morning-watch keep Undismayed, till the light all the host shall ensweep?
Come, thou Spirit of Norway, God-given of yore In the stout giant-conquering Thor! While the lightning thou ridest, thy answer's loud roar Drowns the din that the dwarfs in defiance outpour; Thou canst waken with might All our longings to soar, Thou canst strengthen in right What united we swore, When at Hafur thy standard in honor we bore.
Hail, thou Spirit of Norway! To think but of thee Makes so small all the small things I felt. To thy coming I hallow me, wholly to thee, And I humbly look up to thy face, unto thee, And I pray for a song With thy tongue's stirring sound, That I true may and strong In the crisis be found, To rouse heroes for thee on our forefathers' ground.
AT HANSTEEN'S BIER (1873) (See Note 60)
God, we thank Thee for the dower Thou gavest Norway in his power, Whom in the grave we now shall lay! Starlit paths of thoughts that awe us His spirit found; his deeds now draw us To deeds, as mighty magnets play. He was the first to stand A light in our free land; Of our present the first fair crown, The first renown, At Norway's feet he laid it down.
We his shining honors sharing, And humble now his body bearing, Shall sing with all the world our praise. God, who ever guides our nation, Hath called us to a high vocation And shown where He our goal doth raise. People of Norway, glad Go on, as God us bade! God has roused you; He knows whereto, Though we are few. With Him our future we shall view.
RALLYING SONG FOR FREEDOM IN THE NORTH TO "THE UNITED LEFT" (Tirol, 1874) (See Note 61)
Dishonored by the higher, but loved by all the low,— Say, is it not the pathway that the new has to go? By those who ought to guard it betrayed, oh yes, betrayed,— Say, is it not thus truth ever progress has made?
Some summer day beginning, a murmur in the grain, It grows to be a roaring through the forests amain, Until the sea shall bear it with thunder-trumpets' tone, Where nothing, nothing's heard but it alone, it alone.
With Northern allies warring we take the Northern For God and for our freedom—is the watchword we bring. That God, who gave us country and language, and all, We find Him in our doing, if we hear and heed His call.
That doing we will forward, we many, although weak, 'Gainst all in fearless fighting, who the truth will not seek:— Some summer day beginning, a murmur in the grain, It goes now as a roaring through the forests amain.
'T will grow to be a storm ere men think that this can be, With voice of thunder sweeping o'er the infinite sea. What nation God's call follows, earth's greatest power shall show, And carry all before it, though it high stand or low.
AT A BANQUET GIVEN TO THE DEPUTATION OF THE SWEDISH RIKSDAG TO THE CORONATION, IN TRONDHJEM, JULY 17, 1873 (See Note 62)
You chosen men we welcome here From brothers near. We welcome you to Olaf's town That Norway's greatest mem'ries crown, Where ancient prowess looking down With searching gaze, The question puts to sea and strand: Are men now in the Northern land Like yesterday's?
'T is well, if on the battlefield Our "Yes" is sealed! 'T is well, if now our strength is steeled To grasp our fathers' sword and shield And in life's warfare lift and wield For God and home! For us they fought; 't is now our call To raise for them a temple-hall, Fair freedom's dome.
List to the Northern spirit o'er Our sea and shore! Here once high thoughts in word were freed, In homely song, in homely deed; And ever shall the selfsame need That spirit sing: Heed not things trivial, foreign, new; Alone th' eternal, Northern, true Can harvest bring.
O brother-band, this faith so dear Has brought us here? The spirit of the North to free, Our common toil and prayer shall be, Those greater days again to see,— As once before, Of home and trust a message strong To send the warring world we long Forevermore.
Open water, open water! All the weary winter's yearning Bursts in restless passion burning. Scarce is seen the blue of ocean, And the hours seem months in motion.
Open water, open water! Smiles the sun on ice defiant, Eats it like a shameless giant: Soon as mouth of sun forsakes it, Swift the freezing night remakes it.
Open water, open water! Storm shall be the overcomer Sweeping on from others' summer Billows free all foes to swallow,— Crash and fall and sinking follow.
Open water, open water! Mirrored mountains are appearing, Boats with steam and sail are nearing, Inward come the wide world's surges, Outward joy of combat urges.
Open water, open water! Fiery sun and cooling shower Quicken earth to speak with power. Soul responds, the wonder viewing: Strength is here for life's renewing.
SONG OF FREEDOM TO "THE UNITED LEFT" (1877) (See Note 63)
Freedom's father—power strong, Freedom's mother—wrath and song. Giant-stout, a youth self-taught, Soon a giant's work he wrought. Ever he, full of glee, Thought and wit and melody, Mighty, merry, made his way,— Labor's toil or battle-fray.
Enemies whom none could tell Lay in wait this foe to fell, Found him waking all too stark, Sought his sleeping hours to mark, Tried their skill, bound him still; When he wakened, they fared ill. Glad he forward strode firm-paced, Full of power, full of haste.
Bare fields blossom 'neath his feet, Commerce swells about his seat, From his fire gleam thought-rays bright,— All things doubled are in might! For the land law he planned, Keeps it, guards with head and hand, Of all rue and error quit, Crushing him who injures it.
Freedom's God is God of light, Not the bondsman's god of fright,— God of love and brotherhood, Springtime's hope and will for good. To earth's ends peace He sends! Heed the words His law commends: "One your Lord, and I am He, Have no other gods but Me!"
TO MOLDE (See Note 64)
Molde, Molde, True as a song, Billowy rhythms whose thoughts fill with love me, Follow thy form in bright colors above me, Bear thy beauty along. Naught is so black as thy fjord, when storm-lashes Sea-salted scourge it and inward it dashes, Naught is so mild as thy strand, as thine islands, Ah, as thine islands! Naught is so strong as thy mountain-linked ring, Naught is so sweet as thy summer-nights bring. Molde, Molde, True as a song, Murm'ring memories throng.
Molde, Molde, Flower-o'ergrown, Houses and gardens where good friends wander! Hundreds of miles away,—but I'm yonder 'Mid the roses full-blown. Strong shines the sun on that mountain-rimmed beauty, Fast is the fight, let each man do his duty. Friends, who your favor would never begrudge me, Gently now judge me!— Only with life ends the fight for the right. Thought flees to you for a refuge in light. Molde, Molde, Flower-o'ergrown, Childhood's memories' throne.
Oh, may at last In thine embrace, life's fleeting Conflict past, Glad thine evening-glory greeting, —Where life let thought awaken,— My thought by death be taken!
+ PER BO (1878)
Once I knew a noble peasant From a line of men large-hearted. Light and strength were in his mind, Lifted like a peak clear-lined O'er the valley in spring sunshine, First to feel the morning's beam, First refreshed by cloud-born stream.
Wide the springtime spread its banner, Waving in his will illumined, Bright with promise, color-sound; Heritage of toil its ground. Round that mountain music floated, Songsters sweet of faith and hope Nestled on its tree-clad slope.
Sometime, sometime all the valley Like him shall with light be flooded; Sometime all his faith and truth Sunward grow in dewy youth, And the dreams he dreamt too early Live and make him leader be For a race as true as he.
HAMAR-MADE MATCHES (1877) (See Note 65)
"Here your Hamar-made matches!"— Of them these verses I sang; A thought to which humor attaches, But yet to my heart sparks sprang.
Sparks from the box-side flying Sank deep in my memory, Till in a light undying Two eyes cast their spell on me,—
Light on the fire that's present, When faith blazes forth in deed. Know, that to every peasant Those eyes sent a light in need.
Sent to souls without measure The flame of love's message broad, Gathering in one treasure Fatherland, home, and God.
For it was Herman Anker Took of his fathers' gold, Loaned it as wisdom's banker, Spread riches of thought untold,
Scattered it wide as living Seed for the soil to enwrap; Flowers spring from his giving Over all Norway's lap.
Flowers spring forth, though stony The ground where it fell, and cold. Never did patrimony Bear fruitage so many fold.
Heed this, Norwegian peasant, Heed it, you townsman, too! That fruit of love's seed may be present, Our thanks must fall fresh as dew.
"Here your Hamar-made matches!" My thanks kindle fast. And oh! This song at your heart-strings catches, That kindling your thanks may glow.
The matches hold them in hiding,— Scratching one you will find The light with a warmth abiding Carries them to his mind.
"Here your Hamar-made matches!" Only to strike one here, Our thanks far-away dispatches, With peace his fair home to cheer.
His matches in thousands of houses, In great and in small as well!— The light that thanksgiving arouses Shall scatter the darkness fell.
His matches in thousands of houses!— Some eve from his factory He'll see how thanksgiving arouses The land, and its love flames free.
He'll see in the eyes so tender, Through gleams that his matches woke, The thanks that his nation would render, His glistening wreath of oak,—
He'll feel that Norway with double The warmth of other lands glows; The harvest must more be than trouble, When faith in its future grows.
"Here your Hamar-made matches!" No phosphorus-poison more! The bearer of light up-catches The work of the school before:—
From home all the poison taking, Hastening the light's advance, Longings to warm light waking, That lay there and had no chance.
THEY HAVE FOUND EACH OTHER (FROM THE DRAMA THE KING, THIRD INTERLUDE)
Mute they wander, Meeting yonder, In the wondrous Spring new-born, That though old as Time's first morn, Brings fresh youth to all the living, Now held fast, now far retreating, But through hearts in oneness beating Ever fullest bloom is giving. Mute they wander. E'en the eye Speaks no thought. For from on high To their souls sweet strains have spoken From the wide world's harmony, Born of light, the darkness broken, In the dawn of things to be. Power crowned— Earth around Like a sun-song rolled the sound. Mute they wander. Sweet strains ending— Eye nor tongue dares yet the lending Speech to thought. But lo! quick blending, All things speak! They sound and shimmer, Bloom in fragrance, ring and glimmer, Tint and tone combining, nearer, Meet as one-with all their thinking In one beauty, higher, clearer,— Heaven itself to earth is sinking.
But in this great hour of trysting Life is opened, its course brightened, Growth eternal calls, enlisting Every spirit-power heightened.
THE PURE NORWEGIAN FLAG (Note: That is, without the mark of union with Sweden.) (See Note 66)
I Tri-colored flag, and pure, Thou art our hard-fought cause secure; Thor's hammer-mark of might Thou bearest blue in Christian white, And all our hearts' red blood To thee streams its full flood.
Thou liftest us high when life's sternest, Exultant, thou oceanward turnest; Thy colors of freedom are earnest That spirit and body shall never know dearth.— Fare forth o'er the earth!
II "The pure flag is but pure folly," You "wise" men maintain for true. But the flag is the truth poetic, The folly is found in you. In poetry upward soaring, The nation's immortal soul With hands invisible carries The flag toward the future goal. That soul's every toil and trial, That soul's every triumph sublime, Are sounding in songs immortal,— To their music the flag beats time. We bear it along surrounded By mem'ry's melodious choir, By mild and whispering voices, By will and stormy desire. It gives not to others guidance, Can not a Swedish word say; It never can flaunt allurement:— Clear the foreign colors away!
III The sins and deceits of our nation Possess in the flag no right; The flag is the high ideal In honor's immortal light. The best of our past achievements, The best of our present prayers, It takes in its folds from the fathers And bears to the sons and heirs; Bears it all pure and artless, By tokens that tempt us unmarred, Is for our will's young manhood Leader as well as guard.
IV They say: "As by rings of betrothal We are by the flag affied!" But Norway is not betrothd, She is no one's promised bride. She shares her abode with no one, Her bed and her board to none yields, Her will is her worthy bridegroom, Herself rules her sea, her fields. Our brother to eastward honors This independence of youth. He knows well that by it only Our wreath can be won in truth. When we from the flag are taking His colors, he knows 't is no whim, But merely because we are holding Our honor higher than him. And none who himself has honor Will seek him a different friend; Our life we can for him offer, But naught of our flag can lend.
V TO SWEDEN Respectful I seek a hearing, With trust in your temper sane, And plead now our cause before you In words that are calm and plain:
If, Sweden, you were the smaller, Were young your freedom's renown, Had your flag a mark of union That pressed you still farther down By saying that you, as little, Were set at the greater's board (For this is the mark's real meaning, By no one on earth ignored), Yes, if it were you,—and your freedom Not hallowed by age, but young, And a century's want and weakness Still heavy in memory hung, The soul of your nation harrowed By old injustice and need, By luckless labor and longing, —And did you its meaning heed; Yes, if it were you, whose duty To teach your people were tried, To honor their new-born freedom, To find in their flag their guide: Would longer you suffer it sundered, Leave foreign a single field? Would you not claim it unplundered, Your independence to shield? Would not to yourself you say then: "If one has high lineage long, If greater his colors' glory, The more alluring his song. Oh, tempt not him who from trouble Is rising with new found might; With pure marks direct him, rather, To honor's exalted height."
Thus you would speak, elder hero, If you in our home abode; Your wont is the way of honor, You fare on the forward road. From eighteen hundred and fourteen, And down to the latest day, So oft for our independence We stood like the stag at bay, Brave men have risen among you, And scorning the strife that swelled Have talked for our cause high-minded, Like Torgny to them of eld.
VI ANSWER TO THE AGED RIDDERSTAD
You say, it is "knightly duty," The fight for the flag to share,— I hold you full high in honor, But—that is our own affair! For just because we encounter The storm-blasts of slander stark, It's "knightly duty" to free now The flag from the marring mark. The "parity" that mark preaches Flies false over all the seas; A pan-Scandinavian Sweden Can never our nation please. From "knightly duty" the smaller Must say: I am not a part; The mark of my freedom and honor Is whole for my mind and heart. From "knightly duty" the greater Must say: A falsehood's fair sign Can give me no special honor, No longer shall it be mine. For both it is "knightly duty," With flags that are pure, to be A warring world's bright example Of peoples at peace, proud and free.
TO MISSIONARY SKREFSRUD IN SANTALISTAN (See Note 67)
I honor you, who, though refused, affronted, Have heard the voice, and victory have won; I honor you, who still by malice hunted, Show miracles of faith and power done.
I honor you, God-thirsting soul so driven, 'Mid scorn and need the spirit's war to wage; I honor you, by Gudbrand's valley given, And of her sons the foremost in this age.
I do not share your faith, your daring dreaming; This parts us not, the spirit's paths are broad. For, all things great and noble round us streaming, I worship them, because I worship God.
POST FESTUM (See Note 68)
A man in coat of ice arrayed Stood up once by the Arctic Ocean; The whole earth shook with proud emotion And honor to the giant paid.
A king came, to him climbing up, An Order in his one hand bearing: "Who great become, this sign are wearing." —The growling giant said but "Stop!"
The frightened king fell down again, Began to weep with features ashen: "My Order is in this rude fashion Refused by just the greatest men.
"My dear man, take it, 't is but fit, Of your king's honor be the warder; On your breast greater grows the Order, And we who bear it, too, by it."—
The Arctic giant was too good,— A foible oft ascribed to giants, Who foolish trust in little clients,— He took it,—while we mocking stood.
But all the kings crept to him then, And each his Order brought, to know it Thereby renewed and greater, so it Gave rank to needy noblemen.
Honi soit ... and all the rest; Soon Orders covered all his breast. But oh! they greater grew no tittle, And he grew so confounded little.
ROMSDAL (See Note 69)
Come up on deck! The morning is clear,— Memory wakes, as the landmarks appear. How many the islands, green and cheery, The salt-licking skerries, weed-wound, smeary! On this side, on that side, they frolic before us, Good friends, but wild,—in frightened chorus Sea-fowl shriek round us, a flying legion. We are in a region Of storms historic, unique for aye.
We fare the fishermen's venturesome way! Far out the bank and the big fish shoaling, The captain narrates; and just now unrolling Sails run to shore a swift racing match;— Good is the catch.
Yes, yes,—I recognize them again, Romsdal's boats' weather-beaten men. They know how to sail, when need's at hand.
But I'm forgetting to look towards land! — — — It whelms the sight Like lightning bright,— In memory graven, but not so great.
Wherever I suffer my eyes to wander, Stand mountain-giants, both here and yonder, The loin of one by the other's shoulder, Naught else to where earth and sky are blending. The dread of a world's din daunts the beholder; The silence vastens the vision unending.
Some are in white and others in blue, With pointed tops that emulous tower; Some mass their power, In marching columns their purpose pursue. Away, you small folk!—In there "The Preacher" In high assembly the service intoning Of magnates primeval, their patriarch owning! Of what does he preach, my childhood's teacher? So often, so often to him I listened, In eager worship, devout and lowly; My songs were christened In light that fell from his whiteness holy.
— How great it is! I can finish never. Great thoughts that in life and legend we treasure Stream towards the scene in persistent endeavor, The mighty impression to grasp and measure,— Dame's hell, India's myth-panorama, Shakespeare's earth-overarching drama, Aeschylus' thunders that purge and free, Beethoven's powerful symphony,— They widen and heighten, they cloud and brighten —Like small ants scrambling and soft-cooing doves, They tumble backward and flee affrighted;— As if a dandy in dress-coat and gloves The mountains approached and to dance invited. No, tempt them not! Their retainer be! You'll learn then later, How life with the great must make you greater.
If you are humble, they'll say it themselves, That something is greater than e'en their greatest. Look how the little river that delves High in the notch within limits straitest, Through ice first burrowed and stone, a brook, Slowly the giants asunder wearing! Unmoved before, their face now and bearing They had to change 'mid the spring-flood's laughter; Millions of years have followed thereafter, Millions of years it also took. In stamps the fjord now to look on their party, Lifts his sou'-wester, gives greeting to them. Whoever at times in their fog could view them Has seen him near to their very noses;— The fjord's not famed for his well-bred poses.
Towards him hurry, all white-foam-faced, Brooks and rivers in whirling haste, All of his family, frolicsome, naughty. If ever the mountains the fjord would immure, Their narrows press nigher, a prison sure;— His water-hands then with a gesture haughty Seize the whole saucy pass like a shell; Set to his mouth, he begins to blow it With western-gale-lungs,—and then you may know it, Loud is the noise, and the swift currents swell.
Forcing the coast, a big fjord, black and gray, Breaks us our way; Waterfalls rushing on both sides rumble. Sponge-wet and slow, Cloud-masses over the mountain-flanks fumble; The sun and mist, lo, Symbol of struggle eternal show.
This is my Romsdal's unruly land! Home-love rejoices.
All things I see, have eyes and have voices. The people? I know them, each man understand, Though never I saw him nor with him have spoken; I know this folk, for the fjord is their token.
One is the fjord in the storm's battle-fray, Another is he when the sunbeams play In midsummer's splendor, And radiant, happy his heart is tender. Whatever has form, He bears on his breast with affection warm, Mirrors it, fondles it,— Be it so bare as the mossy gray rubble, Be it so brief as a brook's fleeting bubble.
Oh, what a brightness! Beauty, soul-ravishing, Shines from his prayer, that now he be shriven Of all the past! And penitence lavishing, All he confesses; with glad homage given Mirrors and masses Deep the mountains' high peaks and passes.
The old giants think now: He's not really bad; In greater degree he's wrathful and glad Than others perchance; is false not at all, But reckless, capricious,—true son of Romsdal.
Right are the mountains! This race-type keeping, They saw men creeping Over the ridges, scant fodder reaping. They saw men eager Toil on the sea, though their take was meager, Plow the steep slope and trench the bog-valley, To bouts with the rock the brown nag rally. Saw their faults flaunted,— Buck-like they bicker, Love well their liquor,— But know not defeat,—hoist the sail undaunted!
Different the districts; but all in all: Spirits vivacious, with longings that spur them, Depths full of song, with billows that stir them, Folk of the fjord and the sudden squall.
Viking-abode, I hail you with wonder! High-built the wall, broad sea-floor thereunder, Hall lit by sun-bows on waterfall vapors, Hangings of green,—your dwellers the drapers. Viking-born race,—'t is you I exalt!
It costs in under so high a vault A struggle long unto lordship stable; Not all who have tried to succeed, were able. It costs to recover the wealth of the fjord From wanton waste and in power to hoard. It costs;—but who conquers is made a man. I know there are that can.
HOLGER DRACHMANN (See Note 70)
Spring's herald, hail! You've rent the forest's quiet? Your hair is wet, and you are leaf-strewn, dusty ... With your powers lusty Have you raised a riot? What noise about you of the flood set free, That follows at your heels,—turn back and see: It spurts upon you! —Was it that you fought for? You were in there where stumps and trunks are rotting Where long the winter-graybeards have been plotting To prison safe that which a lock they wrought for. But power gave you Pan, the ancient god! They cried aloud and cursed your future lot? Your gallant feat they held a robber's fraud? —Each spring it happens; but is soon forgot.
You cast you down beside the salt sea's wave. It too is free; dances with joy to find you. You know the music well; for Pan resigned you His art one evening by a viking's grave.
But while on nature's loving lap you lie, The tramp of battle on the land you hear, You see the steamers as they northward steer With freedom's flag;—of your name comes a cry.
And so is torn between the two your breast:— Freedom's bold fighters, who now proudly rally, In nature's life and legend dreamy rest; The former chide, the latter lures to dally.
Your songs sound, some as were a war-horn braying, Some softly purl like streams on reedy strand. Half nature-sprite and half as man you stand, The two not yet one law of life obeying.
But as you seem and as yourself you are (The faun's love that the viking's longing tinges), We welcome you, no lock is left nor bar,— You bring along the door and both the hinges.
Just this it is that we are needing now: The spring, the spring! These stifling fumes we bear Of royal incense and of monkish snuff, Of corpses in romantic cloak and ruff, Are bad for morals and for lungs: Fresh air!
Rather a draught of Songs Venetian, cheerful, With southern wantonness and color-wonders,— Rather "Two Shots" (although they make us fearful) Against our shallow breeding and its blunders.
Spring's herald, hail! come from the forest's choir, From ocean's roar, from armd hosts and grim! Though sometimes carelessly you struck the lyre,— Where rich growth is, one can the rank shoots trim. The small trolls jeer the gestures of a giant, I love you so,—unique and self-reliant.
+ A MEETING (See Note 71)
... O'er uplands fresh swift sped my sleigh ... A light snow fell; along the way Stood firs and birches slender. The former pondered deep, alone, The latter laughed, their white boughs shone;— All brings a picture tender.
So light and free is now the air; Of all its burdens stripped it bare The snow with playful sally. I glimpse behind its veil so thin A landscape gay, and high within A snow-peak o'er the valley.
But from the border white and brown, Where'er I look, there's peeping down A face ... but whose, whose is it? I bore my gaze 'neath cap and brim And see the snowflakes swarm and swim;— Will some one here me visit?
A star fell on my glove ... right here ... And here again ... its unlike peer; ... They will with riddles pose me. And smiles that in the air abound From eyes so good ... I look around ... 'T is memory besnows me.
The stars spin fine their filigree, Can hidden spirits in it be? There haunts me something awing ... You finer birch, you snow unstained, You purer air,—a soul you've gained? Who is it here now drawing
His features dear in nature's face, In all this fascinating grace, In falling stars that cheat me,— In these white gleams that finely glance, In all this silent rhythmic dance? ... Hans Brecke!—comes to meet me.
THE POET (See Note 72)
The poet does the prophet's deeds; In times of need with new life pregnant, When strife and suffering are regnant, His faith with light ideal leads. The past its heroes round him posts, He rallies now the present's hosts, The future opes Before his eyes, Its pictured hopes He prophesies. Ever his people's forces vernal The poet frees,—by right eternal.
He turns the people's trust to doubt Of heathendom and Moloch-terror; 'Neath thought of God, cold-gray with error, He sees grow green each fresh, new sprout. Set free, these spread abroad, above, Bear fruit of power and of love In each man's soul, And make it warm And make it whole, In wrath transform, Till light and courage fill the nation: In life is God's best revelation.
Away the kingly cloak he tears And on the people's shoulder places, So it no more need make grimaces To borrowed clothes some highness wears, But be itself its majesty In right of spirit-dynasty, In saga's light On heart and brain, In men of might From its loins ta'en, In will unbiased and unbroken, In manly deed and bold word spoken.
His songs the nation's sins chastise, He hates a lie, as truth's high teacher (No Sunday-, but a weekday-preacher, Who, suffering, still the wrong defies). Against false peace he plies his lance, 'Gainst cowardice and ignorance,— No bribe he knows From nation's hand Nor king's command; But his way goes. And when he wavers, sorrow scourges His heart and free of passion purges.
He is a brother of the small, Of women, as of all who suffer, The new and weak, when waves grow rougher, He steers, till fairer breezes fall. Greater he grows without his will By deeds his calling to fulfil, And near the tomb To God he sighs, That soon may rise A richer bloom To deck his people's soul with flowers Of beauty far beyond his powers.
I I seem to be Sundered from Thee, Thou Harmony of all creation. Am I disowned For talents loaned And useless hid in vain probation? Now powerless, In weariness, Now in despair a beggar humble For help, for cheer, A voice, an ear, To hear and guide, while on I stumble. God, let me be. Of use to Thee! If vain my purpose and my powers, Then sinks from sight My star,—and night Henceforth my steps enfolding lowers. Then break and bind My ravaged mind The terrors dread of doubt and anguish. I know the pack, I drove them back;— Only to-day does courage languish. Oh, come now, peace! Come faith's increase, That life's strong chain shall ever bind me! That not in vain I strive and strain Myself to seek until I find me!
II Honor the springtide life ever adorning, That all things has made! Things smallest have some resurrectional morning, The forms alone fade. Life begets life, Potencies higher surprise. Kind begets kind, Heedless of time as it flies. Worlds pass away and arise.
Nothing so small but there's something still smaller, No one can see. Nothing so great but there's something still greater Beyond it can be. Worms in the earth— Mountains to make they essay. Dust without worth, Sands with which sea-billows play,— Founders of kingdoms were they.
Infinite all, where the smallest and greatest Oneness unfold. No one has seen what was first,—and the latest None shall behold. Laws underlie, Order the all they maintain. Need and supply Bring one another; our bane Boots to the general gain.
Eternity's offspring and germ are we all now. Thoughts have their true Roots in our race's first morning; they fall now, Query and clue, Freighted with seed Into eternity's soil; Joy be your meed, That your brief life's fleeting toil Fruit for eternity bears.
Join in the joy of all life, every being, Brief bloom of its spring! Honor th' eternal, our human lot freeing From fetters that cling! Adding your mite, With the eternal unite! Though you decay, Breathe as a moment you may, Air of eternity's day!
Who art Thou, whom a thousand names trace Through all times that are gone and each tongue? Thou wert infinite yearning's embrace, Thou wert hope when the yoke heavy hung, Thou wert darkening death-terror's guest, Thou wert sun that with life-gladness blessed. Still Thine image we changefully fashion, And each form we would call revelation; Each man holds his for true with deep passion,— Till it crumbles in poignant negation.
Who Thou art, none can tell. But I know Thou dost dwell As the limitless search in my soul—it is Thou!— After justice and light, After victory's right For the new that's revealed, it is Thou, it is Thou! Every law that we see Or believe there may be, Though we never can knowledge attain, it is Thou!— As my armor and aid Round my life they are laid, And with joy I avow, it is Thou, it is Thou!
Since we never Thine essence can know, We have thought mediators of Thee;— But the ages their impotence show, We stand still, while no way we can see. If in sickness for succor we thirst, Is there balm in the dreams that have burst? Stars of hope and of longing eternal, That we saw o'er life's sorrows arisen, Shall they sink in death's terrors nocturnal, Only turn into worms in our prison?
SOLO He that liveth in me, Needeth no one to be Mediator; I own Him indeed: it is Thou! Is eternal hope prized As from Him; is baptized By His spirit my own,—is it Thou, is it Thou —: Shall not I, who am dust, His eternity trust? I take humbly my law; for I know, it is Thou! Was I worth Thy word: Live! Let Thy life power give, When Thou wilt, as Thou wilt,—it is Thou, it is Thou!
QUESTION AND ANSWER
Father! Within the forest's bound No bird I found, No sound of song the woods around.
The bird that glad his song us gave, Flies o'er the wave; Perhaps he there will find his grave.
But why does he not wait till later?
He goes where light and warmth are greater
Father! It selfish seems to me, Far off to flee, When all we others here must be.
With new-born spring comes new-born song; By instinct strong The better new he'll bring erelong.
But if in death the cold waves swallow—?
Others will come; his kin will follow.
SUNG FOR NORWAY'S RIFLEMEN (1881) (See Note 73)
Fly the banner, fly the banner! For our freedom fight! 'Neath the banner, 'neath the banner, Riflemen unite! Graybeard in the Storting Gives his vote for right and truth, Rifle-voice supporting Of our armd youth. Music runeful Ring out tuneful Bullets sent point-blank, Fiery coursing, Freedom forcing Way to royal rank; They from silent valleys To the Storting's rallies Bring the clear "Rah! Rah!" And there clamors o'er us Loud the rifle chorus, Piercing and repeated: "Rah! Rah! Rah-rah, rah-rah, rah-rah, rah-rah."
As the lingering echo rattles, Listens sure our Mother Norway, That her sons can go the war-way, Fight her freedom's future battles.