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Ivar Ingemundson's Lay

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson 1832 (Kvikne) – 1910 (Paris)



Wherefore have I longings,
When to live them strength is lacking?
And wherefore see I,
If I see but sorrow?

Flight of my eye to the great and distant
Dooms it to gales of darkening doubt;
But fleeing backward to the present,
It's prisoned in pain and pity.

For I see a land with no leader,
I see a leader with no land.
The land how heavy-laden
The leader how high his longing!

Might the men but know it,
That he is here among them!
But they see a man in fetters,
And leave him to lie there.

Round the ship a storm is raging,
At the rudder stands a fool. Who can save it?
He, who below the deck is longing,
Half-dead and in fetters.

(Looking upward)

Hear how they call Thee
And come with arms uplifted!
They have their savior at hand,
And Thou sayest it never?

Shall they, then, all thus perish,
Because the one seems absent?
Wilt Thou not let the fool die,
That life may endure in many?

What means that solemn saying:

One
shall suffer for many?
But many suffer for one.
Oh, what means it?

The wisdom Thou gavest
Wearies me with guesswork.
The light Thou hast dealt me
Leads me to darkness.

Not me alone, moreover,
But millions and millions!
Space unending spans not all the questions
From earth here and up toward heaven.

Weakness cowers in walls of cloisters,
But wills of power press onward,
And thronging, with longing,
They thrust one another out of the lands.-

Whither? Before their eyes is night,
'In Nazareth a light is set!' one says aloud,
A hundred thousand say it;
All see it now: To Nazareth!

But the half-part perish from hunger by the wayside,
The other half by the sword of the heathen,
The pest awaits the pilgrim in Nazareth,-
Wast Thou there, or wast Thou not there?

Oh, where art Thou?
The whole world now awakens,
And on the way is searching
And seeking after Thee!

Or wast Thou in the hunger?
Wast Thou in the pest?
Wast Thou in the sword of the heathen?

Saltest Thou with the salt of wrath?
Refinest Thou with suffering's fire?
Hast Thou millions of millions hidden in Thy future,
Whom Thou thus wilt save to freedom?

Oh, to them are the thousands that now suffer
But
one
,
And that one I would beseech Thee for-
Nothing!

I follow a little brook
And find it leads to an ocean,
I see here a little drop,
And swelling in mist it mounts a mighty cloud.

See, how I'm tossed so will-less
By troublous waves of doubt,
The wind overturned my little boat,
The wreck is all my refuge.

Lead me, lead me,
I see nowhere land!
Lift me, lift me,
I nowhere footing find!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:22 min read
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Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson was a Norwegian writer who received the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature "as a tribute to his noble, magnificent and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and the rare purity of its spirit", becoming the first Norwegian Nobel laureate. Bjørnson is considered to be one of The Four Greats (De Fire Store) among Norwegian writers, the others being Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, and Alexander Kielland. Bjørnson is also celebrated for his lyrics to the Norwegian National Anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet". more…

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