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:

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
And that one I would beseech Thee for-

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!

Font size:
Collection  PDF     

Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

2:22 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme xabx cdce fgha ixjk aiaj exgf xcbe a Hehi cxex fllh jxax xmin xhnk xlae fxh xffx fxH xa xhxm xdxx egex
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 2,404
Words 472
Stanzas 21
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 4, 6, 4, 4, 4

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…

All Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson poems | Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Books

1 fan

Discuss the poem Ivar Ingemundson's Lay with the community...



    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:


    "Ivar Ingemundson's Lay" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 18 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/4357/ivar-ingemundson's-lay>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    June 2024

    Poetry Contest

    Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.

    Special Program

    Earn Rewards!

    Unlock exciting rewards such as a free mug and free contest pass by commenting on fellow members' poems today!

    Browse Poetry.com


    Are you a poetry master?

    "It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea."
    A Edmund Spenser
    B W.B. Yeats
    C Edgar Allan Poe
    D Shel Silverstein