Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Hamar-made matches

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"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.

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Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson