Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Johan Ludvig Heiberg 1860

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To the grave they bore him sleeping,
Him the aged, genial gardener;
Now the children gifts are heaping
From the flower-bed he made.

There the tree that he sat under,
And the garden gate is open,
While we cast a glance and wonder
Whether some one sits there still.

He is gone. A woman only
Wanders there with languid footsteps,
Clothed in black and now so lonely,
Where his laughter erst rang clear.

As a child when past it going,
Through the fence she looked with longing,
Now great tears so freely flowing
Are her thanks that she came in.

Fairy-tales and thoughts high-soaring
Whispered to him 'neath the foliage.
She flits softly, gathering, storing
Them as solace for her woe.

*

Far his wanderings once bore him,
Bore this aged, genial searcher;
One who listening sat before him
Much could learn from time to time.

Life and letters were his ladder
Up toward that which few discover,
Thought's wide realm, with vision gladder
He explored, each summit scaled.

In his manhood he defended
All that greatness has and beauty;
Later he the stars attended
In their silent course to God.

*

Older men remember rather
"New Year!" ringing o'er the Northland.
How it power had to gather
Leaders to a greater age

Do you him remember leaping
Forth, his horn so gladly winding,
Back the mob on all sides sweeping
From the progress of the great?

Play of thought 'mid tears and laughter,
Fauns and children were about him;
Freedom's beacons high thereafter
Kindled slowly of themselves.

And his words soon found a hearing,
Peace of heart flowed from his music;
All the land thrilled to the nearing
Of a great prophetic choir.

**

In his manhood he defended
All that greatness has and beauty;
Later he the stars attended
In their silent course to God.

Northern flowers were his pleasure,
As an aged genial gardener,
From his nation's springtime treasure
Culling seed for deathless growth.

Now with humor, now sedately,
He kept planting or uprooting,
While the Danish beech-tree stately
Gave his soul its evening peace.

There the tree we saw him under,
And the garden gate is open,
While we cast a glance and wonder
Whether some one sits there still.

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Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson