Henrik Johan Ibsen

(20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906 / Skien)

A Brother In Need


NOW, rallying once if ne'er again,
With flag at half-mast flown,
A people in dire need and strain
Mans Tyra's bastion.

Betrayed in danger's hour, betrayed
Before the stress of strife!
Was this the meaning that it had--
That clasp of hands at Axelstad
Which gave the North new life?

The words that seemed as if they rushed
From deepest heart-springs out
Were phrases, then! -- the freshet gushed,
And now is fall'n the drought.
The tree, that promised rich in bloom
Mid festal sun and shower,
Stands wind-stript in the louring gloom,
A cross to mark young Norway's tomb,
The first dark testing-hour.

They were but Judas kisses, lies
In fatal wreaths enwound,
The cheers of Norway's sons, and cries
Towards the beach of Sound.
What passed that time we watched them meet,
'Twixt Norse and Danish lord?
Oh! nothing! only to repeat
King Gustav's play at Stockholm's seat
With the Twelfth Charles' sword.

'A people doomed, whose knell is rung,
Betrayed by every friend!' --
Is the book closed and the song sung?
Is this our Denmark's end?
Who set the craven colophon,
While Germans seized the hold,
And o'er the last Dane lying prone
Old Denmark's tattered flag was thrown
With doubly crimsoned fold?

But thou, my brother Norsemen, set
Beyond the war-storm's power
Because thou knewest to forget
Fair words in danger's hour:
Flee from thy homes of ancient fame--
Go chase a new sunrise--
Pursue oblivion, and for shame
Disguise thee in a stranger's name
To hide from thine own eyes!

Each wind that sighs from Danish waves
Through Norway's woods of pine,
Of thy pale lips an answer craves:
Where wast thou, brother mine?
I fought for both a deadly fight;
In vain to spy thy prow
O'er belt and fiord I strained my sight:
My fatherland with graves grew white:
My brother, where wast thou?

It was a dream! Arise, awake
To do a nation's deed!
Each to his post, swift counsel take;
A brother is in need!
A nobler song may yet be sung--
Danes, Danes, keep Tyra's hold--
And o'er a Northern era, young
And rich in hope, be proudly flung
The red flag's tattered fold.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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