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To My Father (Upon His Retirement) - Poem by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

In all the land our race was once excelling.
In richer regions it e'en now possesses
Broad seats and fruitful; but by fate's hard stresses

Our
branch was bent and bowed to blows compelling.
Now toward the light again it lifts aloft
Its top, and fresh buds crown it, fair and soft.
The flowing fountain of
your
faith has laved it,
To life's late evening thus your strength has saved it.

As rests the race in time of chill and rigor,
And from the deeps that lie within its being
Draws to it what alone can nourish, freeing
Its powers to full prophecy of vigor,-
So I divined the unseen stir in you
Of nature's might that you could not subdue;
It was so strong, from sire to son surviving,
In mystery mute descends this power's striving.

Upon this poured its radiant warmth pervading
My mother's soul; of wedded joy the glory
Crowns not alone your aged heads and hoary;
But it shall death outlive in light unfading.
And if my people ever truly prize
The pictured home that in my writings lies,
Honor of love and faith serene, unbroken,-
Of father, mother, both, shall praise be spoken.

If men remember the Norwegian peasant,
As from the field of toil or saga fateful
I conjured him; to you they shall be grateful,
Father, in whom love let me find him present.
And if the woman whom I made them view
In sun-like splendid faith and spirit true,
By women is approved, it is the other
Who has their homage, my sweet-natured mother.

And now you'll rest the evening long and cheery
From the day's work in fair or troubled weather,
And of the by-gone time you'll talk together,
Of many a mile you trod with footsteps weary,-
Now will as sunlight on the winter's snow,
A warmth of thanks in through the window glow,
Harsh memories mellow with its golden shining,
Your life in faith complete find its refining.

But none gives thanks as now that son in gladness,
For whom you lived in anxious fear unceasing,
Since forth he flew with strength of wing increasing,
For whom to God you prayed in joy and sadness.
Oh, know, when hot my blood burned over-much,
I felt your soothing hands my forehead touch,
And oft, my heart in mute repentance bleeding,
In thoughts of you I heard God's gentle pleading.

And so I pray that I may have the power
(Since we again for life shall be united,
And hope 'mid mirthful mem'ries be relighted),
To brighten now their every evening-hour!
When children's children in their arms shall be,
Oh, let them morning in their evening see!
So shall they gladly lay, when death gives warning,
Their gray heads down to greet the dawning morning.


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