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Ibsen, Hendrik

· HENRIK IBSEN: WITH A WATER-LILY · Henrik Ibsen: The miner


Henrik Ibsen


With a water-lily


See, dear, what thy lover brings;

‘Tis the flower with the white wings.

Buoyed upon the quiet stream

In the spring it lay adream.


Homelike to bestow this guest,

Lodge it, dear one, in thy breast;

There its leaves the secret keep

Of a wave both still and deep.


Child, beware the tarn-fed stream;

Danger, danger, there to dream!

Though the sprite pretends to sleep,

And above the lilies peep.


Child, thy bosom is the stream;

Danger, danger, there to dream!

Though above the lilies peep,

And the sprite pretends to sleep.


(Translation by Fydell Edmund Garrett and reprinted from the Westminster Gazette of May 6, 1903)

Henrik Ibsen poetry magazine

More in: Archive I-J, Ibsen, Hendrik

Henrik Ibsen: The miner

Henrik Ibsen


The miner


Beetling rock, with roar and smoke

Break before my hammer-stroke!

Deeper I must thrust and lower

Till I hear the ring of ore.


From the mountain’s unplumbed night,

Deep amid the gold-veins bright,

Diamonds lure me, rubies beckon,

Treasure-hoard that none may reckon.


There is peace within the deep–

Peace and immemorial sleep;

Heavy hammer, burst as bidden,

To the heart-nook of the hidden!


Once I, too, a careless lad,

Under starry heavens was glad,

Trod the primrose paths of summer,

Child-like knew not care nor cummer.


But I lost the sense of light

In the poring womb of night;

Woodland songs, when earth rejoiced her,

Breathed not down my hollow cloister.


Fondly did I cry, when first

Into the dark place I burst:

“Answer spirits of the middle

Earth, my life’s unending riddle!–“


Still the spirits of the deep

Unrevealed their answer keep;

Still no beam from out the gloomy

Cavern rises to illume me.


Have I erred? Does this way lead

Not to clarity indeed?

If above I seek to find it,

By the glare my eyes are blinded.


Downward, then! the depths are best;

There is immemorial rest.

Heavy hammer burst as bidden

To the heart-nook of the hidden!–


Hammer-blow on hammer-blow

Till the lamp of life is low.

Not a ray of hope’s fore-warning;

Not a glimmer of the morning.


Translation Fydell Edmund Garrett. New York, 1912.

Henrik Ibsen poetry magazine

More in: Archive I-J, Ibsen, Hendrik

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