by: Henrik Ibsen

      OW, 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.

'A Brother in Need' was originally written in 1863. This English translation is reprinted from Lyrics & Poems from Ibsen. Trans. Fydell Edmund Garrett. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1912.




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