by: Henrik Ibsen

      N summer dusk the valley lies
      With far-flung shadow veil;
      A cloud-sea laps the precipice
      Before the evening gale:
      The welter of the cloud-waves grey
      Cuts off from keenest sight
      The glacier, looking out by day
      O'er all the district, far away,
      And crowned with golden light.
      But o'er the smouldering cloud-wrack's flow,
      Where gold and amber kiss,
      Stands up the archipelago,
      A home of shining peace.
      The mountain eagle seems to sail
      A ship far seen at even;
      And over all a serried pale
      Of peaks, like giants ranked in mail,
      Fronts westward threatening heaven.
      But look, a steading nestles, close
      Beneath the ice-fields bound,
      Where purple cliffs and glittering snows
      The quiet home surround.
      Here place and people seem to be
      A world apart, alone; --
      Cut off from men by spate and scree
      It has a heaven more broad, more free,
      A sunshine all its own.
      Look: mute the saeter-maiden stays,
      Half shadow, half aflame;
      The deep, still vision of her gaze
      Was never word to name.
      She names it not herself, nor knows
      What goal my be its will;
      While cow-bells chime and alp-horn blows
      It bears her where the sunset glows,
      Or, maybe, further still.
      Too brief, thy life on highland wolds
      Where close the glaciers jut;
      Too soon the snowstorm's cloak enfolds
      Stone byre and pine-log hut.
      Then wilt thou ply with hearth ablaze
      The winter's well-worn tasks; --
      But spin thy wool with cheerful face:
      One sunset in the mountain pays
      For all their winter asks.

'Mountain Life' was originally published in 1859. 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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