Poems and Songs HTML version

Introduction: Björnson As A Lyric Poet
I lived far more than e'er I sang;
Thought, ire, and mirth unceasing rang
Around me, where I guested;
To be where loud life's battles call
For me was well-nigh more than all
My pen on page arrested.
What's true and strong has growing-room,
And will perhaps eternal bloom,
Without black ink's salvation,
And he will be, who least it planned,
But in life's surging dared to stand,
The best bard for his nation.
A life seventy-seven years long and but two hundred pages of lyrical production, more than half
of which was written in about a dozen years! The seeming disproportion is explained by the
lines just quoted from the poem _Good Cheer_, with which Björnson concluded the first edition
of his _Poems and Songs_. Alongside of these stanzas, in which the cause of his popularity and
powerful influence is also unconsciously revealed, may well be placed the following one from
_The Poet_, which discloses to us the larger conception of the mission that Björnson himself in
all his work and life, no less than in his lyrics, so finely fulfilled:
The poet does the prophet's deeds;
In times of need with new life pregnant,
When strife and suffering are regnant,
His faith with light ideal leads.
The past its heroes round him posts,
He rallies now the present's hosts,
The future opes
Before his eyes,
Its pictured hopes
He prophesies.
Ever his people's forces vernal
The poet frees, --by right eternal.
"The best bard for his nation" is he who "does the prophet's deeds," who "rallies now the
present's hosts," and "frees, --by right eternal." Poet and prophet Björnson was, but more than