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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Scotland: Vols. VI–VIII. 1876–79.

Norway: Hardanger


By Henrik Wergeland (1808–1845)

Translated by John A. Dahl

IF a spot on earth be found

Where, responsive to the alluring

Voice of nature so beguiling,

Grief will cease to be enduring;

Where grim hate will cease reviling;

Where the baleful bent to sinning,

Passions base and soul-immuring,

Are laid powerless and bound

By the mere sight of the winning

Charms of landscape, by the thought

Of His presence who has made

Earth in all her charms arrayed;

And by the delicious feeling

Of the peace the scene ’s revealing,

As if hill and dale had caught

Glories from that place where never

Aught is known of strife and clangor,—

Then that spot must be forever

In fair, beautiful Hardanger.

If a spot on earth there be

Where the godless, that may stray

Thither, instantly will cower

In profound humility;

Where remorse, awe of God’s anger,

Feel the great Creator’s power,

But no longer are a prey

On the heart’s new-born endeavor,—

Then that spot must be forever

In fair, beautiful Hardanger.

If a spot on earth there be

Where two foes, each other meeting,

Will exchange a friendly greeting,

Cease their animosity,

Each a hand of truce extending,

Each an arm the other lending,

Conquered by the soothing balm

In the scene’s sweet, holy calm;

Where conceit and vain assurance

Would have but a short endurance;

Where a man, intent on spoil,

Would stop short, ’shamed of approaching,

As if fearful of encroaching

In a consecrated soil;—

Where all nature speaks to thee:

Snow-crowned mountain, e’er appearing

Like a hoary great-grandfather,

Round whom loving children gather;

Sunny glen, with its endearing

Voice so soft and motherly;

Crystal stream, the bosom warming

With its song of days that never

Lose their place in memory,—

O, that spot must be forever

In Hardanger, fair and charming.

If there be a place so blest,

Where from lovely flower-clad valley

Blue alps rear their silvery crest

Towards heaven majestically;

Where near glaciers you may see

Blossoming the apple-tree,

Whilst wild roses gayly grow

In a patch of lingering snow;

Where a brook begins its song

In a voice first unpretending,

Babbling onwards musically

Through its own sweet little valley,

Then its voice in compass mending,

Rushes eagerly along,

All ambition to be lending

Its charms to the greater valley,

And—like David, of whom Holy

Scripture says he rose to be,

By his harp’s sweet minstrelsy,

Monarch from a shepherd lowly—

Thunders on majestically

Through its fair domain, the valley,—

Ay, where is there such a place?

Grandeur, majesty, and grace

In harmonious combination:

Where from snow-clad mountain-tops

Spread in graceful undulation

Lines of meadow-land and copse;

Where the slopes that like a cord

Bind the mountain to the fjord,

Glide out in soft capes, surrounded

With festoons of green that lave

Their bright fringes in the wave,

Looking as if half-way bounded

In their progress to get o’er

To the other sylvan shore;

And where, from behind the screen

Of a birchwood may be seen

Peeping out a cottage lowly,

The light smoke from it ascending

To the scene the appearance lending

Of an offering sweet and holy,—

O, where find you so much grace,

Such exemption from all clangor,

Such retreats, such harmless ways?

Say, where is there such a place

But in beautiful Hardanger?