Terje Vigen (by Henrik Ibsen, 1861)

Der bodde en underlig gråsprengt en

på den yderste nøgne ø; -

Han gjorde visst intet menneske mén

hverken på land eller sjø;

Dog stundom gnistred hans øjne stygt, -

helst mod uroligt vejr, -

Og da mente folk, at han var forrykt,

og da var der få, som uden frykt

kom Terje Vigen nær.


Siden jeg så ham en enkelt gang,

han lå ved bryggen med fisk;

hans hår var hvidt, men han lo og sang

og var som en ungdom frisk.

Til pigerne hadde han skæmtsomme ord,

han spøgte med byens børn,

han svinged sydvesten og sprang ombord;

så hejste han fokken, og hjem han foer

i solskin, den gamle ørn.


Nu skal jeg fortælle, hvad jeg har hørt

om Terje fra først til sidst,

og skulde det stundom falde lidt tørt,

så er det dog sandt og visst;

jeg har det just ej fra hans egen mund,

men vel fra hans nærmeste kreds, -

fra dem, som stod hos i hans sidste stund

og lukked hans øjne til fredens blund,

da han døde højt opp' i de tres.


Han var i sin ungdom en vild krabat,

kom tidlig fra far og mor,

og havde alt døjet mang en dravat

som yngste jungmand ombord.

Siden han rømte i Amsterdam,

men længtes nok hjem tilslut,

og kom med "Foreningen", kaptejn Pram;

men hjemme var ingen som kendte ham,

der rejste som liden gut.


Nu var han vokset sig smuk og stor,

og var dertil en velklædt knægt.

Men døde var både far og mor,

ja sagtens hans hele slægt .

Han stured en dag, ja kanhænde to -

men så rysted han sorgen af.

Han fandt ej, med landjorden under sig, ro;

nej, da var det bedre at bygge og bo

på det store bølgende hav!


Et år derefter var Terje gift, -

det kom nok på i en hast.

Folk mente han angred på den bedrift,

som bandt på et sæt ham fast.

Så leved han under sit eget tag

en vinter i sus og dus -

skønt ruderne skinnet, som klareste dag,

med små gardiner og blomster bag,

i det lille rødmalte hus.


Da isen løsned for lindvejrs bør,

gik Terje med briggen på rejs;

om høsten, da grågåsen fløj mod sør,

han mødte den undervejs.

Da falt som en vegt på matrosens bryst:

han kendte seg stærk og ung,

han kom fra solkinnets lysende kyst,

agter lå verden med liv og lyst, -

og for baugen en vinter tung.


De ankred og kameraterne gik

med landlov til sus og dus.

Han sendte dem endnu et længselsblik,

da han sto ved sit lille hus.

Han glytted ind bag det hvide gardin, -

da så han i stuen to, -

hans kone sad still og hespled lin,

men i vuggen lå, frisk og rød og fin,

en liden pige og lo.


Der sagdes, at Terjes sind med et

fik alvor fra denne stund.

Han trelled og sled og blev aldrig træt

af at vugge sit barn i blund.

Om søndagskvelden, når dansen klang

vildt fra den nærmeste gård,

sine gladeste viser han hjemme sang,

mens lille Anna lå på hans fang

og drog i hans brune hår.


Så lakked og led det til krigens år

i attengundred og ni.

Endu går sagn om de trængsels-kår,

som folket da stedtes i.

Engelske krydsere stængte hver havn,

i landet var misvækst og nød,

den fattige sulted, den rige led savn,

to kraftige arme var ingen til gavn,

for døren stod sot og død.


Da stured Terje en dag eller to,

så rysted han sorgen af;

Han mindtes en kending, gammel og tro:

det store bølgende hav.

Der vester har endnu hans gjerning liv

i sagnet, som djerveste dåd:

"da vinden kuled lidt mindre stiv,

Terje Vigen rode for barn og viv

over havet i åben båd!"


Den mindste skækte, der var at få,

blev valgt til hans Skagensfart.

Sejl og mast lod han hjemme stå, -

slig tyktes han bedst bevart.

Han mente nok, Terje, at båden bar,

om sjøen kom lidt påtvers;

det jydske rev var vel svært at gå klar, -

men verre den engelske "Man of War"

med ørneøjne fra mers.


Så gav han sig trøstig lykken i vold

og tog til årene hvast.

Til Fladstrand kom han i god behold

og hented sin dyre last.

Gud véd, hans føring var ikke stor:

tre tønder byg, det var alt;

men Terje kom fra en fattig jord, -

nu havde han livsens frelse ombord;

det var hustru og barn det gjaldt.


Tre nætter og dage til toften bandt

den stærke, modige mand;

den fjerde morgen, da solen randt,

han skimtet en tåget rand.

Det var ikke flygtende skyer han så,

det var fjelde med tinder og skar;

men højt over alle åsene lå

Imenæs-sadelen bred og blå.

Da kende han, hvor han var.


Nær hjemmet var han: en stakket tid

han holder endnu vel ud!

Hans hjerte sig løfted i tro og lid,

han var nær ved en bøn til Gud.

Da var det som ordet frøs på hans mund;

han stirred, han tog ikke fejl, -

gennem skodden, som letted i samme stund,

han så en korvet i Hestnæs-sund

at duve for bakkede sejl.


Båden var røbet; der lød et signal,

og det nærmeste løb var lukt;

men solgangsvinden blafrede skral, -

mod vester gik Terjes flugt.

Da firte de jollen fra rælingens kant,

han hørte matrosernes sang, -

med fødderne stemte mod skægtens spant

han rode så sjøen fossed og brandt,

og blodet fra neglerne sprang.


-------------


Gæslingen kaldes de blinde skær

lidt østenfor Homborg-sund.

Der bryder det stygt i pålandsvejr,

under to fod vand er der bund.

Der sprøjter det hvidt, der glittrer det gult,

selv stilleste havbliksdag;

men går end dønningen aldrig så hult,

indenfor er det som tidest smult,

med brækkede bølgedrag.


Didind Terje Vigens skægte foer

lig en pil mellem brått og brand;

men bag efter ham, i kølvandets spor,

jog jollen med femten mand.

Da var det han skreg gennem brændingens sus

til Gud i sin højeste nød:

"inderst derinde på strandens grus

sidder min viv ved det fattige hus,

og venter med barnet på brød!"


Dog højere skreg nok de femten, end han:

som ved Lyngør, så gik det her.

Lykken er med den engelske mand

på rov mellom Norges skær.

Da Terje tørned mod båens top,

da skured og jollen på grund;

fra stavnen bød officeren "stop!"

Han hæved en åre med bladet op

og hug den i skægtens bund.


Spant og planker for hugget brast,

sjøen stod ind som en fos;

på to fod vand sank den dyre last,

dog sank ikke Terjes trods.

Han slog sig gennem de væbnede mænd

og sprang over æsingen ud,

han dukked og svømmed og dukket igen;

men jollen kom los; hvor han vendte sig hen

klang sabler og rifleskud.


De fisked ham op, han førtes ombord,

korvetten gav sejerssalut;

agter på hytten, stolt og stor,

stod chefen, en attenårs gut.

Hans første batalje gjaldt Terjes båd,

thi knejste han nu så kæk;

men Terje vidste ei længre råd,

den stærke mand lå med bøn og gråd

iknæ på korvettens dæk.


Han købte med tårer, de solgte ham smil,

de ågret med spot for bøn.

Det kuled fra øster, tilhavs med il

stod Englands sejrende søn.

Da taug Terje Vigen; nu var det gjort,

nu tog han sin sorg for sig selv.

Men de, som ham fanged, fandt sært hvor fort

et noget var ligesom vejret bort

fra hans pandes skyede hvælv.


Han sad i "prisonen" i lange år,

der siges i fulde fem;

hans nakke bøjed sig, gråt blev hans hår

af drømmene om hans hjem.

Noget han bar på, men gav ej beskjed,

det var som hans eneste skat.

Så kom attenhundred og fjorten med fred;

de norske fanger, og Terje med,

førtes hjem på en svensk fregat.


Hjemme ved bryggen han steg i land

med Kongens patent som lods;

men få kun kendte den gråsprengte mand,

der rejste som ung matros.

Hans hus var en fremmeds; hvad der blev av

de to, - han derinde erfor:

"da manden forlod dem og ingen dem gav,

så fik de til slutning en fælles grav

af kommunen i fattigfolks jord." --


Årene gik og han rogted sin dont

som lods på den yderste ø;

han gjorde visst intet menneske ondt,

hverken på land eller sjø;

men stundom gnistred hans øjne stygt,

når det brød over båer og skær,

og da mente folk, at han var forrykt,

og da var det få, som uten frykt

kom Terje Vigen nær.


En måneskinskveld med pålandsvind

kom der liv i lodsernes flok;

en engelsk yacht drev mod kysten ind

med revnet storsejl og fok.

Fra fortoppen sendte det røde flag

et nødskrig foruden ord.

Lidt indenfor gik der en båd over stag,

den vandt sig mod uvejret slag for slag,

og losen sto stout ombord.


Han tyktes så tryg, den gråsprengte mand;

lig en kæmpe i rattet han greb; -

yachten lystred, stod atter fra land,

og båden svam efter på slæb.

Lorden, med lady og barn i arm,

kom agter, han tog til sin hat:

"jeg gør dig så rig, som du nu er arm,

hvis frelste du bær os af brændingens larm.

- Men lodsen slap ror og rat.



Han hvidnet om kinden, det lo om hans mund,

lig et smil, der omsider får magt.

Indover bar det, og højt på grund

stod lordens prektige yacht.

"Den svigted kommando! I bådene ned!

Mylord og mylady med mig!

Den slår sig i splinter, -jeg ved besked -

men indenfor ligger den trygge led;

mit kjøl-spor skal vise jer vei!".


Morilden brendte der skægten fløj

mod land med sin dyre last.

Akter stod lodsen, sterk og høj,

hans øje var vildt og hvast.

Han skottet i læ mod Gæslingens top,

og til luvart mod Hestenes-sund;

da slap han ror og stagsejl-strop,

han svinged en åre med bladet op

og hug den i bådens bund.


Ind stod sjøen med skumhvidt sprøjt -

der raste på vraget en strid -;

men moderen løftet sin datter højt

på armen, af rædsel hvid.

"Anna, mit barn!" hun skreg seg i sin ve;

da bævred den gråsprengte mand;

han fatted om skødet, drev roret i læ,

og båden var fast som en fugl at se,

slig foer den i brått og brand.


Den tørned, de sank; men havet var smult

derindenfor brændingens kreds;

opover rak sig en langgrund skjult;

der stod de i vand tilknæs.

Da råbte lorden: "kend - båens ryg -

den svigter, - det er ingen flu!"

Men lodsen smilte: "nej vær De tryg;

en sunken skægte med tre tønder byg

er båen, som bær os nu."


Der jog et minde om halvglemt dåd

lig et lyn over lordens træk -,

han kende matrosen, som lå med gråd

iknæ på korvettens dæk!

Da skreg Terje Vigen: "alt mit du holdt

i din hånd, og du slap det for ros.

Et øjeblik endnu, en gengæld er voldt -- "

da var det den engelske stormand stolt

bøjed knæ for den norske lods.


Men Terje stod støttet til årens skaft,

så rank som i ungdommens år;

hans øjne brandt med ubendig kraft,

for vinden flomed hans hår.

"Du sejled imag på din store korvet,

jeg rode min ringe båd;

jeg trælled for mine til døden træt,

du tog deres brød, og det falt dig så let

at håne min bittre gråd.


Din rige lady er lys som en vår,

hendes hånd er som silke fin, -

min hustrus hånd, den var grov og hård;

men hun var nu alligevel min.

Dit barn har guldår og øjne blå,

som en liden Vorherres gæst;

min datter var intet at akte på,

hun var, Gud bedre det, mager og grå

som fattigfolks børn er flest.


Se, det var min rikdom på denne jord,

det var alt, hvad jeg kalde for mit.

Det tyktes for mig en skat så stor;

men det vejed for dig så lidt. -

Nu er det gengældelsens time slår,

thi nu skal du friste en stund,

som vel kommer op mod de lange år,

der bøjed min nakke og blegte mit hår

og sænkte min lykke på grund."


Barnet han greb og svinged det frit,

med den venstre om ladyens liv.

"Tilbage, mylord! Et eneste skridt, -

og det koster dig barn og viv!"

På sprang stod Britten til kamp påny;

men armen var veg og mat; -

hans ånde brændte, hans øjne var sky,

og hans hår - så kendtes ved første gry -

blev gråt i den eneste nat.


Men Terjes pande bar klarhed og fred,

hans bringe gik frit og stilt.

Ærbødig løfted han barnet ned,

og kyssed dets hender mildt.

Han ånded, som løst fra et fængsels hvælv,

hans stemme lød rolig og jevn:

"Nu er Terje Vigen igen sig selv.

Indtil nu gik mit blod som en stenet elv;

for jeg måtte - jeg måtte ha'e hævn!


De lange år i "prisonens" kvalm,

de gjorde mit hjerte sygt.

Bagefter lå jeg som hejens halm,

og så i et brådyp stygt.

Men nu er det over; vi to er kvit;

din skyldner foer ej med svig.

Jeg gav det jeg havde, - du tog alt mit,

og kræv, om du tror du uret lidt,

Vor herre, som skapte mig slig." --


Da dagningen lyste var hvermand frelst;

yachten lå længst i havn.

Med nattens saga taug de nok helst,

med vidt foer dog Terjes navn.

Drømmenes uvejrskyer grå

fejed en stormnat væk;

og Terje bar atter så rank som få

den nakke der krøgtes hun dag han lå

iknæ på korvettens dæk.


Lorden kom, og mylady med,

og mange, mange med dem;

de rysted hans hånd til farvel og Guds fred,

der de stod i hans ringe hjem.

De takked for frelsen da stormen peb,

for frelsen fra sjøgang og skær;

men Terje strøg over barnets slæb:

"nej, den som frelste, da værst det kneb,

det var nok den lille der" --


Da yachten drejed for Hestnæs-sund,

den heiste det norske flag.

Lidt længre vest er en skumklædt grund, -

der gav den det glatte lag.

Da tindret en tåre i Terjes blik;

han stirred fra hejen ud:

"stort har jeg mistet, men stort jeg fik.

Bedst var det, kanhænde, det gik som det gik, -

så får du ha'e tak da, Gud!".


Slig var det jeg så ham en enkelt gang,

han lå ved bryggen med fisk.

Hans hår var hvidt, men han lo og sang

og var som en ungdom frisk.

Til pigerne hadde han skæmtsomme ord,

han spøgte med byens børn,

han svinged sydvesten og sprang ombord;

så hejste han fokken, og hjem han foer

i solskin, den gamle ørn.


Ved Fjære kirke jeg så en grav,

den lå på en vejrhård plet;

den var ikke skøttet, var sunken og lav,

men bar dog sit sorte bræt.

Der stod "Thærie Wiighen" med hvidmalt skrift,

samt året, han hvile fandt. -

Han lagdes for solbrand og vindes vift,

og derfor blev græsset så stridt og stivt,

med vilde blomster iblant.

There lived a curious grizzled one

on the outermost naked holm:

He wished no harm to any man

neither on sea or land;

Yet sometimes a flare went past his eyes,

most towards heavy squalls,

And then they said, that he'd lost his wits

and then there were few, who without fear

came Terje Vigen near.


Since I saw him a single time,

he docked by the pier with fish;

his hair was white, but he laughed and sang

fresh like a healthy youth.

For the girls, some indecent words to spare

he joked with the kids in town,

then he swang his coat and ran aboard;

then raised the jib, and home he fared

in sunshine, the old boy.


Now I will tell you, what I have heard

of Terje from start to end,

and should it at times seem somewhat dry,

it is both true and known;

I did not just hear it from his own mouth,

but too from his closest friends, -

from them, who were with him until his last

and closed his eyes to the peaceful rest

when he died, late in his sixty years1.


He was in his youth a wild cadet

came early from mom and dad,

and already had weathered many storms

as youngest sailor aboard.

Since he scarpered in Amsterdam,

but yearned for home in the end,

and came with "Foreningen", captain "Pram";

but at home there were none who knew of him,

who left as a little kid.


Now he was grown both strong and fair,

and also a well-dressed gallant.

But dead was both his mom and dad,

and indeed every one of his kin.

He grumbled a day, and perhaps even two -

then he shook his sorrow off.

He found no peace on the solid land:

no, then it was better to build and live

on the great and rolling sea!


A year thereafter Terje was married,-

it likely came on in a rush.

People said he regretted it,

since this tied him in most ways down.

Then he lived beneath his own roof

a winter in bliss and joy -

though the windows shone, clear as day

with tiny curtains and flowers behind

in the little red-painted house.


When the ice broke for the spring winds,

Terje joined the brig for hire;

in the autumn, when the geese flew south

he met them underway.

Then fell, as a weight, on the sailor's chest:

he felt both strong and young,

he came from the sunshine's brilliant coast,

astern was the world with life and lust, -

at the fore was the winter cold.


They anchored and his friends went off

with shore-leave to live the life.

He shot them another longing look,

when he stood at his little house.

He peeked inside back the white chagrin

then there he saw them both, -

his wife sat still spinning linen thread

but in the crib, so fresh and red and fine,

laid a little girl and laughed.


There were sayings, then, that Terje grew

somber and clear from now.

He slaved and worked and was never spent

from cradling his child to sleep.

On Sunday night, when the dance was heard

wild from the nearest farm,

the happiest songs he sang at home

when little Anna laid in his arms

and pulled in his hear and beard.


So days went by until the war began

in eitghteen hundred and nine.

Still tales are told of the need and grief

that the people then had to bear.

English cruisers closed each port,

in the country was hunger and hurt,

the poor man starved, the rich suffered want

two strong arms did no one any good,

at the door was sickness and death.


Then Terje grumbled a day or two,

then he shook his sorrow off;

He remembered a friend, old and true:

the great and rolling sea.

In the west, his name is still alive

in the tale, of his fiercest deed:

"when the gale blew slightly less intense

Terje Vigen rowed for child and wife

across the sea in open boat!"


The smallest rowboat2 that could be found

he chose for the Skagen3-trip.

Sail and mast he left at home,

this way he thought was best.

He though thus, Terje, that the boat would fare

if the sea came straight across;

the "jydske" reef sure was difficult to clear

but worse was the English "Man of War"

with eagle eyes from mers4.


Then he threw himself to lucky chance

and determined took the oars.

In Fladstrand5 he arrived safe and sound

and collected the costly load.

God knows the bulk was not too much:

three barrels of barley, was all;

but Terje came from a poor plot of land,-

now he had life's salvation aboard;

it was wife and child at stake.


Three nights and days tied to the twart

the strong, brave man;

the fourth day, when the sun sprang forth,

he spotted a foggy edge.

It wasn't fleeting clouds he saw,

it was mountains with rocks and shears6;

but high over all the hills it lay

the Imenæs-saddle, broad and blue.

And then he knew, where he was.


Close to home now: a little while longer

he surely can keep this up!

His heart lifted in belief and plea,

he was close to a prayer to God.

- Then it was as it7 froze on his lips;

he stared, it was not a mistake,-

suddenly through the lifting fog

he saw a corvette in the Hestnæs-straight

heave on it's backed off sails.


The boat was revealed, there was an alarm,

and the nearest run was locked;

but the sea-breeze blew slow and weak, -

so to the west was Terje's escape.

They lowered the skiff from the corvette,

and he heard the sailor's song,-

with feet against the side of the boat,

he rowed so the sea both burned and foamed,

and blood sprang from his nails.


--------------


Gæslingen, they're called, the hidden shoals

eastwards of Homborg-sund.

It breaks hard from seaside winds,

under two feet water there's rock.

It sprays in white, it glitters in yellow,

on the very quietest day;

but even if the waves are ever so high,

inside it is always calm,

with broken and rippled surf.


In there Terje Vigen went

like an arrow between break and twirl;

but right behind in the trail of his wake,

chased the skiff with fifteen men.

Then he screamed through the crashing of the waves

to God in his highest need:

"right in there on the rock of the shore

sits my wife by the poor little house,

and waits with the child for bread!"


Though louder were the screams of the fifteen:

as at Lyngør8, so happened here.

Luck was with the English man

hunting between Norwegian shoals.

When Terje crashed the underwater ridge

the boat ran completely aground;

from astern the officer commanded: "stop!"

He turned an oar with the blade pointing up

and struck it through the row-boat's hull.


Frame and planks broke apart,

the sea came in like a flood;

on two feet water the cargo sank,

though Terje's defiance did not.

He punched through the armed men

and jumped off the deck,

he ducked and dived, and ducked again;

but the skiff came after; wherever he went

were sables and rifleshot.


They fished him up, he was taken aboard,

the corvette gave victory salute;

back on the tophouse, proud and big

stood the chief, an eighteen year old boy.

His first engagement was Terje's boat,

thus the parading jaunt;

Terje knew no more what to do,

the strong man was with prayer and tears

on the knees at the corvette's deck.


He offered tears, they sold him smiles,

they traded barbs for prayer.

A gust from the east, to sea with haste

stood England's victorious son.

Then Terje Vigen was quiet; it was done,

now the sorrow was his alone.

But they, his captors, found it strange how quick

a something was almost faded off

from his forehead's weathered vault9.


He sat in "the prison" for the longest time,

they say for five full years;

his neck was bent, grey was his hair

from the dreams about his home.

Something he carried, but he didn't say,

it was his treasure alone.

Until eighteen fourteen and peace finally came;

the norwegian captives, and Terje with them,

came back on a Swedish frigate.


Home by the pier he jumped on land

with the King's patent as guide10;

but few remembered the grizzled man,

who left as a young cadet.

His house was a stranger's; what came of

the two, - he learned in there:

"when the man left for good and none gave relief,

they finally were given a common grave

by the county in poor man's earth." --


The years went by and he lived his life

as pilot at the outermost holm;

He wished no harm to any man

neither on sea or land;

Yet sometimes a flare went past his eyes,

most towards heavy squalls,

And then they said, that he'd lost his wits

and then there were few, who without fear

came Terje Vigen near.


A moonlit night with eastern wind11

a bustle from the pilot staff;

an English yacht was adrift asea

with split foresails and mains.

The scout let fly a red flag

a call for help without words12.

A bit further inside, a boat cut the waves,

it wore down the storm blow by blow

soon the pilot stood stout aboard.


He seemed so calm, the grizzled man;

as a giant he held the helm; -

the yacht responded, again was on course,

with the boat trailing lightly behind.

The Lord, with lady and child in arm,

came aft, and he took his hat:

"I'll make you as rich, as you now are poor,

if safe you carry us past reef and shoal."

- But the pilot dropped rudder and helm.



His chin went white, it laughed from his mouth,

like a grin, that slowly takes force.13

Ashore it went, high aground

crashed the lord's beautiful yacht.

"It failed command! All to the boats!

Mylord and mylady with me!

It's tearing apart, -I've seen this before -

but further inside is a safer lead;

my keel-trail will show you the way!".


The ocean-bloom14 burned where the boat flew

towards land with it's costly load.

Aft stood the pilot, strong and tall,

his eye was white and sharp.

He glanced in the wind towards Gæslingen's top,

and the opposite way to Hestenes-sund;

then he let go of helm and foresail-strap,

then swung an oar with the blade pointing up

and struck it through the hull.


In came the sea with foam-white spray -

a clamor was heard on the wreck -;

but the mother lifted her daughter high

on her arm, of fright turned white.

"Anna, my child!" she screamed in her grief;

- then trembled the grizzled man;

he caught the sail, pulled at the helm,

the boat was more like a bird to see,

as it sped through the wave and twirl.


It keeled, they sank; but the sea was calm

therein behind the shoal;

upwards a hidden shallow lies;

they stood there with water to the knees.

Then screamed the lord: "look - the ridge -

it's breaking, there's no ground here!"

But the pilot smiled: "no, you rest assured;

a sunken row-boat with three barrels grain

is the grounding that carries us now."


A memory of half-forgotten deed

flashed across the lord's face -,

he knew the sailor, who with prayer and cries

on knee on the corvette's deck!

Then screamed Terje Vigen: "All mine you held

in your hand, and you crushed it for praise.

A moment still, and the deed is returned -- "

then it was that the english nobleman proud

for the norse pilot bent his knee.


But Terje leaned against the shaft of the oar,

as straight as in his younger years;

the eyes burned with unbending force,

and the wind flooded his hair.

"You sailed in comfort on your grand corvette,

I rowed my wretched boat;

I slaved for mine until worn to death,

you took their bread, and you thought it light

to mock my bitter tears.


Your lady is rich and light like the spring,

her hand is as smooth as silk, -

my wife's hand, it was coarse and hard;

but nevertheless she was mine.

Your child's hair is golden, has clear blue eyes,

as a visit from the Lord himself;

my daughter she wasn't much to see,

she was, God knows, both starved and grey

as poor men's children are.


See, that was my treasure on this earth,

that was all that I called my own.

It seemed to me so abundantly rich;

but it mattered to you as naught. -

Now it is time for vengenance to strike,

you shall know a moment now,

that weighs up for the many years,

that bent my neck and paled my hair

and ran my life aground."


He gripped the child and swung it free,

the left arm on the lady's waist.

"Stay back, mylord! A single step, -

and it costs you both child and wife!"

The Brit sprang to battle once again;

but his arm was spent and weak; -

his breath was burning, his eyes were shy,

and his hair - they knew at the light of day -

became grey in that single night.


But Terje's forehead had calm and peace,

his chest heaved slow and still.

He lifted the child so slowly down,

and softly kissed it's hands.

He breathed, as freed from a prison vault,

his voice carried steady and firm:

"Now Terje Vigen is again himself.

Until now my blood ran as in a stoned up stream;

'cause I wanted - I needed revenge!


The long years in the "prison"'s15 filth,

it made my heart ill and sick.

Thereafter I was like the farmstead hay,

and then straight in a stone-well deep.16

But now it is over; we two are even;

your guilt is not an act.

I gave what I had, - you took all mine,

and demand, if you think you suffered ill,

of our Lord, who made me like this."


When the daybreak came all were saved;

the yacht was long in port.

Though they rather spoke little of the events of the night,

Terje's name came widely known.

The grey squall clouds, out of a dream

wiped a storm-night clear and calm;

and Terje carried again so straight

that neck that once was bent, that day

on knee on the corvette's deck.


The lord came by, and mylady as well,

and many more with them;

they shook his hand in goodbyes and God's peace,

where they stood in his scanty home.

They thanked for salvation when the storm was bad,

for salvation from waves and reef;

but Terje stroked over the young child's hair:

"no, what saved, when it came to the worst,

it was the little one there" --


When the yacht passed clear of Hestenes-sund,

it raised the Norwegian flag.

A bit further west is a foamy ground, -

that gave it the final wound.

Then Terje shed a single tear;

he stared from the farmstead out:

"great have I lost, but great I was given.

Perhaps it was best, the way things went, -

so you will have my thanks, then, God!"


Such was it I saw him a single time,

docked by the pier with fish.

His hair was white, but he laughed and sang

fresh like a healthy youth.

For the girls, some indecent words to spare

he joked with the kids in town,

then he swang his coat and ran aboard;

then raised the jib, and home he fared

in sunshine, the old boy.


By Fjære church I saw a grave,

it was on a weathered plot;

it wasn't tended, was low and sunk,

though it carried it's black plate still.

It said: "Thærie Wiighen" in white serifs,

as well as the year he found rest,-

He was made for sunburn and the will of the winds,

and that's why the grass was so unruly and stiff

with wild flowers in between.




1Tres - is danish, means 60. The unimpossibly weird numbering system in Denmark goes like this. 10, 20, 30, 40.. and now: halvtreds (50 - but it's "treds", 60, minus a half-twenty, which makes up 60-10 = 50). Then treds (60), halvfjerds (which is "firs minus half-twenty" - which is 80-10 - 70), firs (80), halvfems (same thing, 100-10), and fems (100). I've no idea either. We didn't adopt it after being under Danish rule for 400 years, go figure.

2"Sjekte" - no real English equivalent word, or indeed boat. It's a shallow row-boat made from long bent planks going all the way from one end to the other, then joined together with tighter overlap the closer you get to the stern and aft. Like a longboat, just smaller. Since this tale is from southern Norway, and it's supposed to be a sailing boat as well - it probably would be a variant around 16-19 feet long with a shallow keel, freeboard 40cm or so, and about 1.5-2m across. It's easy to sail, and row - but it handles a bit like a seaworthy leaf. I.e., it'll float just fine as long as you're not surprised by a wave coming in across the side.

3"Skagen" - northernmost town in Denmark. Note: it's at least 130km open sea from Grimstad to Skagen.

4"Mers" a lookout/platform halfway up the mast on a larger sailboat is at "mers". No one uses that word anymore.

5Now Frederikshavn. Another 10-20km further south.

6"Tinder og skar" - er.. it's a .. "kind of" specific different types of landmarks in a mountain, that.. I'm not sure exists in English, sorry. Skar isn't a top, but a flat plateu of sorts at a slant, most of the time. Tinde would be a sharp top as you see it as such, even if it's not the highest top, which would have a real name. As in "weather came around tinden". But not "I'm standing at tinden right now!", except in jest.

7I.e., either "the prayer" or, perhaps, "God".

8Lyngør - site of a naval battle during the Napoleonic wars where essentially an underequipped and unprepared Norwegian frigate (the only one at the time) ran ashore and then was bombed to bits by a (much larger and deeper) British liner (which didn't run ashore - in extremely difficult waters). I've looked at the seamap, and it would be one hell of a gamble if you haven't sailed there before.

9It's actually "cloudy vault". I didn't pick a direct translation here because the intention is to suggest his wrinkles straightened out, as if a great burden disappears.

10At this point, a pilot guide in major coastal towns would not be hired by local governments as such but appointed and sworn in through an oath to the king. What's special about this, and why Ibsen mentions it (other than the rhyme) is that until now, Norway has been under a Danish king for 400 years. And after 1814 we had our own king again - and a constitution, and so on.

11It's really "to-land wind" - when the cold air from the sea gusts inwards after a warm day on land. I'm sure there is a word for it, but I don't know what it is.

12Flying the red flag is still the universal "pilot aboard" sign. So this verse: flies the red flag, the yacht responds, the pilot comes up alongside, and Terje stands on the deck of the yacht. It's equally compact and short of breath in Norwegian, as if suddenly being a short retelling. If you're wondering, it turns out that such a pilot as Terje in the poem did in fact exist. And that he was a good friend of Ibsen's while he lived in Grimstad, where this poem takes place (and was written). So while the events were perhaps not quite as dramatic as the poem is about to become here, this pilot and his crew were well-known for breaking the blockade to fetch grain in Denmark several times. Prison records suggest they were captured in the end, and most of the crew didn't get out until the war ended, while others escaped. So you can imagine any episode with an English ship then needing assistance would be an ambivalent affair after the war ended.

13This norwegian is something only Ibsen would write. Directly: "his cheeks whitened" - that is, his mouth drops open and his face and eyes widen, in shock of course and also because he's smiling. And it's so forceful an expression that the chin whitens. "It laughed around his mouth". Then he laughs a hollow laughter with an open mouth, while short of breath. This sort of thing is at once extremely compact and curiously untranslatable. Because these expressions are in some ways used in spoken norwegian, so they sound right, and imply a state of mind that the words don't carry. So I'd rather avoid making a direct translation to keep that mysterious sound of it - that unfortunately isn't kept when typing down just the similar English words.

14Fine! So there's no such word in English. So shoot me. It's just that "The photosynthetic plankton lighting up in the night sea when disturbed by a boat passing through the waves" didn't fit.

15He's using a "norvagism" of the english word "prison". Pronouncing it with the extra particle "en" at the end that replaces "the". Then drawing the entire word out with equal weight on all the syllables: "Pri-sonn-en".

16Again, only Ibsen could write like that. On a weathered mountain farm, the hay or grass will easily get pressed flat down to the ground after a storm. And when you walk on that, it's like walking on clouds, if very stiff and slippery ones - but you don't really have foothold. And because it's so tight and flat at the bottom, with weeds sticking up - then you also don't see ahead of you if you happen to stroll over the cliffside, or a large crack, or somesuch.