World Poetry Day: ThorNews Honors Henrik Wergeland

March 21 is World Poetry Day, and it was declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999. The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, as the UNESCO session declaring the day says, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements”.


Wergeland_portraitHenrik Wergeland (1808-1845) is considered the most influential poet in Norway. He is often described as a forerunner in the development of a distinctly Norwegian literary heritage and of modern Norwegian culture. Wergeland also pioneered the children’s parade on May 17, Norway’s National Day. He was a champion for children’s cause, but also one of the greatest poets and writers in Scandinavia.

Wergeland has been compared with poets like Byron, Pushkin and Victor Hugo. His themes are universal and the poetry has a rich language and multifaceted images.

His poetry ranges from the visionary, cosmological poem “Creation, Man and the Messiah” to children poems, and destruction poems like “Caesaris”. His strong national affiliation is communicated in poems as “Hardanger” and “To a Spruce”.

Many of his works depict the different social classes. “The Free Europe” and “The Spaniard” joins a series of freedom poems, while “Red and Gray Bullfinches” shows Wergeland’s ability to communicate with children.

After the Constitution of 1814, Wergeland contributed to pioneering work fighting for the lower classes in Norway. He was a tireless teacher with great visions, and a caretaker. Through his writing and versatile engagement, Wergeland helped to create an independent Norwegian culture.  In addition, he engaged in the struggle for freedom in Poland, Ireland and Brazil. He also sided with India against the colonial power. As a person he was versatile and could often be unpredictable.

Wergeland was among the first to use free rhythm and free verse, as one can see in the poem “To the Spring” (1845). This is one of the many poems that were written on his deathbed.


To the Spring


O Spring! Spring! save me!

No one has loved you more tender than I.


Your first Grass is to me more worth than an Emerald.

I call your Anemone the Year’s Adornments,

Though I know, that Roses will come.


Often the Fiery slung after me.

It was like being loved by Princesses.

But I fled: Anemone, Spring’s Daughter, had my Faith.


O Testify then, Anemone, as I have fiery kneeled before!

Testify, despised Dandelion and Coltsfoot,

I have respected you more than Gold, because ye are the Children of Spring!


Testify, Swallow, that I did a Feast for you as a

lost Child returning, because you were Messenger of Spring.


Search the Lord of those Clouds and pray, that they no longer must send Needles

down in my Chest from their cold blue Openings.


Testify, old Tree, who I have worshiped as a Deity

and those Buds I have counted every Spring more eagerly than Pearls!


Testify You, who I have so often embraced

as a Great-grandson’s Reverence for his Great-grandfather.

Ah yes, how often I have wanted to be a young Maple

of your immortal Root and mixing my Crown with yours!


Yes, Old, Testify for me! You will be believed.

You are revered as a Patriarch.


Pray for me, I will pour Wine on your Roots

and heal your Scars with Kisses.


Your Crown must already be in its fairest Light Green,

your Leaves all rushing out there.


O Spring! the Old cries for me, although he is hoarse.

He stretches his Arms toward Heaven, and Anemones,

your blue-eyed Children, kneel and ask you to

save me – me, who loves you so tenderly.


Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews

Source and photo: Wikipedia

Categories: Culture, Reading

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