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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Over the Lofty Mountains

By Björnstjerne Björnson (1832–1910)

From ‘Arne’

Translation of William Morton Payne

OFTEN I wonder what there may be

Over the lofty mountains.

Here the snow is all I see,

Spread at the foot of the dark green tree;

Sadly I often ponder,

Would I were over yonder.

Strong of wing soars the eagle high

Over the lofty mountains;

Glad of the new day, soars to the sky,

Wild in pursuit of his prey doth fly;

Pauses, and, fearless of danger,

Scans the far coasts of the stranger.

The apple-tree, whose thoughts ne’er fly

Over the lofty mountains,

Leaves when the summer days draw nigh,

Patiently waits for the time when high

The birds in its bough shall be swinging,

Yet will know not what they are singing.

He who has yearned so long to go

Over the lofty mountains—

He whose visions and fond hopes grow

Dim, with the years that so restless flow—

Knows what the birds are singing,

Glad in the tree-tops swinging.

Why, O bird, dost thou hither fare

Over the lofty mountains?

Surely it must be better there,

Broader the view and freer the air;

Com’st thou these longings to bring me—

These only, and nothing to wing me?

Oh, shall I never, never go

Over the lofty mountains?

Must all my thoughts and wishes so

Held in these walls of ice and snow

Here be imprisoned forever?

Till death shall escape be never?

Hence! I will hence! Oh, so far from here,

Over the lofty mountains!

Here ’tis so dull, so unspeakably drear;

Young is my heart and free from fear—

Better the walls to be scaling

Than here in my prison lie wailing.

One day, I know, shall my free soul roam

Over the lofty mountains.

O my God, fair is thy home,

Ajar is the door for all who come;

Guard it for me yet longer,

Till my soul through striving grows stronger.