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

The Cloister in the South

By Björnstjerne Björnson (1832–1910)

From ‘Arnljot Gelline’

Translation of William Morton Payne

“WHO would enter so late the cloister in?”

“A maid forlorn from the land of snow.”

“What sorrow is thine, and what thy sin?”

“The deepest sorrow the heart can know.

I have nothing done,

Yet must still endeavor,

Though my strength is none,

To wander ever.

Let me in, to seek for my pain surcease;—

I can find no peace.”

“From what far-off land hast thou taken flight?”

“From the land of the North, a weary way.”

“What stayed thy feet at our gate this night?”

“The chant of the nuns, for I heard them pray,

And the song gave peace

To my soul, and blessed me;

It offered release

From the grief that oppressed me.

Let me in, so if peace to give be thine,

I may make it mine.”

“Name me the grief that thy life hath crossed.”

“Rest may I never, never know.”

“Thy father, thy lover, thou hast then lost?”

“I lost them both at a single blow,

And all I held dear

In my deepest affection,

Ay, all that was near

To my heart’s recollection.

Let me in, I am failing, I beg, I implore,

I can bear no more.”

“How was it that thou thy father lost?”

“He was slain, and I saw the deed.”

“How was it that thou thy lover lost?”

“My father he slew, and I saw the deed.

I wept so bitterly

When he roughly would woo me,

He at last set me free,

And forbore to pursue me.

Let me in, for the horror my soul doth fill

That I love him still.”

Come child, come bride,

To God’s own side.

From grief find rest

On Jesus’ breast.

Rest thy burden of sorrow

On Horeb’s height;

Like the lark, with to-morrow

Shall thy soul take flight.

Here stilled is all yearning,

No passion returning,

No terror come near thee

Where the Saviour can hear thee!

For He, if in need be

Thy storm-beaten soul,

Though it bruised as a reed be,

Shall raise it up whole.