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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 Prince’s Song

By Holger Drachmann (1846–1908)

From ‘Once Upon a Time’: Translation of Charles Harvey Genung

PRINCESS, I come from out a land that lieth—

I know not in what arctic latitude:

Though high in the bleak north, it never sigheth

For sunny smiles; they wait not to be wooed.

Our privilege we know: the bright half-year

Illumines sea and shore with sunlit glory;

In twilight then our fertile fields we ear,

And round our brows we twine a wreath of story.

When winter decks with frost the bearded oak,

In songs and sagas we our youth recover;

Around the hearthstone crowd the listening folk,

While on the wall mysterious shadows hover.

The summer night, suffused with loving glow,

The future, dawning in a golden chalice,

Enkindles hope in hearts of high and low,

From peasant’s cottage to the royal palace.

The snow of winter spreads o’er hill and valley

Its soft and silken blue-white veil of sleep;

The springtime bids the green-clad earth to rally,

When through the budding leaves the sunbeams peep,

The autumn brings fresh breezes from the ocean

And paints the lad’s fair cheeks a rosy red;

The maiden’s heart is stirred with new emotion,

When summer’s fragrance o’er the world is spread.

To roam in our fair land is like a dream,

Through these still woods, renowned in ancient story,

Along the shores, deep-mirrored in the gleam

Of fjords that shine beneath the sky’s blue glory.

Upon the meadows where the flowers bloom

The elfin maidens hide themselves in slumbers,

But soon along the lakes where shadows gloom

In every bosky nook they’ll dance their numbers.

There are no frowning crags on our green mountains,

No dark, forbidding cliffs where gorges yawn;

The streams flow gently seaward from their fountains,

As through the silent valley steals the dawn.

Here nature smoothes the rugged, tames the savage,

And men born here in victory are kind,

Forbearing still the foeman’s land to ravage,

And in defeat they bear a steadfast mind.

I’m proud of land, of kindred, and of nation,

I’m proud my home is where the waters flow;

Afar I see in golden radiation

My native land like sun through amber glow.

Its warmth revives my heart, however lonely:

Forgive me, Princess, if my soul’s aflame,—

But rather be at home, a beggar only,

Than, exiled thence, have universal fame.