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Norway says never again Posted by on Jul 22, 2021 in History

Many Norwegians have memorialised the day with roser. (Image by congerdesign from Pixabay; no copyright.)

Ten years ago Norwegians experienced one of the saddest days i manns minne (in living memory, literally ”in man’s memory”). I don’t want to repeat the tragedy here – that’s the job of aviser (newspapers). Suffice to say that 77 innocent human beings1R.I.P. lost their lives to the terrorist Anders Breivik on Utøya (an øy, island) and in nearby Oslo. I dag ble 22. juli markert mange steder i landet. I Oslo var det ett minutts stillhet, og det ble holdt taler fra overlevende og etterlatte. (Today, July 22th was memorialised several places in the country. In Oslo there was one minute of silence, and speeches were held by survivors and bereaved family members.)

In a language blog, it’s always nice to quote some lyrics, and in this case I think the choice is obvious – Kringsatt av fiender (Surrounded by Enemies)! 🙂 The poem was written by Nordahl Grieg in 19362= more than 70 years ago = there should be no copyright issues with quoting the entire text to protest against war and extremism3mostly the Nazi movement of the time. Originally titled Til ungdommen (To the Youth), it remains one of the most touching Norwegian peace anthems. After Utøya the song has even got a ”second life”. Here’s the text (with a stumbling-along translation) – may this be the last time you have to read about Norwegian terror!

Kringsatt av fiender, (Surrounded by enemies,)
gå inn i din tid! (step into your time!)
Under en blodig storm (During a bloody storm)
vi deg til strid! (devote yourself to struggle!)
Kanskje du spør i angst, (Maybe you ask in fear)
udekket, åpen: (uncovered, open:)
hva skal jeg kjempe med (with what do I fight?)
hva er mitt våpen? (what is my weapon?)

Her er ditt vern mot vold, (Here’s your protection against violence,)
her er ditt sverd: (here’s your sword:)
troen på livet vårt, (the belief in our life,)
menneskets verd. (the value of humanity.)
For all vår fremtids skyld, (For the sake of our entire future,)
søk det og dyrk det, (seek it and cultivate it,)
dø om du må – men: (die if you have to – but:)
øk det og styrk det! (increase it and strengthen it!)

Stilt går granatenes (Quietly go the grenades’)
glidende bånd (gliding bands)
Stans deres drift mot død (Stop their race towards death)
stans dem med ånd! (stop them with spirit/intellect!)
Krig er forakt for liv. (War is contempt for life.)
Fred er å skape. (Peace is creation.)
Kast dine krefter inn: (Throw in your force:)
døden skal tape! (Death must lose!)

Elsk og berik med drøm (Love and enrich with dreams)
alt stort som var! (all the greatness there was!)
Gå mot det ukjente (Walk towards the unknown)
fravrist det svar. (wring answers from it.)
Ubygde kraftverker, (Unbuilt power stations,)
ukjente stjerner. (unknown stars.)
Skap dem, med skånet livs (Create them with a spared life’s)
dristige hjerner! (bold brains!)

Edelt er mennesket, (Noble is the human being,)
jorden er rik! (the earth is rich!)
Finnes her nød og sult (If there’s need and hunger here)
skyldes det svik. (it’s due to deceit.)
Knus det! I livets navn (Destroy it! In the name of life)
skal urett falle. (injustice shall fall.)
Solskinn og brød og ånd (Sunshine and bread and intellect/spirit)
eies av alle. (belong to everybody.)

Da synker våpnene (Then the weapons sink)
maktesløs ned! (powerlessly down!)
Skaper vi menneskeverd (If we create human dignity)
skaper vi fred. (we create peace)
Den som med høyre arm (The one who with his right arm)
bærer en byrde, (carries a burden)
dyr og umistelig, (precious and inalienable,)
kan ikke myrde. (cannot kill.)

Dette er løftet vårt (This is our pledge)
fra bror til bror: (from brother to brother:)
vi vil bli gode mot (with kindness we’ll treat)
menskenes jord. (the earth of us humans.)
Vi vil ta vare på (We will take care of)
skjønnheten, varmen (the beauty, the warmth)
som om vi bar et barn (as if we were carrying a child)
varsomt på armen! (gently on our arm!)

Here you can hear the melody (with a more poetic translation):

  • 1
    R.I.P.
  • 2
    = more than 70 years ago = there should be no copyright issues with quoting the entire text
  • 3
    mostly the Nazi movement of the time
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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


Comments:

  1. Rob Read:

    V moving indeed. As someone trying to learn Norwegian, it’s great to listen to it in Norwegian too

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qDCx1iM4aA

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Rob Read Thank you, Rob, for sharing the link to the song in Norwegian.


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