The Danish Folketing has just passed the bill L180, granting Danish citizenship to approx. 1,800 people on 23 June 2020. I am number 820 on that list. Soon a local ceremony in Svendborg will confirm that I am a Danish citizen. I am extremely happy at the thought.
I love all three Scandinavian countries and have done since the 1960s and will present samples of translations from their poetry over the next three weeks.
But first, Hans Christian:
A Scandinavian I!’
We Scandinavians are a single people,
Although three kingdoms are our native lands;
Yet one of heaven’s great gifts makes us equal:
Our hearts now form a whole with steadfast bands!
Let all past wrongs between us be forgotten:
Margrethe’s purer spirit is begotten
That now unites us, threefold strength supplies us,
Our language unifies us.
On hills, in woods, on night-blue sea I cry
Aloud with joy: A Scandinavian I!
Join me on Dovre’s peaks and Jökel’s glacier,
Hear thundering waters, farming maiden’s song;
Fresh lake and mountain air breathe in and savour,
I walk where once Norse gods did stride along;
And if I most would hear of men of glory,
Of Olaf, Hakon, Harald and their story,
Then mountainwards! with mighty rock-built castles
Stands Norway richly marshalled
In gleam of Northern lights, where seas run high;
I love you well! A Scandinavian I!
Come, take the swiftest boat, let steam transport us,
Let rivers and great lakes our roads now be!
Sail over mountains with tall birch below us
Exhaling scent! Oh, Sweden I love thee!
From here once Gustav Adolf’s name resounded,
The last true Northern knight of fame unbounded.
Some bark-bread, and the Swedish peasant’s singing,
Frugality him winging,
He sings the songs that bards did once supply,
As we do too: A Scandinavian I!
A fresh bouquet of corn and hops and clover
Is Denmark! Come and see our woods of beech!
The gentle plains its spirit’s sons rove over,
And horses’ clanging hooves all corners reach –
To art and science we Denmark would be showing,
Of this small land all Europe shall be knowing:
Through Thorvaldsen its name in stone is ringing,
Through Tycho first set winging;
A rose is Denmark! Scandinavian, tell
Of sea-tossed land where flowering spirits dwell!
Let not this unity e’er wilt or wither,
Let Norway, Sweden, Denmark stay as one;
The ancient folk-songs bind us all together,
Their melody’s a bond surpassed by none.
The seed of unity promotes good harvest,
To East and West our bold gaze reaches farthest,
In joy and sorrow, here our home is nearest!
Here those live who are dearest!
From fir and birch and beech, in sea and sky
Let joy’s song sound: A Scandinavian I!