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Henrik Johan Ibsen

(20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906 / Skien)

The Miner


Beetling rock, with roar and smoke
Break before my hammer-stroke!
Deeper I must thrust and lower
Till I hear the ring of ore.

From the mountain's unplumbed night,
Deep amid the gold-veins bright,
Diamonds lure me, rubies beckon,
Treasure-hoard that none may reckon.

There is peace within the deep--
Peace and immemorial sleep;
Heavy hammer, burst as bidden,
To the heart-nook of the hidden!

Once I, too, a careless lad,
Under starry heavens was glad,
Trod the primrose paths of summer,
Child-like knew not care nor cummer.

But I lost the sense of light
In the poring womb of night;
Woodland songs, when earth rejoiced her,
Breathed not down my hollow cloister.

Fondly did I cry, when first
Into the dark place I burst:
"Answer spirits of the middle
Earth, my life's unending riddle!--"

Still the spirits of the deep
Unrevealed their answer keep;
Still no beam from out the gloomy
Cavern rises to illume me.

Have I erred? Does this way lead
Not to clarity indeed?
If above I seek to find it,
By the glare my eyes are blinded.

Downward, then! the depths are best;
There is immemorial rest.
Heavy hammer burst as bidden
To the heart-nook of the hidden!--

Hammer-blow on hammer-blow
Till the lamp of life is low.
Not a ray of hope's fore-warning;
Not a glimmer of the morning.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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