Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads

Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads

Copyright Date: 1936
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 360
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads
    Book Description:

    Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads was first published in 1936. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. This book, presenting the English and Norwegian texts of more than fifty emigrant songs and ballads, forms a unique contribution to folk literature and social history. Here is collected for the first time a group of songs born of the European folk movement to America during the nineteenth century. Many of the ballads are human stories of gripping interest. They cover a wide range of emotions, from pathos and nostalgia to anger and satire. Some are gay and humorous skits. The most popular of the ballads is the rollicking “Oleana.” Some of the others are: “Farewell to the Spinning Wheel,” “Sigrid’s Song,” “Let Us Away and over the Sea,” “El Dorado,” “A Pestilence is Loose in the Mountains,” “Brothers, the Day of Norway’s Freedom,” and “A Song Concerning the Emigration to America.” A general historical sketch precedes the ballads, and each song in turn is placed in its special setting by a brief preface. Music, harmonized for the piano, is provided for a dozen of the ballads.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3758-8
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction (pp. 3-16)

    Like every great folk movement, the nineteenth-century emigration from Norway to America produced its own literature. Unceasing streams of “America letters” have passed across the Atlantic to people in the valleys and hills and towns of Norway during the eleven decades since the sloopRestaurationenturned its nose out to sea from Stavanger in 1825. Not less unceasing has been the flow of “Norway letters” from the old homes to sons and daughters in the West. Newspapers in both countries have published countless articles about emigration, its causes, characteristics, and results. As the movement progressed, books and pamphlets about emigrant...

  4. The Emigrants at Havre de Grace (pp. 17-23)

    In 1836, eleven years after the “sloop folk” had set off for the new world, two emigrant ships sailed for America from Norway, inaugurating the second period of the Norwegian emigration of the nineteenth century.

    It is an interesting coincidence that in the same year in which mass emigration from Norway was resumed, the Norwegian poet Welhaven, on a journey in France, got a glimpse at Havre de Grace of the continental emigration which was pouring through that port in increasing numbers; and that he recorded his impressions in the poem “Emigranterne.” Soon Norwegians, too, were to contribute to the...

  5. The Seventeenth of May in Mid-Atlantic (pp. 24-29)

    One of the best-known names in the early history of Norwegian emigration to the United States is that of Ole Rynning. In the spring of 1837 Rynning, the son of a clergyman and well educated, joined a party of emigrants who crossed the Atlantic on the barkAegirand made their way to Illinois, where they established the ill-fated Beaver Creek settlement. There on a sickbed in a log hut he wrote his “True Account of America,” the manuscript of which was brought to Norway in 1838 by one of his comrades, was there published, and became the most influential...

  6. Railroad Trains, Steamboats, and Liberty (pp. 30-34)

    Knud Knudsen, a blacksmith who went to America in 1839 on theEmiliefrom Drammen, wrote an interesting account of his travels which was published at Drammen in 1840 under the titleBeretning om en Reise fra Drammen i Norge til New York i Nord Amerika. This account consists of two parts, the first written at Albany, New York, on September 1, 1839, and the second at Detroit, Michigan, on September 10, both signed by Knudsen and various other members of the emigrant party. Like many another early emigrant, Knudsen was astounded at the sight of a railroad train and...

  7. To Our Brothers Emigrating to America (pp. 35-46)

    This melancholy poem by Norway’s great hymn writer first appeared inMorgenbladeton June 24, 1842, signed with the initials M. L. It was included in Landstad’s collection of songs and poems,Sange og Digte af forskjellige Slags, mest fra gamle Dage, published in Christiania in 1879. In calling upon his countrymen to resist the appeal of America and in seeking to frighten them with the terrors of emigration, Landstad expresses the attitude of the Norwegian clergy toward the movement in its earlier years. In this strain Bishop Jacob Neumann had addressed thebønderas early as 1837, and the...

  8. A Humble Man’s Reflections on Emigration (pp. 47-51)

    The high expectations and dreams of a poor man as he thinks of emigration to America are described in the columns of the ChristianiaMorgenbladetfor May 4, 1843, by a poet who forecasts the certain disillusionment that the future will bring to the emigrant. It is a familiar theme. And it closes with a bit of advice that frequently crops up in the literature of Norwegian emigration—advice that is sound enough, but not very arresting.

    En Vaar atter kommer og Længselens Stemme

    Nu vaagner i mangenen Landsmands Bryst:

    Saa trangt og saa fattig det er ham herhjemme—


  9. A Farewell to a Norwegian Squire (pp. 52-63)

    “Laurvig, November 22.—Squire Gasmann, of Foss, in Gjerpen, last week sold his estate and mill to Mr. Houen, a merchant of Skien, for 7,500 specie dollars, and will sail presently to America with his wife and thirteen children.”*

    This news item of 1842 caused a mild sensation in some parts of Norway. Hans Gasmann was a man of ample means and of considerable prominence. He was a large property holder; he had twice been elected to the Storting, the Norwegian parliament; he was known as a man of cool judgment. Now he, too, was to join the throngs setting...

  10. An Emigrant’s Song (pp. 64-66)

    Vrimlende nu træder frem for min Sjæl;

    men svindende altid, som brudte af Hel,

    Kasteller i Luften, af Drengen grundlagte,

    af Ynglingen kjæk i hans Drømme fuldbragte.

    Those dazzling air castles, begun in my boyhood, reared in my youth, crowd upon my vision, then vanish away like dreams.

    Min Fod Du nu brænder, mit Fødelands Jord!

    Og Torner med Blod grant betegne mit Spor,

    en døende Haabslampe viser en Skygge,

    der vinker bort fra et Hjem uden Hygge.

    The soil of the Fatherland burns my feet and marks my path with bloody thorns: the dying lamp of hope casts its...

  11. I Would I Were on the Mississippi: An Emigrant Dialogue (pp. 67-74)

    A favorite form of the early emigrant song was the dialogue in which the benefits of emigration were debated. Frequently the advocate of emigration served as the mouthpiece for the poet’s ironical description of a farmer’s paradise. This song is a good example of such a debate and is of special interest because in certain respects it anticipates the most famous of all the emigrant ballads—“Oleana.” In this poem of 1844 America is pictured as a land flowing with milk and honey, where frosts never damage the crops and the cows are as big as elephants.

    The poem was...

  12. Songs from Henrik Wergeland’s Last Play (pp. 75-98)

    Dreaming of an aroused Norway in which the vigor of its people would give a new importance and interest to the national life, Henrik Wergeland believed that his country needed to keep her sons and daughters in order to fulfil her destiny. The commerce in which the emigrant ships trafficked was, in his opinion, a commerce of blood, for they sailed away “with the country’s most precious possessions—its children, its workers, its defenders, its father and mothers.” In his newspaper “For the Working Class,” Wergeland raised his voice with passionate vigor against the “emigration frenzy.” He wrote:

    Yes, “emigration...

  13. Nostalgia (pp. 99-104)

    There were times when homesickness overwhelmed the emigrant. One finds many pathetic expressions of it in the early “America letters.” In contemporary literature it has been treated with understanding in Rölvaag’sGiants in the Earth. The following poem depicts this nostalgia not in the words of the emigrant himself but in those of a Norwegian poet. It was first printed in Monsen’s newspaperNordlyset(Trondhjem), and was later included in hisAlpeblomster, published in 1846, and in hisSamlede Digte, edited by Christian Hansen and published in Trondhjem in 1854. The text here reprinted is taken from his “Collected Poems.”...

  14. Norway and America (pp. 105-108)

    This poem is a sharp reproof to those who set off for America in the expectation of improving their economic situation. The poet believed that sorrow and disappointment awaited them, and that though they found riches they would never find a Fatherland. But the poet could not draw aside the curtains of the future. Like most Norwegians of his day, he did not perceive that here was a great movement the full significance and fruit of which, both for Norway and for America, lay in future generations. And here the emigrant was frequently wiser than his critic. For he usually...

  15. A Dialogue Concerning Emigration (pp. 109-113)

    This dialogue was written in the dialect of upper Telemarken, a district that contributed large numbers to the early emigration. First Sveinung speaks for the emigrant; then Guttorm presents the case for staying at home. It is hardly necessary to point out that neither side of the case is adequately considered, and it is obvious that the purpose of the poem was to discourage emigration. Nevertheless, the tone is moderate, and Sveinung is not denied the opportunity to voice grievances that many an emigrant really felt. The poem was published inMorgenbladetin 1846.* It is interesting to note that...

  16. Evening Prayer on the Atlantic (pp. 114-118)

    This poem is signed “Chr. H.” in the issue ofMorgenbladet(Christiania) for July 19, 1846, where it originally appeared. The editor explains that the request for its publication was dated New York, May 16. The author was undoubtedly Christian Hansen.* He was Danish by birth, but went to Norway at the age of nineteen for a year’s stay. In 1842 he again took up his residence in Norway and four years later he went to the New World. It was on this voyage that the “Evening Prayer” was written—“den 6te Mai 1846, Newfoundlands-Banken passeret” (On the Banks of...

  17. A Farewell from Wisconsin (pp. 119-121)

    The popular view that most emigrants believed the United States to be an El Dorado is mistaken. True, there were some who expected to find streets paved with gold, and in some periods the hope of gaining a better livelihood in the New World than in the Old was rosier than in others. But even in the earliest period of Norwegian emigration it was not uncommon for individuals to go to America in advance of large parties to report in detail on the outlook; and after the movement was fairly started there was no lack in Norway of reports telling...

  18. The America Letter (pp. 122-125)

    Few are the homes in Norway that have not anxiously awaited the first “America letter.” The noted Norwegian painter Tidemand understood something of the emotions that stirred the hearts of parents when they heard from a loved son, and in one of his paintings he has portrayed such a moment in the lives of a peasant and his wife. His canvas interprets with subtle power the conflict of feelings in the hearts of the mother and father. It needs no poem to explain it, but like many another of his works it has inspired a poet, Conrad N. Schwach (1793–...

  19. To an Emigrant Schooner (pp. 126-130)

    The building of new vessels for direct trade and emigrant traffic with America was becoming a common thing by the late forties.Correspondentenof Skien in its issue for May 28, 1848, called attention to the fact that whereas ten years earlier Norwegian ships in the American trade were rare, there were now many of them. In 1847 no fewer than twenty-nine Norwegian vessels arrived at New York, ten of them direct from Norway with iron and emigrants.

    The ocean schooner, queen of the seas in its day, with its sturdy lines and the white flash of its canvas, has...

  20. To an Expedition of California Gold-Seekers (pp. 131-140)

    The reports of the discovery of gold in California and of the rush of gold-hunters to the West aroused keen interest in Norway. It was a time of rapid change. Marcus Thrane was fomenting labor agitation; echoes of the revolutionary disturbances in Europe were sounding in the North; emigration to America was mounting toward the peak it was to attain in the years before the American Civil War. Now came the reports of gold. And there was a stampede the world over.

    The story of the gold discoveries came to Norway through newspaper reports, books and pamphlets, letters, and returned...

  21. El Dorado (pp. 141-145)

    While the members of the Trondhjem California expedition were dreaming of golden fortunes in the West, some Norwegians, skeptical of the supposed El Dorado, urged their countrymen to keep cool and not to despise the good things at home. In the poem that follows, Ivar H. Bentzen speaks satirically of the possibility of winning riches in California, points out the unpleasant side of the miner’s life in the rough camps of the West, and for himself chooses to remain at home in his narrow cottage. Love and peace in his home valley, coupled with the gold of song, are his...

  22. A Labor Union Song (pp. 146-150)

    America was never far from the thoughts of both leaders and followers in that remarkable mid-century labor agitation known as the Thrane Movement. In the fourth number ofArbeider-Foreningernes Blad,* for May 26, 1849, appears an article about America in which Thrane advises the poor to emigrate: “Everyone whose prospects here are poor ought to emigrate to America, for it is absolutely certain that everybody who can work and is willing to work can become a well-to-do man there, so that he not only can have a surplus that will meet his needs when age makes it impossible for him...

  23. Farewell to Norway (pp. 151-156)

    This song, inspired by the departure of the Trondhjem California expedition of 1850, was written by a Levanger follower of Marcus Thrane. It is not so much a farewell to Norway as a call for reform. It breathes the spirit of the Thrane movement. Like the preceding song, it was included in the “Workingman’s Songbook.” It is further evidence of the tendency of the followers of Thrane to think of America in bitter terms of escape. The melody is “Vaaren kommer, Fugle kvidre.”

    Kom alle Venner og Bekjendte, stemmer i med os engang Thi vi vil med Jubelstemme synge her...

  24. The Hour Has Come (pp. 157-159)

    The labor movement of the fifties appears to have been, like the emigration movement, highly articulate. Among the numerous songs born of it is the one below, which was also included in the “Workingman’s Songbook.” It too is a farewell and was sung to the melody of “Dig elskte Frankrig mit Farvel jeg byder.”

    Snart Timen slaaer—Farvel vi Eder byde,

    Maaskee vi aldrig sees meer paa Jord!

    Det er saa tungt at skilles, men vi lyde

    Maa Pligten og Nødvendighedens Ord.

    Vor Fremtids Lykke vi ei maa bortkaste

    Naar Haabets Finger giver os et Peeg.

    Os Ingen kan for...

  25. A Greeting to a Group of Departing Emigrants (pp. 160-164)

    Perhaps the most interesting thing about this farewell song is that it was published inFolkets Røst,* the organ of Harro Paul Harring until his expulsion from Norway in the spring of 1850. At the time the song was printed the editor was Paul Hjelm Hansen, a well-known liberal journalist who later became famous as the “trail blazer” for Scandinavian settlement in the rich Red River Valley of the North. Harring, who was of Danish birth, though with a strain of Norwegian blood, was a violent republican and anti-monarchist. He had been associated at one time with Mazzini and Garibaldi;...

  26. The Harmony, an Emigrant Brig (pp. 165-169)

    The emigrant vessels of the late forties and the fifties bore euphonious names. Thus in 1849, the year that the brigHarmonyunder Captain T. T. Landaas made its first voyage to New York, other Norwegian emigrant ships included theValhalla, theFavorite, theViking, theJuno, theAchilles, theOrifia, theSuperb, thePreciosa, and theEbenezer.

    On its first trip theHarmonycarried 114 passengers, most of whom were bound for Illinois or Wisconsin. In all there were nineteen families, but three of them, with ten members each, accounted for more than one-fourth of the total number.


  27. The Departure of a Young Minister for the American West (pp. 170-175)

    During the forties and fifties many young ministers trained at the University of Christiania departed for America to organize the new churches of the immigrants in the West. Concern was felt in the Norwegian church over the lack of church organization among the Norwegian-Americans, and many of the settlers themselves were eager to have churches organized and served by clergy trained in the Old Country, though there was at the same time great interest in laymen’s activity and in the work of such preachers as Elling Eielsen. In 1844 J. W. C. Dietrichson went to America to join the Danish-born...

  28. America, Ole Bull, and the New Norway (pp. 176-182)

    In 1852 the violinist Ole Bull gave a spectacular turn to emigration by launching an ambitious colonization project in Pennsylvania. Many of his countrymen greeted the news with skepticism; many others were thrilled. The song here reprinted illustrates the enthusiasm that Ole Bull’s dream of a New Norway awakened in some of his countrymen. It is taken from a book entitled “America, Ole Bull, and the New Norway,”* a work evidently intended to promote Norwegian interest in the colony.

    New Norway, or Oleana, as it came to be called, had its genesis in Bull’s enthusiasm for America, an enthusiasm that...

  29. Better Than Gold (pp. 183-186)

    The news of Oleana was received with enthusiasm by the Norwegian working class, and Ole Bull was hailed as the friend of the common people.Arbeider-Foreningernes Blad, the organ of the labor movement, said on November 13, 1852, “Ole Bull’s word alone is more than enough to cause a hundred thousand and again a hundred thousand to leave Norway.” These figures it considered reasonable: “How many thousands have already gone to America even though no place was prepared for them. And how many will follow them now that Ole Bull has bought a great tract that he desires to have...

  30. Oleana (pp. 187-198)

    When the Oleana bubble burst, as it did surprisingly soon, the explosion was accompanied by a roar of laughter in Norway and in America. This was because Ditmar Meidell, the witty editor of the comic journalKrydseren, wrote “Oleana,” which became the most famous of all the “America songs.” It first appeared inKrydserenfor March 5, 1853.*

    In 1870 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson published an appreciative biographical sketch of Meidell inNorsk Folkeblad, and in the issue for January 15 he reprinted “Oleana,” prefacing it with the following remarks about Meidell’s ballads:

    Let us reprint one of these ballads, which became...

  31. Massachusetts Emigrant Song (pp. 199-204)

    On September 19, 1853, a small group of Norwegians from Boston held an outing at which they organized an emigrant aid society. Its object was to help Norwegian newcomers to get work. At this meeting the following song, composed in honor of the occasion, was sung. It was printed in the Madison, Wisconsin,Emigranten, and a few months later, on January 6, 1854, inChristiania-Posten. The melody is that of “Hvor herligt er mit Fødeland.”

    En Broderskare her vi staa,

    Langt borte vel fra Fødelandet;

    Men Tanken altid vemodsblandet

    Henile til vort Norge maa:

    Der først vi Dagens Lys saa...

  32. The Narrative of a Disillusioned Emigrant (pp. 205-225)

    In 1853 there was published in Christiania a little book by Nikolai Ramm Østgaard entitled “The Returned Emigrant from America.” In it is a poem of thirty-six verses, written in dialect, setting forth in the first person the story of a Norwegian emigrant from Østerdalen. It is the lament of a thoroughly disillusioned man, a tale of high hopes blasted, of disappointment, suffering, losses, and sorrow culminating in complete discouragement and return to Norway, where the returned emigrant sadly confesses that “to learn to appreciate Norway, you must try other countries first.” If there runs through the narrative a strain...

  33. The Emigrant’s Lament (pp. 226-229)

    Many are the writings that express the emigrant’s longing for the familiar scenes of his childhood. The longing was genuine; the affection abiding. In Norway the theme was seized upon by writers who opposed emigration. Verner, the author of “The Emigrant’s Lament,” was one of these; and his poem was a tract against emigration. In his better known “Fortune,” published inMorgenbladetfor July 15, 1855, he vigorously urges his countrymen not to emigrate:

    Seek not in a distant land an imaginary, uncertain fortune! Don’t you suppose that there are sorrows there no less than at home? Do you think...

  34. On the Return of a “Californian” (pp. 230-234)

    The return of an “America traveler” to Norway was an important event to any country community in the earlier period of emigration. And when the traveler was one who had actually been to the gold fields of California and could tell of success as a miner, it is little wonder that his return brought an outburst of song.

    This poem was printed in 1856* in Levanger, a community from which, it will be recalled, were recruited many of the California emigrants who sailed from Trondhjem in 1850. One of these Levanger gold hunters was Theodor S. Støp. On January 18,...

  35. A Norseman’s Nostalgia (pp. 235-238)

    This expression of a Northman’s affection for the land of his birth came from a man who in 1847 had emigrated to Texas, where Johan R. Reiersen had established a Norwegian settlement in 1845. Reiersen, the belligerent editor ofChristianssandsposten, had long believed that Norwegians should organize their colonization projects in such a way that Norwegian culture would be kept alive among the emigrants. He thought of Brazil, Chile, and Australia, but in 1843 he made a journey to America to investigate conditions there on behalf of a small group of prospective emigrants. He went by way of Havre and...

  36. The Skeleton at the Party (pp. 239-241)

    These verses reflect the strong feelings of the common people about the economic position of the bureaucracy in a period of hard times. Such criticisms crop up again and again in letters, newspaper discussions of the causes of emigration, and elsewhere. Skov’s lines appeared inNordre Trondhjems Amtstidende, May 1, 1857.

    Nylig en Aften blandt Venner jeg sad,

    hørte paa Pigernes Sang;

    Alle vi vare saa muntre og glad’;

    Tiden os faldt ikke lang.

    One evening not long since I was sitting with my friends listening to the singing of the girls. We were jovial and merry and free from...

  37. A Painting by Tidemand (pp. 242-245)

    As Tidemand’s portrayal of the arrival of an “America letter” in a Norwegianbonde’shome inspired Schwach’s “Letter from America,” so his picture of the farewell scene, when a son and his family are about to begin the American journey, inspired these verses by P. A. Jensen (1812–1867), a well-known clergyman and poet. They were published inSkilling-Magazin(Christiania) for January 2, 1858.

    Er du saa fattigt nu, vort Land,

    Vor gamle Fosterjord,

    At dine Sønner flye din Strand

    Og bygge fjernt fra Nord?

    Er Bjælkehytten dem for trang?

    Er Arnens Lue slukt?

    Og kan en Moders Graad engang...

  38. They Go Aboard (pp. 246-254)

    Bewilderment over the forces that caused the emigrant to break the old ties with his native land is voiced in this poem by Christian Olsen (1821–1886), a prolific writer of occasional verse. Are not Norway’s “skies still blue, her meadows flower-bedecked, her fields golden”? The poet believes that the “foundations of society are sound” and that “every citizen lives his life in peace.” Why then do people emigrate?

    The verses were originally published in the ChristianiaMorgenbladetfor April 30, 1861, under the pseudonym of “Rungolf,” and were later included in Olsen’s collectionKvœldstunder(Christiania, 1862).

    Och menniskan, ej...

  39. A Pestilence Is Loose in the Mountains (pp. 255-257)

    The same painting that had moved P. A. Jensen to write his “Emigration” in 1858 also inspired three years later these verses by Andreas Munch (1811–1884). Like Wergeland in an earlier period, Munch looked upon emigration as a dangerous disease. The poem is included in hisNyeste Digte(Christiania, 1861).

    Der gaar en Farsot over Norges Fjelde

    Ind til den fjerneste, mest skjulte Dal—

    Den griber Kvinde, Mand med sælsom Vælde

    Og fører Folket bort i Tusindtal,

    Den unge Slægt fra Hjem og Arne flytter—

    De Gamle sørge i forladte Hytter.

    A pestilence is loose in the mountains of...

  40. Norway: A Retrospect (pp. 258-263)

    This rhymed letter was composed by an emigrant who left Norway in 1857. It was published in Madison, Wisconsin, in the Norwegian-American newspaperEmigrantenfor January 21, 1861. The author explained in a note accompanying his verses that before leaving Norway he had promised many of his friends that he would later write to them of his views on emigration to America. The melody is that of “Naar favnlang Istap fra Taget hænger.”

    Paa Fantasiens de lette Vinger

    Min Aand sig ofte til Norge svinger,

    Hvor Barndomsminderne er nedlagt,

    Did hen min Tanke er ofte bragt.

    Did hen min Tanke...

  41. Stay in the Country (pp. 264-268)
    P. A. JENSEN

    “So shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed;” so goes the third verse of the Thirty-Seventh Psalm in the Authorized Version. The Norwegian version makes no such promise. Following the imperative of the original Hebrew, the passage reads, “Stay in the country and support yourself honestly.” It was this stern imperative that the Reverend P. A. Jensen placed at the head of the versified sermon which he preached about emigration in 1864.*

    Twenty-seven years earlier, in 1837, the Bishop of Bergen, Jacob Neumann, had used the same passage as the text of a pastoral letter,...

  42. Don’t Sit Here at Home (pp. 269-277)

    In the light of Vinje’s own history his poem opening with the words “I am going to emigrate. Come along with me” has more than an intrinsic interest. Norway came very near losing to America the genius of Aasmund O. Vinje. Born in 1818 of a family of cotters in Upper Telemarken, he knew at first hand the conditions that produced an epidemic of “America fever” in that region when he was a young man. He knew the motives of the emigrant. He himself had wanted to emigrate with the Reverend J. W. C. Dietrichson in the early forties, his...

  43. We Leave Our Native Home and Heath (pp. 278-281)

    Both as politician and as publicist, Søren Jaabæk (1814–1894) was a spokesman for his own class, thebønder. He was a leader in the struggle to curtail the privileges of the bureaucracy. He stood for free trade, governmental economy, general suffrage, and unqualified religious freedom. He was a member of the Norwegian parliament for nearly half a century; he organized the society known as the Friends of the Bonde; he edited its official organ,Folketidende; he wrote a history of England; he published a volume of poetry. He was a pronounced democrat, and he looked upon the republican form...

  44. Wilderness of Waters (pp. 282-287)

    In the writings of Jonas Lie one finds masterly descriptions of Norwegian home life and of the men who go down to the sea in ships. In view of this double interest, it is natural that Lie should have devoted some attention to the emigrant. In the poem here reprinted and translated the scene is an emigrant ship that has sailed out into the “wilderness of waters”; and the subject is the emigrant’s parting from his home. As early as 1859 Lie wrote a poem on “The Longing of the Emigrant,” published inIllustreret Nyhedsbladfor March 13, 1859. The...

  45. The Emigrant’s Sweetheart (pp. 288-290)

    Ak! her paa Havet i Nattens Stund

    Jeg sov og drømte mig kyss’t paa Mund!

    Jeg saa min Elskte paa Havet vandre,

    Som øde skiller os fra hverandre;

    Jeg saa min sorgfulde, blege Brud

    Henover slumrende Stormes Leje

    Saa bange vandre. Ad Drømmens Veje

    Min Elskte længtende kom hidud.

    As I lay here, far out at sea, sleeping, I dreamed that some one kissed me. I saw my beloved walking upon the waters that sunder us, my sorrowing bride, pale and terrified, walking the path of the slumbering storms. On the way of dreams with longing heart she came to...

  46. Farewell to the Valley of Glommen (pp. 291-295)

    If Lie understood the pain of an emigrant lover’s parting, he understood equally well the melancholy with which the emigrant said goodbye to valley and stream and home. This farewell to the river and valley of Glommen could have been written only by one who was deeply moved by the beauty and sternness of the land and who understood the people who lived there. It may be found in Lie’sDigte(Copenhagen, 1889).

    Farvel da Glommen, Du gamle Valplads,

    hvor jeg har stridt nu i mange Aar

    og sect segne saa mangen Kjæmper

    og modigt bæres saa mangt er Saar!...

  47. An Emigrant Ship Leaving Christiania (pp. 296-300)

    In 1868 a writer forVerdens Gangvisited an emigrant ship in Christiania shortly before its departure. “Unfortunate as is, in many respects, this great emigration, one can no longer believe that it is only fools or adventurers who go,” he wrote on April 29, 1868, “Most of the emigrants know both what they are leaving and what difficulties they face in seeking a new home, but it is need that drives them, and that breaks all laws.”

    The reporter went down to the wharf and boarded the ship. Few emigrants were on the upper deck; he found most of...

  48. Farewell to Folk and Parish (pp. 301-308)

    In the autumn of 1928 the compiler asked a man from Telemarken if he recalled any of the emigrant songs of the early period, and he responded by reciting these verses by Jørund Telnes, beginning “And now farewell to all my folk and parish,” which he had heard sung many a time in Telemarken. Telnes, who was born in Seljord in 1845 and died in 1892, included this poem in a collection of songs and sketches entitledRupe-Ber, published at Hamar in 1878. Few songs express more feelingly the emigrant’s love of home and the sadness with which he said...

  49. I Don’t Wonder You’re Going: A Ballad from Numedal (pp. 309-314)

    This song, composed about 1870, is said to have been much sung in Flesberg and in other districts of Numedal. The text was published inDølaminnein 1921 by Hr. Tor Flatin, who explains that it was written as a farewell to Herleik’s daughter, Josefine Dorthea, upon her emigration to America. It is interesting to note that the initial letters of the stanzas spell “Josefine Dorthea.”

    Jeg skriver en sang, du min datter saa kjær,

    læg mærke til ordene jeg siger her;

    advarsler jeg giver saa godt som jeg kan,

    da du skal bortreise til fremmede land.

    Dear daughter, now...

  50. Emigrant Scenes at Bergen (pp. 315-324)

    This interesting song, which was printed in Bergen as a four-page leaflet, is preserved in the ballad collection of the Public Library in Bergen. It gives a picture of emigration from the west of Norway and its principal port at Bergen. To Bergen came emigrants from Hallingdal, Voss, and elsewhere, and to Bergen the song-writer follows them. He rows down to the harbor, sees the crowded vessels there, and meets emigrants by the hundreds as they stroll about the streets of the old city. He boards the emigrant ship and gives a vivid description of the scenes that meet his...

  51. What Good Are Gold and Money? (pp. 325-328)

    Ole Knudsen Trovatten, a native of upper Telemarken, emigrated to America in 1840 and settled first at Muskego and later in the noted Koshkonong colony in Wisconsin. He played a role of some importance in early Norwegian emigration by reason of the influential “America letters” he wrote to friends and acquaintances at home. In these letters he pictured conditions in the United States very favorably and urged people to emigrate. “Fertile lands,” he pointed out, “lie uncultivated in America,” and “a much better way of life is open to every honorable citizen” in the New World than in Norway. Asked...

  52. The Norwegian Maiden in America (pp. 329-332)

    These verses are but one more treatment of the oft-repeated theme of homesickness. They were printed in Trondhjem in an undated four-page leaflet entitledTo smukke Viser, a copy of which is in the library of the Scientific Society at Trondhjem. They are to be sung to the melody “Sinclarvisen.”

    Ak, var jeg en Stund ved den hjemlige Vraa,

    Deroppe blandt Norriges Fjelde,

    Hvor mine Forældre og Sødskende gaa,

    Der Barndomsminderne vælde.

    Oh, could I return once more to that spot in the mountains of Norway where my father and mother, brothers and sisters live, and the memories of childhood...

  53. Agents and Runners (pp. 333-336)

    This curious ballad, which bears no date but which is clearly late, throws light on the sharp competition between steamship companies for the business of transporting emigrants to America. It is included in the Albrechtson Ballad Collection (vol 11, no. 16, pp. 3–4) in the University Library at Oslo.

    Nu er der oprunden en lykkelig Tid;

    Nu Fattigfolk slipper al Møie og Slid,

    Thi hvem som vil reise, han melder sig hos

    Agenter og Rønnere ta’r imod os.

    Kom lad os dra’

    Til Amerika,

    Der tjener man Penge, der lever man bra’.

    This is certainly a happy time for...

  54. Work Is No Slavery: An Emigrant Farewell (pp. 337-340)

    This undated song was published in leaflet form at Trondhjem with no other signature than “K. E.” A copy is preserved in the library of the Scientific Society at Trondhjem. The melody is the familiar “Vort Land, vort Land.”

    Farvel, Farvel, mit Fædreland,

    Du dyre Moderjord!

    I Verden findes intet Land,

    Nej, ingen Dal og Fjeld og Strand,

    Jeg elsker meer end dig, min Mor,

    Du gamle, frie Nor!

    Farewell to thee, my native land, beloved native soil! In all the world is no country, no valley, mountain, strand that I love more than thee, thou ancient northern home of...

  55. You Skimped a Bit: A Farewell (pp. 341-343)

    The five verses here printed are taken from a little pamphlet by Ole Svendsen entitledSolør og Solørfolket, published in Kongsvinger in 1926. Svendsen speaks of it as “an old emigrant ballad,” but he does not give its authorship or date.

    Farvel du moder Norge, nu reiser jeg fra dig

    og sier dig sȧ mange takk, fordi du fostret mig.

    Du blev for knapp med kosten imot din arbeidsflokk,

    men dine lærde sønner du giver mer enn nok.

    Farewell, mother Norway, I am going away; but I bring you my thanks for having nursed me and reared me thus far....

  56. How Things Have Gone (pp. 344-350)

    In form this song, the story of an immigrant farmer told in the first person, reminds one of the American ballads of the lumberjack and the cowboy.

    The text was taken down by a traveler, A. Sollid, from a Minnesota farmer in 1893. It was published at Skien in 1896, in Sollid’sEn Amerikatur: Reiseerindringer, an account of his own journeys and a description of conditions in America.

    Kommer Normænd fraa Hauga og Dala,

    Som hev Norge og norske Folk kjær.

    Lat os setja os ned, med me tala

    Um, korleids dæ hev gjenget os her.

    O come, all ye...

You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in to your personal account or through your institution.