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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 Cloister in the South
By Björnstjerne Björnson (1832–1910)
 
From ‘Arnljot Gelline’

Translation of William Morton Payne

“WHO would enter so late the cloister in?”
  “A maid forlorn from the land of snow.”
“What sorrow is thine, and what thy sin?”
  “The deepest sorrow the heart can know.
          I have nothing done,        5
            Yet must still endeavor,
          Though my strength is none,
            To wander ever.
    Let me in, to seek for my pain surcease;—
            I can find no peace.”        10
 
“From what far-off land hast thou taken flight?”
  “From the land of the North, a weary way.”
“What stayed thy feet at our gate this night?”
  “The chant of the nuns, for I heard them pray,
          And the song gave peace        15
            To my soul, and blessed me;
          It offered release
            From the grief that oppressed me.
    Let me in, so if peace to give be thine,
            I may make it mine.”        20
 
“Name me the grief that thy life hath crossed.”
  “Rest may I never, never know.”
“Thy father, thy lover, thou hast then lost?”
  “I lost them both at a single blow,
          And all I held dear        25
            In my deepest affection,
          Ay, all that was near
            To my heart’s recollection.
    Let me in, I am failing, I beg, I implore,
            I can bear no more.”        30
 
“How was it that thou thy father lost?”
  “He was slain, and I saw the deed.”
“How was it that thou thy lover lost?”
  “My father he slew, and I saw the deed.
          I wept so bitterly        35
            When he roughly would woo me,
          He at last set me free,
            And forbore to pursue me.
    Let me in, for the horror my soul doth fill
            That I love him still.”        40
 
CHORUS OF NUNS WITHIN THE CHURCH
        Come child, come bride,
        To God’s own side.
        From grief find rest
        On Jesus’ breast.
        Rest thy burden of sorrow        45
          On Horeb’s height;
        Like the lark, with to-morrow
          Shall thy soul take flight.
 
        Here stilled is all yearning,
        No passion returning,        50
        No terror come near thee
        Where the Saviour can hear thee!
        For He, if in need be
          Thy storm-beaten soul,
        Though it bruised as a reed be,        55
          Shall raise it up whole.
 
 
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