Sunday Music Poem and Videos: Edvard Grieg: An Artist in the North

Going into Fall, I think of shorter days, colder weather, and Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907). Since this poem mentions the trolls and the mountain king, I've included a video of that and several other of Grieg's most famous tunes, including Soveig's Song (with a translation).

This poem about Grieg captures the feeling of isolation and silence which served as his muse.

An Artist in the North

By Tomas Tranströmer translated by May Swenson.
From the collection Music's Spelledited by Emily Fragos.

I, Edvard Grieg, moved free among men.
I joked a lot, read the papers, often on tour.
I conducted the orchestra.
The auditorium and its lights shuddered with each
     triumph like a train ferry pushing in to dock.

I have holed myself up here to butt heads with silence.
My work hut is small.
The grand piano fits as rubbing-tight in here as a
     swallow under a roof shingle.

The steep and lovely mountain slopes are silent most
     of the time.
There is no path
But there is a wicket that sometimes opens,
and a peculiar light leaks in directly from the trolls.


And hammer blows in the mountain came
came on spring night into our room
disguised as heartbeats.

The year before I die I shall send out four hymns
     to track down God.
But it begins here.
A song about that which is near.

That which is near.

Battlegrounds within us
where we Bones of the Dead
Fight to come alive.

English translation of words to Solveig's Song. Translated by Adam Taylor. (Original Norwegian text by Henrik Ibsen. From Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt".)

The winter may go, and the spring disappear,
Next summer, too, may fade, and the whole long year,
But you will be returning, in truth, I know,
And I will wait for you as I promised long ago.

May God guide and keep you, wherever you may go,
Upon you His blessing and mercy bestow.
And here I will await you till you are here;
And if you are in Heaven, I'll meet you there.

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