There lived a remarkably grizzled man
on the uttermost, barren isle.
He never harmed, in the wide world’s span,
a soul by deceit or by guile;
His eyes, though, sometimes would blaze and fret,
most when a storm was nigh,-
and then people sensed he was troubled yet
and then there were few
that dared to get close to Terje Vigen
Henrik Ibsen (1828 – 1906)
Der bode en underlig gråsprængt en på den yderste nøgne ø; –
han gjorde visst intet menneske mén hverken på land eller sjø;
dog stundom gnistred hans øjne stygt, –
helst mod uroligt vejr, –
og da mente folk, at han var forrykt, og da var der få,
som uden frykt kom Terje Vigen nær.
Terje Vigen is an epic poem written by Henrik Ibsen, published in 1862. Much of the story and setting is from the area around the town of Grimstad in southern Norway where Ibsen lived for a few years in his youth. It describes the dramatic saga of Terje, who, in 1809, tried to run the English blockade of Norway’s southern coast in a small rowboat in a desperate attempt to smuggle food from Denmark back to his starving wife and daughter. He was captured and imprisoned on an English prison hulk at Fjære and released in 1814 after the Napoleonic Wars were over, only to find that his family had died.