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Poetry of Direct Personal Experience
Our Collection of Aviation and Military Poetry

17 Mai 1940
Nordahl Grieg

I dag står flaggstangen naken
blant Eidsvolls grønnende trær.
Men nettopp i denne timen
vet vi hva frihet er.
Der stiger en sang over landet,
seirende i sitt språk,
skjønt hvisket med lukkede leber
under de fremmedes åk.

Today the flagpole is naked
among Eidsvoll's green trees.
But just in this hour
we know what freedom is.
A song rises over the land,
victorious in his language,
though whispered with closed lips
under the yoke of strangers.


Der fødtes i oss en visshet,
frihet og liv er ett,
så enkelt, så uundværlig
som menneskets åndedrett.
Vi følte da treldommen truet
at lungene gispet i nød
som i en sunken u-båt;
vi vil ikke dø slik død.

A certainty was born in us,
freedom and life are one,
so simple, so indispensable
as human respiration.
We then felt the bondage threatened
that the lungs gasped in distress
as in a sunken submarine;
we will not die such death.


Verre enn brennende byer
er den krig som ingen kan se
som legger et giftig slimslør
på bjørker og jord og sne.
Med angiverangst og terror
besmittet de våre hjem.
Vi hadde andre drømmer
og vi kan ikke glemme dem.

Worse than burning cities
is the war that no one can see
which lays a toxic slime veil
on birches and soil and snow.
With anxiety and terror
they defiled our homes.
We had other dreams
and we can not forget them.


Langsomt ble landet vårt eget,
med grøde av hav og jord,
og slitet skapte en ømhet
en svakhet for liv som gror.
Vi fulgte ikke med tiden,
vi bygde på fred, som i tross,
og de hvis dåd er ruiner
har grunn til å håne oss.

Slowly our country became our own,
with crops of sea and land,
and the toil created a tenderness
a weakness for life that grows.
We did not keep up with the times,
we built on peace, which in spite of,
and those whose deeds are ruins
have reason to mock us.


Nå slåss vi for rett til å puste
vi vet det må demre en dag
da nordmenn forenes i samme
befriede åndedrag.
Vi skiltes fra våre sydpå,
fra bleke utslitte menn.
Til dere er gitt et løfte:
at vi skal komme igjen.

Now we are fighting for the right to breathe
we know it must dawn one day
when Norwegians unite in the same
liberated breath.
We parted from our south,
from pale worn men.
To you is given a pledge:
that we will come again.


Her skal vi minnes de døde
som ga sitt liv for vår fred,
soldaten i blod på sneen,
sjømannen som gikk ned.
Vi er så få her i landet,
hver falden er bror og ven.
Vi har de døde med oss
den dag vi kommer igjen.

Here we are to remember the dead
who gave his life for our peace,
the soldier in blood on the snow,
the sailor who went down.
We are so few in this country,
each fallen is brother and friend.
We have the dead with us
The day we come again.

'17 May 1940' is a national patriotic poem written by Nordahl Grieg (shown right, above) in the May days of 1940. It is known as 'Today the flagpole stands naked…' after the first line of the poem. The poem became known when the author himself read it over the radio on NRK's radio station in Tromsø on National Day. At that time, Tromsø radio was the only free radio station in Norway. The poem gained great attitude-creating importance in the summer of 1940.

Grieg had come to Tromsø together with the gold reserves which he helped to get past the enemy in southern Norway. The poem was written in the cabin of one of the fishing boats that transported large parts of Norges Bank's gold holdings from Oslo via Åndalsnes and Frøya to Tromsø. Grieg read the poem for the first time on the evening of May 16, 1940 for fishing skipper Karl Reppe and his sons to hear their opinion of the poem.

The poem was printed in the collection of poems Friheten, which was first published in Reykjavík in 1943. It was translated into English by Professor Henrietta Koren Naeseth at Augustana College, and was given the title 'We Shall Come Again'.

norwegian glag

norwegian fjords

norwegian spitfire

Nordahl Greig

SY 2022-03-13

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 • Last Modified: 12 April 2022, 16:39