We own the Forests

Poem by Hans Børli Tanslated from Norwegian by: Louis muinzer 1952.

I have never owned a tree.

None of my people

have ever owned a tree –

though my family’s life-path winds

over centuries’ blue heights of forest.

Forest in storm, forest in calm –

forest, forest, forest,

through all the years.

My people were always a poor people.


Children of life’s hard, iro-frost nights .

Strangers own the trees, and the soil,

the stone-heaped cleared

by the light of the moon’s lamp.

Strangers with smooth faces

and pretty hands

and their car always waiting outside the door.

None of my people have ever owned a tree.

And yet we own the forests by our bloods red right.

Rich man, you with the car and the bank book

and stock in Borregaard timber company;

you can buy a thousand acres more,

but you can’t buy the sunset,

or the whisper of the wind,

or the joy of walking homeward,

when the heather blooms along the path –

No, we own the forests,

the way a child owns its mother.

A poem shared by one of my recent fellow course students from Norway

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Till next time


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