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This poem is one of the poems that has made the biggest impact on me as a reader. I heard it first when I was 16 or 17, my teacher played an old tape of the poet reading the poem. To me it was quite an experience. The poem was written by Arnulf Øverland in 1936, published in 37, some years before the outbreak of World War Two. Further down you'll find an English translation by Lars-Thoralf Storstrand. It does not have the direct and simple language in it's English version, it seems less honest and bone-shaking and doesn't strike as hard, yet I want to share it. I've been thinking about the poem now as the rule of Daesh in Syria and Iraq is comparable in cruelty to the Nazis, even if Nazism was somewhat cleaner shaved. 


Du må ikke sove 


Jeg våknet en natt av en underlig drøm,
det var som en stemme talte til mig,
fjern som en underjordisk strøm -
og jeg reiste mig op: Hvad er det du vil mig?


- Du må ikke sove! Du må ikke sove!
Du må ikke tro, at du bare har drømt!
Igår blev jeg dømt.
I natt har de reist skafottet i gården.
De henter mig klokken fem imorgen!


Hele kjelleren her er full,
og alle kaserner har kjeller ved kjeller.
Vi ligger og venter i stenkolde celler,
vi ligger og råtner i mørke hull!


Vi vet ikke selv, hvad vi ligger og venter,
og hvem der kan bli den neste, de henter.
Vi stønner, vi skriker - men kan dere høre?
Kan dere absolutt ingenting gjøre?


Ingen får se oss.
Ingen får vite, hvad der skal skje oss.
Ennu mer:
Ingen kan tro, hvad her daglig skjer!


Du mener, det kan ikke være sant,
så onde kan ikke mennesker være.
Der fins da vel skikkelig folk iblandt?
Bror, du har ennu meget å lære!


Man sa: Du skal gi ditt liv, om det kreves.
Og nu har vi gitt det - forgjeves, forgjeves!
Verden har glemt oss! Vi er bedratt!
Du må ikke sove mer i natt!


Du må ikke gå til ditt kjøpmannskap
og tenke på hvad der gir vinning og tap!
Du må ikke skylde på aker og fe
og at du har mer enn nok med det!


Du må ikke sitte trygt i ditt hjem
og si: Det er sørgelig, stakkars dem!
Du må ikke tåle så inderlig vel
den urett som ikke rammer dig selv!

Jeg roper med siste pust av min stemme:
Du har ikke lov til å gå der og glemme!


Tilgi dem ikke; de vet hvad de gjør!
De puster på hatets og ondskapens glør!
De liker å drepe, de frydes ved jammer,
de ønsker å se vår verden i flammer!
De ønsker å drukne oss alle i blod!
Tror du det ikke? Du vet det jo!


Du vet jo, at skolebarn er soldater,
som stimer med sang over torv og gater,
og opglødd av mødrenes fromme svig,
vil verge sitt land og vil gå i krig!


Du kjenner det nedrige folkebedrag
med heltemot og med tro og ære -
du vet, at en helt, det vil barnet være,
du vet, han vil vifte med sabel og flag!


Og så skal han ut i en skur av stål
og henge igjen i en piggtrådsvase
og råtne for Hitlers ariske rase!
Du vet, det er menneskets mening og mål!


Jeg skjønte det ikke. Nu er det for sent.
Min dom er rettferdig. Min straff er fortjent.
jeg trodde på fremgang, jeg trodde på fred,
på arbeid, på samhold, på kjærlighet!
Men den som ikke vil dø i en flokk
får prøve alene, på bøddelens blokk!


Jeg roper i mørket - å, kunde du høre!
Der er en eneste ting å gjøre:
Verg dig, mens du har frie hender!
Frels dine barn! Europa brenner!



Jeg skaket av frost. Jeg fikk på mig klær.
Ute var glitrende stjernevær.
Bare en ulmende stripe i øst
varslet det samme som drømmens røst:


Dagen bakenom jordens rand
steg med et skjær av blod og brand,
steg med en angst så åndeløs,
at det var som om selve stjernene frøs!


Jeg tenkte: Nu er det noget som hender. -
Vår tid er forbi - Europa brenner!


Arnulf Øverland
-1937-


Dare not to sleep! 

I was awakened one morning, by the quaintest of dreams 
‘twas like a voice, spoken to me 
It sounded afar - like an underground stream, 
I rose and said: Why do you call me? 

Dare not to slumber! Dare not to sleep! 
Dare not believe, it was merely a dream! 
Yore I was judged. 
The gallows were built in the court this evening, 
They’ll come for me — 5’ in the morning 

This dungeon is teeming, 
And barracks stand dungeon by dungeon 
we lie here, awaiting, in cold cells of stone, 
We lie here, we rot, in these murky holes. 

We know not ourselves, what does lie ahead 
Who will be the next one they'll reach for. 
We moan and we shriek: But do you take heed? 
Is there none among you who’ll hearken? 

No one can see us, 
None know what befalls us. 
Yet more: 
None will believe - what the day will bring us! 

And then You defy: This dare not be true! 
That men can be utterly evil. 
There has to be some one with merits pure 
Oh, brother, you still have a great deal to learn 

They said: You will give your life, if commanded 
We’ve given it now, for naught it was handed 
The world has forgotten, we’ve all been deceived 
Dare not to sleep in this hour - this eve. 

You oughtn’t go to your business hence, 
Or think: What’s your loss – or what is your gain? 
You oughtn’t attribute your fields and your kine, 
Nor say you’ve enough - with all that is thine. 

You oughn’t abide, sitting calm in your home 
Saying: Dismal it is, poor they are, and alone 
You cannot permit it! You dare not, at all. 
Accepting that outrage on all else may fall! 
I cry with the final gasps of my breath: 
You dare not repose, nor stand and forget 

Pardon them not - they know what they do! 
They breathe on hate-glows, and evil pursue, 
They fancy to slay, they revel with cries, 
Their desire is to gloat, when our world is at fire! 
In blood they are yearning to drown one and all! 
Don’t you believe it? You’ve heard the call! 

You know how infants will soldiers remain, 
While dashing through streets, fields, chanting ‘bout pain 
Aroused by their mothers‘ assurance of glory 
They’ll shelter their land - and they’ll never worry 

You know the fatality of the lies, 
that glory and faith and honor abides 
You discern the dauntless dreams of a child, 
A saber, a banner, he’ll flaunt them so wild, 

And then they’ll leave home for a rainfall of steel, 
‘Till last they hang ragged on barbed wire will, 
Decaying for Hitler's Aryan call, 
That is what a man’s for - after all… 

I couldn’t imagine – too late now it is 
My sentence is just: The verdict's no miss 
I believed in prosperity, dreamt about peace 
In labor and fellowship; love’s fragrant kiss 
Yet those who don’t die on the battlefield, 
Their heads for the axeman, will certainly yield 

I cry in the gloom - if only you’d knew 
There is but one thing - befitting to do 
Defend yourself, while your hands are still yearning, 
Protect your offspring - Europe is burning. 

*** 

I shook from the chill. To dress, up I rose 
Without stars were shining, so far, yet so close 
‘twere simply a brilliant ray in the east, 
Admonishing warning from the dream that just ceased 

The day that soared up from earths furthermost strand 
Augmenting with blood — and with firebrand 
It grew with terror - like a breath that was lost 
It seemed like the starlight - was slain by the frost. 

I weighed: Something is imminent - and it’s dire 
Our era is over — Europe’s on fire! 

Arnulf Øverland, «Den Røde Front», Oslo 1937.
Translated by Lars-Toralf Storstrand.




The poem is essentially about how the world cannot sit idly by and do nothing, as Europe is burning in a pre-WW2 world. Concentration camps seems incomparably cruel in our history, but certainly the support IS is getting from local Sunnis in Iraq and Syria and the brutality of their ways seems more than comparable to the atmosphere in nazi-Germany in the 30s, which Arnulf is warning about. This is some of this Wahhabi movement's cruelty so far:

Major recent terror attacks: 129 people died in Paris. 224 people died in the Russian plane crash. 86 in the peace rally in Ankara. 43 in Lebanon. 

Sex slaves: More than 7000 Yazidi women and children has been taken as sex slaves according to UN. Also a few thousand Christians. According to UN Reports the price list for IS sex slaves range from 40 to 160 US-Dollars. The younger the slave the more expensive. Girls and boys between the age 1–9 are referred to as the most expensive.

Executions for refusing conversion: In Sinjar 500-2000 Yazidis civilians were killed for refusing conversion, Quiniyeh 70–90 Yazidis killed, Hardan 60 Yazidis killed, Ramadi Jabal 60–70 Yazidis killed, Dhola 50 Yazidis killed, Khana Sor 100 Yazidis killed, Hardan 250–300 Yazidis killed, al-Shimal dozens of Yazidis killed, Khocho 400 Yazidis killed and 1,000 abducted, Jadala 14 Yadizis killed, Beshir 700 Shia Turkmen killed, Mosul 670 Shia inmates of the Badush prison killed, and in Tal Afar prison 200 Yazidis killed, 150 Assyrian Christians from villages near Tal Tamr. 150 Kurdish boys from Kobani aged 14–16 were abducted and subjected to torture and abuse. 

Du må ikke sitte trygt i ditt hjem
og si: Det er sørgelig, stakkars dem!
Du må ikke tåle så inderlig vel
den urett som ikke rammer dig selv!

You must not sit safe in your home
saying; dismal it is, poor they are!
You must not endure so incredibly well
the unjust that does not befall 
yourself!




Keep-calm-and-support-peshmerga-1 by Nabium


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November 17, 2015
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