Description : This volume offers Burns's work as it was first encountered by contemporary readers, presenting the texts in the contexts in which they were originally published. It includes the whole of Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786), a generous selection of songs with full scores, comprehensive notes, some important letters and a glossary.
Description : By far the largest number of the Poems and Songs have as their subject patriotism in the broadest sense, a theme at once simple and complex. It is in them that the skald and chieftain so typically blend in one. Of this group the influence has been widest and deepest. In his oration at the unveiling of the statue of Wergeland in Christiania, Björnson spoke of him and of Norway's constitution as growing up together; with reference to this it has been maintained that we have still greater right to say that Björnson and Norway's full freedom and independence grew up together. The truth of the statement is very largely due to Björnson's patriotic poems. Through them the poet-prophet interpreted for his nation the historic past and the evolving present, and forecast the future. Simplifying the meaning of life, he accomplished the mission which he himself made the ideal of The Poet, and became for his own people the liberalizing teacher and molder, leading them to freedom in thought and action, in social and political life. Of this large and seemingly complex group of patriotic lyrics,—whether they be on its history, or on contemporaneous events and deeds of individuals with political significance; or on men, both known and unknown to fame, who had made and were making Norway great; or on historical, political, and other national festivals; or on the country, its land and sea and fjords and forests and fields and cities, in aspects more genial or more stern, —whether they be poems of the individual or social and choral songs, manorial poems or ballads or lyrical romances, or descriptions of Norway's scenery,—the unifying simple theme is Norway to be loved and labored for. Not a single poem is, however, merely descriptive of external nature. Björnson's relation to nature is indeed more intimate than that of any other Norwegian writer of his time, but here also he is epic and dramatic rather than subjectively lyrical. He sees and hears through what is external, and his feeling for and with nature is but a profounder looking into the soul of his nation or the inner life of other human beings. For him Norway's scenery is filled with the glory of the nation's past, the promise of its future, or the needs of the present. The poems that contain nature descriptions are primarily patriotic. In the national hymn Yes, We Love, it is the nation, its history and its future, which with the land towers as a whole before his vision; in Romsdal the scenery frames the people, their character and life. More personal poems, as To Molde or A Meeting, are not merely descriptive; in the former childhood's memories and the love of friends fill the scene, while in the latter the freshly and tenderly drawn snow-landscape is but the setting for a vivid picture of a deceased friend. The contents of this volume befit the verse-form, as if each were made by and for the other. The subjects are simple, large, weighty; the form is compact, strong, suggestive. Björnson is distinctly not subjectively lyrical, but has a place in the first rank "as a choral lyric poet and as an epic lyric poet." (Collin.) Georg Brandes wrote of him many years ago: "In few [fields] has he put forth anything so individual, unforgettable, imperishable, as in the lyric field."