The Danes’ true song
The Danes’ true song is a young blond maiden
that hums contented in Denmark’s land,
a child is she of the sea-blue kingdom
where wave hears wave as they meet its strand.
The Danes’ true song, when it’s deepest ringing,
has sounds of bells, sword and shield in store;
the strains of sagas towards us winging
that tell of Denmark in days of yore.
All Zealand’s charm and all Jutland’s powers,
that twain refrain of both mild and hard
must be encompassed to tell what’s ours,
to tell how we ourselves would regard.
As each time changes, each custom mellows,
but art and struggle for steel still call:
the soul is tempered by altar bellows
that fan the flames from our Bjarkamál.
So Denmark, sing, let the heart speak freely!
Its heartfelt language is verse and song,
from nightingales we can learn to hear you,
from larks whose trills are both loud and long.
The wind’s wild ballad breaks loose its tether,
the solemn lay of the shore is sung;
from city pavement and moorland heather
our song is rising, both glad and young.
Kai Hoffmann 1874-1949 (text 1924)
Carl Nielsen 1865-1931 (music 1926)