Letter, 9.7.1925, from Eivind Berggrav
Object reference: RA 318B25
Sender / Author: Eivind Berggrav
Recipient: Roald Amundsen
[Botsfengselet was then Norway’s national prison for long-term inmates. Sadly, the author of the poem remains unidentified]
Oslo 9 juli 1925
When I went into one of the cells last Monday, I found the enclosed poem. The prisoner had heard the engine drone on Sunday and seen some of the machines [aircraft] and had guessed who was coming. From the pulpit here, I have kept the prisoners informed the whole time, right from the preparations. On Sunday 21 June I recounted your first telegram and the account of the reception at Kings Bay. There were few dry eyes. I assure you that the boys here have been in sheer suspense for you. And yesterday I held an extra meeting for you all and read your entire 5000 words (it took over 3 quarters of an hour). Afterwards, I read this poem from the prisoner and said I would send it to Roald himself. They clapped then so that the church shook.
Respectful greetings and thanks from the prison chaplain for blessed help in the work of encouragement.
Eivind Berggrav. [by hand]
[Handwritten in Norwegian]
Between 9-1 or 2-6
The day before notice, at any time. If an
afternoon. Message in time in the morning.
The director can take message
High in the air I hear a din
It is surely Roald who comes.
He who with the polar bear has drunk
Who never feared the Arctic Ocean’s roar
And all the danger it holds.
There he presses on with the mighty battle
Like an eagle on outstretched wings
And this on the most beautiful summer day
For the honour and good of our young flag
Hail to thee, conqueror of the Pole.
Once more he brings victory home
His deed shines out over the world.
Besides him there were five
Who joined the North Pole journey
And for all of them we shout hurray
Even we who sit in here,
We are lifted in thought while the heart is made glad,
And no one can know, there may come a day
Where a prisoner gets death’s urge in his mind.