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The Poetry of Agnes Mathilde Wergeland
    by Larry Emil Scott (Volume 30: Page 273)

THE CAREER of Agnes Mathilde Wergeland, doctor of philosophy, once provided the source for a small flood of assorted commentary. To some, like March Michelet, Wergeland was a heroine of our philistine age, her years as professor of French, Spanish, and history at the University of Wyoming finally providing adequate recompense for many years of undeserved hardship. {1} To the feminist critic Gina Krog, Agnes Wergeland was the undaunted champion of women's rights, struggling, ultimately with success, to earn her rightful place in the overwhelmingly masculine academic world. {2} Still others, Katharine Merrill {3} for instance, tend to find a strange combination of radical mind and conservative, introverted temperament in her, a combination which made it almost physically impossible for her to "sell" herself or even to present her accomplishments in the best possible light. {4}

It is not the purpose here to treat Wergeland's more public career as a champion of woman suffrage, first in her native Norway and then in America. Rather, the intent is to examine the inner life of the woman who was among the finest poets to write in Norwegian in [274] America. Her verse has a depth of feeling, range of content, and technical virtuosity that few of her fellow countrymen matched. Her two substantial volumes -- Amerika og andre digte (America and Other Poems) in 1912 {5} and the posthumously published Efterladte digte (Posthumous Poems) {6}-- are among the gems of Scandinavian-American literature, ranking with the finest of Rølvaag's prose in skill and sophistication. Yet Wergeland the poet has attracted virtually no attention from either Norwegian scholars or American, since, as an immigrant writer who remained faithful to her native tongue for her verse, she belongs to neither literary tradition. Even more unfairly, some of Wergeland's most interesting poetry, for example "Pilgrimen" (The Pilgrim), has been cited to demonstrate her Lutheran orthodoxy as a poet, a position which this study will attempt to modify. Furthermore, Wergeland's poetry provides valuable clues to the conflicting faces she presented to the world and goes a long way toward resolving some of the thornier problems in interpretation of what it was, exactly, that she hoped to accomplish in her public life and how well she ultimately succeeded in that quest.

While she was obviously proud to be a Wergeland, the name haunted Agnes all her life, both in Norway and in America. Her father was a poor and unsuccessful cousin of the visionary poet Henrik Wergeland and his daughter, the pioneer feminist, Camilla Collett. Young Agnes knew that hers was hardly the illustrious branch of the family. Despite the great successes of her famous relatives, Agnes Wergeland felt that hers was a star-crossed family: "A Wergeland was never especially respected in Norway, and I am as 'contemptible' as all the others; . . . [I too] follow the star that characterizes them! " {7} The sense of exile weighed heavily on her; her sentimental yearnings for Norway thus take on darker [275] dimensions. Her native land had no room for her and rejected her with finality. Her enormous capacity for love at the ideal level of patriotism was thus thwarted or, rather, unrequited. So, just as her desire for intimacy and warm human intercourse was denied her on the social level, she seemed to feel that her family name made her a kind of political pariah. The way out thus had to be an interior one. What she did realize and practiced all her life may well have been inspired by her brilliant ancestors. First of all, from Camilla Collett she got her stubborn drive to overcome any barriers that her sex might cause to be raised against her. Secondarily, from Collett also derived the corollary, almost automatic membership in the active ranks of women fighting for their rights in the larger "kvindesaken" (women's movement).

But Henrik Wergeland -- mystic and poet, activist and politician, reformer and public speaker -- perhaps influenced her toward the interior, the spiritual, away from the vigor and tumult of radicalism, {8} She had a visionary sense of what it meant to be a poet. With this call to poetry also came her strong tendency toward melancholia. In a notebook from the end of her stay in Munich (May and June, 1885) she sets forth a startling aesthetic credo: "Poetry is an art, lifted above the suffering of life and, in the truest sense, freed from it.

"The basic feature of my feeling for life and human beings is absolute hopelessness. There is no such thing as true happiness, only a longing for it and afterwards an utter resignation and eventual peace in death. . . . I confess to need, to stillness, to yearning, and only in poetry can I say what I feel, only in art, what I think." {9}

It is clear from her diary, self-effacingly entitled "From the Papers of a Dead Painter," that she began to write poetry seriously at this time, that is, in 1885. The problem of form plagued her from the beginning; her [276] poetry had to be as finely crafted as her cameo-like sketches: "Consciously my ear seeks the most exquisite word, the perfect transition, the simplest and at the same time most expressive way, so that my feelings and my delicate senses can be satisfied." {10}

Poetry was, then, a deadly serious account-taking for Agnes Wergeland. The search for perfect form, for perfect beauty, was as essential as food or sleep. It was her only way of allowing her tumultuous inner self the release it so desperately needed and could not find in the daily human intercourse which she found almost impossible. Poetry became, for her, a psychological safety valve that may quite well have kept her sane, especially after her nervous breakdown in 1909. The Norwegian language was her secret ally in her poetry: " . . . a verse reproduces the inner life. I know this, I feel it, sense that it is true, that it becomes an expression of my innermost feelings; for how little would ample income, even wealth, benefit me if this language, my native tongue, could not represent for me what lives in my heart, if I could not feel myself comforted by the greeting of a fellow-countryman or by a sentence in a well-loved book? . . . I get new strength from it [Norwegian], new energy just as a plant does from the earth, while that which is foreign, alien, only touches me painfully with its noise and vain show." {11}

In an article she wrote on Henrik Wergeland (reprinted in Leaders of Norway), Agnes emphasized that her cousin's position as champion of an "ultra-Norwegian'' culture was the correct one and that Johan S. Welhaven's pro-Danish, continental approach was quite wrong. Yet she was also aware of the danger of imprisoning poetic work in a minor language, a fate which certainly overtook Henrik Wergeland's enormous but, outside Norway, little known output of verse. Still, this' was a risk she was willing to run because of the therapeutic [277] effect poetry had for her. The other side of Henrik Wergeland, however -- political activism -- filled her with misgivings. She was keenly aware that he had burned himself out by the age of thirty-seven by his strenuous political efforts to establish libraries, to alleviate widespread poverty, and to rally the workers and peasants behind his Norwegian party program. Camilla Collett, too, had faced bitter denunciation over Amtmandens døttre (The Governor's Daughters). Many lonely years of unofficial ostracism were a price Collett paid for her outspoken denunciation of the oppressive civil-service system then in effect, especially its narrow-minded view of women.

If the sacrifices for Norwegian poetry were to be great, those required to take an active role in the liberation movements of the age would be even greater. Agnes Wergeland admitted to her diaries that hers was, and ever would remain, an extraordinarily introverted personality: "Friendship and living together with a friend are the most comprehensive of all personal relationships and carry with them the greatest pleasure and, if attained, the greatest restraint and discipline. Friendship is, according to my point of view, a cohabitation of souls -- and as a result I have not a single friend, only some who seek and some who have been rejected -- therefore I see that for both the present and the future this position will remain vacant." {12}

Her deep loneliness was, in fact, alleviated all her life by strong friendships, first with the Maurer family in Munich, then with Sara Bull and Katharine Merrill at Bryn Mawr and in Boston, with Dr. Benjamin Terry in Chicago, and ultimately and most intensely with Grace Raymond Hebard in Wyoming. In addition, she corresponded warmly all her life with such leaders of the Norwegian feminist movement as Camilla Collett, Fredrikke Marie Qvam, Gina Krog, and especially the [288] movement's spiritual leader, Aasta Hansteen. {13} Yet even these well-intentioned and obviously loving friends were not enough to eliminate the inner loneliness. From the moment she began to be recognized as a symbol of the women's movement because she was Norway's first woman doctor of philosophy, her life took on secondary symbolic functions which Hansteen and others were quick to exploit. Wergeland dutifully contributed various articles, for example "Hvorfor folk utvandrer" (Why People Emigrate), for Krog's Nylænde and "Hvad maa der gjøres for ungdommen?" (What Can be Done for Youth?) in For Kirke og Kultur, but, as Grace Hebard perceived, "Dr. Wergeland had never had a realistic conception of what absolute suffrage for women meant until she came to Wyoming, where women are not restricted in their right to vote in any way." {14} Wergeland felt deeply that she was not one of the soldiers at the front, like her activist friends in Norway, but she could still hope "that I have striven to break a path with my own still and quiet deeds." The answer for women, she said characteristically, was "to learn discipline, not from another person, but from an idea, and to learn to withstand longing and privation, to bear burdens for the sake of that distant future in which no one of us will ever participate . . . I demand especially much of the women. They must improve themselves, from early to late, from beginning to end, constantly. Only there lies understanding of what it is all about." {15} In a poem entitled "Ignis Fatuus," Wergeland attacks the divisive bitterness caused by politics.

  O tidens daarskap, politik
  naar hændte det, Du træske ild,
at Du fik makt, at Du blev til,
  forstyrred os med luens spil,
forbrændte vore sjæle?

  O hvem kan fatte deres ve?
  De, stakkar, var kun skibbrudne
sore kjendte ei dens vælde
 

men drak dens vin i vildelse --
men her ingen fælde
og her ingen hildelse --

thi magtbegjæret brænder op,
  Dig, arme folk, til sjæl og krop! {16}

Translation:

 
Oh politics, madness of our times,
  when did it occur, you cunning fire,
that you gained power, that you were created?
  when did it happen that you deranged us
with your play of dancing flames,
those which burned our souls?

 

Oh, who can fathom your woe, oh people?

  You unfortunates were only castaways
who knew not its majesty [of politics]
 

but rather drank its wine in wild abandon

but here no one conquers
  and here there is no illusion --
for the desire for power burns you up,
Oh people, body and soul!

Political solutions thus lead to the betrayal of the people while art is, at least for the individual, a means of rising above such losses and disappointments. Moreover, art functions as a kind of irresistible energy which renews and resurrects. In "Akvareller" (Watercolors), Wergeland relates her youthful attempts at painting watercolors, which she had to give up because "Jeg havde ikke tid, og der var ingen penge: / Jeg maatte tjene først mit brød." (I had no time and there was no money: / I had first to earn my bread). This conflict, between art and need, is perhaps even more essential to an understanding of Wergeland and her work than those [280] between interior and exterior or art and politics. Feeling the mystical bent of her Wergeland blood, she was unable to indulge it; she had to shut her art and heart away to earn a living:

  Jeg elsked lys og fine farver --
det er nok noget ifra farfars far vi arver --
og haded støv og tøv og dovendyr og drog:
Jeg maatte ind i møllen, blive pædagog. {17}

Translation:

  I loved light and bright colors --
It's probably something we inherit from great-
  grandfather --
and I hated dirt, and foolishness, and slothful
  types, and idlers:
I had to jump on the treadmill and become a
  pedagogue. {18}

But "Akvareller" is more than merely clever; it is a painfully honest recognition of the cruelties and inequities of the world. Wergeland's aesthetic yearnings -- her attempts "at jeg maatte faa lidt fri" (to free myself somewhat) -- had to be subservient to her public figure as a scholar, one who "tog sundhedsbad i lærebøgers isblaa væld!" (took health baths in the ice-blue majesty of textbooks!) {19} In fact, she felt that even poetry was only the second of the arts, after painting:

  Det næste efter farver er da vistnok ord
og kan man ikke male faar man skrive.

Translation:

  Second after colors are presumably words
and if one can't paint, one then writes.

The exercise of at least one of these talents would never compensate for the sacrifice she had made -- one wonders if she was ever envious of her brother, Oscar, a successful painter -- but it would keep her soul alive: [281]

  Min Gud! Man har en sjæl, man være vii ilive --
og ord jeg drømte om, hvorend jeg för.
En gylden kop jeg længted efter,
hvori jeg kunde gyde mine tankers saft:
Jeg skrev paa tysk, paa engelsk, øved mine
  kræfter --
men mestjeg kræved modersmaalets stille kraft. {20}

Translation:

  My God! One has a soul, one wants to be alive --
and I dreamt of words, wherever I travelled.
I yearned for a golden cup, into which I could pour the nectar of my
  thoughts:
I wrote in German, in English, exercised my
  powers --
but most I craved my mother tongue's quiet
  force.

The significance that poetry had for Wergeland, then, was literally life-sustaining, one of the forces that uplifted her and helped to alleviate the sense of loss she felt after abandoning art for academics. {21} What kind of poetry did she write, then, when she was not being openly tendentious, confessional, or didactic?

The problem of poetic form seems to have been one that particularly occupied Wergeland's efforts. In "Ord" (Word), she metaphorically places form above diction and even content:

  Men order blir formen
et tint krystal
som holder i ave
lik haardt metal
den viltre tanke
bak skjør pokal. {22}

Translation:

  But the word becomes the form,
a fine crystal [282]
which restrains
like hard metal
the boisterous thought
within a delicate goblet.

The vessel's form ("pokal") then overwhelms every other aesthetic consideration as Wergeland conjures it forth in a startling variety of manifestations:

  Et gyldent støp, et meislet kar,
en Vaphiokop, en vase bar
for alt, kun linjen kysk og klar,
et prægtig fat, en jaspisskaal
som holder sikkert drømmens maal,
prismatiskt glar, muranske glas,
et 'ziergefæss' kun skabt til stas,
et bæger dypt, bredbarmet karm
hvor tanken svulmer rik og varm
en mosagat, en hul juvel
hvor tanken gløder ten og hel --

Translation:

  A gilded casting, an engraved vessel,
a cup from Vaphio, a vase bare
of ornament, only its lines chaste and clear,
a splendid dish, a jasper bowl
which hold securely the goal of dreams;
prismatically clear Murano glass
an ornamental vessel made only for show;
a chalice deep, a broad-rimmed vessel
wherein the thought luxuriates, rich and warm,
a moss agate, a hollow jewel
in which the thought gleams whole and pure.

There is, in fact, no single predominant verse form in either of Wergeland's collections. Long lines, short lines, enjambed lines; end rhyme, doggerel, blank verse; ballades, sonnets, Persian ghasels, even two dramatic sketches, one realistic and one fantastic, all appear in Amerika og andre digte and Efterladte digte. The [283] subject matter of her poetry ranges from philosophical ruminations on Goethe and Schiller ("Nur die Lumpen sind Bescheiden") to ringing denunciations of assimilation among Norwegian Americans ("Et Ord"), from the twin poles of her patriotism ("America magna" and "Det større Norge"), from nature lyricism ("Vaaren" and "Sommer") to intimate studies of domesticity ("Mit hjem" and "Mine blomster") that rarely descend to the sentimental.

But the poems which stand out as among her best because of their originality are poems on art, poetry, and beauty itself. If the political Wergeland felt betrayed by the world ("Ignis Fatuus"), Wergeland the aesthete did not. In poem after poem, she sings of beautiful things, objects like the vessels in "Ord," which are to be admired only for their inherent beauty. Sometimes the beauty is of a fatal or grotesque nature, reminiscent of Poe, as in her vision of the Grand Canyon in "Rosen." Wergeland saw it as an almost demonic phenomenon, the remnants of some titanic and unholy struggle of the elements:

  Lat avgrunden lyse reed lyn og flammer,
et farvevælde som spotter ord,
med svidende pile det øiet rammer,
det er som gjennem en sværdet för --
for dybet dernede minder om bø1ger
av helveds størknede taareflod,
den glimrende maske kun pine dølger,
det tomme blik som stivner ens blod. {23}

Translation:

  Let the abyss glow with lightning and flames,
an empire of color that mocks words,
with scorching shafts it attacks the eye,
it is as though a sword pierced it --
for the distant deep below remembers the waves
of Hell's strengthening river of tears, [284]
the glittering mask conceals only torment,
the empty gaze which freezes one's blood.

Several exercises in pure fantasy are also among her best efforts. In "Glasspillet," the sound of the wind calls up a phantasmagoric vision of

  Alfer og feer sore danser i ring --
natgale gnomer,
besjælte atomer?
tussetøi, elvehøi --
støi?
Ingenting? {24}

Translation:

  Elves and fairies who dance in a ring --
night-mad gnomes,
animated atoms?
troll-stuff; elf-hill,
uproar?
nothing?

 

 

which quickly becomes an exquisite Japanese dream:

  I foraarsfloret
smaabitte darner
med pil i haaret
og svære sløifer,
drager og sole
paa side kimoner,
papirsparasol
og elfenbensvifter --

Translation:

  In springtime profusion
tiny damozels
with long pins
and black bows in their hair,
dragons and suns on
long kimonos,
paper parasols
and ivory fans. [285]

Many of Wergeland's letters refer to her poetry as "mystical" or "dreamlike." Much of it is unquestionably escapist in tone, for this was the therapeutic character that art retained for her after she had "betrayed" her muse for scholarship and her daily bread. "In Memoriam'' gives us a fine image of her hidden dreams and buried thoughts; again, Poe comes to mind:

  Det er et gravrum i mit hjertes tempelhal,
hvor jeg har skrinlagt mine bedste drømme,
hvor jeg har jordet mine tanker ømme,
nedsænket alt mit hjerte led av mandefald.
Der er der skyggeluft! Av grønne ranker
i sol og dag gror tætte klynger utenfor;
men her er dæmpet lys for hjertesorg og   saar,
og vissent 1øv og orgelsang for mine   tanker.
I templet ovenfor er solens fulde glans,
er billeder av mennskelivets store guder;
der straaler stolte haab og seirens friske   krans,
og skinner smilende bak glade ruter.
Dog, naar i andagts søte jubelstund
mit hjerte løfter sig til pris for stridens dage,
Du lukker graven op -- med smil om bleke   mund
Du svæver mig forbi i orglets dype klage. {25}

Translation:

  There is a burial chamber in the temple of   my heart,
where I have buried my best dreams,
where I have put my tenderest thoughts in   the earth,
put down everything my heart suffered.
Here there are shadows! From green vines tightly twined lianas grow outside in sun and
  daylight [286]
but here is dimmed light for sorrow of the   heart and wounds,
and withered leaves and the song of the   organ for my thoughts.
In the temple up above is the sun's full   radiance,
and images of the great gods of human life;
up there beams proud hope and the fresh   wreath of victory,
and it shines laughingly behind cheery   window-panes.
But when in meditation's sweet moment of
  triumph
my heart lifts up in praise of the day of   struggle,
You then unlock my grave -- with a smile on   pale lips
You glide past me to the organ's deep   lament.

Thus, the Wergeland melancholia is intimately involved with the resurrection of her buried dreams and is therefore a necessary and fundamental element of her poetry. Her bolder attempts to sound a strident note for "stridens dage" have a hollower ring, a lesser imaginative breadth, than her "aesthetic" poetry. This is particularly evident if one compares Wergeland's two extant longer works, "Fire prinsesser" (Four princesses), from Amerika og andre digte, and "Paa ballet" (At the ball), from Efterladte digte. Both pieces are cast as dramatic sketches, with detailed descriptions of the setting and a east of characters.

But "Paa ballet" is conceived as a realistic and critical dissection of petty bourgeois society in contemporary Norway. {26} Wergeland's own social shortcomings -- her shyness, her aloofness, her inability to make small talk -- show up most glaringly when she tries to describe a dance, one of the most social of situations. The attempts at creating believable characters (each of whom then [287] speaks in an appropriate verse form) fall pitifully fiat; even the attempts to convey the different dances, such as the polonaise and the waltz, by varying the poetic form cannot breathe life into the stereotypical two-dimensional characters -- the Mayor, the Poet, the Authoress, the Teacher, the Conservative -- who stalk this dramatic fragment. Her models were apparently Camilla Collett, Jonas Lie, and perhaps even Knut Hamsun (for example, the ball scene in Pan), but in this case the inspiration proved stronger than the imitation.

"Fire prinsesser," on the other hand, is an almost perfect gem of Norwegian aesthetic poetry. {27} Wergeland uses the homely subject matter of her immediate environment -- in this case, the rose garden at Laramie -- to fashion a melancholy fairy tale in the manner of Oscar Wilde. The goddess of the moon turns four roses into four human princesses in gratitude for the homage they alone still pay her. But she warns them of the vicissitudes and undeserved suffering they will encounter in life, a warning which, like Cassandra's, goes unheeded. Needless to say, all the prophecy comes to pass. Each flower sings haughtily of its own unique beauty, a narcissism which the poet somewhat wistfully associated with the innocence and confidence of youth. The little play's "Ouverture" is perhaps the finest example of Wergeland's overripe style, reminiscent of the British aesthetes of the 1890s, Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, or even Algernon Swinburne, poets little known and less imitated in Norway.

  Glimrende klarhet, smeltende skygge,
maanelys nat!
Spred Dine vinger, dunhvite drømmefugl!
Ro i de brede, lysfyldte strømme!
Bad Dig i glansens dæmpete flod!
Skjul Dig i sløret som dækker
stjernernes glans ! [288]
Skvulpende sø!
Mumlende mund sore sladrer i
natten om dybets mirakler!
Dyssende søt er Din stemme!
Danser ei havfru, guldhaaret, hvitbrystet,
rækker de glitrende arme
ut mot den favnende straale,
segner med glansen
ned til Din bund?
Viftende vind!
Sagtelig vrister Du drømmen fra
træernes slumrende munde,
aander den atter reed latter i
skyggernes lydhøre øre!
Nynnende fø1ger Du nattens let
rytmiske dans ad de lysende baner,
spiller paa strengen som
dirrer i luftens guldspundne aznr --
synker til jordens svagt bankende bryst. {28}

Translation:

  Brilliant clarity, melting shadows,
moonlit night!
Spread your wings, down-white dreambird!
Soar in the wide, light-filled beams!
Bathe in the subdued flood of radiance!
Hide yourself in the veil which covers
the luster of the stars!
Rippling sea!
Mumbling mouth which gossips in
the night about the miracles of the deep!
Soothingly sweet is your voice!
A mermaid dances, golden-haired,
white-breasted,
stretches her glittering arms
out toward the embracing beams, [289]
does she descend with her gaze
down to your realm?
Fluttering wind!
Slowly you wring the dream from
the sleeping mouths of the trees,
breathe it again with laughter
into the keen ears of the shadows!
Humming, you follow the night's lightly
rhythmic dance on the radiant paths,
play on the string which
trembles in the gold-spun azure of the air,
sink back to the earth's weakly
beating breast.

One final poem proves once again how oddly Wergeland's life and even her very ideas were distorted, especially by her few close and obviously well-intentioned friends. In "Pilgrimen," the poet-pilgrim pauses beneath a Gothic arch in Rheims Cathedral and humbly admires a statue of Christ. The soul of the wanderer is now satisfied; there is no reason to go any farther. Michelet insists that "Pilgrimen" reflects only Wergeland's "dype og alvorlige sindelag og troen paa en frelser" (deep and serious frame of mind and belief in a personal savior). {29} The theme of a return to heaven and its promise of rest for the weary pilgrim is certainly present, but the pilgrim here is really a seeker after beauty, not salvation. In the glory of Rheims, this desire is satisfied: it is some mystical reflection of what heaven's visions will resemble. Thus, it is not only the requiem aeternam the pilgrim seeks but an aesthetic consolation as well. At the very heart of Wergeland's personal credo was her faith in the power of art to lift the soul over the vagaries of the world; the poet-pilgrim in this late poem confesses his similar creed with equal conviction:

  O nei, hans sind vil hvile,
vil i et større syn end det [290]
sore her hans øie monne se
den dag hans sjæl skal smile,
den dag naar han faar ile,
hvor der er ikkun lys og fred,
og inter savn, og ingen sorg,
i himmelens faste kongeborg. {30}

Translation:

  Oh no, his senses want to rest,
want to see yet a greater vision than that
which his eye has been able to see here
that day his soul can smile,
that day when he makes haste,
where there is only light and peace
and no loss and no sorrow
in the mighty fortress of heaven.

The aim of this study has been to show how Agnes Mathilde Wergeland's highly personal poetry helps illuminate the contradictions of character noted without much comment by her various biographers. The twin pulls of public pragmatism and mystical aestheticism emphasized here seem best to demarcate the extremes of her life and to be one of the primary sources of her all-pervasive melancholy. More than anything else, the author's intention has been to shed light on the technical skills and great artistic range of one of Norway's --and America's -- unsung poets.

NOTES
<1> The main source of information on Wergeland is Maren Michelet's Glimt fra Agnes Mathilde Wergelands liv (Glimpses from Agnes Mathilde Wergeland's life) published as a mindeutgave (memorial edition) in 1916 by Folkebladet Publishing Company's Trykkeri in Minneapolis. While Michelet had unlimited access to Wergeland's correspondence and other papers, her worshipful attitude toward her subject makes Glimt rather shaky as an interpretive biography. A "privately printed" English edition was also issued Wergeland's closest friends and for contributors to Michelet's efforts.
<2> Gina Krog, one of Norway's leading feminist journalists, was the editor of Nylænde (New Ground). The entire March, 1915, number was given over to a biography of Wergeland. [291]
<3> Katharine Merrill edited and arranged Wergeland's best prose works, titled Leaders in Norway and Other Essays (Menaska, Wisconsin, 1916). In this she included a brief biographical sketch of the author as well as English versions of "Haanden" ("A Song of Thy Hand"), "Mit Hjem" ("My Home"), and "Charons komme" ("Charon Forgetful'?"), three of Wergeland's most revealing autobiographical writings.
<4> Erik Aanonsen, following Michelet's biography, produced a popular illustrated article for The Norseman, "Pioneer Professor in Wyoming," 1974, 15-19. See also Ingrid Semmingsen, "A Pioneer: Agnes Mathilde Wergeland, 1857-19147' in Odd S. Lovoll, ed., Makers' of an American Immigrant Legacy: Essays in Honor of Kenneth O. Bjork (Northfield, Minnesota, 1980), 111-130.
<5> Amerika og andre digte (Decorah, Iowa, 1912). This volume will be cited hereafter as Amerika.
<6> Grace Hebard saw the volume through the press and Maren Michelet was responsible for the transcribing and editing. Efterladte digte was published by the Free Church Book Concern of Minneapolis as a Norwegian centenary volume in July, 1914.
<7> Michelet, Glimt, 161. The translations from Norwegian are from this work, unless otherwise specified, and are the author's throughout.
<8> Michelet, Glimt, 161.
<9> Michelet, Glimt, 50-51.
<10> Michelet, Glimt, 254-255.
<11> Michelet, Glimt, 255.
<12> Michelet, Glimt, 51.
<13> Her longest friendship was with Aasta Hansteen, the doyenne of the Norwegian feminist movement and, by the turn of the century, its undisputed and venerable leader. Hansteen served as the model for the impetuous, unorthodox seeker of truth, Lona Hessel, in Ibsen's great social drama Samfundets støtter (Pillars of Society). Wergeland and Hansteen had met first in Norway in 1875 and they kept up their warm but formal friendship mainly by correspondence.
<14> Michelet, Glimt, 203.
<15> Michelet, Glimt, 200, 201-202.
<16> Efterladte digte, 43-44. The literal translations that follow each poem are the author's.
<17> "Akvareller," Amerika, 28.
<18> For the record, her most important scholarly work is considered to be the rather slight Slavery in Germanic Society During the Middle Ages' (Chicago, 1916). The original edition was published in 1896 and reprinted in September, 1916. "Loyal affection to Dr. Wergeland's memory should suggest the thought of reprinting her monograph," wrote J. Franklin Jameson of the Carnegie Institute in Washington in the preface. He also supplied the information, not found in Michelet, that most of the book had appeared as "lesser writings" in the Journal of Political Economy.
<19> "Akvareller," Amerika, 28. These desperate and bitter lines are from the period around 1890.
<20> "Akvareller," Amerika, 29.
<21> A clue to what she sought in poetry is given in her article on "Modern Danish Literature and its Foremost Representative," in The Dial, September 16, 1895, 135-137. In it she praises Holger Drachmann for the purity [292] of his language, his openness to fresh new ideas, and his freedom from cant. All these are qualities she most admired and envied in others.
<22> "Ord," Efterladte digte, 14.
<23> "Rosen," Efterladte digte, 140.
<24> "Glasspillet," Efterladte digte, 89-90.
<25> "In Memoriam," Amerika, 79.
<26> Efterladte digte, 58-85.
<27> Amerika, 211-243.
<28> "Fire prinsesser," Amerika, 211-212.
<29> Michelet, Glimt, 83.
<30> "Pilgrimen," Efterladte digte, 164.

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