I must admit that the bench I am posting this time is not very exciting. It is a common garden variety. However - the place I found it is not, and I must admit that the bench is partly en excuse for the rest of the post. As you can see for yourself, the bench is placed in a churchyard.
And it is situated right in front of a monument, right beside an old church.
The church is called Fjære Kirke, and is situated in the outskirts of Grimstad - an idyllic town in the most southern part of Norway. It dates from 1150 AD.
And why have I gone to all this trouble, who is the monument raised for and why have I mentioned Henrik Ibsen in the title? Bear with me a little bit more, and I'll try to explain:
Henrik Ibsen is best known as playwright and a theatre director, but also as a poet (which several of his plays clearly document). His most famous poem (in Norway at least) is called Terje Wigen. As usually Wikipedia has something to say on the subject:
Terje Vigen is a poem written by Henrik Ibsen, published in 1862. Much of the story and setting is from the area around the town of Grimstad in southern Norway where Ibsen lived for a few years in his youth. It describes the dramatic saga of Terje who, in 1809, tried to run the English blockade of Norway's southern coast in a small rowboat in a desperate attempt to smuggle food from Denmark back to his starving wife and daughter. He was captured and imprisoned on an English prison hulk at Fjære and released in 1814 after the Napoleonic Wars were over, only to find that his family had died. He became a pilot, and years later rescued an English Lord who turned out to be the commander of the ship that had captured him. The denouement, as in most Ibsen works, should be understood by reading the original.I'll give you the first verse in both Norwegian and English (the English translation is an unofficial one, made by John Northam)
Der bode en underlig gråsprængt en
på den yderste nøgne ø; -
han gjorde visst intet menneske mén
hverken på land eller sjø;
dog stundom gnistred hans øjne stygt, -
helst mod uroligt vejr, -
og da mente folk, at han var forrykt,
og da var der få, som uden frykt
kom Terje Vigen nær.
There lived a remarkably grizzled man
on the uttermost, barren isle
he never harmed, in the wide world's span,
a soul by deceit or by guile;
his eyes, though, sometimes would blaze and fret
most when a storm was nigh,-
and then people sensed he was troubled yet
and then there were few that felt no threat
with Terje Vigen by.
Then the last verse in the same way:
Ved Fjære kirke jeg så en grav,
den lå på en vejrhård plet;
den var ikke skøttet, var sunken og lav,
men bar dog sit sorte bræt.
Der stod "Thærie Wiighen" med hvidmalt skrift,
samt året, han hvile fandt. -
Han lagdes for solbrand og vindes vift,
og derfor blev græsset så stridt og stivt,
men med vilde blomster iblandt.
In Fjære churchyard I saw a pilot,
that lay in a weathered sward;
it looked all neglected, a mean sunken spot,
but kept still its blackened board.
It read 'Thærie Wiighen' in white,
the datehis final repose had been.
He lay to the sun and the winds' keen weight,
and that's why the grass was so stubborn-straight,
but with wild field-flowers between.
The monument was thus raised in 1906 over "Thærie Wiighen" , believed by legend to be the same Terje Vigen that Ibsen praised. Nobody knows if he was, but that does not change much when you are sitting on the bench by the monument and try to absorb the atmosphere, the history and the poetry.