Hans Børli

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Hans Børli
Ill.: Oddmund Mikkelsen, 1985

Hans Børli (8 December 1918 – 26 August 1989) was a Norwegian poet and writer, who besides his writings worked as a lumberjack all his life. He was born in Eidskog, in South-Eastern Norway, close to the Norwegian border to Sweden. He was buried at Eidskog Church.


Hans Børli was raised on a small farm in a road-less area in the forests in Eidskog Kommune. The experience of poverty and hardship would leave a deep imprint on his later art. However, the positive effects of living close to nature, the wisdom of tradition and the solidarity between workers also had a significant bearing on his writings. Extensive reading spawned an early urge to write. This was both a way of expressing personal feelings, frowned upon in a masculine work environment and possibly a way of literally escaping the economic and social inferiority. His mother's father, one of the last great oral narrator of legends and stories of the area, Ole Gundersen Børli, is also considered an important influence on the young writer-to-be, Hans Børli. A strict Christian upbringing would leave Børli forever struggling with the counteractive forces of rebellion and a deeply embedded sense of religious awe.

In a social setting where education beyond mandatory schooling was rare, the young Hans, considered a gifted boy, was given a free place in Talhaug Mercantile School, in Kongsvinger which he later left when he was admitted to a military academy in Oslo, but his education was ended by the outbreak of the Second World War. Børli fought the Germans, and was involved in some intense battles in Vardal, and was captured in Verdal. After being released, he went back to Eidskog and worked as a teacher and forest worker for the remaining of the war. He was also involved in illegal activity, such as guiding refugees across the Swedish border, all the while he was preparing his first collection of poetry, Tyrield ("Pine Passion"; 1945).

Hans Børli was by his own account heavily influenced by the Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge.



Years link to corresponding "[year] in poetry" articles:

  • 1945: Tyrielden ("Pine Passion")
  • 1948: Villfugl ("Wild Bird")
  • 1949: Men støtt kom nye vårer ("But Spring Would Always Come")
  • 1952: Likevel må du leve ("Still There is Life")
  • 1954: Ser jeg en blomme i skogen ("When I See a Flower in the Forest")
  • 1957: Kont-Jo ("Timber Joe")
  • 21/10-1958:Dagene ("Days")
  • 1960: Jeg ville fange en fugl ("I Wanted to Catch a Bird")
  • 1962: Ved bålet ("By Campfire")
  • 1964: Hver liten ting ("Every Little Thing")
  • 1966: Brønnen utenfor Nachors stad ("The Well by Nachor")
  • 1968: Når menneskene er gått heim ("When Humans Have Gone Home")
  • 1978: Dag og drøm ("Day and Dream")
  • 1969: Som rop ved elver ("Like Roars by Rivers")
  • 1970: Isfuglen ("The Ice Bird")
  • 1972: Kyndelsmesse ("Candlemas")
  • 1974: Vindharpe ("Wind Harp")
  • 1976: Vinden ser aldri på veiviserne ("The Wind Never Beholds the Pathfinder")
  • 1979: Når kvelden står rød over Hesteknatten ("Evening Red over the Horse Hummock")
  • 1984: Frosne tranebær ("Frozen Cranberries")


Years link to corresponding "[year] in literature" articles:

  • 1946: Han som valte skogen ("He Who Chose the Forest"), novel
  • 1949: Det small et skott ("A Shot was Heard"), novel
  • 1951: Sølv og stål ("Silver and Steel")
  • 1953: Under lomskriket ("The Cry of the Loon"),
  • 1987: Tusseleiken (fortellinger og skisser)
  • 1988: Med øks og lyre. Blar av en tømmerhuggers dagbok ("With Axe and Lyre. Pages from the Diary of a Lumberjack"), autobiography
  • 1991: Smykket fra slagmarken ("Gem from a Battlefield"), novel


About Hans Børli:

  • 1998: Syng liv i ditt liv. En biografi. ("Sing Life in Your Life.- A Biography.")

In translation:

  • We Own the Forests: And Other Poems, sixty of Børli's poems in a parallel Norwegian-English edition, translated by Louis Muinzer
  • Cesta lesy, 43 of Børli's poems in a parallel Norwegian-Czech edition, translated by Petr Uhlíř

Prizes and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ "Priser – Fritt Ords Honnør" (in Norwegian). Fritt Ord. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 

External links[edit]