Hans Børli, known as the skogsdikter (forest poet), was born in Eidskog in Hedmark county, Norway.
He worked as a forester his whole life and was a prolific writer about the nature he lived and worked in. I first learned about Børli in an article published by Harvest magasinet, an online journal dedicated to Norwegian nature and the relationship Norwegians have with their environment.
In the Ledestjerna article the author describes how he was touched by Børli’s writings, and how when we find ourselves walking deep into a forest, in a way we are also walking deep within ourselves - one being an inseparable reflection of the other.
As an example, the beginning paragraph from the article:
“Landskapet jeg betrakter utenfra, som samtidig berører meg innvendig. Elementene jeg beveger meg gjennom, men som beveger meg enda mer. Stedet jeg aldri greier helt å finne ordene til: skogen.
Er den et ytre landskap, eller et indre? Hvis den er begge deler, hvilket av dem er sterkest? Kanskje skogen mest av alt er en tilstand? Jeg har alltid famlet etter svar.
Du søker ditt eget speilbilde i de dimme gåtene omkring deg. Alltid.”
“The landscape I observe from the outside, simultaneously touches me on the inside. The elements that I move myself through, move me even more. The place I never really find words for: the forest.
Is it an outer landscape or an inner one? If it is both, then which of them is stronger? Perhaps the forest is mostly a way of being? I have always fumbled for an answer.
You look for your own image in the dim mysteries around you. Always.”
Norwegians have a special way of describing and writing about their relationship with nature, using simple yet profound wordings. The Norwegian language also has words for what in English can usually only be felt or intuited.
The title of the article is also quite powerful in its simplicity:
«Jeg er et menneske. Jeg har erkjent storheten i dét å være så uendelig liten.»
“I am a human being. I have recognised/acknowledged the enormity of being so infinitely small.”