Kaj Munk The Wartime Poems

About the Poems

Kaj Munk started writing poetry in grade school, and never stopped. He felt torn between the need to write, and the call of the church. He chose both. He was Denmark’s pastor/poet/playwright.

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With one exception, the poems in this collection are taken from the Memorial Edition of the works of Kaj Munk, published in 1949 by Nyt Nordisk Forlag in Copenhagen, in nine volumes. The volume titled Poetry contains 218 poems.

This collection of poems is taken from those written during the occupation, with one exception. I include Kaj Munk’s first poem, written at the age of eight. The first line in that poem later became the title of his autobiography. The last line became the title of a collection of his writings and articles.

The poem given on the title page, Despair, was written after the evening church service, April 9th, 1940. That was the day that Germany invaded Denmark, and the long night of the occupation had begun. That poem is given again in the body of the text. The last poem, Demotion, is taken from “ That Fate Will Not Be Ours (Den Skæbne Ej Til Os),” printed in 1943.

The memorial poem by Martin A. Hansen was first printed in the fall of 1944, in the illegal collection A Flame Is Burning, published by Folk and Freedom. It was printed without the author’s name, as all such publications were strictly censored and illegal.

There are 30 poems in this collection. The first was written when Kaj Munk was eight, the next two in 1940, the following five in 1941, Hymn to the Faith in 1942, and the remaining in 1943.

About the Endnotes

Mathilde Munk, Kaj Munk’s youngest granddaughter (daughter of Arne & Hanne Munk) has written a short interpretation for all of the poems included here. There are also some historical references, and I urge the reader to consult these notes as they are reading the poems. They begin on page 57.