Peer Gynt, by Henrik Ibsen

Act Second

Scene First

[A narrow path, high up in the mountains. Early morning.]

[PEER GYNT comes hastily and sullenly along the path. INGRID, Still wearing some of her bridal ornaments, is trying to hold him back.]

Peer

Get you from me!

Ingrid [weeping]

After this, Peer?
Whither?

Peer

Where you will for me.

Ingrid [wringing her hands]

Oh, what falsehood!

Peer

Useless railing.
Each alone must go his way.

Ingrid

Sin — and sin again unites us!

Peer

Devil take all recollections!
Devil take the tribe of women —
all but one —!

Ingrid

Who is that one, pray?

Peer

’Tis not you.

Ingrid

Who is it then?

Peer

Go! Go thither whence you came!
Off! To your father!

Ingrid

Dearest, sweetest —

Peer

Peace!

Ingrid

You cannot mean it, surely,
what you’re saying?

Peer

Can and do.

Ingrid

First to lure — and then forsake me!

Peer

And what terms have you to offer?

Ingrid

Hegstad Farm, and more besides.

Peer

Is your psalm-book in your kerchief?
Where’s the gold-mane on your shoulders?
Do you glance adown your apron?
Do you hold your mother’s skirt-fold?
Speak!

Ingrid

No, but —

Peer

Went you to the pastor
this last spring-tide?

Ingrid

No, but Peer —

Peer

Is there shyness in your glances?
When I beg, can you deny?

Ingrid

Heaven! I think his wits are going!

Peer

Does your presence sanctify?
Speak!

Ingrid

No, but —

Peer

What’s all the rest then?

[Going.]

Ingrid [blocking his way]

Know you it will cost your neck
should you fail me?

Peer

What do I care?

Ingrid

You may win both wealth and honour
if you take me —

Peer

Can’t afford.

Ingrid [bursting into tears]

Oh, you lured me —!

Peer

You were willing.

Ingrid

I was desperate!

Peer

Frantic I.

Ingrid [threatening]

Dearly shall you pay for this!

Peer

Dearest payment cheap I’ll reckon.

Ingrid

Is your purpose set?

Peer

Like flint.

Ingrid

Good! we’ll see, then, who’s the winner!

[Goes downwards.]

Peer [stands silent a moment, then cries:]

Devil take all recollections!
Devil take the tribe of women!

Ingrid [turning her head, and calling mockingly upwards:]

All but one!

Peer

Yes, all but one.

[They go their several ways.]

Scene Second

[Near a mountain tarn; the ground is soft and marshy round about. A storm is gathering.]

[ÅSE enters, calling and gazing around her despairingly, in every direction. SOLVEIG has difficulty in keeping up with her. SOLVEIG’S FATHER and MOTHER, with HELGA, are some way behind.]

Åse [tossing about her arms, and tearing her hair]

All things are against me with wrathful might!
Heaven, and the waters, and the grisly mountains!
Fog-scuds from heaven roll down to bewilder him!
The treacherous waters are lurking to murder him!
The mountains would crush him with landslip and rift! —
And the people too! They’re out after his life!
God knows they shan’t have it! I can’t bear to lose him!
Oh, the oaf! to think that the fiend should tempt him!

[Turning to SOLVEIG.]

Now isn’t it clean unbelievable this?
He, that did nought but romance and tell lies; —
he, whose sole strength was the strength of his jaw;
he, that did never a stroke of true work; —
he —! Oh, a body could both cry and laugh! —
Oh, we clung closely in sorrow and need.
Ay, you must know that my husband, he drank,
loafed round the parish to roister and prate,
wasted and trampled our gear under foot.
And meanwhile at home there sat Peerkin and I—
the best we could do was to try to forget;
for ever I’ve found it so hard to bear up.
It’s a terrible thing to look fate in the eyes;
and of course one is glad to be quit of one’s cares,
and try all one can to keep thought far away.
Some take to brandy, and others to lies;
and we — why we took to fairy-tales
of princes and trolls and of all sorts of beasts;
and of bride-rapes as well. Ah, but who could have dreamt
that those devil’s yarns would have stuck in his head?

[In a fresh access of terror.]

Hu! What a scream! It’s the nixie or droug!
Peer! Peer! — Up there on that hillock —!

[She runs to the top of a little rise, and looks out over the tarn. SOLVEIG’S FATHER and MOTHER come up.]

Åse

Not a sign to be seen!

The Father [quietly]

It is worst for him!

Åse [weeping]

Oh, my Peer! Oh, my own lost lamb!

The Father [nods mildly]

You may well say lost.

Åse

Oh no, don’t talk like that!
He is so clever. There’s no one like him.

The Father

You foolish woman!

Åse

Oh ay; oh ay;
foolish I am, but the boy’s all right!

The Father [still softly and with mild eyes]

His heart is hardened, his soul is lost.

Åse [in terror]

No, no, he can’t be so hard, our Lord!

The Father

Do you think he can sigh for his debt of sin?

Åse [eagerly]

No, but he can ride through the air on a buck, though!

The Mother

Christ, are you mad?

The Father

Why, what do you mean?

Åse

Never a deed is too great for him.
You shall see, if only he lives so long —

The Father

Best if you saw him on the gallows hanging.

Åse [shrieks]

Oh, cross of Christ!

The Father

In the hangman’s hands,
it may be his heart would be turned to repentance.

Åse [bewildered]

Oh, you’ll soon talk me out of my senses!
We must find him!

The Father

To rescue his soul.

Åse

And his body!
If he’s stuck in the swamp, we must drag him out;
if he’s taken by trolls, we must ring the bells for him.

The Father

Hm! — Here’s a sheep-path —

Åse

The Lord will repay you
your guidance and help!

The Father

It’s a Christian’s duty.

Åse

Then the others, fie! they are heathens all;
there wasn’t one that would go with us —

The Father

They knew him too well.

Åse

He was too good for them!

[Wrings her hands.]

And to think — and to think that his life is at stake!

The Father

Here are tracks of a man.

Åse

Then it’s here we must search!

The Father

We’ll scatter around on this side of our saeter.

[He and his wife go on ahead.]

Solveig [to ÅSE]

Say on; tell me more.

Åse [drying her eyes]

Of my son, you mean?

Solveig

Yes; —
Tell everything!

Åse [smiles and tosses her head]

Everything? — Soon you’d be tired!

Solveig

Sooner by far will you tire of the telling
than I of the hearing.

Scene Third

[Low, treeless heights, close under the mountain moorlands; peaks in the distance. The shadows are long; it is late in the day.]

[PEER GYNT comes running at full speed, and stops short on the hillside.]

Peer

The parish is all at my heels in a pack!
Every man of them armed or with gun or with club.
Foremost I hear the old Hegstad-churl howling. —
Now it’s noised far and wide that Peer Gynt is abroad!
It is different, this, from a bout with a smith!
This is life! Every limb grows as strong as a bear’s.

[Strikes out with his arms and leaps in the air.]

To crush, overturn, stem the rush of the foss!
To strike! Wrench the fir-tree right up by the root!
This is life! This both hardens and lifts one high!
To hell then with all of the savourless lies!

Three Saeter Girls [rush across the hillside, screaming and singing]

To crushTrond of the Valfjeld! Bard and Kare!
Troll-pack! To-night would you sleep in our arms?

Peer

To whom are you calling?

The Girls

To the trolls! to the trolls!

First Girl

Trond, come with kindness!

Second Girl

Bard, come with force!

Third Girl

The cots in the saeter are all standing empty!

First Girl

Force is kindness!

Second Girl

And kindness is force!

Third Girl

If lads are awanting, one plays with the trolls!

Peer

Why, where are the lads, then?

All Three [with a horse-laugh]

They cannot come hither!

First Girl

Mine called me his sweetheart and called me his darling.
Now he has married a grey-headed widow.

Second Girl

Mine met a gipsy-wench north on the upland.
Now they are tramping the country together.

Third Girl

Mine put an end to our bastard brat.
Now his head’s grinning aloft on a stake.

All Three

Trond of the Valfjeld! Bard and Kare!
Troll-pack! To-night would you sleep in our arms?

Peer [stands, with a sudden leap, in the midst of them]

I’m a three-headed troll, and the boy for three girls!

The Girls

Are you such a lad, eh?

Peer

You shall judge for yourselves!

First Girl

To the hut! To the hut!

Second Girl

We have mead!

Peer

Let it flow!

Third Girl

No cot shall stand empty this Saturday night!

Second Girl [kissing him]

He sparkles and glisters like white-heated iron.

Third Girl [doing likewise]

Like a baby’s eyes from the blackest tarn.

Peer [dancing in the midst of them]

Heavy of heart and wanton of mind.
The eyes full of laughter, the throat of tears!

The Girls [making mocking gestures towards the mountain-tops, screaming and singing]

Heavy of Trond of the Valfjeld! Bard and Kare!
Troll-pack! — To-night will you sleep in our arms?

[They dance away over the heights, with PEER GYNT in their midst.]

Scene Fourth

[Among the Ronde mountains. Sunset. Shining snowpeaks all around.]

[PEER GYNT enters, dizzy and bewildered.]

Peer

Tower over tower arises!
Hei, what a glittering gate!
Stand! Will you stand! It’s drifting
further and further away!
High on the vane the cock stands
lifting his wings for flight; —
blue spread the rifts and bluer,
locked is the fell and barred. —
What are those trunks and tree-roots,
that grow from the ridge’s clefts?
They are warriors heron-footed!
Now they, too, are fading away.
A shimmering like rainbow-streamers
goes shooting through eyes and brain.
What is it, that far-off chiming?
What’s weighing my eyebrows down?
Hu, how my forehead’s throbbing —
a tightening red-hot ring —!
I cannot think who the devil
has bound it around my head!

[Sinks down.]

Flight o’er the Edge of Gendin —
stuff and accursed lies!
Up o’er the steepest hill-wall
with the bride — and a whole day drunk;
hunted by hawks and falcons,
threatened by trolls and such,
sporting with crazy wenches:—
lies and accursed stuff!

[Gazes long upwards.]

Yonder sail two brown eagles.
Southward the wild geese fly.
And here I must splash and stumble
in quagmire and filth knee-deep!

[Springs up.]

I’ll fly too! I will wash myself clean in
the bath of the keenest winds!
I’ll fly high! I will plunge myself fair in
the glorious christening-font!
I will soar far over the saeter;
I will ride myself pure of soul;
I will forth o’er the salt sea waters,
and high over Engelland’s prince!
Ay, gaze as ye may, young maidens;
my ride is for none of you;
you’re wasting your time in waiting —!
Yet maybe I’ll swoop down, too. —
What has come of the two brown eagles —?
They’ve vanished, the devil knows where! —
There’s the peak of a gable rising;
it’s soaring on every hand:
it’s growing from out the ruins; —
see, the gateway is standing wide!
Ha-ha, yonder house, I know it;
it’s grandfather’s new-built farm!
Gone are the clouts from the windows;
the crazy old fence is gone.
The lights gleam from every casement;
there’s a feast in the hall to-night.
There, that was the provost clinking
the back of his knife on his glass; —
there’s the captain flinging his bottle,
and shivering the mirror to bits. —
Let them waste; let it all be squandered!
Peace, mother; what need we care!
’Tis the rich Jon Gynt gives the banquet;
hurrah for the race of Gynt!
What’s all this bustle and hubbub?
Why do they shout and bawl?
The captain is calling the son in; —
oh, the provost would drink my health.
In then, Peer Gynt, to the judgment;
it rings forth in song and shout:
Peer Gynt, thou art come of great things,
and great things shall come of thee!

[Leaps forward, but runs his head against a rock, falls, and remains stretched on the ground.]

Scene Fifth

[A hillside, wooded with great soughing trees. Stars are gleaming through the leaves; birds are singing in the tree-tops.]

[A GREEN–CLAD WOMAN is crossing the hillside; PEER GYNT follows her, with all sorts of lover-like antics.]

The Green-clad One [stops and turns round]

Is it true?

Peer [drawing his finger across his throat]

As true as my name is Peer; —
as true as that you are a lovely woman!
Will you have me? You’ll see what a fine man I’ll be;
you shall neither tread the loom nor turn the spindle.
You shall eat all you want, till you’re ready to burst.
I never will drag you about by the hair —

The Green-clad One

Nor beat me?

Peer

No, can you think I would?
We kings’ sons never beat women and such.

The Green-clad One

You’re a king’s son?

Peer

Yes.

The Green-clad One

I’m the Dovre–King’s daughter.

Peer

Are you? See there, now, how well that fits in!

The Green-clad One

Deep in the Ronde has father his palace.

Peer

My mother’s is bigger, or much I’m mistaken.

The Green-clad One

Do you know my father? His name is King Brose.

Peer

Do you know my mother? Her name is Queen Åse.

The Green-clad One

When my father is angry the mountains are riven.

Peer

They reel when my mother by chance falls a-scolding.

The Green-clad One

My father can kick e’en the loftiest roof-tree.

Peer

My mother can ride through the rapidest river.

The Green-clad One

Have you other garments besides those rags?

Peer

Ho, you should just see my Sunday clothes!

The Green-clad One

My week-day gown is of gold and silk.

Peer

It looks to me liker tow and straws.

The Green-clad One

Ay, there is one thing you must remember:—
this is the Ronde-folk’s use and wont:
all our possessions have twofold form.
When you shall come to my father’s hall,
it well may chance that you’re on the point
of thinking you stand in a dismal moraine.

Peer

Well now, with us it’s precisely the same.
Our gold will seem to you litter and trash!
And you’ll think, mayhap, every glittering pane
is nought but a bunch of old stockings and clouts.

The Green-clad One

Black it seems white, and ugly seems fair.

Peer

Big it seems little, and dirty seems clean.

The Green-clad One [falling on his neck]

Ay, Peer, now I see that we fit, you and I!

Peer

Like the leg and the trouser, the hair and the comb.

The Green-clad One [calls away over the hillside]

Bridal-steed! Bridal-steed! bridal-steed mine!

[A gigantic pig comes running in with a rope’s end for a bridle and an old sack for a saddle. PEER GYNT vaults on its back, and seats the GREEN–CLAD ONE in front of him.]

Peer

Hark-away! Through the Ronde-gate gallop we in!
Gee-up, gee-up, my courser fine!

The Green-clad One [tenderly]

Ah, but lately I wandered and moped and pined —.
One never can tell what may happen to one!

Peer [thrashing the pig and trotting off]

You may know the great by their riding-gear!

Scene Sixth

[The Royal Hall of the King of the Dovre–Trolls. A great assembly of TROLL–COURTIERS, GNOMES, and BROWNIES. THE OLD MAN OF THE DOVRE sits on the throne, crowned, and with his sceptre in his hand. His CHILDREN and NEAREST RELATIONS are ranged on both sides. PEER GYNT stands before him. Violent commotion in the hall.]

The Troll-courtiers

Slay him! a Christian-man’s son has deluded
the Dovre–King’s loveliest maid!

A Troll-imp

May I hack him on the fingers?

Another

May I tug him by the hair?

A Troll-maiden

Hu, hei, let me bite him in the haunches!

A Troll-witch [with a ladle]

Shall he be boiled into broth and bree?

Another Troll-witch [with a chopper]

Shall he roast on a spit or be browned in a stewpan?

The Old Man Of The Dovre

Ice to your blood, friends!

[Beckons his counsellors nearer around him.]

Don’t let us talk big.
We’ve been drifting astern in these latter years;
we can’t tell what’s going to stand or to fall,
and there’s no sense in turning recruits away.
Besides the lad’s body has scarce a blemish,
and he’s strongly-built too, if I see aright.
It’s true, he has only a single head;
but my daughter, too, has no more than one.
Three-headed trolls are going clean out of fashion;
one hardly sees even a two-header now,
and even those heads are but so-so ones.

[To PEER GYNT.]

It’s my daughter, then, you demand of me?

Peer

Your daughter and the realm to her dowry, yes.

The Old Man

You shall have the half while I’m still alive,
and the other half when I come to die.

Peer

I’m content with that.

The Old Man

Ay, but stop, my lad; —
you also have some undertakings to give.
If you break even one, the whole pact’s at an end,
and you’ll never get away from here living.
First of all you must swear that you’ll never give heed
to aught that lies outside Ronde-hills’ bounds;
day you must shun, and deeds, and each sunlit spot.

Peer

Only call me king, and that’s easy to keep.

The Old Man

And next — now for putting your wits to the test.

[Draws himself up in his seat.]

The Oldest Troll-courtier [to PEER GYNT]

Let us see if you have a wisdom-tooth
that can crack the Dovre–King’s riddle-nut!

The Old Man

What difference is there ’twixt trolls and men?

Peer

No difference at all, as it seems to me.
Big trolls would roast you and small trolls would claw you; —
with us it were likewise, if only they dared.

The Old Man

True enough; in that and in more we’re alike.
Yet morning is morning, and even is even,
and there is a difference all the same. —
Now let me tell you wherein it lies:
Out yonder, under the shining vault,
among men the saying goes: “Man, be thyself!”
At home here with us, ’mid the tribe of the trolls,
the saying goes: “Troll, to thyself be — enough!”

The Troll-courtier [to PEER GYNT]

Can you fathom the depth?

Peer

It strikes me as misty.

The Old Man

My son, that “Enough,” that most potent and sundering
word, must be graven upon your escutcheon.

Peer [scratching his head]

Well, but —

The Old Man

It must, if you here would be master!

Peer

Oh well, let it pass; after all, it’s no worse —

The Old Man

And next you must learn to appreciate
our homely, everyday way of life.

[He beckons; two TROLLS with pigs’-heads, white night-caps, and so forth, bring in food and drink.]

The cow gives cakes and the bullock mead;
ask not if its taste be sour or sweet;
the main matter is, and you mustn’t forget it,
it’s all of it home-brewed.

Peer [pushing the things away from him]

The devil fly off with your home-brewed drinks!
I’ll never get used to the ways of this land.

The Old Man

The bowl’s given in, and it’s fashioned of gold.
Whoso owns the gold bowl, him my daughter holds dear.

Peer [pondering]

It is written: Thou shalt bridle the natural man; —
and I daresay the drink may in time seem less sour.
So be it!

[Complies.]

The Old Man

Ay, that was sagaciously said.
You spit?

Peer

One must trust to the force of habit.

The Old Man

And next you must throw off your Christian-man’s garb;
for this you must know to our Dovre’s renown:
here all things are mountain-made, nought’s from the dale,
except the silk bow at the end of your tail.

Peer [indignant]

I haven’t a tail!

The Old Man

Then of course you must get one.
See my Sunday-tail, Chamberlain, fastened to him.

Peer

I’ll be hanged if you do! Would you make me a fool!

The Old Man

None comes courting my child with no tail at his rear.

Peer

Make a beast of a man!

The Old Man

Nay, my son, you mistake;
I make you a mannerly wooer, no more.
A bright orange bow we’ll allow you to wear,
and that passes here for the highest of honours.

Peer [reflectively]

It’s true, as the saying goes: Man’s but a mote.
And it’s wisest to follow the fashion a bit.
Tie away!

The Old Man

You’re a tractable fellow, I see.

The Courtier

just try with what grace you can waggle and whisk it!

Peer [peevishly]

Ha, would you force me to go still further?
Do you ask me to give up my Christian faith?

The Old Man

No, that you are welcome to keep in peace.
Doctrine goes free; upon that there’s no duty;
it’s the outward cut one must tell a troll by.
If we’re only at one in our manners and dress,
you may hold as your faith what to us is a horror.

Peer

Why, in spite of your many conditions, you are
a more reasonable chap than one might have expected.

The Old Man

We troll-folk, my son, are less black than we’re painted;
that’s another distinction between you and us. —
But the serious part of the meeting is over;
now let us gladden our ears and our eyes.
Music-maid, forth! Set the Dovre-harp sounding!
Dancing-maid, forth! Tread the Dovre-hall’s floor!

[Music and a dance.]

The Courtier

How like you it?

Peer

Like it? Hm —

The Old Man

Speak without fear!
What see you?

Peer

Why, something unspeakably grim:
a bell-cow with her hoof on a gut-harp strumming,
a sow in socklets a-trip to the tune.

The Courtiers

Eat him!

The Old Man

His sense is but human, remember!

Troll-maidens

Hu, tear away both his ears and his eyes!

The Green-clad One [weeping]

Hu-hu! And this we must hear and put up with,
when I and my sister make music and dance.

Peer

Oho, was it you? Well, a joke at the feast,
you must know, is never unkindly meant.

The Green-clad One

Can you swear it was so?

Peer

Both the dance and the music
were utterly charming, the cat claw me else.

The Old Man

This same human nature’s a singular thing;
it sticks to people so strangely long.
If it gets a gash in the fight with us,
it heals up at once, though a scar may remain.
My son-in-law, now, is as pliant as any;
he’s willingly thrown off his Christian-man’s garb,
he’s willingly drunk from our chalice of mead,
he’s willingly tied on the tail to his back —
so willing, in short, did we find him in all things,
I thought to myself the old Adam, for certain,
had for good and all been kicked out of doors;
but lo! in two shakes he’s atop again!
Ay ay, my son, we must treat you, I see,
to cure this pestilent human nature.

Peer

What will you do?

The Old Man

In your left eye, first,
I’ll scratch you a bit, till you see awry;
but all that you see will seem fine and brave.
And then I’ll just cut your right window-pane out —

Peer

Are you drunk?

The Old Man [lays a number of sharp instruments on the table]

See, here are the glazier’s tools.
Blinkers you’ll wear, like a raging bull.
Then you’ll recognise that your bride is lovely —
and ne’er will your vision be troubled, as now,
with bell-cows harping and sows that dance.

Peer

This is madman’s talk!

The Oldest Courtier

It’s the Dovre–King speaking;
it’s he that is wise, and it’s you that are crazy!

The Old Man

Just think how much worry and mortification
you’ll thus escape from, year out, year in.
You must remember, your eyes are the fountain
of the bitter and searing lye of tears.

Peer

That’s true; and it says in our sermon-book:
If thine eye offend thee, then pluck it out.
But tell me, when will my sight heal up
into human sight?

The Old Man

Nevermore, my friend.

Peer

Indeed! In that case, I’ll take my leave.

The Old Man

What would you without?

Peer

I would go my way.

The Old Man

No, stop! It’s easy to slip in here,
but the Dovre–King’s gate doesn’t open outwards.

Peer

You wouldn’t detain me by force, I hope?

The Old Man

Come now, just listen to reason, Prince Peer!
You have gifts for trolldom. He acts, does he not,
even now in a passably troll-like fashion?
And you’d fain be a troll?

Peer

Yes, I would, sure enough.
For a bride and a well-managed kingdom to boot,
I can put up with losing a good many things.
But there is a limit to all things on earth.
The tail I’ve accepted, it’s perfectly true;
but no doubt I can loose what the Chamberlain tied.
My breeches I’ve dropped; they were old and patched;
but no doubt I can button them on again.
And lightly enough I can slip my cable
from these your Dovrefied ways of life.
I am willing to swear that a cow is a maid;
an oath one can always eat up again:—
but to know that one never can free oneself,
that one can’t even die like a decent soul;
to live as a hill-troll for all one’s days —
to feel that one never can beat a retreat —
as the book has it, that’s what your heart is set on;
but that is a thing I can never agree to.

The Old Man

Now, sure as I live, I shall soon lose my temper;
and then I am not to be trifled with.
You pasty-faced loon! Do you know who I am?
First with my daughter you make too free —

Peer

There you lie in your throat!

The Old Man

You must marry her.

Peer

Do you dare to accuse me —?

The Old Man

What? Can you deny
that you lusted for her in heart and eye?

Peer [with a snort of contempt]

No more? Who the deuce cares a straw for that?

The Old Man

It’s ever the same with this humankind.
The spirit you’re ready to own with your lips,
but in fact nothing counts that your fists cannot handle.
So you really think, then, that lust matters nought?
Wait; you shall soon have ocular proof of it —

Peer

You don’t catch me with a bait of lies!

The Green-clad One

My Peer, ere the year’s out, you’ll be a father.

Peer

Open doors! let me go!

The Old Man

In a he-goat’s skin,
you shall have the brat after you.

Peer [mopping the sweat off his brow]

Would I could waken!

The Old Man

Shall we send him to the palace?

Peer

You can send him to the parish!

The Old Man

Well well, Prince Peer; that’s your own look-out.
But one thing’s certain, what’s done is done;
and your offspring, too, will be sure to grow;
such mongrels shoot up amazingly fast —

Peer

Old man, don’t act like a headstrong ox!
Hear reason, maiden! Let’s come to terms.
You must know I’m neither a prince nor rich; —
and whether you measure or whether you weigh me,
be sure you won’t gain much by making me yours.

[THE GREEN–CLAD ONE is taken ill, and is carried out by TROLL–MAIDS.]

The Old Man [looks at him for a while in high disdain; then says:]

Dash him to shards on the rock-walls, children!

The Troll-imps

Oh dad, mayn’t we play owl-and-eagle first!
The wolf-game! Grey-mouse and glow-eyed cat!

The Old Man

Yes, but quick. I am worried and sleepy. Good-night!

[He goes.]

Peer [hunted by the TROLL–IMPS]

Let me be, devil’s imps!

[Tries to escape up the chimney.]

The Imps

Come brownies! Come nixies!
Bite him behind!

Peer

Ow!

[Tries to slip down the cellar trap-door.]

The Imps

Shut up all the crannies!

The Troll-courtier

Now the small-fry are happy!

Peer [struggling with a little imp that has bit himself fast to his ear]

Now the Let go, will you, beast!

The Courtier [hitting him across the fingers]

Gently, you scamp, with a scion of royalty!

Peer

A rat-hole —!

[Runs to it.]

The Imps

Be quick, Brother Nixie, and block it!

Peer

The old one was bad, but the youngsters are worse!

The Imps

Slash him!

Peer

Oh, would I were small as a mouse!

[Rushing around.]

The Imps [swarming round him]

Close the ring! Close the ring!

Peer [weeping]

Would that I were a louse!

[He falls.]

The Imps

Now into his eyes!

Peer [buried in a heap of imps]

Mother, help me, I die!

[Church-bells sound far away.]

The Imps

Bells in the mountain! The Black–Frock’s cows!

[THE TROLLS take to flight, amid a confused uproar of yells and shrieks. The palace collapses; everything disappears.]

Scene Seventh

[Pitch darkness.]

[PEER GYNT is heard beating and slashing about him with a large bough.]

Peer

Answer! Who are you?

A Voice In The Darkness

Myself.

Peer

Clear the way!

The Voice

Go roundabout, Peer! The hill’s roomy enough.

Peer [tries to force a passage at another place, but strikes against something]

Go roundaboutWho are you?

The Voice

Myself. Can you say the same?

Peer

I can say what I will; and my sword can smite!
Mind yourself! Hu, hei, now the blow falls crushing!
King Saul slew hundreds; Peer Gynt slew thousands!

[Cutting and slashing.]

Who are you?

The Voice

Myself.

Peer

That stupid reply
you may spare; it doesn’t clear up the matter.
What are you?

The Voice

The great Boyg.

Peer

Ah, indeed!
The riddle was black; now I’d call it grey.
Clear the way then, Boyg!

The Voice

Go roundabout, Peer!

Peer

No, through!

[Cuts and slashes.]

There he fell!

[Tries to advance, but strikes against something.]

Ho ho, are there more here?

The Voice

The Boyg, Peer Gynt! the one only one.
It’s the Boyg that’s unwounded, and the Boyg that was hurt,
it’s the Boyg that is dead, and the Boyg that’s alive.

Peer [throws away the branch]

The weapon is troll-smeared; but I have my fists!

[Fights his way forward.]

The Voice

Ay, trust to your fists, lad, trust to your body.
Hee-hee, Peer Gynt, so you’ll reach the summit.

Peer [falling back again]

Forward or back, and it’s just as far; —
out or in, and it’s just as strait!
He is there! And there! And he’s round the bend!
No sooner I’m out than I’m back in the ring. —
Name who you are! Let me see you! What are you?

The Voice

The Boyg.

Peer [groping around]

Not dead, not living; all slimy; misty.
Not so much as a shape! It’s as bad as to battle
in a cluster of snarling, half-wakened bears!

[Screams.]

Strike back at me, can’t you!

The Voice

The Boyg isn’t mad.

Peer

Strike!

The Voice

The Boyg strikes not.

Peer

Fight! You shall

The Voice

The great Boyg conquers, but does not fight.

Peer

Were there only a nixie here that could prick me!
Were there only as much as a year-old troll!
Only something to fight with. But here there is nothing. —
Now he’s snoring! Boyg!

The Voice

What’s your will?

Peer

Use force!

The Voice

The great Boyg conquers in all things without it.

Peer [biting his own arms and hands]

Claws and ravening teeth in my flesh!
I must feel the drip of my own warm blood.

[A sound is heard like the wing-strokes of great birds.]

Bird-cries

Comes he now, Boyg?

The Voice

Ay, step by step.

Bird-cries

All our sisters far off! Gather here to the tryst!

Peer

If you’d save me now, lass, you must do it quick!
Gaze not adown so, lowly and bending. —
Your clasp-book! Hurl it straight into his eyes!

Bird-cries

He totters!

The Voice

We have him.

Bird-cries

Sisters! Make haste!

Peer

Too dear the purchase one pays for life
in such a heart-wasting hour of strife.

[Sinks down.]

Bird-cries

Boyg, there he’s fallen! Seize him! Seize him!

[A sound of bells and of psalm-singing is heard far away.]

The Boyg [shrinks up to nothing, and says in a gasp:]

He was too strong. There were women behind him.

Scene Eighth

[Sunrise. The mountain-side in front of ÅSE’s saeter. The door is shut; all is silent and deserted.]

[PEER GYNT is lying asleep by the wall of the saeter.]

Peer [wakens, and looks about him with dull and heavy eyes. He spits]. What wouldn’t I give for a pickled herring!

[Spits again, and at the same moment catches sight of HELGA, who appears carrying a basket of food.]

Ha, child, are you there? What is it you want?

Helga

It is Solveig —

Peer [jumping up]

Where is she?

Helga

Behind the saeter.

Solveig [unseen]

If you come nearer, I’ll run away!

Peer [stopping short]

Perhaps you’re afraid I might take you in my arms?

Solveig

For shame!

Peer

Do you know where I was last night? —
Like a horse-fly the Dovre–King’s daughter is after me.

Solveig

Then it was well that the bells were set ringing.

Peer

Peer Gynt’s not the lad they can lure astray. —
What do you say?

Helga [crying]

Oh, she’s running away!

[Running after her.]

Wait!

Peer [catches her by the arm]

Look here, what I have in my pocket!
A silver button, child! You shall have it —
only speak for me!

Helga

Let me be; let me go!

Peer

There you have it.

Helga

Let go; there’s the basket of food.

Peer

God pity you if you don’t —!

Helga

Uf, how you scare me!

Peer [gently; letting her go]

No, I only meant: beg her not to forget me!

[HELGA runs off.]

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/i/ibsen/henrik/peer/act2.html

Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:44