Pan, by Knut Hamsun


I sit up in the hills, mining. The autumn air is crystal about me. The strokes of my drill ring steady and even. Æsop looks at me with wondering eyes. Wave after wave of content swells through my breast. No one knows that I am here among the lonely hills.

The birds of passage have gone; a happy journey and welcome back again! Titmouse and blackcap and a hedge-sparrow or so live now alone in the bush and undergrowth: tuitui! All is so curiously changed — the dwarf birch bleeds redly against the grey stones, a harebell here and there shows among the heather, swaying and whispering a little song: sh! But high above all hovers an eagle with outstretched neck, on his way to the inland ridges.

And the evening comes; I lay my drill and my hammer in under the rock and stop to rest. All things are glooming now. The moon glides up in the north; the rocks cast gigantic shadows. The moon is full; it looks like a glowing island, like a round riddle of brass that I pass by and wonder at. Æsop gets up and is restless.

“What is it, Æsop? As for me, I am tired of my sorrow; I will forget it, drown it. Lie still, Æsop, I tell you; I will not be pestered. Eva asks: ‘Do you think of me sometimes?’ I answer: ‘Always.’ Eva asks again: ‘And is it any joy to you, to think of me?’ I answer: ‘Always a joy, never anything but a joy.’ Then says Eva: ‘Your hair is turning grey.’ I answer: ‘Yes, it is beginning to turn grey.’ But Eva says: ‘Is it something you think about, that is turning it grey?’ And to that I answer: ‘Maybe.’ At last Eva says: ‘Then you do not think only of me . . . ’ Æsop, lie still; I will tell you about something else instead . . . ”

But Æsop stands sniffing excitedly down towards the valley, pointing, and dragging at my clothes. When at last I get up and follow, he cannot get along fast enough. A flush of red shows in the sky above the woods. I go on faster; and there before my eyes is a glow, a huge fire. I stop and stare at it, go on a few steps and stare again.

My hut is ablaze.

Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51