Tilbake

Peer Gynt

by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen

ACT 2

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.


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