(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.)
Slay him! a Christian-man's son has deluded
the Dovre-King's loveliest maid!
May I hack him on the fingers?
May I tug him by the hair?
Hu, hei, let me bite him in the haunches!
Shall he be boiled into broth and bree?
Shall he roast on a spit or be browned in a stewpan?
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?
Your daughter and the realm to her dowry, yes.
You shall have the half while I'm still alive,
and the other half when I come to die.
I'm content with that.
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.
Only call me king, and that's easy to keep.
And next-now for putting your wits to the test.
(Draws himself up in his seat.)
(to PEER GYNT)
Let us see if you have a wisdom-tooth
that can crack the Dovre-King's riddle-nut!
What difference is there 'twixt trolls and men?
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.
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!'
Can you fathom the depth?
It strikes me as misty.
My son, that 'Enough,' that most potent and sundering
word, must be graven upon your escutcheon.
It must, if you here would be master!
Oh well, let it pass; after all, it's no worse-
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.
The devil fly off with your home-brewed drinks!
I'll never get used to the ways of this land.
The bowl's given in, and it's fashioned of gold.
Whoso owns the gold bowl, him my daughter holds dear.
It is written: Thou shalt bridle the natural man;-
and I daresay the drink may in time seem less sour.
So be it! (Complies.)
Ay, that was sagaciously said.
One must trust to the force of habit.
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.
I haven't a tail!
Then of course you must get one.
See my Sunday-tail, Chamberlain, fastened to him.
I'll be hanged if you do! Would you make me a fool!
None comes courting my child with no tail at his rear.
Make a beast of a 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.
It's true, as the saying goes: Man's but a mote.
And it's wisest to follow the fashion a bit.
You're a tractable fellow, I see.
just try with what grace you can waggle and whisk it!
Ha, would you force me to go still further?
Do you ask me to give up my Christian faith?
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.
Why, in spite of your many conditions, you are
a more reasonable chap than one might have expected.
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.)
How like you it?
Like it? Hm-
Speak without fear!
What see you?
Why, something unspeakably grim:
a bell-cow with her hoof on a gut-harp strumming,
a sow in socklets a-trip to the tune.
His sense is but human, remember!
Hu, tear away both his ears and his eyes!
Hu-hu! And this we must hear and put up with,
when I and my sister make music and dance.
Oho, was it you? Well, a joke at the feast,
you must know, is never unkindly meant.
Can you swear it was so?
Both the dance and the music
were utterly charming, the cat claw me else.
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.
What will you do?
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-
Are you drunk?
(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.
This is madman's talk!
It's the Dovre-King speaking;
it's he that is wise, and it's you that are crazy!
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.
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?
Nevermore, my friend.
Indeed! In that case, I'll take my leave.
What would you without?
I would go my way.
No, stop! It's easy to slip in here,
but the Dovre-King's gate doesn't open outwards.
You wouldn't detain me by force, I hope?
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?
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.
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-
There you lie in your throat!
You must marry her.
Do you dare to accuse me-?
What? Can you deny
that you lusted for her in heart and eye?
No more? Who the deuce cares a straw for that?
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-
You don't catch me with a bait of lies!
My Peer, ere the year's out, you'll be a father.
Open doors! let me go!
In a he-goat's skin,
you shall have the brat after you.
(mopping the sweat off his brow).
Would I could waken!
Shall we send him to the palace?
You can send him to the parish!
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-
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.)
Dash him to shards on the rock-walls, children!
Oh dad, mayn't we play owl-and-eagle first!
The wolf-game! Grey-mouse and glow-eyed cat!
Yes, but quick. I am worried and sleepy. Good-night!
Let me be, devil's imps!
(Tries to escape up the chimney.)
Come brownies! Come nixies!
Bite him behind!
Ow! (Tries to slip down the cellar trap-door.)
Shut up all the crannies!
Now the small-fry are happy!
Let go, will you, beast!
Gently, you scamp, with a scion of royalty!
(Runs to it.)
Be quick, Brother Nixie, and block it!
The old one was bad, but the youngsters are worse!
Oh, would I were small as a mouse!
Close the ring! Close the ring!
Would that I were a louse! (He falls.)
Now into his eyes!
Mother, help me, I die! (Church-bells sound far away.)
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.)