Peer Gynt

by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen



(Another part of the coast. Moonlight with drifting clouds. The yacht is seen far out, under full steam.

PEER GYNT comes running along the beach; now pinching his arms, now gazing out to sea.)


A nightmare!-Delusion!-I'll soon be awake!
She's standing to sea! And at furious speed!-
Mere delusion! I'm sleeping! I'm dizzy and drunk!

(Clenches his hands.)

It's not possible I should be going to die!

(Tearing his hair.)

A dream! I'm determined it shall be a dream!
Oh, horror! It's only too real, worse luck!
My brute-beasts of friends-! Do but hear me, oh Lord!
Since thou art so wise and so righteous-! Oh judge-!

(With upstretched arms.)

It is I, Peter Gynt! Oh, Lord, give but heed!
Hold thy hand o'er me, Father; or else I must perish!
Make them back the machine! Make them lower the gig!
Stop the robbers! Make something go wrong with the rigging!
Hear me! Let other folks' business lie over!
The world can take care of itself for the time!
I'm blessed if he hears me! He's deaf as his wont is!
Here's a nice thing! A God that is bankrupt of help!

(Beckons upwards.)

Hist! I've abandoned the nigger-plantation!
And missionaries I've exported to Asia!
Surely one good turn should be worth another!
Oh, help me on board-!

(A jet of fire shoots into the air from the yacht, followed by thick clouds of smoke; a hollow report is heard. PEER GYNT utters a shriek, and sinks down on the sands. Gradually the smoke clears away; the ship has disappeared.)


(softly, with a pale face)

That's the sword of wrath!
In a crack to the bottom, every soul, man and mouse!
Oh, for ever blest be the lucky chance-

(With emotion.)

A chance? No, no, it was more than chance.
I was to be rescued and they to perish.
Oh, thanks and praise for that thou hast kept me,
hast cared for me, spite of all my sins!-

(Draws a deep breath.)

What a marvellous feeling of safety and peace
it gives one to know oneself specially shielded!
But the desert! What about, food and drink?
Oh, something I'm sure to find. He'll see to that.
There's no cause for alarm;-

(Loud and insinuatingly.)

He would never allow
a poor little sparrow like me to perish!
Be but lowly of spirit. And give him time.
Leave it all in the Lord's hands; and don't be cast down.-

(With a start of terror.)

Can that be a lion that growled in the reeds-?

(His teeth chattering.)

No, it wasn't a lion.

(Mustering up courage.)

A lion, forsooth!
Those beasts, they'll take care to keep out of the way.
They know it's no joke to fall foul of their betters.
They have instinct to guide them;-they feel, what's a fact,
that it's dangerous playing with elephants.-
But all the same-. I must find a tree.
There's a grove of acacias and palms over there;
if I once can climb up, I'll be sheltered and safe,-
most of all if I knew but a psalm or two.

(Clambers up.)

Morning and evening are not alike;
that text has been oft enough weighed and pondered.
(Seats himself comfortably.)

How blissful to feel so uplifted in spirit.
To think nobly is more than to know oneself rich.
Only trust in Him. He knows well what share
of the chalice of need I can bear to drain.
He takes fatherly thought for my personal weal;-

(Casts a glance over the sea, and whispers with a sigh:)

but economical-no, that he isn't!

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