Peer Gynt

by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen



(Daybreak. The grove of acacias and palms.)

(PEER GYNT in his tree with a broken branch in his hand, trying to beat off a swarm of monkeys.)


Confound it! A most disagreeable night.

(Laying about him.)

Are you there again? This is most accursed!
Now they're throwing fruit. No, it's something else.
A loathsome beast is your Barbary ape!
The Scripture says: Thou shalt watch and fight.
But I'm blest if I can; I am heavy and tired.
(Is again attacked; impatiently:) I must put a stopper upon this nuisance!
I must see and get hold of one of these scamps,
get him hung and skinned, and then dress myself up,
as best I may, in his shaggy hide,
that the others may take me for one of themselves.-
What are we mortals? Motes, no more;
and it's wisest to follow the fashion a bit.-
Again a rabble! They throng and swarm.
Off with you! Shoo! They go on as though crazy.
If only I had a false tail to put on now,-
only something to make me a bit like a beast.-
What now? There's a pattering over my head-!

(Looks up.)

It's the grandfather ape,-with his fists full of filth-!

(Huddles together apprehensively, and keeps still for a while. The
ape makes a motion; PEER GYNT begins coaxing and wheedling him, as
he might a dog.)

Ay,-are you there, my good old Bus!
He's a good beast, he is! He will listen to reason!
He wouldn't throw;-I should think not, indeed!
It is me! Pip-pip! We are first-rate friends!
Ai-ai! Don't you hear, I can talk your language?
Bus and I, we are kinsfolk, you see;-
Bus shall have sugar to-morrow-! The beast!
The whole cargo on top of me! Ugh, how disgusting!-
Or perhaps it was food? 'Twas in taste-indefinable;
and taste's for the most part a matter of habit.
What thinker is it who somewhere says:
You must spit and trust to the force of habit?-
Now here come the small-fry!

(Hits and slashes around him.)

It's really too bad
that man, who by rights is the lord of creation,
should find himself forced to-! O murder! murder!
the old one was bad, but the youngsters are worse!

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