Tilbake

Peer Gynt

by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen

ACT 4

SCENE TWELFTH

(Near the village of Gizeh. The great SPHINX carved out of the rock. In the distance the spires and minarets of Cairo.)

(PEER GYNT enters; he examines the SPHINX attentively, now through his eyeglass, now through his hollowed hand.)

PEER GYNT

Now, where in the world have I met before
something half forgotten that's like this hobgoblin?
For met it I have, in the north or the south.
Was it a person? And, if so, who?
That Memnon, it afterwards crossed my mind,
was like the Old Men of the Dovre, so called,
just as he sat there, stiff and stark,
planted on end on the stumps of pillars.-
But this most curious mongrel here,
this changeling, a lion and woman in one,-
does he come to me, too, from a fairy-tale,
or from a remembrance of something real?
From a fairy-tale? Ho, I remember the fellow!
Why, of course it's the Boyg, that I smote on the skull,-
that is, I dreamt it,-I lay in fever.-

(Going closer.)

The self-same eyes, and the self-same lips;-
not quite so lumpish; a little more cunning;
but the same, for the rest, in all essentials.-
Ay, so that's it, Boyg; so you're like a lion
when one sees you from behind and meets you in the daytime!
Are you still good at riddling? Come, let us try.
Now we shall see if you answer as last time!

(Calls out towards the SPHINX.)

Hei, Boyg, who are you?

A VOICE

(behind the SPHINX).

Ach, Sphinx, wer bist du?

PEER

What! Echo answers in German! How strange!

THE VOICE

Wer bist du?

PEER

It speaks it quite fluently too!
That observation is new, and my own.

(Notes in his book.)

"Echo in German. Dialect, Berlin."

(BEGRIFFENFELDT COMES OUT from behind the SPHINX.)

BEGRIFFENFELDT

A man!

PEER

Oh, then it was he that was chattering.

(Notes again.)

"Arrived in the sequel at other results."

BEGRIFFENFELDT

(with all sorts of restless antics).

Excuse me, mein Herr-! Eine Lebensfrage-!
What brings you to this place precisely to-day?

PEER

A visit. I'm greeting a friend of my youth.

BEGRIFFENFELDT

What? The Sphinx-?

PEER

(nods).

Yes, I knew him in days gone by.

BEGRIFFENFELDT

Famos!-And that after such a night!
My temples are hammering as though they would burst!
You know him, man! Answer! Say on! Can you tell
what he is?

PEER

What he is? Yes, that's easy enough.
He's himself.

BEGRIFFENFELDT

(with a bound).

Ha, the riddle of life lightened forth
in a flash to my vision!-It's certain he is
himself?

PEER

Yes, he says so, at any rate.

BEGRIFFENFELDT

Himself! Revolution! thine hour is at hand!

(Takes off his hat.)

Your name, pray, mein Herr?

PEER

I was christened Peer Gynt.

BEGRIFFENFELDT

(in rapt admiration).

Peer Gynt! Allegoric! I might have foreseen it.-
Peer Gynt? That must clearly imply: The Unknown,-
the Comer whose coming was foretold to me-

PEER

What, really? And now you are here to meet-?

BEGRIFFENFELDT

Peer Gynt! Profound! Enigmatic! Incisive!
Each word, as it were, an abysmal lesson!
What are you?

PEER

(modestly).

I've always endeavoured to be
myself. For the rest, here's my passport, you see.

BEGRIFFENFELDT

Again that mysterious word at the bottom.

(Seizes him by the wrist.)

To Cairo! The Interpreters' Kaiser is found!

PEER

Kaiser?

BEGRIFFENFELDT

Come on!

PEER

Am I really known-?

BEGRIFFENFELDT

(dragging him away).

The Interpreters' Kaiser-on the basis of Self!


From the homepage of Espen Joranger

PGENG