Tilbake

Peer Gynt

by Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen

ACT 5

SCENE NINTH

(At a cross-road.)

PEER GYNT

Now comes the pinch, Peer, as never before!
This Dovrish Enough has passed judgment upon you.
The vessel's a wreck; one must float with the spars.
All else; only not to the spoilt-goods heap!

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

(at the cross-road).

Well now, Peer Gynt, have you found your voucher?

PEER

Have we reached the cross-road? Well, that's short work!

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

I can see on your face, as it were on a signboard,
the gist of the paper before I've read it.

PEER

I got tired of the hunt;-One might lose one's way-

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

Yes; and what does it lead to, after all?

PEER

True enough; in the wood, and by night as well-

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

There's an old man, though, trudging. Shall we call him here?

PEER

No let him go. He is drunk, my dear fellow!

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

But perhaps he might-

PEER

Hush; no-let him be!

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

Well, shall we turn to then?

PEER

One question only:
What is it, at bottom, this "being oneself"?

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

A singular question, most odd in the mouth
of a man who just now-

PEER

Come, a straightforward answer.

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

To be oneself is: to slay oneself.
But on you that answer is doubtless lost;
and therefore we'll say: to stand forth everywhere
with Master's intention displayed like a signboard.

PEER

But suppose a man never has come to know
what Master meant with him?

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

He must divine it.

PEER

But how oft are divinings beside the mark,-
then one's carried ad undas in middle career.

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

That is certain, Peer Gynt; in default of divining
the cloven-hoofed gentleman finds his best hook.

PEER

This matter's excessively complicated.-
See here! I no longer plead being myself;-
it might not be easy to get it proven.
That part of my case I must look on as lost.
But just now, as I wandered alone o'er the heath,
I felt my conscience-shoe pinching me;
I said to myself: After all, you're a sinner-

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

You seem bent on beginning all over again-

PEER

No, very far from it; a great one I mean;
not only in deeds, but in words and desires.
I've lived a most damnable life abroad-

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

Perhaps; I must ask you to show me the schedule!

PEER

Well well, give me time; I will find out a parson,
confess with all speed, and then bring you his voucher.

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

Ay, if you can bring me that, then it is clear
you escape this business of the casting-ladle.
But Peer, I'd my orders-

PEER

The paper is old;
it dates no doubt from a long past period;-
at one time I lived with disgusting slackness,
went playing the prophet, and trusted in Fate.
Well, may I try?

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

But-!

PEER

My dear fellow,
I'm sure you can't have so much to do.
Here, in this district, the air is so bracing,
it adds an ell to the people's ages.
Recollect what the Justedal parson wrote:
"It's seldom that any one dies in this valley."

THE BUTTON-MOULDER

To the next cross-roads then; but not a step further.

PEER

A priest I must catch, if it be with the tongs.

(He starts running.)


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