Music Composed by:
GRIEG, Edvard (1843-1907); Norweg.

Peer Gynt Suite No.1, Op.46
1.Morning Mood (50k)
Sequenced by: H.-J.Roeder

1875
PEER GYNT
by Henrik Ibsen


THE CHARACTERS

ASE, a peasant's widow.
PEER GYNT, her son.
TWO OLD WOMEN with corn-sacks. ASLAK, a smith.
WEDDING-GUESTS.
A MASTER-COOK, A FIDDLER, etc.
A MAN AND WIFE, newcomers to the district.
SOLVEIG and LITTLE HELGA, their daughters.
THE FARMER AT HEGSTAD.
INGRID, his daughter.
THE BRIDEGROOM and His PARENTS.
THREE SAETER-GIRLS. A GREEN-CLAD WOMAN.
THE OLD MAN OF THE DOVRE.
A TROLL-COURTIER.
SEVERAL OTHERS.
TROLL-MAIDENS and TROLL-URCHINS.
A COUPLE OF WITCHES. BROWNIES, NIXIES, GNOMES, etc.
AN UGLY BRAT.
A VOICE IN THE DARKNESS.
BIRD-CRIES. KARI, a cottar's wife.
Master COTTON, Monsieur BALLON, Herren VON EBERKOPF and TRUMPETERSTRALE, gentlemen on their travels.
A THIEF and A RECEIVER.
ANITRA, daughter of a Bedouin chief.
ARABS, FEMALE SLAVES, DANCING-GIRLS, etc.
THE MEMNON-STATUE (singing).
THE SPHINX AT GIZEH (muta persona).
PROFESSOR BEGRIFFENFELDT, Dr. Phil., director of the madhouse at Cairo.
HUHU, a language-reformer from the coast of Malabar.
HUSSEIN, an eastern Minister.
A FELLAH, with a royal mummy.
SEVERAL MADMEN, with their KEEPERS.
A NORWEGIAN SKIPPER and HIS CREW.
A STRANGE PASSENGER.
A PASTOR.
A FUNERAL-PARTY.
A PARISH-OFFICER.
A BUTTON-MOULDER.
A LEAN PERSON.
The action, which opens in the beginning of the nineteenth century, and ends around the 1860's, takes place partly in Gudbrandsdalen, and on the mountains around it, partly on the coast of Morocco, in the desert of Sahara, in a madhouse at Cairo, at sea, etc.
ACT FIRST


SCENE ONE



[A wooded hillside near ASE's farm. A river rushes down the slope. On the further side of it an old mill shed. It is a hot day in summer.]

[PEER GYNT, a strongly-built youth of twenty, comes down the pathway. His mother, ASE, a small, slightly built woman, follows him, scolding angrily.]

ASE Peer, you're lying!

PEER [without stopping]. No, I am not!

ASE Well then, swear that it is true!

PEER Swear? Why should I?

ASE See, you dare not! It's a lie from first to last.

PEER [stopping]. It is true-each blessed word!

ASE [confronting him]. Don't you blush before your mother? First you skulk among the mountains monthlong in the busiest season, stalking reindeer in the snows; home you come then, torn and tattered, gun amissing, likewise game;- and at last, with open eyes, think to get me to believe all the wildest hunters'-lies!- Well, where did you find the buck, then?

PEER West near Gendin.

ASE [laughing scornfully]. Ah! Indeed!

PEER Keen the blast towards me swept; hidden by an alder-clump, he was scraping in the snow-crust after lichen-

ASE [as before]. Doubtless, yes!

PEER Breathlessly I stood and listened, heard the crunching of his hoof, saw the branches of one antler. Softly then among the boulders I crept forward on my belly. Crouched in the moraine I peered up;- such a buck, so sleek and fat, you, I'm sure, have ne'er set eyes on.

ASE No, of course not!

PEER Bang! I fired! Clean he dropped upon the hillside. But the instant that he fell I sat firm astride his back, gripped him by the left ear tightly, and had almost sunk my knife-blade in his neck, behind his skull- when, behold! the brute screamed wildly, sprang upon his feet like lightning, with a back-cast of his head from my fist made knife and sheath fly, pinned me tightly by the thigh, jammed his horns against my legs, clenched me like a pair of tongs;- then forthwith away he flew right along the Gendin-Edge!

ASE [involuntarily]. Jesus save us-!

PEER Have you ever chanced to see the Gendin-Edge? Nigh on four miles long it stretches sharp before you like a scythe. Down o'er glaciers, landslips, scaurs, down the toppling grey moraines, you can see, both right and left, straight into the tarns that slumber, black and sluggish, more than seven hundred fathoms deep below you. Right along the Edge we two clove our passage through the air. Never rode I such a colt! Straight before us as we rushed 'twas as though there glittered suns. Brown-backed eagles that were sailing in the wide and dizzy void half-way 'twixt us and the tarns, dropped behind, like motes in air. Ice-floes on the shores broke crashing, but no murmur reached my ears. Only sprites of dizziness sprang, dancing, round;-they sang, they swung, circle-wise, past sight and hearing!

ASE [dizzy]. Oh, God save me!

PEER All at once, at a desperate, break-neck spot, rose a great cock-ptarmigan, flapping, cackling, terrified, from the crack where he lay hidden at the buck's feet on the Edge. Then the buck shied half around, leapt sky-high, and down we plunged both of us into the depths!

[ASE totters, and catches at the trunk of a tree.

PEER GYNT continues:] Mountain walls behind us, black, and below a void unfathomed! First we clove through banks of mist, then we clove a flock of sea-gulls, so that they, in mid-air startled, flew in all directions, screaming. Downward rushed we, ever downward. But beneath us something shimmered, whitish, like a reindeer's belly.- Mother, 'twas our own reflection in the glass-smooth mountain tarn, shooting up towards the surface with the same wild rush of speed wherewith we were shooting downwards.

ASE [gasping for breath]. Peer! God help me-! Quickly, tell-!

PEER Buck from over, buck from under, in a moment clashed together, scattering foam-flecks all around. There we lay then, floating, plashing,- But at last we made our way somehow to the northern shore; buck, he swam, I clung behind him:- I ran homewards-

ASE But the buck, dear?

PEER He's there still, for aught I know;- [Snaps his fingers, turns on his heel, and adds:] catch him, and you're welcome to him!

ASE And your neck you haven't broken? Haven't broken both your thighs? and your backbone, too, is whole? Oh, dear Lord-what thanks, what praise, should be thine who helped my boy! There's a rent, though, in your breeches; but it's scarce worth talking of when one thinks what dreadful things might have come of such a leap-!

[Stops suddenly, looks at him open-mouthed and wide-eyed; cannot find words for some time, but at last bursts out:]

Oh, you devil's story-teller, Cross of Christ, how you can lie! All this screed you foist upon me, I remember now, I knew it when I was a girl of twenty. Gudbrand Glesne it befell, never you, you-

PEER Me as well. Such a thing can happen twice.

ASE [exasperated]. Yes, a lie, turned topsy-turvy, can be prinked and tinselled out, decked in plumage new and fine, till none knows its lean old carcass. That is just what you've been doing, vamping up things, wild and grand, garnishing with eagles' backs and with all the other horrors, lying right and lying left, filling me with speechless dread, till at last I recognised not what of old I'd heard and known!

PEER If another talked like that I'd half kill him for his pains.

ASE [weeping]. Oh, would God I lay a corpse; would the black earth held me sleeping! Prayers and tears don't bite upon him.- Peer, you're lost, and ever will be!

PEER Darling, pretty little mother, you are right in every word;- don't be cross, be happy-

ASE Silence! Could I, if I would, be happy, with a pig like you for son? Think how bitter I must find it, I, a poor defenceless widow, ever to be put to shame!

[Weeping again.]

How much have we now remaining from your grandsire's days of glory? Where are now the sacks of coin left behind by Rasmus Gynt? Ah, your father lent them wings,- lavished them abroad like sand, buying land in every parish, driving round in gilded chariots. Where is all the wealth he wasted at the famous winter-banquet, when each guest sent glass and bottle shivering 'gainst the wall behind him?

PEER Where's the snow of yester-year?

ASE Silence, boy, before your mother! See the farmhouse! Every second window-pane is stopped with clouts. Hedges, fences, all are down, beasts exposed to wind and weather, fields and meadows lying fallow, every month a new distraint-

PEER Come now, stop this old-wife's talk! Many a time has luck seemed dropping, and sprung up as high as ever!

ASE Salt-strewn is the soil it grew from. Lord, but you're a rare one, you,- just as pert and jaunty still, just as bold as when the pastor, newly come from Copenhagen, bade you tell your Christian name, and declared that such a headpiece many a prince down there might envy; till the cob your father gave him, with a sledge to boot, in thanks for his pleasant, friendly talk.- Ah, but things went bravely then! Provost, captain, all the rest, dropped in daily, ate and drank, swilling, till they well-nigh burst. But 'tis need that tests one's neighbour. Still it grew and empty here from the day that "Gold-bag Jon" started with his pack, a pedlar. [Dries her eyes with her apron.] Ah, you're big and strong enough, you should be a staff and pillar for your mother's frail old age,- you should keep the farm-work going, guard the remnants of your gear;-

[Crying again.]

oh, God help me, small's the profit you have been to me, you scamp! Lounging by the hearth at home, grubbing in the charcoal embers; or, round all the country, frightening girls away from merry-makings- shaming me in all directions, fighting with the worst rapscallions-

PEER [turning away from her]. Let me be.

ASE [following him]. Can you deny that you were the foremost brawler in the mighty battle royal fought the other day at Lunde, when you raged like mongrels mad? Who was it but you that broke Blacksmith Aslak's arm for him,- or at any rate that wrenched one of his fingers out of joint?

PEER Who has filled you with such prate?

ASE [hotly]. Cottar Kari heard the yells!

PEER [rubbing his elbow]. Maybe, but 'twas I that howled.

ASE You?

PEER Yes, mother,-I got beaten.

ASE What d'you say?

PEER He's limber, he is.

ASE Who?

PEER Why Aslak, to be sure.

ASE Shame-and shame; I spit upon you! Such a worthless sot as that, such a brawler, such a sodden dram-sponge to have beaten you!

[Weeping again.]

Many a shame and slight I've suffered; but that this should come to pass is the worst disgrace of all. What if he be ne'er so limber, need you therefore be a weakling?

PEER Though I hammer or am hammered,- still we must have lamentations.

[Laughing.]

Cheer up, mother-

ASE What? You're lying now again?

PEER Yes, just this once. Come now, wipe your tears away;-

[Clenching his left hand.]

see,-with this same pair of tongs, thus I held the smith bent double, while my sledge-hammer right fist-

ASE Oh, you brawler! You will bring me with your doings to the grave!

PEER No, you're worth a better fate; better twenty thousand times! Little, ugly, dear old mother, you may safely trust my word,- all the parish shall exalt you; only wait till I have done something-something really grand!

ASE [contemptuously]. You!

PEER Who knows what may befall one!

ASE Would you'd get so far in sense one day as to do the darning of your breeches for yourself!

PEER [hotly]. I will be a king, a kaiser!

ASE Oh, God comfort me, he's losing all the wits that he had left!

PEER Yes, I will! just give me time!

ASE Give you time, you'll be a prince, so the saying goes, I think!

PEER You shall see!

ASE Oh, hold your tongue! You're as mad as mad can be.- Ah, and yet it's true enough,- something might have come of you, had you not been steeped for ever in your lies and trash and moonshine. Hegstad's girl was fond of you. Easily you could have won her had you wooed her with a will-

PEER Could I?

ASE The old man's too feeble not to give his child her way. He is stiff-necked in a fashion but at last 'tis Ingrid rules; and where she leads, step by step, stumps the gaffer, grumbling, after.

[Begins to cry again.]

Ah, my Peer!-a golden girl- land entailed on her! just think, had you set your mind upon it, you'd be now a bridegroom brave,- you that stand here grimed and tattered!

PEER [briskly]. Come, we'll go a-wooing, then!

ASE Where?

PEER At Hegstad!

ASE Ah, poor boy; Hegstad way is barred to wooers!

PEER How is that?

ASE Ah, I must sigh! Lost the moment, lost the luck-

PEER Speak!

ASE [sobbing]. While in the Wester-hills you in air were riding reindeer, here Mads Moen's won the girl!

PEER What! That women's-bugbear! He-!

ASE Ay, she's taking him for husband.

PEER Wait you here till I have harnessed horse and waggon-

[Going.]

ASE Spare your pains. They are to be wed to-morrow-

PEER Pooh; this evening I'll be there!

ASE Fie now! Would you crown our miseries with a load of all men's scorn?

PEER Never fear; 'twill all go well.

[Shouting and laughing at the same time.]

Mother, jump! We'll spare the waggon; 'twould take time to fetch the mare up-

[Lifts her up in his arms.]

ASE Put me down!

PEER No, in my arms I will bear you to the wedding!

[Wades out into the stream.]

ASE Help! The Lord have mercy on us! Peer! We're drowning-

PEER I was born for a braver death-

ASE Ay, true; sure enough you'll hang at last!

[Tugging at his hair.]

Oh, you brute!

PEER Keep quiet now; here the bottom's slippery-slimy.

ASE Ass!

PEER That's right, don't spare your tongue; that does no one any harm. Now it's shelving up again-

ASE Don't you drop me!

PEER Heisan! Hop! Now we'll play at Peer and reindeer;-

[Curvetting.]

I'm the reindeer, you are Peer!

ASE Oh, I'm going clean distraught!

PEER There see; now we've reached the shallows;-

[Wades ashore.]

come, a kiss now, for the reindeer; just to thank him for the ride-

ASE [boxing his ears]. This is how I thank him!

PEER Ow! That's a miserable fare!

ASE Put me down!

PEER First to the wedding. Be my spokesman. You're so clever; talk to him, the old curmudgeon; say Mads Moen's good for nothing-

ASE Put me down!

PEER And tell him then what a rare lad is Peer Gynt.

ASE Truly, you may swear to that! Fine's the character I'll give you. Through and through I'll show you up; all about your devil's pranks I will tell them straight and plain-

PEER Will you?

ASE [kicking with rage]. I won't stay my tongue till the old man sets his dog at you, as you were a tramp!

PEER Hm; then I must go alone.

ASE Ay, but I'll come after you!

PEER Mother dear, you haven't strength-

ASE Strength? When I'm in such a rage, I could crush the rocks to powder! Hu! I'd make a meal of flints! Put me down!

PEER You'll promise then-

ASE Nothing! I'll to Hegstad with you! They shall know you, what you are!

PEER Then you'll even have to stay here.

ASE Never! To the feast I'm coming!

PEER That you shan't.

ASE What will you do?

PEER Perch you on the mill-house roof. [He puts her up on the roof. ASE screams.]

ASE Lift me down!

PEER Yes, if you'll listen-

ASE Rubbish!

PEER Dearest mother, pray-!

ASE [throwing a sod of grass at him]. Lift me down this moment, Peer!

PEER If I dared, be sure I would.

[Coming nearer.]

Now remember, sit quite still. Do not sprawl and kick about; do not tug and tear the shingles,- else 'twill be the worse for you; you might topple down.

ASE You beast!

PEER Do not kick!

ASE I'd have you blown, like a changeling, into space!

PEER Mother, fie!

ASE Bah!

PEER Rather give your blessing on my undertaking. Will you? Eh?

ASE I'll thrash you soundly, hulking fellow though you be!

PEER Well, good-bye then, mother dear! Patience; I'll be back ere long.

[Is going, but turns, holds up his finger warningly, and says:]

Careful now, don't kick and sprawl! [Goes.]

ASE Peer!-God help me, now he's off; Reindeer-rider! Liar! Hei! Will you listen!-No, he's striding o'er the meadow-! [Shrieks.] Help! I'm dizzy!

[TWO OLD WOMEN, with sacks on their backs, come down the path to the mill.]

FIRST WOMAN Christ, who's screaming?

ASE It is I!

SECOND WOMAN Ase! Well, you are exalted!

ASE This won't be the end of it;- soon, God help me, I'll be heaven-high!

FIRST WOMAN Bless your passing!

ASE Fetch a ladder; I must be down! That devil Peer-

SECOND WOMAN Peer! Your son?

ASE Now you can say you have seen how he behaves.

FIRST WOMAN We'll bear witness.

ASE Only help me; straight to Hegstad I will hasten-

SECOND WOMAN Is he there?

FIRST WOMAN You'll be revenged, then; Aslak Smith will be there too.

ASE [wringing her hands]. Oh, God help me with my boy; they will kill him ere they're done!

FIRST WOMAN Oh, that lot has oft been talked of; comfort you: what must be must be!

SECOND WOMAN She is utterly demented. [Calls up the hill.] Eivind, Anders! Hei! Come here!

A MAN'S VOICE What's amiss?

SECOND WOMAN Peer Gynt has perched his mother on the mill-house roof!

End Scene One




Scene Two