A monologue from the play by Henrik Ibsen

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Collected Works of Henrik Ibsen, vol. iii: Brand. Trans. C.H. Herford. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.
  • BRAND: Yes, I know myself once more!
    Every boat-house by the shore,
    Every home; the landslip-fall,
    And the ancient moulder'd church,
    And the river alders, all
    From my boyhood I recall.
    But methinks it all has grown
    Grayer, smaller than I knew;
    Yon snow-cornice hangs more prone
    Than of old it used to do,
    From that scanty heaven encloses
    Yet another strip of blue,
    Beetles, looms, immures, imposes--
    Steals of light a larger due.

    [Sits down and gazes into the distance.]

    And the fjord too. Crouch'd it then
    In so drear and deep a den?
    'Tis a squall. A square-rigg'd skiff
    Scuds before it to the land.
    Southward, shadow'd by the cliff,
    I descry a wharf, a shed,
    Then, a farm house, painted red.--
    'Tis the farm beside the strand!
    'Tis the widow's farm. The home
    Of my childhood. Thronging come
    Memories born of memories dead.
    I, where yonder breakers roll,
    Grew, a lonely infant-soul.
    Like a nightmare on my heart
    Weighs the burden of my birth,
    Knit to one, who walks apart
    With her spirit set to earth.
    All the high emprise that stirr'd
    In me, now is veil'd and blurr'd.
    Force and valour from me fail,
    Heart and soul grow faint and frail
    As I near my home, I change,
    To my very self grow strange--
    Wake, as baffled Samson woke,
    Shorn and fetter'd, tamed and broke.

    [Looks again down into the valley.]

    What is stirring down below?
    Out of every garth they flow,
    Troops of children, wives and men,
    And in long lines meet and mingle,
    Now among the rocks and shingle
    Vanish, now emerge again;--
    To the ancient Church they go.


    Oh, I know you, through and through!
    Sluggard spirits, souls of lead!
    All the Lord's Prayer, said by you,
    Is not with such anguish sped,
    By such passion borne on high,
    That one tittle thrills the sky
    As a ringing human cry,
    Save the prayer for daily bread!
    That's this people's battle-call,
    That's the blazon of them all!
    From its context pluck'd apart,
    Branded deep in every heart--
    There it lies, the tempest-tost
    Wreckage of the Faith you've lost.
    Forth! out of this stifling pit!
    Vault-like is the air of it!
    Not a Flag may float unfurl'd
    In this dead and windless world!