A monologue from the play by Henrik Ibsen

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Collected Works of Henrik Ibsen, vol. iv: Peer Gynt. Trans. William and Charles Archer. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.
  • PEER: It's true--each blessed word!
    Keen the blast towards me swept;
    Hidden by an alder-clump,
    He was scraping in the snow-crust
    After lichen----
    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.
    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!
    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, screes,
    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.
    On the shores crashed hurtling ice-floes,
    But no echo reached my ears.
    Only sprites of dizziness sprang,
    Dancing, round;--they sang, they swung,
    Circle-wise, past sight and hearing!
    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!
    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.
    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;
    Swam the buck, I clung behind him:--
    I ran homewards--
    Where's the buck?
    He's there still, for aught I know.
    Catch him, and your welcome to him!