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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Warrior's Barrow - Scene 1
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The Warrior's Barrow - Scene 1 Post by :jimfranks Category :Plays Author :Henrik Ibsen Date :May 2012 Read :2947

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The Warrior's Barrow - Scene 1


(At the right of the stage sits RODERIK writing. To the left BLANKA in a half reclining position.)

Lo! the sky in dying glory
Surges like a sea ablaze,--
It is all so still before me,
Still as in a sylvan maze.
Summer evening's mellow power
Settles round us like a dove,
Hovers like a swan above
Ocean wave and forest flower.
In the orange thicket slumber
Gods and goddesses of yore,
Stone reminders in great number
Of a world that is no more.
Virtue, valor, trust are gone,
Rich in memory alone;
Could there be a more complete
Picture of the South effete?


But my father has related
Stories of a distant land,
Of a life, fresh, unabated,
Neither carved nor wrought by hand!
Here the spirit has forever
Vanished into stone and wave,--
There it breathes as free as ever,
Like a warrior strong and brave!
When the evening's crystallizing
Vapors settle on my breast,
Lo! I see before me rising
Norway's snow-illumined crest!
Here is life decayed and dying,
Sunk in torpor, still, forlorn,--
There go avalanches flying,
Life anew in death is born!
If I had the white swan's coat--

(After a pause writing.)
"Then, it is said, will Ragnarök have stilled
The wilder powers, brought forth a chastened life;
All-Father, Balder, and the gentle Freya
Will rule again the race of man in peace!"--

(After having watched her for a moment.)

But, Blanka, now you dream away again;
You stare through space completely lost in thought,--
What is it that you seek?

(Draws near.)
Forgive me, father!
I merely followed for a space the swan,
That sailed on snowy wings across the sea.

And if I had not stopped you in your flight,
My young and pretty little swan! who knows
How far you might have flown away from me,--
Perchance to Thule?

And indeed why not?
To Thule flies the swan in early spring,
If only to return again each fall.

(Seats herself at his feet.)

Yet I--I am no swan,--no, call me rather
A captured falcon, sitting tame and true,
A golden ring about his foot.

Well,--and the ring?

The ring? That is my love for you, dear father!
With that you have your youthful falcon bound,
I cannot fly,--not even though I wished to.


But when I see the swan sail o'er the wave,
Light as a cloud before the summer wind,
Then I remember all that you have told
Of the heroic life in distant Thule;
Then, as it seems, the bird is like a bark
With dragon head and wings of burnished gold;
I see the youthful hero in the prow,
A copper helmet on his yellow locks,
With eyes of blue, a manly, heaving breast,
His sword held firmly in his mighty hand.
I follow him upon his rapid course,
And all my dreams run riot round his bark,
And frolic sportively like merry dolphins
In fancy's deep and cooling sea!

O you,--
You are an ardent dreamer, my good child,--
I almost fear your thoughts too often dwell
Upon the people in the rugged North.

And, father, whose the fault, if it were so?

RODERIK. You mean that I--?

Yes, what else could I mean;
You live yourself but in the memory
Of early days among these mighty Norsemen;
Do not deny that often as you speak
Of warlike forays, combats, fights,
Your cheek begins to flush, your eye to glow;
It seems to me that you grow young again.

Yes, yes, but I have reason so to do;
For I have lived among them in the North,
And every bit that memory calls to mind
Is like a page to me from my own saga.
But you, however, fostered in the South,
Who never saw the silver-tinted mountains,
Who never heard the trumpet's echoing song,--
Ah, how could you be moved by what I tell?

Oh, must a human being see and hear
All things but with his outer senses then?
Has not the inner soul, too, eye and ear,
With which it can both see and hearken well?
'Tis true it is with eyes of flesh I see
The richly glowing color of the rose;
But with the spirit's eye I see within
A lovely elf, a fairy butterfly,
Who archly hides behind the crimson leaves,
And singeth of a secret power from heaven
That gave the flower brightness and perfume.

True, true, my child!

I almost do believe
That just because I do not really see,
The whole looms up more beautiful in thought;
That, father, is the way with you at least!
The ancient sagas and heroic lays,--
These you remember, speak of with delight,
And scratch in runic script upon your parchment;
But if I ask about your youthful life
In Norway's distant realm, your eyes grow dark,
Your lips are silent, and it seems at times
Your bosom houses gloomy memories.

Come, speak no more, good child, about the past.
Who is there then whose youthful memories
Are altogether free from self-reproach;
You know, the Norsemen are a savage lot.

But are the warriors of the South less fierce?
Have you forgot that night, now ten years past,
The time the strangers landed on the coast,
And plundered--?

(Visibly ill at ease.)
Say no more now,--let us hence;
The sundown soon will be upon us;--come!

(As they go.)
Give me your hand!


No, wait!

What is the matter?

I have today for the first time forgot--

And what have you forgot?

(Points to the barrow.)
Behold the wreath!

It is--

The withered one of yesterday;
I have forgot today to make the change;
Yet, let me take you to the cabin first,
Then shall I venture out in search of flowers;
The violet never is so sweet and rare
As when the dew has bathed its silver lining;
The budding rose is never quite so fair
As when 'tis plucked in child-like sleep reclining!

(They go out at the back to the right.)

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