up as RANNVEIG half loosens her to take a
hairpin from her own head)
She is mad, mad.... Oh, the bower is barred—
Hallgerd, come out, let mountains cover you.
(She rushes out to the left.)
The night take you indeed....
GIZUR (as he
enters from the left)
Ay, drive her out;
For no man’s house was ever better by her.
Is an old woman’s life desired as well?
We ask that you will grant us earth hereby
Of Gunnar’s earth, for two men dead to-night
To lie beneath a cairn that we shall raise.
Only for two? Take it: ask more of me.
I wish the measure were for all of you.
Your words must be forgiven you, old mother,
For none has had a greater loss than yours.
Why would he set himself against us all....
(He goes out.)
Gunnar, my son, we are alone again.
(She goes up the hall, mounts to the
loft, and stoops beside
Oh, they have hurt you—but
that is forgot.
Boy, it is bedtime; though I am too changed,
And cannot lift you up and lay you in,
You shall go warm to bed—I’ll put you there.
There is no comfort in my breast to-night,
But close your eyes beneath my fingers’ touch,
Slip your feet down, and let me smooth your hands:
Then sleep and sleep. Ay, all the world’s asleep.
You had a rare toy when you were awake—
I’ll wipe it with my hair.... Nay, keep it so,
The colour on it now has gladdened you.
It shall lie near you.
(She raises the bill: the deep hum follows.)
No; it remembers him,
And other men shall fall by it through Gunnar:
The bill, the bill is singing.... The bill sings!
(She kisses the weapon, then shakes it on high.)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION IN READING THE PLAYS
1. The Forces in the Play.
What is the “passion”—that is, what exactly do these people desire who “want their ain way”? What forces favor these desires, and what oppose them—for instance, David Pirnie’s determination to tell wee Alexander a bit story, in The Philosopher of Butterbiggens? Can you always put any one character altogether on one side? Or does his own weakness or carelessness or stupidity, for example, sometimes work against his getting what he wants, so that he is, in part, not on his own side, but against it, as Brutus is in Julius Caesar? Are there other forces