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Modern Icelandic Plays - Eyvind of the Hills; The Hraun Farm
by Jhann Sigurjnsson
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Sveinungi.

What kind of knowledge is that?

Soelvi.

Those stones teach me to know my country and how it has been built by fire and water and ice. They give me an opportunity of finding out new links in laws that are eternal and mightier than all mankind.

Sveinungi.

Indeed! Since you are so passing wise, you ought to have told me days ago that a great earthquake would come to-night. That I could have understood; but it seems that you knew as little there as the rest of us. I believe old Jakobina is wiser than you.

Soelvi.

I don't know how wise she is, but I do know of people who go through life as if they were blind. They may have been living in the same place all their lives, and yet they have never seen the landscape they live with— neither its beauty nor its peculiar character.

Sveinungi.

They haven't? (Points toward the "hraun.") I have been out there in a snowstorm so heavy that I could scarcely see a hand before me, and shall I tell you how I found my way? I knew where I was by feeling before me with my hands. (Laughs.) No, I have never seen the hraun!

Soelvi.

I did not say that you were among the blind, and I am sure you are human enough not to force your daughter to marry against her will. It would not give you much joy to feel that you had made her unhappy for her whole life. If you think you do not know me well enough, you can find out all you wish from myself or from others.

Sveinungi.

I have no desire to learn anything about you, and you need not worry about my daughter. She will stay here with me.

Soelvi.

Ljot is not a child any longer. She can decide for herself.

Sveinungi.

Perhaps you think she can't live without you. (To Ljot.) If you care as much for him as he imagines, I will let you prove it. I will let you choose between him and me. If you choose him, then I have no daughter any more.

Ljot.

You don't mean to force me to such a choice!

Sveinungi.

Can you for a single moment be in doubt about whom to choose of us two— him or your old father?

Ljot (kneeling).

He is so unutterably dear to me.

Sveinungi.

Get up! I don't want to see you lying like a dog at my feet.

Ljot (rising).

Then you have no daughter.

Soelvi.

I knew you would not fail me!

Jorunn.

You had better give your consent, Sveinungi, since it cannot be otherwise. I cannot do without my only child.

Sveinungi (goes to Ljot).

You are quite free, Ljot; I will not try to force you, but when you have thought it over, you will not leave your father and mother for the sake of a stranger. You are my only child, and you have been the light of my eyes since you were a little tot. When I came home from work I was never too tired to listen to what you had to say. When you stroked my cheek it was like warm summer rain falling on my face. It will be lonely and empty here if you go. You cannot do it.

Ljot.

Father, it is you who drive me away.

Sveinungi.

You must listen to me. It has always been my intention that you should take the farm, and yesterday when you promised to marry Halfdan it seemed to me that all my wishes had been fulfilled. I was happy, and not only for your sake, but fully as much for the farm. Yet you would leave it now in the midst of misfortune. Look about you! Not a single building is standing. Can you let your old father sit here alone and forsaken? You might as well kill your father. And for whom should I build it up again if you are not to have it? It might as well be left to rot on the ground.

Ljot.

You don't know, father, how much I care for him. I used to dream often that the mountains fell so that I could see the land beyond. To-night it seemed to me that the mountains fell.

Sveinungi.

You are a wilful girl. (To Soelvi.) Could you think of taking over my farm, perhaps?

Soelvi.

I could not—

Sveinungi (interrupting).

Do you two believe that you can cow me? (Pointing to the ruins.) There is a chest of drawers in there that Ljot keeps her clothes in. I will have nothing of hers in my house. (To Soelvi.) Will you go in there with me and bring it out?

Soelvi.

I have nothing to do in there.

Sveinungi.

You can go, Ljot. I can't bear to see you. (Goes over to the ruins; stands resting his hands on the walls.)

Soelvi (takes Ljot by the hand quietly).

It is better that we leave your parents alone for a little while. [Exeunt.

Jorunn.

You will have to give your consent, Sveinungi. You say yourself that all you have done has been for your daughter.

Sveinungi (turns to Jorunn, passing his earth-stained hand over his forehead). Did you understand what I was about to do? I wanted to get him into the ruins, and then I meant to give the post a shove.

Jorunn.

God forgive you, man!

Sveinungi.

Now we two must hold together. If we two are of one mind, I believe Ljot will give in. You must try to bring her to her senses.

Jorunn.

They are very fond of each other. It warmed my heart to see them. It brought back the days of my own youth. I feel sure it would be a sin to try to part those two.

Sveinungi.

And you say that!

Jorunn.

I think it was her fate to meet this man. She has always been a good and dutiful daughter.

Sveinungi.

And it was you who went with me into the house! Have you turned against me— you too?

Jorunn (goes to him).

You must not make the evil worse than it really is. The man looks as if he came of good people, and we have every reason to believe that he is a capable man. Even if we can't keep Ljot here, as we had hoped to do, she will certainly find time to come and see us once in a while, and we shall have that to look forward to.

Sveinungi.

You think only of your daughter. It is nothing to you if my life-work is wasted. I could name you many farms that have been an ornament to the neighborhood as long as they have been handed down from man to man in the same family, but once they have passed into other hands, they have been tended in a makeshift way or left to go to rack and ruin altogether. You have seen those old forlorn places, where the site is overgrown with grass, and the heather has been allowed to spread all over the yard. They remind me of graves. I tell you the truth: if such a fate were in store for my farm, I should wish for nothing but to be lying under the ruins myself.

Jorunn.

Who says that your farm will not be rebuilt! You are not so old that you cannot do it without help. If I know you rightly, you always grow younger and stronger whenever there is anything that needs all your powers. In a year or two you will have the buildings up again every bit as fine as before.

Sveinungi.

Spare your wheedling! What would be the use, even though I got the houses up again? When my days are over, everything will pass into the hands of careless people. And to think that this should happen only because of a fleeting fancy!

Jorunn.

Did it seem to you like a passing whim when Ljot was begging for your consent? To me it seemed that she was pleading for her life.

Sveinungi.

Even though this should mean more to my daughter than I think it does, that can alter nothing. It is my right to care for my home and keep it intact even after I am gone. When I am standing out in the hraun and looking toward home, the green yard looks like a spot of sunshine.

Jorunn.

You take it for granted that none of your kin will ever reap the benefit of your work, but your daughter is not dead, though she has chosen another man than the one you wanted her to marry. Why should not those two have children? They are both strong and healthy, and there is, after all, a chance that some day one of their sons may take over the farm.

Sveinungi.

I dare say a son of his would be the right man!

Jorunn.

A daughter's son is often more like his grandfather than his father. You know that as well as I.

Sveinungi.

You are like a child playing with soap-bubbles. When one breaks, you are straightway ready to blow a new one. You can't make me play at that game. Even though they should have children, do I know how they would turn out? And you see it the same way yourself, but you are trying to fool me into giving my consent.

Jorunn.

What do you gain even if you have your way and part those two? You may bring it about that your daughter becomes one of those sour old maids; for you cannot mean to drag her to the altar against her will.

Sveinungi.

I didn't expect you to be against me. You wouldn't mind leaving the farm, if you could live with your daughter. You care more for her than for me.

Jorunn (her voice growing husky).

Why do you say this, Sveinungi? I have never weighed my feelings for you two, nor do I intend to do it. I only know that where you are, there I stay too.

Sveinungi.

Even this very earth upon my hand is dear to me. I care for it as the old house-leek would if she could feel. As for the young man whom you think so much of, I should have grudged him even to have the earth fall on his face. But you were not born here, as I was. You have not lived here as a child. You are an outsider.

Jorunn.

Am I an outsider! I am grown too old to kneel before you as your daughter did, but if you send her away, I know that even though you build your house both larger and finer, the room will seem less light to me, and the smile will be gone from my face. Can you not spare me the sorrow of losing my only child?

Sveinungi.

I thought you knew me well enough not to tease me with bootless prayers. What I have said stands.

Jorunn.

I don't know what gives you the right to be so heartless. You were tempting God when you went into the house, but He had mercy on you and spared your life, and the very first thing you do is an act of cruelty. (Bursts out sobbing.)

Sveinungi.

Don't take to crying, wife.

Jorunn (weeping; sits down on one of the stones that have been torn from the wall by the earthquake).

I don't see how I am going to live through it if you send her away.

Sveinungi (stands puzzled for a moment, then goes to her).

I understand that you take this very much to heart. Do go into the tent now and lie down. We must try to get over this as best we can.

Jorunn (rising).

I am sure I have lost my daughter forever. (Weeps.)

Sveinungi (takes her hands and kisses her on the cheek).

I have always said good night to you with a kiss. You have been a good wife to me. I little thought, when you went with me into the house, that you should cry yourself to sleep this very night because of me. (Jorunn clings to him, weeping. Sveinungi releases himself suddenly.) Listen to what I say. You shall not leave me this way. Now you can go to the young folks and tell them that I give my consent. (Moves a little away.) But it will be on one strict condition. (Jorunn wipes her eyes on her apron.) They must promise me that if they have a son, he shall be brought up here with us.

Jorunn (her face lighting up).

I believe this thought was sent you by Him who showed mercy upon you this night.

Sveinungi.

Even if it should be their only child. (Goes to Jorunn.) And you can tell them that it is only for your sake I yield. Now you won't cry any more?

Jorunn.

God bless you! How happy Ljot will be! (Turns to go.)

Sveinungi.

You needn't be in such a hurry. I don't care to have the young folks see that you have been crying. And one thing more; Soelvi must not come here until I send him word. I want to explain to my old friend how all this has come about.

Jorunn.

Soelvi will understand. (Sits down, very still, with her hands in her lap, gazing straight before her.) And the boy is to be named Sveinungi. (Unconsciously she passes her right hand back and forth over the edge of the stones.)

Sveinungi.

Yes, they can well be used again, the old stones. Now you had better go to Ljot.

Jorunn (rising, pats his arm).

Yes, yes, I am going, and I am happy. [Exit.

(Sveinungi stands for a moment looking after her, then bends down over the stones, examining them closely. He turns over one stone— and one more— )



[Transcriber's Note:

The following songs were printed with musical notation (melody only). The HTML version of this e-text includes the songs in three forms: raw lilypond (.ly extension, can be converted to other formats), .pdf (image), and MIDI (sound). Some sites will allow you to download these files individually; if so, look in the "files" directory associated with the HTML text. The first "Folk Melody" appears under the name "Lullaby".]

Kari's Song

Far in the hills I wandered; softly shone the summer night, And the sun had ne'er a thought of sleeping. Now will I bring my sweetheart dear the hidden treasure bright, For faithfully my vows I would be keeping. Heigh, ho! New and fine my stockings are, new and fine my shoes, And not a care in all the world to plague me!

Icelandic Folk Melody

Sweetly sleep, my dear young love, Outside rain is falling, Mother safely away will stow Horse and sheep and swan and dove. Then we'll rest, we two, for night is calling.

Icelandic Folk Melody

Have you seen a brave young lad? 'Tis my friend, Dearest friend; 'Mongst all men in byrnie clad The bonniest is he. I have smiled my teeth all white and shining, I have smiled my teeth all white and shining with glee.

NOTE: The Editors are responsible for the translation of the lyrics.



PUBLICATIONS OF

THE AMERICAN-SCANDINAVIAN FOUNDATION

ESTABLISHED BY NIELS POULSON, 1911

COMMITTEE ON PUBLICATIONS

WILLIAM HENRY SCHOFIELD, Professor of Comparative Literature in Harvard University, Chairman

ARTHUR HUBBELL PALMER, Professor of the German Language and Literature in Yale University

HENRY GODDARD LEACH, Secretary of the Foundation



SCANDINAVIAN CLASSICS

I. Comedies by Holberg: Jeppe of the Hill, The Political Tinker, Erasmus Montanus

Translated from the Danish by OSCAR JAMES CAMPBELL, JR., and FREDERIC SCHENCK, with an Introduction by OSCAR JAMES CAMPBELL, JR. 1914. xv + 178 pages. Price $1.50

To the American-Scandinavian Foundation the English reading public is indebted for the first adequate attempt to introduce the versatile genius who built the foundation for drama in Denmark. It is not an attempt at "revival." Ludvig Holberg is too lusty to admit of reviving; he still lives, and most heartily at that. New York Times.

II. Poems by Tegner: The Children of the Lord's Supper, Frithiof's Saga

Translated from the Swedish by HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, and by Rev. W. LEWERY BLACKLEY, with an Introduction by PAUL ROBERT LIEDER. 1914. xxvii + 207 pages. Price $1.50

The life of Tegner was for the most part a happy one, and this happiness is reflected in the optimism of his poetry. Boston Herald.

III. Poems and Songs by Bjoernstjerne Bjoernson

Translated from the Norwegian in the Original Meters, with an Introduction and Notes, by ARTHUR HUBBELL PALMER. 1915. xxii + 264 pages. Price $1.50

Lovers of Bjoernson will be grateful to the translator for the sympathetic loyalty with which he has adhered to the words as well as the spirit of the original. Not least will they appreciate the fact that he has left the hewn stones of Bjoernson's lines in their native ruggedness instead of attempting to reduce them to a brick-and-mortar smoothness. Yale Review.

IV. Master Olof by August Strindberg

Translated from the Swedish, with an Introduction, by EDWIN BJOERKMAN. 1915. xxiii + 125 pages. Price $1.50

In Strindberg's presentation of his hero, Olof becomes the prototype of all idealistic reformers, uncompromising at moments as Ibsen's Brand, but more living than he because more subtly studied in his moods of weakness as well as in his exultation of strength. Dial.

V. The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson

Translated from the Icelandic, with an Introduction, by ARTHUR GILCHRIST BRODEUR. 1916. xxii + 266 pages. Price $1.50

VI. Modern Icelandic Plays: Eyvind of the Hills, The Hraun Farm, by Johann Sigurjonsson

Translated from the Danish by HENNINGE KROHN SCHANCHE. 1916. xii + 134 pages. Price $1.50



SCANDINAVIAN MONOGRAPHS

I. The Voyages of the Norsemen to America

By WILLIAM HOVGAARD. With eighty-three Illustrations and seven Maps. 1914. xxi + 304 pages. Price $4.00

There has always been a peculiar fascination for the student of American history in that chapter of it which deals with the pre-Columbian discovery of this continent.... To sweep away the cobwebs of error is no small task, but Professor Hovgaard's book, with its painstaking following of the scientific method, should go a long way toward its completion.... Professor Hovgaard has made the best complete exposition up to date of the voyages of the Norsemen to America. Boston Transcript.

II. Ballad Criticism in Scandinavia and Great Britain during the Eighteenth Century

By SIGURD BERNHARD HUSTVEDT. 1916. ix + 335 pages. Price $3.00

He has attempted to trace the development of interest in popular ballads as reflected in Scandinavian, English, and Scottish criticism particularly during the eighteenth century.... Mr. Hustvedt's book is not only valuable by reason of the research and the judicially critical spirit; it is written in a manner that should interest the general reader. Boston Herald.



THE AMERICAN-SCANDINAVIAN REVIEW

The Review is an illustrated magazine, published bi-monthly, presenting the progress of life and literature in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

Volume I, 1913. 192 pages. Price $5.00 Volume II, 1914. 320 pages. Price $3.00 Volume III, 1915. 384 pages. Price $2.50

The REVIEW has an admirable array of articles, and it is hoped will be well and widely received. The Scandinavian peoples have contributed of their best blood to the American nation, and we should draw from their resources of culture also. Chicago Tribune.

For information regarding the above volumes, address the SECRETARY OF THE AMERICAN-SCANDINAVIAN FOUNDATION 25 West 45th Street, New York City



* * * * *



Errata noted by transcriber:

... sympathetic cooperation to good ends. paragraph-ending period (full stop) missing

Do you know when they will come to catch the thief! punctuation unchanged

THE END

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