Brand – Henrik Ibsen (Part 1)

Book: Brand – Henrik Ibsen.
Status: Read.

‘Brand’ was one of my first reads that really made an impression on me. After seeing a TV version of Brand, with Patrick McGoohan playing the title role, I had to find the play for myself. It was so powerful, so hard-hitting.  I’m not a religious person, which possibly made the role of Brand appealing to me – a priest, obsessed by his faith – so obsessed that it’s a torment rather than a saving grace. On the other hand, it can show that when faith is right, it’s guiding and beautiful. Which is why I believe ‘Brand’ can appeal to anyone, of any beliefs.
My quoting of ‘Brand’ will have a part 2 – maybe even a part 3! – so here is part 1 to begin with.

“Brand: That’s just what he is,
The God of our country, the people’s God.
A feeble dotard in his second childhood.
You would reduce God’s kingdom,
A kingdom which should stretch from pole to pole,
To the confines of the Church. You separate
Life from faith and doctrine. You do not want
To live your faith. For that you need a God
Who’ll keep one eye shut. That God is getting feeble
Like the generation that worships him.
Mine is a storm where yours is a gentle wind,
Inflexible where yours is deaf, all-loving,
Not all doting. And He is young
And strong like Hercules. His is the voice
That spoke like thunder when He stood
Bright before Moses in the burning bush,
A giant before the dwarf of dwarves. In the valley
Of Gideon He stayed the sun, and worked
Miracles without number – and would work
Them still, if people were not dead, like you.”

“Brand: Another churchgoer!
On the mountain, or in the valley?
Which is best? Who gropes most blindly?
Who strays farthest from home? The light of heart
Who plays along the edge of the crevasse?
The dull of heart, plodding and slow because
His neighbours are so? Or the wild of heart,
In whose broken mind evil seems beautiful?
This triple enemy must be fought.
I see my calling. It shines forth like the sun.
I know my mission. If these three can be slain,
Man’s sickness will be cured.
Arm, arm, my soul. Unsheath your sword.
To battle for the heirs of Heaven! ”

“Brand: Who gave you power to speak like that?
Man: You did. In the storm.
When you risked your life to save a sinner’s soul,
Your deed rang in our ears like a bell.
Tomorrow, perhaps, we shall have forgotten it.
Brand: Where there is no will, there is no calling.
If you cannot be what you would be,
Turn your face to the earth, and till it well.
Man: May you be cursed for quenching the flame you lit,
As we are cursed, who, for a moment, saw.”

“Brand: Yes. Within, within. There is the way,
That is the path, In oneself is that earth,
Newly created, ready to receive God.
There shall the vulture that gnaws the will be slain;
There shall the new Adam be born…”

Taken from ‘Brand’ by Henrik Ibsen, translated by Michael Meyer.
Available from Amazon UK:


2 thoughts on “Brand – Henrik Ibsen (Part 1)

  1. Nirinia says:

    Seeing you quote Ibsen in English is something of a surprise; being Norwegian, I know him only in the original. And have had something of a bad relationship with him, having been force-fed him in school, as it were.

    Have you read, or seen, any other of his works?

    • niftybooks says:

      Thanks for your comment!

      I didn’t really think of it in that sense, I suppose in a way he’s your Shakespeare. In the sense that British students are force-fed Shakespeare and in the end vow never to read him again! Which is a shame.. and I’m trying to battle my feelings in that way so I can read Shakespeare in a fresh light!

      I’ve read a few more of Ibsen, yes. I’ll have to re-read them before I post about them here but I’ve read ‘Peer Gynt’, ‘Hedda Gabler’ and ‘Ghosts’. I enjoyed all of them very much, especially ‘Ghosts’ which was very daring for that time.
      I’ve seen TV versions of both ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Hedda Gabler’ – Ingrid Bergman was wonderful as Hedda! I look forward to reading more Ibsen, too.

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