Brand – Henrik Ibsen (Part 2)

Book: Brand – Henrik Ibsen
Status – Read.

As predicted, I couldn’t resist doing some more quotes from ‘Brand’. And inevitably, there will be more! Acts Two and Three have so much that is quotable that I had to stop myself from quoting whole pages!
My quotes this time come from Act Two, and my favourite scene – Brand’s conversation with his mother.

“Brand: A memory from childhood. Something
I cannot forget. It was an autumn evening.
Father was dead. I crept in to where he lay
Pale in the candlelight. I stood
And stared at him from a corner. He was holding
A psalm book. I wondered why he slept so deeply,
And why his wrists were so thin; and I remember
The smell of clammy linen. Then I heard
A step on the stair. A woman came in.
She didn’t see me, but when straight to the bed,
And began to grope and rummage. She moved the head
And pulled out a bundle; then another. She counted,
And whispered: ‘More, more!’ Then she pulled out
From the pillows packed bound with cord,
She tore, she fumbled at it with greedy fingers,
She bit it open with her teeth, searched on,
Found more, counted, and whispered: ‘More, more!’
She wept, she prayed, she wailed, she swore.
At least she had emptied every hiding-place.
She slunk out of the room like a damned soul,
Groaning: ‘So this was all!’
Mother: I needed the money; and God knows
There was precious little. I paid dearly enough for it.
Brand: Yes, dearly. It cost you your son.”

“Brand: Go back to your shadows. I am near.
If you feel drawn towards the light
And wish to see me, send, and I will come.
Mother: Yes, to judge me.
Brand: No, as a son
To love you, and as a priest to shrive you.
I shall shield you against the chill wind
Of fear. I shall sit at the foot of your bed
And cool the burning of your blood with song.”

“Mother: My life wasted, my soul lost,
And soon my life’s savings will be lost too.
I’ll go home then,
And hug the little I can still call mine.
My treasure, my child of pain,
For you I tore my breast until it bled.
I will go home and weep like a mother
At the cradle of her sick child.
Why was my soul made flesh
If love of the flesh is death to the soul? …”

“Brand: I shall bury him.
But secretly, in each man’s soul, not openly
For all to see. I thought I knew the way
To cure man’s sickness, but I was wrong.
I see it now.
It is not by spectacular achievements
That man can be transformed, but by will.
It is man’s will that acquits or condemns him.”

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


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