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Terje Vigen 1917 by Victor Sjöström, with English translation with English subtitles   Complain

Terje Vigen, by Henrik Ibsen

Leading Roles: The Lord: August Falck

The Lady: Edith Erastoff

Terje Vigen: Victor Sjöström His wife: Berliot Husberg

Directed by: Victor Sjöström

Cinematography: J. Julius

Producer: AB Svenska Biografleatern Stockholm

Act One

There lived a remarkably grizzled man on the uttermost, barren isle;

He never harmed, in the wide world's span, a soul by deceit or guile;

His eyes, though, sometimes would blaze and fret most when a storm was nigh.

And now, all I've heard about Terje, I'll try to tell from the first to last.

With land underfoot he was never at ease;

no, better by far then to dwell on the seas, on the mighty ebb and the flow.

In autumn, when wild-geese were singing south he met with their flying skein.

A heaviness fell on the sailor's breast;

Life lay astern with fire and zest and ahead lay a winter's gloom.

They anchored, and off his crewmen went with leave for a wild carouse.

He watched them with envy and discontent while he stood by his silent house.

Indoors there were two bestowed.

His wife sat and span in the peaceful light,

but the crib held a rosy, healthy mite, a baby girl, and it crowed.

That instant, and Terje's mind, men say, turned sober upon the spot.

He would sing all his happiest ditties

there where little Anna tugged his brown hair and lay in his folding arm.

Life ambled along till the year of war in eighteen-hundred and nine.

The tale's still told of what people bore, where want and distress combine.

Cruisers from England blockaded each port,

by land there was dearth far and wide;

the poor people starved, the wealthy went short,

two powerful arms were no longer support with death and disease outside.

Then Terje drooped for a day or two.

But his miseries quickly go;

he thought of a comrade, ancient and true, the sea's great ebb and its flow.

The smallest dory there was to hand he chose for his Skagen trip.

Sail and mast he left home on land, such gear he thought best not ship.

"When winds stopped blustering quite so wild

Terje Vigen rowed for his wife and child, crossed the sea in an open boat!"

The Jutland reef was the devil to clear, but worse,

he'd the English blockade to clear, its look-out's eagle-eyed gleam.

To be continued


At Fladstrand, reaching there safe and sound, he gathered his precious stores.

And here was the staff of life to hand; and his wife and baby call.

The fourth morning, at dawn, by sun's first rays,

a blurred, misty line to scan. Near home at last;

That instant the phrase froze on his lip;

Gaeslingen, the shoal with the hidden top just east of the Homburg sound.

The English officer shouted "stop"! He hoisted an oar butt and let it drop

and stove in the dory's shell.

"There on the innermost beach a-shore watches my wife at our pitiful door

and waits with our baby for bread!"

He dived and he swam and he dived yet again;

in two feet depth all that treasure sank.

They lifted him out and over the side.

He offered his sorrow, they sold him their glee.

Then Terje fell silent, all hope was past, he locked up his grief in his soul.

He languished in prison for many a day, for all of five years, say some.

His shoulders rounded, his hair ii turned gray from dreaming about his home.

Then eighteen-fourteen came and with it accord;

A Swedish frigate brought home on board Norway's prisoners, and Terje too.

Back at the jetty he came ashore, a pilot by King's decree;

But few recalled in the greybeard they saw the youngster who braved the sea.

His house was a stranger's; and how they fared those two, inside he soon found:

"The husband forsook them, and nobody cared,

they came to the plot that the paupers shared

in the parish burial-ground."

To be continued


Years went by, and he kept to his trade as pilot out there on the isles.

His eyes, though, sometimes would blaze and fret,

when the reef to the breakers ran high.

And then people sensed he was troubled yet,

and then there were few who felt no threat with Terje Vigen by.

One moonlit night, with onshore wind, there was stir where the pilots sit;

an English yacht being carried in with mainsail torn and jib split.

Close-reached to the weather, a cutter sped.

Like a hero he seized on the wheel;

"Preserve us alive from the breakers' roar

I'll make you as wealthy as wretched before."

The pilot let go of the craft.

His cheeks, they went white, and his mouth shaped a sound

like a smile that at last can break free.

The yacht was broached and ran squarely aground,

his lordship's queen of the sea.

"Abandon the ship! To the boats I say! My lord and my lady, stay near!"

To leeward he glanced at Gaeslingen's top and to windward at Hesnes' sound.

He let go helm and the foresail strop, he hoisted an oar butt and let it drop

and stove in the cutter's shell.

"Anna, my child!" she cried out in dread.

To be continued


They grounded and sank, but calmness itself

inshore of the arc of rough seas.

"There's no cause for grief a sunken dory supplies our relief,

three barley grain casks our dock."

He knew, now, the sailor that on his knee had crouched on his deck and wept.

"You sailed at ease in your mighty corvette, I rowed in my humble boat."

"I toiled for my own in my forehead's sweat, you robbed them of bread,

and could mock me yet and over my salt tears gloat."

"it's time for my vengeance to strike, beware."

"Stand back! One step if you dare, and your wife and child is the price!"

But Terje's forehead showed peaceful and fair.

"And now Terje Vigen's himself again.

Like a rocky stream flowed my blood till then; for I had to - I had to repay!"

The years I spent in the prison s roar, they bred my heart's sickliness."

"But now it is over; we two are quit."

When daylight had broken, then all was well; long lay the yacht in port.

One day milord and lady came by.

"No, rescue came in the nick out there from this little mite by me!"

The yacht then headed for Hesnes-sound.

With Norway's own flag for wear.

He lay to the sun and the winds' keen weight.

And that's why the grass was so stubborn-straight,

but with wild field-flowers between.

The End

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