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Fenris, the Wolf_ A Tragedy

Fenris, the Wolf_ A Tragedy
Title: Fenris, the Wolf_ A Tragedy
Release Date: 2018-06-21
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Fenris, the Wolf, by Percy MacKaye

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Title: Fenris, the Wolf

A Tragedy

Author: Percy MacKaye

Release Date: June 21, 2018 [eBook #57371]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8



E-text prepared by
Paul Marshall, Mary Glenn Krause, MFR,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See https://archive.org/details/fenriswolftraged00mack





Book Cover.






New York
All rights reserved

Copyright, 1905,

Set up and electrotyped. Published April, 1905.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



The invocation of Ingimund to Odin, on page 38, is adaptedfrom Fragments of a Spell Song, preserved as an insertion in the GreatPlay of the Wolsungs, and to be found, both original and translation,in the Corpus Poeticum Boreale of Vigfusson and Powell, Oxford, 1883.

For dramatic reasons, various liberties have been taken by the writerwith those elements of this play which are drawn from Scandinavianmythology. For example, according to mythology, the Fenris-wolf isthe offspring, not of Odin, but of Loki; the wolf and Baldur are notbrothers; no mention is made of the wolf’s Pack. Moreover, in the OldIcelandic utterances of the Pack—for purposes of sound merely—apreterite form has twice been used for a present tense, as in Ulfrsofnathi, “the wolf sleepeth.”

Where authenticity, however, has harmonised with the dramatic idea,it has equally been the writer’s aim.

  Cornish, N.H., March, 1905.

  • Of the Prologue
  • ODIN
  • THOR
  • LOKI
  • Of the Play
  • INGIMUND, Priest of Odin
  • EGIL, a Hunter
  • ARFI, a Dwarf, his brother
  • YORUL, liegeman of Egil
  • ROLF, liegeman of Egil
  • ERIC, liegeman of Egil
  • WULDOR, liegeman of Arfi
  • THORDIS, daughter of Ingimund and priestess of Odin’s temple
  • FRIDA, one of her Virgins
  • Folk, Priests, Virgins, Children

THE   PROLOGUE.  The crater of a volcano; dawn.
  Scene I. The rune-stone of Odin, outside a tribal temple; morning.
  Scene II. Egil’s lodge in the forest; toward twilight.
  Scene I. A prison chamber; day.
  Scene II. The same; night.
ACT THIRD. A forest glade; the pool of Freyja; early morning.
ACT FOURTH. The rune-stone again; sunset.

Time and Place

The Age of Northern Mythology; Iceland. The incidents of
the play are conceived as taking place within the cycle
of a year.

[Pg 3]


Foreground—a frozen crater

At back, a cavern. Overhanging this, at left and back,
snow-crusted cliffs, partly bared by the winds, stand
out against the stars.

On one of these, Odin seated; on his shoulders,
two ravens. Beneath him, in the crater and
cavern, half-discernible
, Fenris and his Pack.

ODINHe sleeps, yet restive still; with eyelids squintThrough which his eyes, in dreams still shifting, flashLike flame through knot-holes. Yet he sleeps; beside himHis wild pack, crouching, share his chain.—A lull:Betwixt moonset and sunrise, one at least,One lull in that insensate harsh defiance,The beast-night-barking of my wolfish son.You stars! Fenris is quiet. Now the dewsMay fall in silence, now the mountain birdsNest silent by the unawakened morning,The wide dark fold its wings and dream. Now peace,The infinite soliloquy of thought,Descends on Odin.[Pg 4]
[A silent pause, during which the first pale signs of dawnappear on the crags. Odin whispers to the ravens on hisshoulders and they fly away. He sits motionless and serene.]
THE PACK[Slumbrously.]Ulfr! Ulfr sofnathi!
ODIN[Gazes again on Fenris.]That this dread should breathe!And yon beast born from out my loins—to me,To me, that from this forehead plucked an eyeTo pawn for Mimi’s knowledge.—Wisdom, truth,Beauty, and law, the tranquil goals of mind,All these had I attained, and I a god;Yet on the lank, alluring hag of ChaosBegat this son, this living fang.
THE PACK[Slumbrously.]Ulfr! Ulfr sofnathi!
ODINO thouDumb spirit of the mind! O mystery!Were there a god whom Odin might invoke,To thee would Odin sue for pity.—Ages,A thousand ages, anguish;Anguish, remorse, forgiveness, malediction,[Pg 5]Light into darkness, horror into hope,Revolving evermore.—O pain, O pain,Sear not my spirit blind!—Thou, tameless wolf,God of the void eternal retrograde,Prone deity of self, by that thou art—Illimitable passion, joyance madOf being, hate, brute-cunning, gnawing lust,Fenris, I curse thee.
[Fenris wakes.]
THE PACK[Wildly.]Ulfr! Ulfr vaknathi!
ODINStill that name!
ODINFenris, my son, forgive me.
FENRISFetch Fenris Freyja.
ODINBastard wolf,Be silent.[Pg 6]
FENRISBaldur, my brother’s bride betrothèd,Freyja, fetch me.
ODINStill no longing but ’tis lust,No aspiration but ’tis appetite.
FENRISAnarch! anarch! anarch! Father, free me!
ODINFree thee, thou poor antagonist. Knowest thouNot yet why thou art chained? Retarded thing,Emancipate thyself! What might it availThough Odin burst these links and loosed thee?—ThouThyself art thine own bondage and thy pain.
THE PACKUlfr! Ulfr!
FENRISAnarch! anarch! Ulfr!
ODINYet could’st thou show some genesis of good,Some spring of growth. Hadst thou, in all these ages,Waxed toward my stature imperceptiblyEven as the seed, that germinates in darkness,Feels toward the sky; yea, hadst thou now one palePotential spark of godhood, nobler desire,Evolving intellect, one lineal trait[Pg 7]To prove that upward through thy brutish heartYearns infinite Reason, even now, poor son,Would I strike off these fetters, set thee free,Thee and thy pack, and put my hope in time.
THE PACKHeil! Heil, Othinn!
FENRISFenris! Free him.
ODINBut lo! instead, what art thou? Ye faint stars,Before you close your eyes in day, once moreBehold him! Ye icy craters and hoar caves,Thou solitary dawn, eternal sky,Perennial snows—you timeless presences,Behold your consummation: this, even this,Is Odin’s elder son, creation’s heir!
FENRISAnarch! anarch! anarch! anarch! anarch!
[Odin, covering his face, turns away and disappears behindthe crag. Fenris, with his pack, retires into the cavern,dragging his chain. Outside Baldur is heard singing,joined, in chorus, by the voices of nature on whom he calls.]
BALDURFlushing peak, fainting star,Freyja!Torches in thy temple are,Freyja![Pg 8]Spirits of air,Anses and elves,Brightens the dawn,Freyja is gone.Come! let us go to her, girding ourselves.
CHORUSFreyja, where art thou?Where? Where?
[Freyja enters, looking fearfully around her.]
FREYJAThose giant beards and backs!—They turn and look.The peaks pursue me, and the nudging cliffsThrust out great chins and stare. Where should this lead?
BALDUR[Outside.]Mortal day, man’s desires,Freyja!Feed on earth thine altar-fires,Freyja!Spirits of earth,Wood-sprites and Wanes,Gone is our mirth,Sorrow remains.Come! let us hasten and bid her beware!
CHORUSFreyja, where art thou?Where? Where?[Pg 9]
FREYJACan this place be i’ the world? And were such shapesWrought in the dear creation? And that voice—Was it this crater’s frozen mouth that moanedFor blossoms and the south wind and my love?
FREYJAO Baldur, come!
BALDURWhat hast thou seen?Why hast thou left the silver roof of shields,Thy lover’s eyes, the laughter of the gods,To wander forth in night?
FREYJABarkings I heard.
BALDURHush, Freyja!
FREYJAThrough the music of the godsFaintly I heard it knell and yearn for me;And so I stole away. But tell me—
BALDURCome![Pg 10]
FREYJATell me what thing of nameless woe—
BALDUROh, comeAnd ask not. Come away to Valhal.
[He leads her impetuously away from the crater towardthe sunrise.]
FREYJA[Resists gently.]Baldur!
BALDURFreyja, look down! Spring leaps among the valleysAnd calls his universal flocks, to drinkThe love of Freyja.The forests rush together and the groves,And the male oaks, like herded elk at war,Tangle their budding antlers, and moan loudFor Freyja’s love.
Look down! The silvered pastures and the lakesLift all their sacrificial clouds, to craveThe love of Freyja;And day’s bright stallion, snorting in the east,Paws the pale stream of morning into goldAnd champs his golden curb to burning foamFor Freyja’s love.
[He draws her farther away.][Pg 11]
FREYJABut if one yearn in vain—
[The rattle of Fenris’s manacles echoes in the
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