5 – Peer Gynt: The Button Maker

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Peer Gynt meets Button Maker

Peer Gynt - Part Five

The Button Maker

Dedicated to Reiko Levine.
Read by Richard Scott
Adapted and produced by Bertie
Solveig by Jana
Leaves and water drops Sophie and Amarni

Peer: In middle age, I have come back to the land of my youth. I took a ship from Alexandria that broke against the rocks of my home country. I, with my usual knack of escaping by the seat of my pants, swam safely ashore. Now I am tramping over the mountain path to my village. No one knows me here in Norway. I am a stranger in the land of my birth.

Leaves: Peer Gynt, Peer Gynt!

Peer: Who called my name?


We are winter leaves
Dry and withered
Once when we were green
We were seen
As your guide
And your principles
You should have used us
But in your sloth, you refused us.

Peer: You withered leaves are not without purpose. Lie still and rot in the rain. You will make fine fertiliser for the roots of trees.

It is damp, misty and cold, and I am not dressed for this Northern weather. I am still wearing my robes from warmer climes.

Breeze (sighs): Peer Gynt!

Peer: Who calls my name?


We are songs
Blown on the breeze
You should have sung us
In the depths of heart
Despair has wrung us

Peer: Stop your silly rhymes and your rotten dogrel!

Bah, the drops of rain are dripping on me from the branches of the trees.

Drops: Peer Gynt! Peer Gynt!

Peer:(bad tempered) Now Who calls my name?

We are raindrops
Like your tears that you never shed
The cutting ice
Which all hearts dread
We could have melted
But now its dart, in your heart
Is frozen

Peer: Rain rain Go away! I’ve no time for tears! Stop dripping down the back of my neck will you! Who is there on earth that does not have bad memories, regrets, lost loves? But life goes on and I must press on with my journey. Bah! Now who is this person coming through the mist? Surely he will not know me?

Button Maker: Are you Peer Gynt?

Peer: I think you know the answer to that question already, but who are you?

Button Maker: I am the button maker.

Peer: And what business have you with Peer Gynt, Button Maker?

Button Maker: I have come to melt you down.

Peer: Melt me down? What are you talking about?

Button Maker: You were born as a shiny bright button on the coat of humanity, but your soul lost its shine, its glitter, and glean. The Great Creator does not want me to waste good material. He has ordered me to throw your soul in the pot, melt it down with other tarnished souls, and make new shiny new buttons out of the molten liquid.

Peer: What? You can’t mix my soul up with the debris of humanity!

Button Maker: It is not unusual. It happens to many. It is the way of the world to pass through the seasons of life - to wither and die in winter and for new shoots to be born in spring.

Peer: Please … How can I escape this fate? How can my human soul survive and rise above the cycle of nature?

Button Maker: Show me the true Peer Gynt.

Peer: I, I..

Button Maker: You can’t because you have lost yourself.

Peer: Well that is true, but give me one chance. Give me one day to find the one person who can solve the riddle of my life.

Button maker: One day Peer, I give you one day, but if you fail, we shall meet again.


Peer: So here is the hut of my mother and father. The very spot where I was born. Here I sat on my mother’s lap. Here my father told me stories. Here I played with our cat and flew away to fairy kingdoms on flights of fancy. I wonder who lives here now. Not any of my family, for none can be left after all these years.

But I shall not knock on this door. This is not where I shall find myself.

(Morning Mood music - dissolves into singing)

Peer: I know that voice. It is she. My one true love. But do I dare call out her name? Solveig! Solveig!

Solveig: Peer, it is you. Thanks be to God!

Peer: I have sinned. All my life has been a sin. And now, you may pronounce the sentence on me, the sinner. One word of condemnation from you my love, and my tarnished soul shall be melted down - a fate it well deserves.

Solveig: Bless you for you have come back to me.

Peer: Bless me?

Solveig: I have waited all these years for you. Now you are here before me.

Peer: But not for long.. I am lost unless you can solve this riddle.

Solveig: Riddle? What is it?

Peer: Listen carefully Solveig, for my eternal life depends on your answer. If you cannot reply correctly, my destiny is to lie in the land of shadows. Tell me, where has my true self been all these years?

Solveig: Why the answer to your riddle is simple. I have kept your soul in my faith, in my hope, in my love.

Peer: Oh Solveig, hide me in your love!

Solveig: I will wrap you up in my arms and guard your shining soul.

And I'm delighted to dedicate this episode to Reiko Levine, who lives in Washington D.C. And supports us on Patreon. Thank you so much, Reiko for supporting us!

And I'd also like to thank Jana, Hugh, Marni and Sophie for the help with the other voices in the story.
From me Richard, from all of us at Storynory.com