"Gilbert's Stone God", an Excerpt from Rosa by Knut Hamsun (1908)

I peer further in towards the wall of thickets, and a chill runs down my spine. There is a stone image right in front of me, an old god. Oh how small and grim it is, lacking arms down from his shoulders, and with nothing but feeble grooves in the face for eyes, nose, and mouth. The gap between the legs is also simply a carved line, and there are no feet. To stand, the image must be propped up with stones.
Then I thought that this was what God had wanted tonight. To use me to topple this little idol man, and toss him in the pond. Yet when I moved my hand to do it there was no strength in it, but contradictory, a strange exhaustion.

I looked at my hand, what was wrong with it? It ran like a wilting across the skin. Filled with horror, I looked away from my hand, towards the little stone man again. Oh, it was a disgrace against God to be humiliated by this creature! It looked just as though it had been greater once, long ago, but now it had gone into childhood with dementia. It had become nothing, that's how shriveled it was, standing there with the supports around itself.

I raised my other hand against it, but the hand falls, the same thing repeats itself. The skin turns gray and withered on my left hand. Then I jump back across the pond, and crawl back out of the thickets. Big drops of rain begin to fall from the sky.

From «Rosa» (1908) by Knut Hamsun. Translated by Eirik Storesund, February 2018.