TXT

WHAT THE MOON SAW

By Clyde Elliott,2014-11-14 16:07
13 views 0
WHAT THE MOON SAW

    ??ÎÄÓÉÐã?ÅÊéÎÝtxtÐ?˵ÂÛÌ?Ìá??ÏÂÔØ???ü?àºÃÊéÇë?ÃÎÊhttp://www.witxt.com/

     1872 FAIRY TALES OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN WHAT THE MOON SAW by Hans Christian AndersenINTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION IT is a strange thing, when I feel most fervently and most deeply,my hands and my tongue seem alike tied, so that I cannot rightlydescribe or accurately portray the thoughts that are rising within me;and yet I am a painter; my eye tells me as much as that, and all myfriends who have seen my sketches and fancies say the same. I am a poor lad, and live in one of the narrowest of lanes; butI do not want for light, as my room is high up in the house, with anextensive prospect over the neighbouring roofs. During the first fewdays I went to live in the town, I felt low-spirited and solitaryenough. Instead of the forest and the green hills of former days, Ihad here only a forest of chimney-pots to look out upon. And then Ihad not a single friend; not one familiar face greeted me. So one evening I sat at the window, in a desponding mood; andpresently I opened the casement and looked out. Oh, how my heartleaped up with joy! Here was a well-known face at last- a round,friendly countenance, the face of a good friend I had known at home.In, fact, it was the MOON that looked in upon me. He was quiteunchanged, the dear old Moon, and had the same face exactly that heused to show when he peered down upon me through the willow trees onthe moor. I kissed my hand to him over and over again, as he shone farinto my little room; and he, for his part, promised me that everyevening, when he came abroad, he would look in upon me for a fewmoments. This promise he has faithfully kept. It is a pity that he canonly stay such a short time when he comes. Whenever he appears, hetells me of one thing or another that he has seen on the previousnight, or on that same evening. "Just paint the scenes I describe toyou"- this is what he said to me- "and you will have a very prettypicture-book." I have followed his injunction for many evenings. Icould make up a new "Thousand and One Nights," in my own way, out ofthese pictures, but the number might be too great, after all. Thepictures I have here given have not been chosen at random, butfollow in their proper order, just as they were described to me.Some great gifted painter, or some poet or musician, may makesomething more of them if he likes; what I have given here are onlyhasty sketches, hurriedly put upon the paper, with some of my ownthoughts, interspersed; for the Moon did not come to me every evening-a cloud sometimes hid his face from me. FIRST EVENING "Last night"- I am quoting the Moon's own words- "last night I wasgliding through the cloudless Indian sky. My face was mirrored inthe waters of the Ganges, and my beams strove to pierce through thethick intertwining boughs of the bananas, arching beneath me likethe tortoise's shell. Forth from the thicket tripped a Hindoo maid,light as a gazelle, beautiful as Eve. Airy and etherial as a vision,and yet sharply defined amid the surrounding shadows, stood thisdaughter of Hindostan: I could read on her delicate brow the thoughtthat had brought her hither. The thorny creeping plants tore hersandals, but for all that she came rapidly forward. The deer thathad come down to the river to quench her thirst, sprang by with astartled bound, for in her hand the maiden bore a lighted lamp. Icould see the blood in her delicate finger tips,

    as she spread themfor a screen before the dancing flame. She came down to the stream,and set the lamp upon the water, and let it float away. The flameflickered to and fro, and seemed ready to expire; but still the lampburned on, and the girl's black sparkling eyes, half veiled behindtheir long silken lashes, followed it with a gaze of earnestintensity. She knew that if the lamp continued to burn so long asshe could keep it in sight, her betrothed was still alive; but ifthe lamp was suddenly extinguished, he was dead. And the lamp burnedbravely on, and she fell on her knees, and prayed. Near her in thegrass lay a speckled snake, but she heeded it not- she thought only ofBramah and of her betrothed. 'He lives!' she shouted joyfully, 'helives!' And from the mountains the echo came back upon her, 'helives!" SECOND EVENING "Yesterday," said the Moon to me, "I looked down upon a smallcourtyard surrounded on all sides by houses. In the courtyard sat aclucking hen with eleven chickens; and a pretty little girl wasrunning and jumping around them. The hen was frightened, and screamed,and spread out her wings over the little brood. Then the girl's fathercame out and scolded her; and I glided away and thought no more of thematter. "But this evening, only a few minutes ago, I looked down intothe same courtyard. Everything was quiet. But presently the littlegirl came forth again, crept quietly to the hen-house, pushed back thebolt, and slipped into the apartment of the hen and chickens. Theycried out loudly, and came fluttering down from their perches, and ranabout in dismay, and the little girl ran after them. I saw it quiteplainly, for I looked through a hole in the hen-house wall. I wasangry with the willful child, and felt glad when her father came outand scolded her more violently than yesterday, holding her roughlyby the arm; she held down her head, and her blue eyes were full oflarge tears. 'What are you about here?' he asked. She wept and said,'I wanted to kiss the hen and beg her pardon for frightening heryesterday; but I was afraid to tell you.' "And the father kissed the innocent child's forehead, and I kissedher on the mouth and eyes." THIRD EVENING "In the narrow street round the corner yonder- it is so narrowthat my beams can only glide for a minute along the walls of thehouse, but in that minute I see enough to learn what the world is madeof- in that narrow street I saw a woman. Sixteen years ago thatwoman was a child, playing in the garden of the old parsonage, inthe country. The hedges of rose-bush were old, and the flowers werefaded. They straggled wild over the paths, and the ragged branchesgrew up among the boughs of the apple trees; here and there were a fewroses still in bloom- not so fair as the queen of flowers generallyappears, but still they had colour and scent too. The clergyman'slittle daughter appeared to me a far lovelier rose, as she sat onher stool under the straggling hedge, hugging and caressing her dollwith the battered pasteboard cheeks. "Ten years afterwards I saw her again. I beheld her in asplendid ballroom: she was the beautiful bride of a rich merchant. Irejoiced at her happiness, and sought her on calm quiet evenings-ah, nobody thinks of my clear eye and my silent glance! Alas! myrose ran wild, like the rose bushes in the garden of the parsonage.There are tragedies in every-day life, and tonight I saw the lastact of one. "She was lying in bed in a house in that narrow street: she wassick unto death, and the cruel landlord came up, and tore away thethin coverlet, her only protection against the cold. 'Get up!'

    saidhe; 'your face is enough to frighten one. Get up and dress yourself,give me money, or I'll turn you out into the street! Quick- get up!'She answered, 'Alas! death is gnawing at my heart. Let me rest.' Buthe forced her to get up and bathe her face, and put a wreath ofroses in her hair; and he placed her in a chair at the window, witha candle burning beside her, and went away. "I looked at her, and she was sitting motionless, with her handsin her lap. The wind caught the open window and shut it with acrash, so that a pane came clattering down in fragments; but still shenever moved. The curtain caught fire, and the flames played abouther face; and I saw that she was dead. There at the open window satthe dead woman, preaching a sermon against sin- my poor faded rose outof the parsonage garden!" FOURTH EVENING "This evening I saw a German play acted," said the Moon. "It wasin a little town. A stable had been turned into a theatre; that isto say, the stable had been left standing, and had been turned intoprivate boxes, and all the timber work had been covered withcoloured paper. A little iron chandelier hung beneath the ceiling, andthat it might be made to disappear into the ceiling, as it does ingreat theatres, when the ting-ting of the prompter's bell is heard,a great inverted tub has been placed just above it. "'Ting-ting!' and the little iron chandelier suddenly rose atleast half a yard and disappeared in the tub; and that was the signthat the play was going to begin. A young nobleman and his lady, whohappened to be passing through the little town, were present at theperformance, and consequently the house was crowded. But under thechandelier was a vacant space like a little crater: not a singlesoul sat there, for the tallow was dropping, drip, drip! I saweverything, for it was so warm in there that every loophole had beenopened. The male and female servants stood outside, peeping throughthe chinks, although a real policeman was inside, threatening themwith a stick. Close by the orchestra could be seen the noble youngcouple in two old arm-chairs, which were usually occupied by hisworship the mayor and his lady; but these latter were to-day obligedto content themselves with wooden forms, just as if they had beenordinary citizens; and the lady observed quietly to herself, 'Onesees, now, that there is rank above rank;' and this incident gave anair of extra festivity to the whole proceedings. The chandelier gavelittle leaps, the crowd got their knuckles rapped, and I, the Moon,was present at the performance from beginning to end." FIFTH EVENING "Yesterday," began the Moon, "I looked down upon the turmoil ofParis. My eye penetrated into an apartment of the Louvre. An oldgrandmother, poorly clad- she belonged to the working class- wasfollowing one of the under-servants into the great emptythrone-room, for this was the apartment she wanted to see- that shewas resolved to see; it had cost her many a little sacrifice, and manya coaxing word, to penetrate thus far. She folded her thin hands,and looked round with an air of reverence, as if she had been in achurch. "'Here it was!' she said, 'here!' and she approached the throne,from which hung the rich velvet fringed with gold lace. 'There,' sheexclaimed, 'there!' and she knelt and kissed the purple carpet. Ithink she was actually weeping. "'But it was not this very velvet!' observed the footman, and asmile played about his mouth. 'True, but it was this very place,'replied the woman, 'and it must have looked just like this. 'It lookedso, and yet it did not,' observed the man: 'the windows were beatenin, and the doors were off their hinges,

    and there was blood uponthe floor.' 'But for all that you can say, my grandson died upon thethrone of France. Died!' mournfully repeated the old woman. I do notthink another word was spoken, and they soon quitted the hall. Theevening twilight faded and my light shone doubly vivid upon the richvelvet that covered the throne of France. "Now who do you think this poor woman was? Listen, I will tell youa story. "It happened, in the Revolution of July, on the evening of themost brilliantly victorious day, when every house was a fortress,every window a breastwork. The people stormed the Tuileries. Evenwomen and children were to be found among the combatants. Theypenetrated into the apartments and halls of the palace. A poorhalf-grown boy in a ragged blouse fought among the older insurgents.Mortally wounded with several bayonet thrusts, he sank down. Thishappened in the throne-room. They laid the bleeding youth upon thethrone of France, wrapped the velvet around his wounds, and hisblood streamed forth upon the imperial purple. There was a picture!The splendid hall, the fighting groups! A torn flag upon the ground,the tricolor was waving above the bayonets, and on the throne laythe poor lad with the pale glorified countenance, his eyes turnedtowards the sky, his limbs writhing in the death agony, his breastbare, and his poor tattered clothing half hidden by the rich velvetembroidered with silver lilies. At the boy's cradle a prophecy hadbeen spoken: 'He will die on the throne of France!' The mother's heartdreamt of a second Napoleon. "My beams have kissed the wreath of immortelles on his grave,and this night they kissed the forehead of the old grandame, whilein a dream the picture floated before her which thou mayest draw-the poor boy on the throne of France." SIXTH EVENING "I've been in Upsala," said the Moon: "I looked down upon thegreat plain covered with coarse grass, and upon the barren fields. Imirrored my face in the Tyris river, while the steamboat drove thefish into the rushes. Beneath me floated the waves, throwing longshadows on the so-called graves of Odin, Thor, and Friga. In thescanty turf that covers the hill-side names have been cut. There is nomonument here, no memorial on which the traveller can have his namecarved, no rocky wall on whose surface he can get it painted; sovisitors have the turf cut away for that purpose. The naked earthpeers through in the form of great letters and names; these form anetwork over the whole hill. Here is an immortality, which laststill the fresh turf grows! "Up on the hill stood a man, a poet. He emptied the mead horn withthe broad silver rim, and murmured a name. He begged the winds notto betray him, but I heard the name. I knew it. A count's coronetsparkles above it, and therefore he did not speak it out. I smiled,for I knew that a poet's crown adorns his own name. The nobility ofEleanora d'Este is attached to the name of Tasso. And I also knowwhere the Rose of Beauty blooms!" Thus spake the Moon, and a cloud came between us. May no cloudseparate the poet from the rose!

    SEVENTH EVENING "Along the margin of the shore stretches a forest of firs andbeeches, and fresh and fragrant is this wood; hundreds of nightingalesvisit it every spring. Close beside it is the sea, the ever-changingsea, and between the two is placed the broad high-road. One carriageafter another rolls over it; but I did not follow them, for my eyeloves best to rest upon one point. A Hun's Grave lies there, and thesloe and blackthorn grow luxuriantly among the stones. Here is truepoetry in nature. "And how do you think men appreciate this poetry? I will tellyou what I heard there last

    evening and during the night. "First, two rich landed proprietors came driving by. 'Those areglorious trees!' said the first. 'Certainly; there are ten loads offirewood in each,' observed the other: 'it will be a hard winter,and last year we got fourteen dollars a load'- and they were gone.'The road here is wretched,' observed another man who drove past.'That's the fault of those horrible trees,' replied his neighbour;'there is no free current of air; the wind can only come from thesea'- and they were gone. The stage coach went rattling past. Allthe passengers were asleep at this beautiful spot. The postillion blewhis horn, but he only thought, 'I can play capitally. It sounds wellhere. I wonder if those in there like it?'- and the stage coachvanished. Then two young fellows came gallopping up on horseback.There's youth and spirit in the blood here! thought I; and, indeed,they looked with a smile at the moss-grown hill and thick forest. 'Ishould not dislike a walk here with the miller's Christine,' said one-and they flew past. "The flowers scented the air; every breath of air was hushed; itseemed as if the sea were a part of the sky that stretched above thedeep valley. A carriage rolled by. Six people were sitting in it. Fourof them were asleep; the fifth was thinking of his new summer coat,which would suit him admirably; the sixth turned to the coachman andasked him if there were anything remarkable connected with yonder heapof stones. 'No,' replied the coachman, 'it's only a heap of stones;but the trees are remarkable.' 'How so?' 'Why I'll tell you how theyare very remarkable. You see, in winter, when the snow lies very deep,and has hidden the whole road so that nothing is to be seen, thosetrees serve me for a landmark. I steer by them, so as not to driveinto the sea; and you see that is why the trees are remarkable.' "Now came a painter. He spoke not a word, but his eyes sparkled.He began to whistle. At this the nightingales sang louder than ever.'Hold your tongues!' he cried testily; and he made accurate notes ofall the colours and transitions- blue, and lilac, and dark brown.'That will make a beautiful picture,' he said. He took it in just as amirror takes in a view; and as he worked he whistled a march ofRossini. And last of all came a poor girl. She laid aside the burdenshe carried, and sat down to rest upon the Hun's Grave. Her palehandsome face was bent in a listening attitude towards the forest. Hereyes brightened, she gazed earnestly at the sea and the sky, her handswere folded, and I think she prayed, 'Our Father.' She herself couldnot understand the feeling that swept through her, but I know thatthis minute, and the beautiful natural scene, will live within hermemory for years, far more vividly and more truly than the paintercould portray it with his colours on paper. My rays followed hertill the morning dawn kissed her brow." EIGHTH EVENING Heavy clouds obscured the sky, and the Moon did not make hisappearance at all. I stood in my little room, more lonely than ever,and looked up at the sky where he ought to have shown himself. Mythoughts flew far away, up to my great friend, who every eveningtold me such pretty tales, and showed me pictures. Yes, he has hadan experience indeed. He glided over the waters of the Deluge, andsmiled on Noah's ark just as he lately glanced down upon me, andbrought comfort and promise of a new world that was to spring forthfrom the old. When the Children of Israel sat weeping by the waters ofBabylon, he glanced mournfully upon the willows where hung thesilent harps. When Romeo climbed the balcony, and the promise oftrue love fluttered like a cherub toward

    heaven, the round Moonhung, half hidden among the dark cypresses, in the lucid air. He sawthe captive giant at St. Helena, looking from the lonely rock acrossthe wide ocean, while great thoughts swept through his soul. Ah!what tales the Moon can tell. Human life is like a story to him.To-night I shall not see thee again, old friend. Tonight I can draw nopicture of the memories of thy visit. And, as I looked dreamilytowards the clouds, the sky became bright. There was a glancing light,and a beam from the Moon fell upon me. It vanished again, and darkclouds flew past: but still it was a greeting, a friendly good-nightoffered to me by the Moon. NINTH EVENING The air was clear again. Several evenings had passed, and the Moonwas in the first quarter. Again he gave me an outline for a sketch.Listen to what he told me. "I have followed the polar bird and the swimming whale to theeastern coast of Greenland. Gaunt ice-covered rocks and dark cloudshung over a valley, where dwarf willows and barberry bushes stoodclothed in green. The blooming lychnis exhaled sweet odours. Mylight was faint, my face pale as the water lily that, torn from itsstem, has been drifting for weeks with the tide. The crown-shapedNorthern Light burned fiercely in the sky. Its ring was broad, andfrom its circumference the rays shot like whirling shafts of fireacross the whole sky, flashing in changing radiance from green to red.The inhabitants of that icy region were assembling for dance andfestivity; but, accustomed to this glorious spectacle, they scarcelydeigned to glance at it. 'Let us leave the soul of the dead to theirball-play with the heads of the walruses,' they thought in theirsuperstition, and they turned their whole attention to the song anddance. In the midst of the circle, and divested of his furry cloak,stood a Greenlander, with a small pipe, and he played and sang asong about catching the seal, and the chorus around chimed in with,'Eia, Eia, Ah.' And in their white furs they danced about in thecircle, till you might fancy it was a polar bear's ball. "And now a Court of Judgment was opened. Those Greenlanders whohad quarrelled stepped forward, and the offended person chantedforth the faults of his adversary in an extempore song, turning themsharply into ridicule, to the sound of the pipe and the measure of thedance. The defendant replied with satire as keen, while the audiencelaughed, and gave their verdict. The rocks heaved, the glaciersmelted, and great masses of ice and snow came crashing down, shiveringto fragments as they fall; it was a glorious Greenland summer night. Ahundred paces away, under the open tent of hides, lay a sick man. Lifestill flowed through his warm blood, but still he was to die- hehimself felt it, and all who stood round him knew it also; thereforehis wife was already sewing round him the shroud of furs, that shemight not afterwards be obliged to touch the dead body. And she asked,'Wilt thou be buried on the rock, in the firm snow? I will deck thespot with thy kayak, and thy arrows, and the angekokk shall dance overit. Or wouldst thou rather be buried in the sea?' 'In the sea,' hewhispered, and nodded with a mournful smile. 'Yes, it is a pleasantsummer tent, the sea,' observed the wife. 'Thousands of seals sportthere, the walrus shall lie at thy feet, and the hunt will be safe andmerry!' And the yelling children tore the outspread hide from thewindow-hole, that the dead man might be carried to the ocean, thebillowy ocean, that had given him food in life, and that now, indeath, was to afford him a place of rest. For his monument, he had thefloating, ever-changing icebergs,

whereon the seal sleeps, while thestorm bird flies round their gleaming summits!"

    TENTH EVENING "I knew an old maid," said the Moon. "Every winter she wore awrapper of yellow satin, and it always remained new, and was theonly fashion she followed. In summer she always wore the same strawhat, and I verily believe the very same gray-blue dress. "She never went out, except across the street to an old femalefriend; and in later years she did not even take this walk, for theold friend was dead. In her solitude my old maid was always busy atthe window, which was adorned in summer with pretty flowers, and inwinter with cress, grown upon felt. During the last months I saw herno more at the window, but she was still alive. I knew that, for I hadnot yet seen her begin the 'long journey,' of which she often spokewith her friend. 'Yes, yes,' she was in the habit of saying, when Icome to die I shall take a longer journey than I have made my wholelife long. Our family vault is six miles from here. I shall be carriedthere, and shall sleep there among my family and relatives.' Lastnight a van stopped at the house. A coffin was carried out, and then Iknew that she was dead. They placed straw round the coffin, and thevan drove away. There slept the quiet old lady, who had not gone outof her house once for the last year. The van rolled out through thetown-gate as briskly as if it were going for a pleasant excursion.On the high-road the pace was quicker yet. The coachman lookednervously round every now and then- I fancy he half expected to seeher sitting on the coffin, in her yellow satin wrapper. And because hewas startled, he foolishly lashed his horses, while he held thereins so tightly that the poor beasts were in a foam: they wereyoung and fiery. A hare jumped across the road and startled them,and they fairly ran away. The old sober maiden, who had for yearsand years moved quietly round and round in a dull circle, was now,in death, rattled over stock and stone on the public highway. Thecoffin in its covering of straw tumbled out of the van, and was lefton the high-road, while horses, coachman, and carriage flew past inwild career. The lark rose up carolling from the field, twittering hermorning lay over the coffin, and presently perched upon it, pickingwith her beak at the straw covering, as though she would tear it up.The lark rose up again, singing gaily, and I withdrew behind the redmorning clouds." ELEVENTH EVENING "I will give you a picture of Pompeii," said the Moon. "I was inthe suburb in the Street of Tombs, as they call it, where the fairmonuments stand, in the spot where, ages ago, the merry youths,their temples bound with rosy wreaths, danced with the fair sisters ofLais. Now, the stillness of death reigned around. Germanmercenaries, in the Neapolitan service, kept guard, played cards,and diced; and a troop of strangers from beyond the mountains cameinto the town, accompanied by a sentry. They wanted to see the citythat had risen from the grave illumined by my beams; and I showed themthe wheel-ruts in the streets paved with broad lava slabs; I showedthem the names on the doors, and the signs that hung there yet: theysaw in the little courtyard the basins of the fountains, ornamentedwith shells; but no jet of water gushed upwards, no songs soundedforth from the richly-painted chambers, where the bronze dog keptthe door. "It was the City of the Dead; only Vesuvius thundered forth hiseverlasting hymn, each separate verse of which is called by men aneruption. We went to the temple of Venus, built of snow-whitemarble, with its high altar in front of the broad steps, and

    theweeping willows sprouting freshly forth among the pillars. The air wastransparent and blue, and black Vesuvius formed the background, withfire ever shooting forth from it, like the stem of the pine tree.Above it stretched the smoky cloud in the silence of the night, likethe crown of the pine, but in a blood-red illumination. Among thecompany was a lady singer, a real and great singer. I have witnessedthe homage paid to her in the greatest cities of Europe. When theycame to the tragic theatre, they all sat down on the amphitheatresteps, and thus a small part of the house was occupied by an audience,as it had been many centuries ago. The stage still stood unchanged,with its walled side-scenes, and the two arches in the background,through which the beholders saw the same scene that had been exhibitedin the old times- a scene painted by nature herself, namely, themountains between Sorento and Amalfi. The singer gaily mounted theancient stage, and sang. The place inspired her, and she reminded meof a wild Arab horse, that rushes headlong on with snorting nostrilsand flying mane- her song was so light and yet so firm. Anon I thoughtof the mourning mother beneath the cross at Golgotha, so deep wasthe expression of pain. And, just as it had done thousands of yearsago, the sound of applause and delight now filled the theatre. 'Happy,gifted creature!' all the hearers exclaimed. Five minutes more, andthe stage was empty, the company had vanished, and not a sound morewas heard- all were gone. But the ruins stood unchanged, as theywill stand when centuries shall have gone by, and when none shall knowof the momentary applause and of the triumph of the fair songstress;when all will be forgotten and gone, and even for me this hour will bebut a dream of the past." TWELFTH EVENING "I looked through the windows of an editor's house," said theMoon. "It was somewhere in Germany. I saw handsome furniture, manybooks, and a chaos of newspapers. Several young men were present:the editor himself stood at his desk, and two little books, both byyoung authors, were to be noticed. 'This one has been sent to me,'said he. 'I have not read it yet; what think you of the contents?''Oh,' said the person addressed- he was a poet himself- 'it is goodenough; a little broad, certainly; but, you see, the author is stillyoung. The verses might be better, to be sure; the thoughts are sound,though there is certainly a good deal of common-place among them.But what will you have? You can't be always getting something new.That he'll turn out anything great I don't believe, but you may safelypraise him. He is well read, a remarkable Oriental scholar, and hasa good judgment. It was he who wrote that nice review of my'Reflections on Domestic Life.' We must be lenient towards the youngman." "'But he is a complete hack!' objected another of the gentlemen.'Nothing worse in poetry than mediocrity, and he certainly does not gobeyond this.' "'Poor fellow,' observed a third, 'and his aunt is so happyabout him. It was she, Mr. Editor, who got together so manysubscribers for your last translation.' "'Ah, the good woman! Well, I have noticed the book briefly.Undoubted talent- a welcome offering- a flower in the garden ofpoetry- prettily brought out- and so on. But this other book- Isuppose the author expects me to purchase it? I hear it is praised. Hehas genius, certainly: don't you think so?' "'Yes, all the world declares as much,' replied the poet, 'butit has turned out rather wildly. The punctuation of the book, inparticular, is very eccentric.' "'It will be good for him if we pull him to pieces, and angerhim a

    little, otherwise he will get too good an opinion of himself.' "'But that would be unfair,' objected the fourth. 'Let us not carpat little faults, but rejoice over the real and abundant good thatwe find here: he surpasses all the rest.' "'Not so. If he is a true genius, he can bear the sharp voice ofcensure. There are people enough to praise him. Don't let us quiteturn his head.' "'Decided talent,' wrote the editor, 'with the usual carelessness.that he can write incorrect verses may be seen in page 25, where thereare two false quantities. We recommend him to study the ancients,etc.' "I went away," continued the Moon, "and looked through the windowsin the aunt's house. There sat the be-praised poet, the tame one;all the guests paid homage to him, and he was happy. "I sought the other poet out, the wild one; him also I found ina great assembly at his patron's, where the tame poet's book was beingdiscussed. "'I shall read yours also,' said Maecenas; 'but to speak honestly-you know I never hide my opinion from you- I don't expect much fromit, for you are much too wild, too fantastic. But it must be allowedthat, as a man, you are highly respectable.' "A young girl sat in a corner; and she read in a book these words: "'In the dust lies genius and glory, But ev'ry-day talent will pay. It's only the old, old story, But the piece is repeated each day.'" THIRTEENTH EVENING The Moon said, "Beside the woodland path there are two smallfarm-houses. The doors are low, and some of the windows are placedquite high, and others close to the ground; and whitethorn andbarberry bushes grow around them. The roof of each house isovergrown with moss and with yellow flowers and houseleek. Cabbage andpotatoes are the only plants cultivated in the gardens, but out of thehedge there grows a willow tree, and under this willow tree sat alittle girl, and she sat with her eyes fixed upon the old oak treebetween the two huts. "It was an old withered stem. It had been sawn off at the top, anda stork had built his nest upon it; and he stood in this nest clappingwith his beak. A little boy came and stood by the girl's side: theywere brother and sister. "'What are you looking at?' he asked. "'I'm watching the stork,' she replied: 'our neighbors told methat he would bring us a little brother or sister to-day; let us watchto see it come!' "'The stork brings no such things,' the boy declared, 'you maybe sure of that. Our neighbor told me the same thing, but shelaughed when she said it, and so I asked her if she could say 'On myhonor,' and she could not; and I know by that the story about thestorks is not true, and that they only tell it to us children forfun.' "'But where do babies come from, then?' asked the girl. "'Why, an angel from heaven brings them under his cloak, but noman can see him; and that's why we never know when he brings them.' "At that moment there was a rustling in the branches of the willowtree, and the children folded their hands and looked at one another:it was certainly the angel coming with the baby. They took eachother's hand, and at that moment the door of one of the houses opened,and the neighbour appeared. "'Come in, you two,' she said. 'See what the stork has brought. Itis a little brother.' "And the children nodded gravely at one another, for they had feltquite sure already that the baby was come." FOURTEENTH EVENING "I was gliding over the Luneburg Heath," the Moon said. "Alonely hut stood by the wayside, a few scanty bushes grew near it, anda nightingale who had lost his

    way sang sweetly. He died in thecoldness of the night: it was his farewell song that I heard. "The morning dawn came glimmering red. I saw a caravan of emigrantpeasant families who were bound to Hamburgh, there to take ship forAmerica, where fancied prosperity would bloom for them. The motherscarried their little children at their backs, the elder onestottered by their sides, and a poor starved horse tugged at a cartthat bore their scanty effects. The cold wind whistled, andtherefore the little girl nestled closer to the mother, who, lookingup at my decreasing disc, thought of the bitter want at home, andspoke of the heavy taxes they had not been able to raise. The wholecaravan thought of the same thing; therefore, the rising dawn seemedto them a message from the sun, of fortune that was to gleambrightly upon them. They heard the dying nightingale sing; it was nofalse prophet, but a harbinger of fortune. The wind whistled,therefore they did not understand that the nightingale sung, 'Fareaway over the sea! Thou hast paid the long passage with all that wasthine, and poor and helpless shalt thou enter Canaan. Thou must sellthyself, thy wife, and thy children. But your griefs shall not lastlong. Behind the broad fragrant leaves lurks the goddess of Death, andher welcome kiss shall breathe fever into thy blood. Fare away, fareaway, over the heaving billows.' And the caravan listened well pleasedto the song of the nightingale, which seemed to promise goodfortune. Day broke through the light clouds; country people wentacross the heath to church; the black-gowned women with their whitehead-dresses looked like ghosts that had stepped forth from the churchpictures. All around lay a wide dead plain, covered with faded brownheath, and black charred spaces between the white sand hills. Thewomen carried hymn books, and walked into the church. Oh, pray, prayfor those who are wandering to find graves beyond the foamingbillows." FIFTEENTH EVENING "I know a Pulcinella," the Moon told me. "The public applaudvociferously directly they see him. Every one of his movements iscomic, and is sure to throw the house into convulsions of laughter;and yet there is no art in it all- it is complete nature. When hewas yet a little boy, playing about with other boys, he was alreadyPunch. Nature had intended him for it, and had provided him with ahump on his back, and another on his breast; but his inward man, hismind, on the contrary, was richly furnished. No one could surpasshim in depth of feeling or in readiness of intellect. The theatrewas his ideal world. If he had possessed a slender well-shaped figure,he might have been the first tragedian on any stage; the heroic, thegreat, filled his soul; and yet he had to become a Pulcinella. Hisvery sorrow and melancholy did but increase the comic dryness of hissharply-cut features, and increased the laughter of the audience,who showered plaudits on their favourite. The lovely Columbine wasindeed kind and cordial to him; but she preferred to marry theHarlequin. It would have been too ridiculous if beauty and uglinesshad in reality paired together. "When Pulcinella was in very bad spirits, she was the only one whocould force a hearty burst of laughter, or even a smile from him:first she would be melancholy with him, then quieter, and at lastquite cheerful and happy. 'I know very well what is the matter withyou,' she said; 'yes, you're in love!' And he could not help laughing.'I and Love," he cried, "that would have an absurd look. How thepublic would shout!' 'Certainly, you are in love,' she continued;and added with a comic pathos, 'and I am the person you are in lovewith.'

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email
cust-service@docsford.com