The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search



Share page  


Previous Contents Next

THE BIRD OF POPULAR SONG            901
anchor, and landed. Among them was a singer, and he approached the royal spirit, and said,
* Why mournest thou, and wherefore dost thou suffer thus ? '
And the dead man answered,
1 No one hath sung the deeds of my life,; they are dead and forgotten : song doth not carry them forth over the lands, nor into the hearts of men ; therefore I have no rest and no peace.'
And he spoke of his works, and of his warlike deeds, which his contemporaries had known, but which had not been sung, because there was no singer among his com≠panions.
Then the old bard struck the strings of his harp, and sang of the youthful courage of the hero, of the strength of the man, and of the greatness of his good deeds. Then the face of the dead gleamed like the margin of the cloud in the moonlight. Gladly and of good courage, the form arose in splendour and in majesty, and vanished like the glancing of the Northern Lights. Naught was to be seen but the green turfy mound, with the stones on which no Runic record has been graven; but at the last sound of the harp there soared over the hill, as though he had fluttered from the harp, a little bird, a charming singing-bird, with the ringing voice of the thrush, with the moving pathos of the human heart, with a voice that told of home, like the voice that is heard by the bird of passage. The singing-bird soared away, over mountain and valley, over field and woodóhe was the Bird of Popular Song, who never dies.
We hear his songówe hear it now in the room on a winter's evening while the ' white bees' are swarming without, and the storm takes firm hold. The bird sings not alone the praise of heroes; he sings also sweet gentle songs of love, so many and so warm, of Northern fidelity and truth. He has stories in words and in tones; he has proverbs and snatches of proverb ; songs which, like Runes laid under a dead man's tongue, force him to speak; and thus Popular Song tells of the land of his birth.
In the old heathen days, in the times of the Vikings, its nest was in the harp of the bard.
In the days of knightly castles, when the strong fist