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See also Funeral, Graveyard


Death, graveyard, cross

Description of this motif: Graves are a place for melancholy, sorrow and memories, and so it is in Andersen's tales, for example in the "The Old Tombstone". The emphasis is on memories of the dead, even when oblivion prevails, as in the mercyless story "The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters":

The stork had given her shelter to the day of her death. I sang at her funeral," said the Wind, "as I had sung at her father's; I know where his grave is, and her grave, but no one else knows.

Now there are new times, changed times. The old highway is lost in the fields, old cemeteries have been made into new roads, and soon the steam engine, with its row of cars, will come to rush over the forgotten graves of unknown ancestors. Whew, whew, whew! On, on!

Example :

"Then three or four beautiful shooting stars fell; they shone brightly, and started my thoughts off in an entirely different direction. Does anybody know what a shooting star really is? The learned do not know! But I have my own idea about them, and this is it:

"How often is it that not a single word of thanks or blessing is given for a generous action or beautiful work that rejoices all who witness it! Yes, often that gratitude is voiceless, but still it doesn't fall wasted to the ground. I can fancy it is caught up by the sunshine, and eventually the sunbeams carry it away and shower it over the head of the benefactor. Sometimes the thanks of a whole nation are thus due; they may come late, but at last they do come like a bouquet, when a shooting stars falls over the grave of some hero or statesman. Thus it's a great thrill to me when I see a shooting star, especially on New Year's Eve, and try to guess for whom that bouquet of gratitude can be meant. A short time ago a radiant shooting star fell in the southwest – now for whom could that have been intended? I am sure it fell right over the bank by the Flensborg Fiord, where the white-crossed flag of Denmark floats over the graves of Schleppegrell, Laessoe, and their comrades. Another one fell in the heart of Zealand, fell upon Sor; I'm sure that was a bouquet for Holberg's grave, a thanksgiving from the multitude who during years past have laughed over his delightful plays.

"It is a great thought, a happy thought, to know that a shooting star like that will fall upon our own graves! Well, none will ever fall on mine; no sunbeam will bring me thanks, for I haven't done anything to be thanked for. I don't even merit polish for my boots," said Ole. "My lot in life has been only to get grease."

Comment on this quote: The towerkeeper's thought, that shooting stars are sent by higher powers, by sun itself, nature rather than God, if one reads it literally, is similar to the tale There is a Difference, in which the omnipresent sunbeam speaks. The shooting star over people's graves, i.e. when someone dies, is also found in The Little Match Girl.