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See also Prophet, prophecy


Augury, omen, portent, sign

Description of this motif: Signs, portents and omens are numerous in Andersen's fairy tales and stories. There are two main types of omens: omens evoked by experiments, socalled divination (asking the God(s) by, for example, tossing dice. Cf. Picturebook Without Pictures's First Evening), and omens that come unexpectedly, e.g. in a dream.

Example :

"Hurry, all you birds, fly there and see it; then come back and tell me about it!" was the prayer of the Dryad.

Her longing grew until it became a great desire; it became the one thought of her life. And then . . .

In the silent, solemn night the full moon was shining, and from its face the Dryad saw a spark come forth, as bright as a falling star, and fall to the foot of the tree, whose branches shivered as if shaken by a tempest – and then a mighty, shining figure stood there. It spoke with a tender voice, and yet as powerfully as the judgment- day trumpet that kisses to life and calls to judgment.

"You shall go to the city of enchantments! There you shall take root and enjoy the air and the sunshine, but your life shall be shortened. The long procession of years that awaited you here in the open country will shrink to a small number. Poor Dryad, it will be your ruin! Your longing will grow and your great desire and craving will increase until the tree itself will be a prison to you. You will leave your shelter and change your nature; you will fly forth to mingle with human beings, and then your years will shrink to half of a May fly's lifetime – to one night only! The flame of your life will be blown out. The leaves of the tree will wither and blow away, never to return."