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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 1:

The tale has not been translated (by Hersholt) and is therefore quoted in Danish. Further information and links.

Skaren drog tilbage til Sørgehuset hvor et rigeligt Gilde ventede den; man roste den Afdøde og hans velbryggede Most, og alt som de drak for den Døde bleve de selv mere levende; en mædsket Munk, der lignede den hogartske, havde paataget sig en Harlequins lystige Rolle, drak og sagde dumme Vittigheder saa godt som nogen monarkisk Skolemester, men Johannes sneeg sig fra det lystige Selskab; han havde skaaret og sammenføiet et stort Trækors, det bar han hen paa Kirkegaarden og satte paa Faderens Grav, som alt nogle af Byens Piger havde bestrøet med Sand og Blomster.

Comment on this quote: The munk makes a ridiculous and not entirely sympathetic impression, and that's rather untypical of Andersen. That Johannes goes his own way and carpented the cross himself is caracteristic: sorrow and emotions in general are usually described as the emotions of individuals.

Example 2:

The tale has not been translated (by Hersholt) and is therefore quoted in Danish. Further information and links.

Fra den nære Landsby ringede Klokkerne, det var Søndag; Folk gik til Kirke og hilsede alle saa venligt den fremmede Vandringsmand med det aabne ærlige Ansigt; snart tonede Messesangen, og Lysene brændte paa Altarbordet, men Johannes stod allene paa Kirkegaarden, saae de mange sjunkne Grave, der vare overgroede med høit Græs, da tænkte han paa sin Faders Grav, der nok ogsaa snart vilde synke saaledes sammen, da han ikke var og pyntede og lugede den. - Taus sadde han sig ned og rykkede Græsset af een af de nærmeste Grave, reiste de sorte Kors der vare faldne om, og lagde Krandsene, som Vinden havde revet bort fra de friske Grave, igjen paa deres Sted, i det han tænkte, at ogsaa en kjærlig Haand vilde tage sig af hans Faders Grav, nu da han ikke kunde det.

Comment on this quote: This quote demostrates the travelling Johannes' pure and noble mind. His faith isn't primarily attached to the church, but to the world outside and to simple deeds as loving one's neighbour, veneration of the dead and faith in the good in people.