ANDERSEN HANS CHRISTIAN
This text will be replaced
Hans Christian Andersen
VERY often, after a violent thunder-storm, a field of
buckwheat appears blackened and singed, as if a flame of fire
had passed over it. The country people say that this
appearance is caused by lightning; but I will tell you what
the sparrow says, and the sparrow heard it from an old
willow-tree which grew near a field of buckwheat, and is there
still. It is a large venerable tree, though a little crippled
by age. The trunk has been split, and out of the crevice grass
and brambles grow. The tree bends for-ward slightly, and the
branches hang quite down to the ground just like green hair.
Corn grows in the surrounding fields, not only rye and barley,
but oats,-pretty oats that, when ripe, look like a number of
little golden canary-birds sitting on a bough. The corn has a
smiling look and the heaviest and richest ears bend their
heads low as if in pious humility. Once there was also a field
of buckwheat, and this field was exactly opposite to old
willow-tree. The buckwheat did not bend like the other grain,
but erected its head proudly and stiffly on the stem. "I am as
valuable as any other corn," said he, "and I am much
handsomer; my flowers are as beautiful as the bloom of the
apple blossom, and it is a pleasure to look at us. Do you know
of anything prettier than we are, you old willow-tree?"
And the willow-tree nodded his head, as if he would say,
"Indeed I do."
But the buckwheat spread itself out with pride, and said,
"Stupid tree; he is so old that grass grows out of his body."
There arose a very terrible storm. All the field-flowers
folded their leaves together, or bowed their little heads,
while the storm passed over them, but the buckwheat stood
erect in its pride. "Bend your head as we do," said the
"I have no occasion to do so," replied the buckwheat.
"Bend your head as we do," cried the ears of corn; "the
angel of the storm is coming; his wings spread from the sky
above to the earth beneath. He will strike you down before you
can cry for mercy."
"But I will not bend my head," said the buckwheat.
"Close your flowers and bend your leaves," said the old
willow-tree. "Do not look at the lightning when the cloud
bursts; even men cannot do that. In a flash of lightning
heaven opens, and we can look in; but the sight will strike
even human beings blind. What then must happen to us, who only
grow out of the earth, and are so inferior to them, if we
venture to do so?"
"Inferior, indeed!" said the buckwheat. "Now I intend to
have a peep into heaven." Proudly and boldly he looked up,
while the lightning flashed across the sky as if the whole
world were in flames.
When the dreadful storm had passed, the flowers and the
corn raised their drooping heads in the pure still air,
refreshed by the rain, but the buckwheat lay like a weed in
the field, burnt to blackness by the lightning. The branches
of the old willow-tree rustled in the wind, and large
water-drops fell from his green leaves as if the old willow
were weeping. Then the sparrows asked why he was weeping, when
all around him seemed so cheerful. "See," they said, how the
sun shines, and the clouds float in the blue sky. Do you not
smell the sweet perfume from flower and bush? Wherefore do you
weep, old willow-tree?" Then the willow told them of the
haughty pride of the buckwheat, and of the punishment which
followed in consequence.
This is the story told me by the sparrows one evening when
I begged them to relate some tale to me.