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The motif Omen in HCA : The Marsh King's Daughter (1858)
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The motif Omen in HCA : The Marsh King's Daughter (1858)

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Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

See also Prophet, prophecy

Keywords:

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 :

"But where does the flower grow that can heal him?" they asked. For the answer they looked to their scholarly manuscripts, to the twinkling stars, to the wind, and to the weather. They searched through all the bypaths of knowledge, but all their wisdom and knowledge resolved down to the doctrine: "Love brings life-it can bring back a father's life," and although they said rather more than they understood, they accepted it, and wrote it down as a prescription. "Love brings life." Well and good, but how was this precept to be applied? That was their stumbling block.

However, they had at last agreed that help must come from the Princess, who loved her father with all her heart. And they had devised a way in which she could help him. It was more than a year ago that they had sent the Princess into the desert, just when the new moon was setting, to visit the marble sphinx. At the base of the sphinx she had to scrape away the sand from a doorway, and follow a long passage which led to the middle of a great pyramid where one of the mightiest kings of old lay wrapped as a mummy in the midst of his glory and treasure. There she leaned over the corpse to have it revealed to her where she might find life and health for her father. When she had done all this, she had a dream in which she learned that in the Danes' land there was a deep marsh-the very spot was described to her. Here, beneath the water, she would feel a lotus flower touch her breast, and when that flower was brought home to her father it would cure him. So, in the guise of a swan she had flown from the land of Egypt to the Wild Marsh.

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