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The motif Grave in HCA : The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters (1859)
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The motif Grave in HCA : The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters (1859)

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Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

See also Funeral, Graveyard

Keywords:

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:

" 'Oh!' she sighed – yes, humans can sigh almost like the Wind himself does among the reeds and rushes. 'Oh! – there were no bells to ring at your funeral, Valdemar Daae! No groups of poor schoolboys sang psalms when Borreby's former master was laid to rest! Oh, but everything comes to an end – misery as well as happiness! It grieved my father worst of all that my sister Ide should become the wife of a peasant, a miserable peasant whom he could have punished by making him ride a hard plank. But he is at peace in the grave now, and you are with him, Ide! Oh, yes, ah, me – I am still here. I am old and poor. Deliver me, kind Christ!'"

Such was the prayer of Anna Dorothea in the miserable mud hut that was allowed to stand only for the sake of the stork.

Example 2:

"It was another Easter morning, bright as that morning when Valdemar Daae thought he had found the gold. Among those tumbledown walls beneath the stork's nest I could hear a faint voice chanting a psalm. It was Anna Dorothea's last hymn.

"There was no window with glass, only a hole in the wall; but the sun set itself there like a lump of gold, and as she gazed on its glory her heart broke and her eyes grew fixed. 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!

Comment on this quote:

The moment, when the sun shines through the hole in the wall at he last of Valdemar Daae's daughters, is a repetition of the the moment, when the wind blew at the spark in the glass containing his alchemic product, his unsucceeded attempt at creating gold on a former Easter morning. That wasn't gold either. Ide has proved to be the one with the purest heart in her family, and the sunshine may be interpreted as a salute, a thank for her goodness – it is hard to remain optimistic, though, because it is a repetition of a past illusion, and because it is told that

the sun set itself there like a lump of gold

Additionally, in the Danish original, it is said that she would have died anyway, if the sun hadn't shone on her.

Optimism and Easter faith are blown away by the narrator of this nihilistic story, the wind.

One may object, though, that dying in shining or burning moments is a central motif in Andersen's oeuvre, where it means not the end of existence, but transformation, transition to another kind of life, a resurrection like the little mermaid's.

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