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The motif High place in HCA : The Psyche (1861)
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The motif High place in HCA : The Psyche (1861)

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Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

Keywords:

Cult, holy, myth, legend, history

Description of this motif: High places are places of worship or the goal of pilgrimage, a shrine. To such locations are often atttached stories: myths, legends, stories of miracles. The historic element is the core of Andersen's usual use of the motif; these places carry stories about something sacred – but now they are waste. The motif induces a feeling of the presence of past times and a combination of wonder and awe at the encounter with the sacred attached to a location.

Example 1:

Yes, life in a cloister is a life of long, monotonous years. He realized that temptation came from within rather than from without. Why did worldly thoughts always come over him? He punished his body for it, but that was of no avail.

One day, after many years had passed, he met Angelo, who recognized him.

"Man!" he said. "Yes, it is you! Are you happy now? Why, you have sinned against God and thrown away His divine gift, wasted your wonderful talent! What have you gained? What have you found? Are you not living a dream, a religion that's simply in your head? Why, it is all a dream, a fantasy, only beautiful thoughts!"

"Get thee behind me, Satan!" said the monk, and walked away from Angelo.

"He is a devil, a devil in flesh and blood!" mumbled the monk. "Once I gave him my little finger, and he grabbed my whole hand! But," he sighed, "the evil is within me as it is within him."

Torn and conscience-stricken, he cried out, "Oh, Lord, Lord! Be merciful and restore in me my faith!"

His weary eyes grew dim. The church bells tolled for him – the dead. He was buried in earth brought from Jerusalem, his dust mingling with the dust of pious pilgrims.

Many years later the bones were disinterred, a rosary was placed in the fleshless hands, and the skeleton was set up in a niche, with other similar ghastly forms, to make room for newcomers, as is the custom in convent graveyards. And the sun shone down on the grisly sight, while inside Mass was read and incense burned.

Example 2:

A stately convent now occupied the site of the ruined temple on the little narrow street. It happened that a young nun, one of the inmates of this convent, died, and at early dawn her grave was dug in the garden. Suddenly the spade struck against what seemed to be a stone, and a dazzling whiteness gleamed through the dirt – it was white marble rounded into the perfect form of a shoulder. The spade was guided with tender care, until the head of a woman was uncovered, then butterfly wings. From the grave in which the young nun was to be buried there was lifted into the rosy light of dawn the form of lovely Psyche, chiseled from white marble.

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