The motif Ole Lukoie, the sandman is a part of: Gods, spirits and demons
Lokoie, the sandman, sleep, dreams
Ole Lukoie is an odd entity. Andersen borrowed some charateristics for him from german lore. In a letter for the Swedish Lady Mathilda Barck, Nysø 20th June 1840, Andersen himself told that the name Ole Lukoie "betyder hos os hvad Der Sandmann er i Tydskland, en underlig Krabat, som om Aftenen naar Børn sidde allerbedst faaer dem til at plirre med Øinene og de maa lukke dem og sove": 'means to us what Der Sandmann is in Germany, a funny creature, that at night, when children are at their best, make them blink their eyes and have to close them and fall asleep" (Anderseniana, 3. rk. II,2, 1975, s. 146f). The Ole Lukoje-figure is mentioned for the first time by J.R. Paulli in the comedy Julestuen og Maskeraden (1724) and later by Poul Møller in Scener i Rosenborg Have (1819-21) and Blicher in "Røverstuen" (1827), it says p. 57 in vol. 7 of The Society For Danish Language And Literature's edition of Andersen's tales, published by Borgen, Copenhagen 1990. In the same place it is mentioned, that a similar character is anticipated in the Andersen poem Kunstner-Livet ("the artist's life") (1829) and in the novel Only a Fiddler (1837). Later again HCA wrote a fairytale comedy Ole Lukøie (1850).
Ole Lukoje is a kind of god, a god for sleep and dreams. In Andersen's tale he is gentle and kind and looks like a sweet goblin, but the dark side of his kind shows in the end, when it is told that Lukoje's brother, who has the same name, is Death itself.
There's no one on earth who knows so many stories as Ole Lukoie-he certainly can tell them!
When night comes on and children still sit in good order around the table, or on their little stools, Ole Lukoie arrives. He comes upstairs quietly, for he walks in his socks. Softly he opens the door, and flick! he sprinkles sweet milk in the children's eyes-just a tiny bit, but always enough to keep their eyes closed so they won't see him. He tiptoes behind them and breathes softly on their necks, and this makes their heads hang heavy. Oh yes! But it doesn't hurt them, for Ole Lukoie loves children and only wants them to be quiet, and that they are only when they have been put to bed. He wants them to be quiet so that he can tell them stories.
As soon as the children fall asleep, Ole Lukoie sits down on the bed beside them. He is well dressed. His coat is made of silk, but it would be impossible to say what color it is because it gleams red, or green, or blue, as he turns about. Under each arm he carries an umbrella. One has pictures on it, and that one he opens up over good children. Then they dream the most beautiful stories all night long. The other is just a plain umbrella with nothing on it at all, and that one he opens over naughty children. Then they sleep restlessly, and when they wake up in the morning they have had no dreams at all.
"Now," he said, "you must tell stories; about the five peas who lived in a pod, about the rooster's foot-track that courted the hen's foot-track, and about the darning needle who gave herself such airs because she thought she was a sewing needle."
"That would be too much of a good thing," said Ole Lukoie. "You know that I would rather show you things. I shall show you my own brother. He too is named Ole Lukoie, but he comes only once to anyone. When he comes he takes people for a ride on his horse, and tells them stories. He only knows two. One is more beautiful than anyone on earth can imagine, and the other is horrible beyond description." Then Ole Lukoie lifted little Hjalmar up to the window. "There," he said, "you can see my brother, the other Ole Lukoie. He is also called Death. You can see that he doesn't look nearly as bad as they make him out to be in the picture books, where he is only bones and knuckles. No, his coat is embroidered with silver. It is the magnificent uniform of a hussar, and a cloak of black velvet floats behind him and billows over his horse. See how he gallops along."
And Hjalmar saw how the other Ole Lukoie rode off on his horse with young folk as well as old people. He took some up before him, and some behind, but first he always asked them:
"What conduct is marked on your report card?" They all said, "Good", but he said, "Indeed. Let me see for myself." Then they had to show him the card. All those who were marked "very good" or "excellent," he put on his horse in front of him, and told them a lovely story. But those who were marked "below average" or "bad" had to ride behind him, and he told them a frightful tale. They shivered and wept, and tried to jump down off the horse. But this they couldn't do. They had immediately grown fast to it.
"Why, Death is the most beautiful Ole Lukoie," Hjalmar exclaimed. "I'm not afraid of him."
"You needn't be," Ole Lukoie told him, "only be sure that you have a good report card."