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H.C. Andersen : Thirty-second Evening
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The Hans Christian Andersen Center

H.C. Andersen : Thirty-second Evening

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Thirty-second Evening

The wind was stormy and cold; the clouds flew swiftly by. Only for a moment at a time could I see the Moon.

"I looked down through the silent sky at the drifting clouds," he said. "I see the great shadows chase across the earth."

Recently I looked down on a prison, outside of which stood a closed carriage waiting to take a prisoner away. My rays went in through the barred window to the wall where the prisoner was scratching lines as a parting memento. He was not writing words, but a melody, the outpourings of his heart, on his last night in this prison. Then the door opened, and he was led outside; he looked up at my round face. Clouds drifted between us, as if he should not see my face, nor I his. He entered the carriage; the door was closed, the whip cracked, and the horses galloped off into the deep forest, where my rays could not follow him. But as I glanced again through the barred window, my rays fell on the melody scratched on the wall - his last farewell. Where words fail, often music can speak. My beams could light up only a few of the notes, so that most of what was written there will be forever dark to me. Was it a song of death that he wrote? Or were these notes of joy? Was he driving away to meet his death, or to the embrace of his beloved? The rays of the Moon do not read all that mortals write.

"I look down through the great, silent sky at the drifting clouds. I see the great shadows chase across the earth."