Sunday, 30 October 2016

Thursday, 27 October 2016



Hans Christian Andersen - The Red Shoes


There was once a little girl, so fine and pretty, but in the summer she always had to go barefoot, for she was poor, and in the winter she had to wear large wooden clogs, and these made her little ankles turn bright red and look horrible.
In the middle of the country village lived old Mother Shoemaker, she sat sewing – as best she could – a pair of small shoes out of old red strips of cloth. They were rather clumsily made, but well-meant, and those the little girl was to have. The little girl’s name was Karen.
On precisely the day her mother was buried she was given the red shoes and wore them for the first time; they were not exactly right for mourning, but she didn’t have any other shoes and she walked bare-legged behind the poor straw coffin with them on.
At that moment a large old carriage drove past, and in it there sat a large old lady. She caught sight of the little girl and felt sorry for her and said to the vicar: ‘Listen, give that little girl to me, and I will treat her kindly!’
And Karen believed the red shoes had brought all this about, but the old lady said that they were horrible and had them burnt, but Karen herself was nicely dressed in clean clothes; she had to learn to read and sew, and people said that she was pretty, but the mirror said: ‘You’re much more than pretty, you are lovely!’ 

To see the entire tale in translation, go to here

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Drop of Water - Hans Christian Andersen

The drop of water

You know all about a magnifying glass of course – looks like a spectacle lens and makes everything a hundred times bigger than it is? When you take it and put it up to your eye and look at a drop of water from the pond, you see more than a thousand strange creatures you’d otherwise never see in the water, although they’re there all right and it’s absolutely real. It almost looks like a whole plateful of shrimps cavorting in one great jumble, and they’re so ferocious, pull arms and legs and whatever off each other, but they are happy and content nevertheless – in their own way.
Now there was once an old man who everybody called Creepy-Crawly, for that was his name. He always wanted to get the best out of everything and when things refused to turn out as he wanted, he made use of magic. Well, one day he’s sitting holding up his magnifying glass to his eye, looking at a drop of water that’s been taken from a puddle in the ditch. Oh, the creeping and crawling that was going on there! – all the thousands of small creatures leapt and bounded, tugged at each other and ate up bits of each other.
‘Well, this is really atrocious!’ old Creeply-Crawly said, ‘why can’t they be got to live in peace and quiet, and not interfere in each other’s business!’ and he thought and thought, but things just wouldn’t turn out as he wanted, and so he had to use magic. ‘I must give them a bit of colour, to distinguish them from each other!’ he said, and poured what looked like a tiny droplet of red wine into the drop of water, but it was witch’s blood, the very finest sort that costs two shillings; and then the bodies of all the strange creatures turned pink – it looked like a whole city of naked savages.
‘What have you got there?’ asked another old troll, who didn’t have a name, and that was the really fine thing about him.
‘Well, if you can guess what it is,’ Creepy-Crawly said, ‘I’ll let you have it as a present; but it’s not easy to work out when you don’t know what it is!’
And the troll who didn’t have a name took a look through the magnifying glass. It really looked like a whole city where everybody ran around with no clothes on! it was horrible, but even more horrible to see how they shoved and pushed each other, how they nipped and pinched, bit and pulled each other around. What was at the bottom had to be uppermost and what was uppermost had to be at the bottom! ‘look, look! his leg’s longer than mine! whack! away with it! here’s one with a little knob behind his ear, an innocent little knob, but it hurts him and now it’s going to hurt more!’ and they hacked away at it, and tugged at him and ate him up just because of the little knob. And there was one sitting quite still, like a young maiden only wanting some peace and quiet, but the young maiden had to be pulled out, and they tugged and tore at her and ate her up!
‘It’s highly amusing!’ the troll said.
‘Yes, but what do you think it is?’ Creepy-Crawly asked. ‘Can you work it out?’
‘It’s easy to make out!’ the other one said, ‘it’s Copenhagen of course or some other big city – they all look exactly alike. It’s a big city!’

‘It’s ditch-water,’ Creepy-Crawly replied.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Monday, 17 October 2016

Sunday, 16 October 2016


Svante No. 14 song


Hours end before they have started.
Nothing stays always new.
Live to the full when I’ve departed.
May songs and may love ever follow you.

Days wasted I leave behind me.
Who knows what soon is due.
You who are left, though you won’t find me,
May songs and may love ever follow you.

No escort with me has started.
No bitterness clouds my view.
Live to the full when I’ve departed.
May songs and may love ever follow you –
       live to the full when I’ve departed,
       may songs and may love ever follow you.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Svante No. 13 song


Put venison, smoked salmon on the table,
add caviar and lobster to the spoils!
When roast beef fat starts curling best it’s able,
Then all my mental juices seethe and boil.
My palate’s greed’s a stay-by
and my appetite’s uncouth
my fork’s a catapult with vibrant twangs
that fires off all the dainties
into my mouth
but nothing can allay my
                      worst hunger pangs.

We’re wallowing in wine and girls who’re frisky.
A tape recorder plays a cheerful tune.
We dance so close that pulse and mood get risky.
Our bodies squeeze so tight we almost swoon.
I’m partying and lay my
giddy head in some lap
while everyone around just shouts and bangs.
my soul can feel a twitching
my flesh too perhaps
but nothing can allay my
                      worst hunger pangs.

I drink and dance and whore just like a nutter.
Behaving like a rocket that has blown,
so from my pores great sparks begin to sputter
I’m exiled from my every shaking bone.
I had a short-lived heyday,
all my flesh has turned to flab,
so cups are always brimful in my hands.
Just she who isn’t present
or my death perhaps
just one might but allay my
                     worst hunger, my best hunger pangs

Friday, 14 October 2016

Svante No. 12 song

Svante’s happy day [HSSB 21]

See how the day’s begun!
Warm is the round red sun.
Nina is showering at ease.
I’m eating bread and cheese.
Life’s not the worst thing around so they say
and the coffee’s on its way.

Flowers start to flower once more.
Spiders run down the door.
Birds fly in flocks through the air
when there are birds to spare.
Joy’s not the worst thing around so they say
and the coffee’s on its way.

Green is the grass and wet.
None of the bees need fret.
Suck in the air till it’s spent.
Oh, get that bindweed scent!
Bliss’s not the worst thing around so they say
and the coffee’s on its way.

In wafts a shower-time song.
She’s really going strong.
Outside the sky is quite blue.
I can approve that too –
Joy’s not the worst thing around so they say
and the coffee’s on its way.

Now Nina comes right in,
naked, with moist warm skin,
kisses me fondly, still bare
goes off to do her hair.
Life’s not the worst thing around so they say
and the coffee’s on its way.