Andersen’s Little Match Girl
Here is an aspirational dramatic story about hope, love and generosity, the important matters in life, set in the last day of the calendar year, 31st of December. The Little Match Girl (Danish: Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne) is a short story by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), first published in 1845. The editor of an almanac asked Andersen to write a tale to accompany a very popular woodcut illustration by the Danish artist Johan Thomas Lundbye depicting a poor child selling matches from a 1843 calendar.The following passage is from a translation by Jean Hersholt:
“It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Evening came on, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, was walking through the streets. Of course when she had left her house she’d had slippers on, but what good had they been? They were very big slippers, way too big for her, for they belonged to her mother. The little girl had lost them running across the road, where two carriages had rattled by terribly fast. One slipper she’d not been able to find again, and a boy had run off with the other, saying he could use it very well as a cradle some day when he had children of his own. And so the little girl walked on her naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried several packages of matches, and she held a box of them in her hand. No one had bought any from her all day long, and no one had given her a cent.
Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along, a picture of misery, poor little girl! The snowflakes fell on her long fair hair, which hung in pretty curls over her neck. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a wonderful smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s eve. Yes, she thought of that! In a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected farther out into the street than the other, she sat down and drew up her little feet under her. She was getting colder and colder, but did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches, nor earned a single cent, and her father would surely beat her. Besides, it was cold at home, for they had nothing over them but a roof through which the wind whistled even though the biggest cracks had been stuffed with straw and rags. Her hands were almost dead with cold. Oh, how much one little match might warm her! If she could only take one from the box and rub it against the wall and warm her hands. She drew one out. R-r-ratch! How it sputtered and burned! It made a warm, bright flame, like a little candle, as she held her hands over it; but it gave a strange light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she were sitting before a great iron stove with shining brass knobs and a brass cover. How wonderfully the fire burned! How comfortable it was!”
This concludes our week of quotations; we hope they have stimulated you to read, discuss and write exciting new things! If you read the beautiful tragedy of Andersen’s The Little Match Girl, one poignant message transpires – about the overwhelming power of imagination! We look forward to a great New Year full of thought-provoking articles from all corners of the historical, cultural map and wish you a very happy, inspirational 2014!!!