H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

A poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient online

. (page 19 of 31)
Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 19 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

stood it ; and I believe my hand also trembled. I bent toward
him, kissed his brow, and whispered, ' I have never told her
of it ; perhaps she does not love me ! Brother, remember I
saw her daily ; she has grown up by my side, grown into my
soul ! '

" ' And thine she shall be ! ' said he. ' Thine I cannot
lie to thee, nor will I do so ! I also love her ! But to-morrow
I depart ; we shall see each other again in a year then you
will be married. Is it not so ? I have some money ; it is
thine ! Thou must take it ; thou shalt take it ! ' We wan-
dered silently over the rock : it was late in the evening when
we stood in my mother's cabin.

" Anastasia held the lamp toward us when we entered ; my
mother was not there. Anastasia looked so strangely sorrow-
ful at Aphtanides !

" ' To-morrow thou wilt leave us ! ' said she : ' how it grieves

" ' Grieves thee ! ' said he ; and I thought there was pain
in the words, great as my own. I could not speak, but he
took her hand and said, ' Our brother there loves thee ; is he
dear to thee ? In his silence is his love ! ' And Anastasia
trembled, and burst into tears ; then I saw but her, thought
only of her. I flung my arm around her waist, and said,
Yes, I love thee ! '

" She then pressed her lips to mine ; her hand rested on
my neck ; but the lamp had fallen on the floor ; and it was
dark around us, as in poor dear Aphtanidjs' heart. He arose


before daylight, kissed us all in farewell, and departed. He
had given my mother all his money for us. Anastasia was
my bride, and a few days afterward my wife ! "



I LEFT Athens in the middle of the forenoon and drove to
Piraeus, although the French steamer Eurotas, in which I had
taken my passage, started toward evening. Thus time re-
mained for a short ramble, and that was to the grave of
Themistocles, which I had once before visited.

From Piraeus there is a very small peninsula, which bounds
the eastern side of the bay ; near it is the new quarantine,
and higher up, as I mentioned before, is a windmill. The
whole ground is a species of travertines, and round about
we see the remains of the old walls. Acanthus, cypress
bushes, poor grass, and mixed red flowers grow here, where a
few sheep graze, and a half-wild dog, with a ferocious aspect
and terrible howling, darts toward every stranger. I went
round the peninsula from the east to the west side.

Close by the shore, toward the Bay of Piraeus, there stands
a poor walled-up monument, exactly like a square chimney,
on which is placed a less, and on that, another of still smaller
dimensions ; in this last one there is a square marble tablet
as large as a common sheet of paper, on which is inscribed,



It is the monument that was placed over Miaulis ; but his
bones are said to have been secretly carried away by his fam-
ily. Close by the hero's grave is a lesser one, but there is no
intimation of its occupant a small wooden cross without
color or inscription is raised. On the other side of the island,


toward the Bay of Phalereus, are several overthrown columns,
hewn out of the yellow foundations of the rock, and between
these columns are two open graves quite filled with sea water :

one wave rushed in after the other. This spot, straight
before the Bay of Salamis, is pointed out as the grave of
Themistocles. The two extreme points of this little penin-
sula thus bear an ancient and a modern hero's grave, The-
mistocles and Miaulis ! l These are two historical light-
houses, erected here for the stranger who lands in Piraeus, to
engage his thoughts.

The waves broke in a white foam in the larger bay to the
right the Bay of Phalereus, from whence Theseus sailed
forth to combat against the Minotaur. Here Menelaus em-
barked over these waters, and surrounded by these moun-
tains which, still unchanged, greeted me. They went to
Ilium ! the same way lay spread before me ; I should soon see
the same coasts, the plain of Troy, and Mount Ida, which
adorns itself as aforetime, with flowers and verdure ; wraps
itself in clouds ; covers itself with snow, and then looks
sorrowfully through the veil on the tumulus of Achilles, the
only monument of mighty Ilium and that great siege un-
dertaken for a woman ! How much that was and is great,
new, and unknown, would there not be opened to me ! And
yet I was deeply grieved to leave Greece, where all things
raised my thoughts from the trifles of every- day life, and
where every bitterness from home was erased from my soul.

I met most of my friends from Athens in Piraeus ; the priest
Liith had his children with him. They stretched out their
little hands after me ; the Greek servant seized my hand, nod-
ding and smiling ; Ross was the last Dane I saw on board

he pressed me to his heart. It was a painful moment to

" I shall come again to Greece ! " said I, as if to comfort
myself. God grant they may be prophetic words.

I was now alone ; the handkerchiefs of the ladies waved
from the shore ; every farewell was ended ; when a letter of
introduction was brought me from Prokesch-Osten to Barron

1 Professor Ross supposes that Themistocles was buried on the oppo-
site side of the Bay of Piraeus, and not here.


Sturmer, Austrian Internuncio at Constantinople. Prokesch
himself had that morning set out for Thebes. His gifted
and amiable lady wrote a few words of farewell to me, and
with them was a copy of Prokesch's charming poem " Gebet
in der Wiiste." 1 Herr Sonnenleitner, Attache to the Austrian
Embassy in Greece, was the bearer. He is a young man
with a poetic mind, and personally amiable ; he was amongst
the many Germans who attached themselves to me in Athens.
I have often thought of him, and I here again send him my

When he was gone, I was among Greeks, Armenians, and
Asiatic Jews, the ship's crew excepted. We were to sail at
sunset. I was affected ; the sea ran strong ; it was my wish
that I might be able to sleep during the whole voyage to
Syra, as I had before done from Syra to Piraeus. I laid
down in my hammock and slept. I was awakened by the
noise of the anchor cable, and started up : there was not the
least movement in the sea. I threw my cloak around me,
and ran up on deck to see the town of Syra ; but I saw
Piraeus, the mountains Hymettus, and Parnassus. It was now
morning, at which time we were to start. The captain had
waited for royal dispatches, and they had only just come. It
was four o'clock.

We sailed in pretty shallow water : the sun arose, and shone
every hour with greater power. One large umbrella after
another was put up ; the whole company formed the most
picturesque groups. A Greek woman sat on the gun-carriage
nursing her little child : an elder girl, poor, but beautiful and
clean, stood leaning against the cannon. The men smoked
their paper cigars, and admired an Arabian's Damascus blade.
They asked me if I was a Bavarian, and when I said I was a
Dane, I was again greeted as an American.

The marble columns of the ruins of Sunium's temple on
Cape Colonna stood forth with a shining whiteness in the
warm sunshine. Sea-birds fluttered around on the gray des-
ert coast.

1 This poem, which is one of Prokesch-Osten's most celebrated per-
formances, is to be found in Morgenlandische Gtdichte, and is set to music
by several composers.


Zea lay stretched out before us, and we soon saw Syra
with its bare, rocky front. We had to sail round the island
before the harbor opened to us. I had been here before : here
at least I was no stranger.

The steamer by which I was to sail for Constantinople had
not yet arrived ; I therefore walked into the Hotel della
Grecia, and not an hour afterward the host told me that there
were some soldiers who had come to take me to the Council
hall ; the magistrate must speak with me ! What could
he want? I was accompanied by two halberdiers, and was
brought into a dark, ugly building, where a Greek magistrate
asked me, in an austere tone, and in bad Italian, if I had a
passport ? I showed it to him he read and re-read it ; but
the passport granted in Copenhagen was written in French
and in Danish, and neither of these languages did he under-

" There is a German whom we must arrest and send back
to Athens ! " said the man. Then turning to me, " I do not
understand your passport ; but I believe you are a German,
and the very person we are looking after ; you must therefore
return to Athens ! "

I endeavored to explain to him the contents of my pass-
port ; but he would not understand me.

" Well, then," said I, and took out a letter of introduc-
tion I had received in Athens to the Greek minister in Con-
stantinople, Chrystides, who had previously been governor of
Syra, and to whom I had been most kindly commended,
" please to read who I am ! " The man took the letter, and
he soon became politeness itself; made many excuses, and
they accompanied me, with great civility, to the hotel, where I
again met the Russian who had been plundered on the voyage
from Constantinople, still as angry as before, and cursing the
East and all writers who excited the desire of travel in credu-
lous people like himself.



I ROWED out in the early morning from the harbor of
Syros to the French war-steamer, Rhamses, which came
from Marseilles, and had had a terribly stormy voyage over
the Mediterranean. The storm had not yet ceased. The
wind whistled in the shrouds, and the billows lashed the
sides of the vessel.

When I reached the vessel, there was a screaming and
shouting of Greek females, Jews and Jewesses, who were to go
by it to Smyrna. Before they were permitted to go on board
every one of them was obliged to show his or her ticket ; but
it was either knotted up in a handkerchief, or given to a rela-
tive in another boat, so that they were in dreadful perplexity ;
and the sailor who stood guard by the gangway raised his
halberd against every one that did not directly show his ticket.
A stout Greek female, in particular, bawled most horribly.

The poor, miserable deck-passengers were driven to a place
set apart for them on the vessel ; and a watch was kept over
them. The discipline appeared very strict on board the

We sailed directly in under the coast of Tenos, which ap-
peared inhabited and fruitful. One village lay close to the
other. One of them was of considerable size, with a pretty
church. Round about were vineyards and cultivated fields.
Three chains of mountains arose one behind the other. We
passed so near to the rocky walls that I thought I felt the
breakers against the ship. The sea ran stronger and stronger ;

1 In Athens I only heard two French steamers praised as being pleas-
ant for all passengers ; and they were the two I had previously sailed
with, Leonidas and Lycurgus.


it was as if the storm darted out of the mountains on Tenos.
Already the waves sprang on the ship's sides ; the poor deck-
passengers were obliged to creep up toward the chimney ;
by degrees they approached nearer and nearer to the flue.
No one prevented them now ; every sailor had something else
to do. The sails were hoisted, but they were hauled down
again directly : the boatswain's whistle sounded ; and there
was a shouting, a noise, a sea-sickness, a wailing that every
moment increased. I continued for some time on deck,
though the ship several times darted down the long and large
billows like a sledge on a Russian mountain.

The Greek women threw their arms about each other's
necks and howled ; the children lay as if half dead along the
deck ; and the sea washed over the whole ship, so that every
one was soaked with the salt-water. All this time the sea-
gulls flew in flocks around us ; they looked like the winged
hour-glass of invisible death : every plank in the ship creaked ;
we rushed, as it were, from the stars into the deep, and again
up to the stars.

At length, I got into my kammock. Everything rattled ;
everything creaked. I heard the boatswain's whistle, the
shutters that were closed, the bars that broke, the sea that
struck against the ship, so that it stopped, and all its timbers
groaned. There was one near to me who called on the Ma-
donna and all the saints ! Another swore ! I felt certain that
we must perish : and, when I thought more steadfastly of ap-
proaching fate, I felt myself easier. My thoughts were with
all my dear friends in Denmark. " How much is there not
done for me, and how little I have done ! " This was the
sorrow that pressed on my heart ! I thought of my friends.
" God, do thou bless and comfort them ! " was my silent prayer.
" Let me work out in another world what I did not effect here !
All that they valued in me was thine ! Thou has given me
all ! Thy will be done ! " and I closed my eyes ! The storm
raged over the sea ; the ship quivered like a sparrow in a
whirlwind ; but I slept slept from bodily exhaustion, and at
a good angel's intercession.

When I awoke, I certainly heard the beating of the waves
against the vessel : bi-t the ship itself glided quietly as a


2I 3

sailing swan. We were under lee we were in the Bay
of Smyrna ; and I, as well as the Greek women, had assuredly
expected to awake in another world ; and so in a certain sense
I did. I stood on deck, and before me lay another world
the coast of Asia.



THE sea, in the deep, extensive bay of Smyrna, appeared
of a green-yellow, like a quarantine flag. The coasts of Asia
reminded me of Sicily's ; but they were far more fruitful :
such fertility I have never known ; the sun burned glowing
hot ! I saw that part of the world of which Egypt's Moses
was also vouchsafed a sight that part of the world where
Christ was born, taught, and suffered. I saw the coasts from
whence Homer's songs were sent forth over the world. The
East, the home of adventure, was here before me ; and I was
now about to set my foot upon its soil.

We passed a fort. The whole coast to the right was covered
with rich olive woods, in the middle of which was a large vil-
lage, with red-brown houses, blooming fruit-trees, and a fresh
green sward. A natural park, with leaf-trees and tall cypresses,
joined the olive woods. Opposite us lay Smyrna.

Most of the houses are brown, the roofs red and pointed, as
in the North. Cypresses were planted at almost every house,
and they were as high as our poplars, in an almost innumera-
ble quantity. Slender, white minarets, the first I had ever
seen, arose above the tall, dark cypresses. In the eastern
quarter of the city, down toward the bay, where the foreign
consuls live, the flags of all nations waved on lofty poles. A
green mountain, with a little grove of cypresses rose behind
the city, and on its summit were the ruins of a dilapidated for-

The harbor was filled with vessels there lay several steam-
ers, a Turkish one amongst the rest; the red flag with the
naif-moon waved at the top. A boat with veiled Turkish fe-
males rowed thither : these concealed, white figures reminded
me of the Roman funeral processions.


We cast anchor, and I went on shore.

It was then destined, at my birth, that I should tread on
Asia's shore. My thoughts were filled with great remem-
brances, and the first thing here that my eye lighted upon
was a French theatrical afficht.

A French company was here ; they performed that evening
" La Reine de seize ans," and " Les premiers Amours." Queen
Christina of Sweden was fond of rambling ; but she certainly
never thought of showing herself, or of being " shown up " in a
theatre in Asia, before Greeks and Turks.

I went into the nearest street, which would be called a lane
with us ; a number of small alleys run out of this street. The
neighbor on one side could easily take a pinch out of his
friend's box on the other, from his window. The houses are
of wood and brick, or entirely of planks. None of them are
very high, and in the chief street most of the ground-floors
are open shops, with all sorts of wares. This street runs
through the whole town, and terminates in the higher situated
portion by the bazaar.

They say that, to avoid the plague, we must be careful not
to come in contact with any one ; but it is an impossibility
to do otherwise : if we have occasion, or feel a desire to go
through the principal street of Smyrna, it is too narrow, and
the crowd is too great. I met vast numbers of women wrapped
in long muslin veils, so that only the tip of the nose and the
dark eyes were to be seen. There came Armenians in long
blue and black talarez, or gaberdines, with large black hats,
in the form of an inverted cooking-pot, on their bare, shaven
heads ; smartly dressed Greeks, and dirty Jews, and majestic
looking Turks, who had their pipes borne before them by a
lad. A sort of calash, with variegated curtains, was placed
on the hump of a camel, and from this a veiled female head
peeped out A Bedouin, with bare legs, and head almost hid
in his white burnoose, strode with hasty steps, like a disguised
lion of the desert, through the crowd. I met a half-naked,
black boy driving two ostriches before him with a stick.
Each of them looked like a worn-out trunk on stilts, to which
was fastened a dirty swan's neck. They were two ugly crea-
tures, but they produced an effect in the picture. A scent of



musk and myrrh streamed out of several of the shops ; others
were filled with fruit Pomona's horn of plenty is not licher !
Clothes from three parts of the world made the most varied
show here. All tongues jangle amongst each other Arabian,
Turkish, Greek, Italian ; it would look like a register, were I
to enumerate them all.

My companion pointed to a gentleman in the midst of the
crowd in a Frankish dress. " That is the Danish Consul,
Herr Jongh," said he. I presented myself to him as a Dane,
and we were soon walking arm in arm through the long street.
Thus, by accident, I met at once the very person in Smyrna,
to whom, as a Dane, I could best apply. Herr Jongh, how-
ever, was that very hour going to Constantinople in one of
the Turkish steamers, the swiftness of which he praised much ;
we should again meet in Pera.

At a remote part of the town, where the high-road seemed
to lead into the interior of the country, was a Turkish khan.
Large bolsters and rush mats lay before it, and on these were
stretched a number of Turks in variegated caftan and turban,
smoking their pipes. Large carriages, similar to those we
in Denmark call basket wagons, were drawn by white oxen,
hung round with metal plates, red cords, and tassels. One
carriage was quite filled with veiled females, who sat in a heap
in the bottom of the wagon, which was driven by a stout old
Turk. They were certainly pretty. Yes, behind many a
grating to each street, there was, surely, a small collection of
houris ; but they were, as the Turkish poet sings, " Hidden
like rubies in the casket, like attar of roses in the bottle, and
like the parrot in the cage ! " Even the negress concealed
that " Night had poured itself into her limbs," and that " the
hair is a darkness which rests on darkness 1 "



THE nightingale's love for the rose is celebrated in all ori-
ental songs. The winged singer brings a serenade to his odor-
ous flower in the silent, starry night.


I saw a blooming hedge of roses not far from Smyrna, under
the tall plantains where the merchant drives his loaded camels,
proudly stretching their long necks, and treading clumsily on
the ground, which is holy ; the wild doves flew amongst the
high branches of the trees, and the dove's wings shone, as a
ray of sunlight glided over them, so that the wings looked like

On the rose-hedge one flower was the first amongst them
all, and to this the nightingale sang his sorrowful love-tale.
But the rose was silent. Not a dew-drop lay, like the tear of
pity, on its leaves ; it was bent with its stem over some large

" Here rests the world's greatest poet ! " said the rose : " I
will shed my perfume over his grave ! I will strew my leaves
on it when the storm tears them off! The Iliad's singer
became earth in this earth in which I germinated, and from
whence I sprang ! I, a rose from Homer's grave, am too holy
to bloom for the poor nightingale ! "

And the nightingale sang himself to death. The camel
driver came with his loaded camels, and his black slaves. His
little boy found the dead bird. He buried the little warbler in
great Homer's grave, and the rose shivered in the blast. The
evening came, the rose folded its leaves closer, and dreamt
that there was a beautiful sunlit day. A crowd of strange
men came ; they were Franks. They had made a pilgrimage
to Homer's grave. Amongst the strangers was a poet from
the North, from the home of mists and the Northern Lights.
He broke the rose off its stem, pressed it fast in a book, and
took it with him to another quarter of the globe, to his distant
father-land. And the rose withered with grief, and lay in the
narrow book which he opened in his home, saying : " Here is
& rose from Homer's grave ! "

Yes, that is what the flower dreamed, and it awoke and
trembled in the wind. A dew-drop fell from its leaves on the
songster's grave. And the sun arose, and the flower was more
beautiful than before. The day was warm ; the rose was in
its own warm Asia. Then footsteps were heard ; there came
strange Franks, as the rose had seen them in its dream, and
amongst the strangers was a poet from the North. He broke


the rose off, pressed a kiss on its fresh lips, and took it with
him to the home of mists and the Northern Lights.

The remains of the flower now rests, like a mummy, in his
u Iliad " ; and as in its dream, it hears him open the book and
say : " Here is a rose from Homer's grave ! "



WE sail again out of Smyrna's bay, past the fragrant green
wood, past the eternal monuments. Fresh passengers have
come on board. Who is that poor Greek sitting there abaft,
on the rusty iron anchor-cable ? He is young and handsome,
but poorly clad. He comes from no great distance his
wretched clay cabin stands where the most celebrated temple
once stood proudly aloft, glittering with gold and ivory. He
is a herdsman from Ephesus. Does he know the great me-
mentoes that are associated with his home, with that spot
where he bakes his black bread between stones in the hot
ashes ? His father has told him a story, the blocks of marble
in the grass have witnessed its truth, and a little bird has
sung about it.

New Phocea lies under the mountain, between the green
hills. Nod, ye green branches, nod to our ship ; it comes
from France, from Marseilles ; the city that was founded by
Phocea's children. Ye are too young, ye green branches, to
know anything about it ; but yet you know it ; a little bird
has sung about it !

Thou stormy sea, why dost thou swell so? The sky is
cloudless, the sun sinks in ruddy grandeur! Asia's treble
mountain chain breathes greatness and peace ! Rest, rest
thou stormy sea, and dream of old remembrances !

The new moon in the firmament seems like a thin boat of
gold bearing a glass ball. It hangs by an invisible thread
from the glittering evening star, whose ray points down to-
ward Mytilene. What an evening ! Yet in the North I had
imagined such a one ; a little bird has sung about it !


It is night : the billows strike against the ship, which con-
tinues its unchanging course. We are now under lee ; but
where? Who can sleep under the far-famed coasts fraught
with reminiscences ? We stand on the deck. The stars of
night light up Tenedos and the coast of Asia. A row of
windmills stand high aloft, like playthings ; the sails turn
round; a plain opens before us from the sea to the moun-
tains. The helmsman points to a dark spot, a gigantic hill
on the plain, and says : " Achilles ! " Thou outstretched,
solitary heath, with poor huts and bush-grown grave, dost
thou know thy fame ? No, thou art too old ! Thou hast for-
gotten thy great mementoes, Hector and Achilles, Ulysses
and Agamemnon ! Plain beneath Ida whereon stood Troy,
thou no longer knowest thyself! The stranger asks thee about
thy memories, and thou answerest, " I believe so ! The stars
know it ! The stars know where Ilium stood ; where Athena

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 19 of 31)