H. C. (Hans Christian) Andersen.

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

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the private buildings in the city, and they told me the name


of its owner. This house will also some day send forth a
nimbus, but it has not yet ; for the sun is up, the stone
drinks in the rays in our time ; the owner must die, then
comes the lustre the owner is the composer Giacomo Ros-



THE Apennines with their trees and vineyards rise tower-
ing above the green, flat plains of Lombardy. As we arrive
outside the gates of Bologna, it appears as if the road passed
over the ruined terraces of an immense garden, like those
which, history tells us, a Semiramis constructed.

It was in the middle of December ; everything bore the
character of a late autumn. The vine leaves were red, the
foliage of other trees yellow, the laurel hedges alone were
green, as at all times, and the pines and cypresses carried
their heads aloft in all their splendor. We drove slowly up-
ward, ever upward ; garlands of vine leaves hung down over
the shattered wall ; we met droves of fine oxen which had
been employed as fore-teams, their white, shining sides had a
reddish tinge from the setting sun.

As we came higher up, the country became more and more
solitary ; I went on before alone. The sun was down, and
for some minutes there lay a bluish tone over the mountains,
an airy tone which seemed as if it streamed out from the
mountain itself ; not a breeze was felt ; it was mild and still,
and there was a greatness in the cliffs and the deep valley
.hat disposed the mind to devotion. The solitude of the
valley imparted to this I will not say a stamp of melan-
choly, no, I think it must be called quietude ; it was as if
sleep had its kingdom there beneath ; there was a rest, a
peace, which was increased by the gentle murmur of the river
far below.

The road wound round the mountain, and I soon lost al 1
sight of our vehicle ; I saw not a being, I saw nothing but the
deep valley; I was alone quite alone.



It was night, the stars peeped forth ; they glitter more
brightly with us on a clear, frosty, winter night ; but here in
the mountains the air is much higher, its distant vault was
transparent, as if a new and immense space began behind this.

A ray of light shone forth between the rocks, it came from
an inn above us. A lamp burned before an image of the
Madonna in the open arcade ; the cameriere, in white apron
and velvet jacket, received us. We took our place in a large
hall, the grayish-white walls of which were covered with names
and inscriptions in all the European languages ; but it was
cold and solitary here. Large bundles of twigs were thrown
on the fire ; they blazed up in a great flame, and invited us
to form a circle around the chimney. Every one in our little
company had something to relate, particularly about the last
great inundation.

After having enjoyed the smoking supper, each one sought
his chamber ; mine lay somewhat remote ; it was large and
lonely. The bed was just as broad as it was long ; the vessel
with holy water hung by the bed-head ; inscriptions were also
to be found here on the wall ; one was in Danish,

" Enjoy life's happiness in thy day's youthful prime,"

written by a compatriot. I hope that he enjoyed life. A
poor table and two rush-chairs completed the rest of the furni-

I opened a window ; large iron bars were fixed across on
the outside ; the window looked out over a deep valley ; it was
dark beneath. I heard the roar of a current ; above me was
the firmament sparkling with stars ; I leaned my forehead
against the iron bars, and felt myself no more alone than I
am in my little room in Denmark. He who has a home at
home, can feel home-sickness ; but he who has none feels
himself equally at home everywhere. In the course of a few
minutes my room here was an old home to me, though I
knew not its environs as yet.

Besides the general entrance, I saw & little door with a
k x>lt before it. Where may this lead to, thought I ? I took
the lamp, in which three wicks were burning I lighted all five,
drew the bolt aside, and set out on a voyage of discovery.


( )utside I found a sort of lumber-room ; here stood chests>
sacks, large jars, and on the walls hung old clothes and mus-
kets. But from this room there was another outlet ; I opened
the door, and now stood in a narrow passage ; I followed it,
and stopped at a door : should I go further ? I listened.
Then at once I heard the tones of two flutes, a deep, and
a sharp piercing one, after an interval they were repeated.

The longer I listened the more sure I was that it could
not be from a flute these tones came. I lifted the wooden
latch and the door flew quickly open, much quicker than
I expected. The room was dimly lighted by a lamp ; an old
peasant, with long white hair, sat half undressed in an arm-
chair and played on a flute. I made an excuse for coming,
but he did not notice me. I pulled the door to again, and
was going ; but it was opened again, and a young lad, whom
I had not observed, asked me in a whisper whom I was

The old man I had seen was the uncle of my host ; he was
insane, and had been so from his sixteenth year. " I will tell
you a little about him," said the lad. " His malady was as if
blown on him no one knew the cause ; he had, when a boy,
played the flute very prettily ; but from a certain night he had
never since attempted more than these two tones a deep
sorrowful one, and a high piercing one. These he constantly
repeated, and often for several hours during the night." They
had attempted to take the flute from him, and then he became
like a wild animal ; with the flute, however, he sat still and
mild. The young man I spoke with slept in the chamber
with the old man, and was accustomed to the sound of the
flute, as one may be to the strokes of the pendulum, or the cop-
persmith's hammer, when he has been one's neighbor for a
series of years.

I returned to my room, and closed the door ; but yet I
thought I heard the two tones of the flute ; they sounded as
when the wind moves the vane on a distant spire. I could
not fall asleep, my fancy was occupied with the old man. I
heard the tones of the flute, they sounded as from a world
of spirits. When the old man is dead, the inmates of the
house will, in the stillness of night, think that they hear, lik



ghost-tones, what I now heard in reality. It was early morn-
ing before I fell asleep, and I believe they called me the same
hour ; we were to depart at daybreak. It was night when we
got into the carriage ; the mountains before us were covered
with snow ; in the dawn they seemed as if they were glowing.
At Pietra Mala we see but wild, naked cliffs of a volcanic
nature, and the volcanoes are not burnt out ; to the right, a
thick smoke curled up from the rocky clefts. This morning
I discerned two seas like a glittering stripe in the horizon ;
to the left, the Adriatic, to the right, the Mediterranean.
A strong wall is erected here on the highest point close to
the way-side, to afford travellers a shelter, against the storms
which come from the east ; before this wall was built, there
were often days and nights that no one could venture here,
for the angel of the storm passed over the mountains.

" The old man at the inn," said the vetturino, " one night,
in the worst storm, crept on his stomach over this rock,
though he was not deranged then ; he must, and would de-
scend on the other side of the mountain ! "

I thought of the old man and of the tones of his flute.

The way downward was beautifully picturesque, in bold ser-
pentine lines, sometimes over walled arches, always sheltered
by the mountains, where the sun shone warm, where the snow
was melted, and the trees stood in full leaf. " Beautiful It-
aly ! " we all exclaimed. The vetturino cracked his whip, and
the echo repeated it, as he could not have done it.



IN the city of Florence, not far from Piazza del Granduca,
runs a little cross-street ; I think it is called Porta Rossa.
In this street, before a sort of bazaar where they sell vege-
tables, stands a well-wrought bronze figure of a hog. The
clear, fresh water bubbles out o r the mouth of the animal,
which has become dark green from age ; the snout alone


5<D A POET'S Jl.lt A AR.

shines as if it were polished bright ; and it is made so by
the many hundred children and lazzaroni who take hold of
it with their hands, and put their mouths to the animal's to
drink. It is a complete picture to see that well-formed ani-
mal embraced by a pretty, half-naked boy, who puts his sweet
little mouth to its snout

Every one that visits Florence will easily find the place j
you need only ask the first beggar you see about the Bronze
Hog, and he will tell you.

It was a late winter evening, the mountains were covered
with snow ; but it was moonlight, and the moon in Italy
gives a light which is just as good as the best light of a dark
winter day in the North ; nay, it is better, for here the sun
shines, the air elevates, whilst in the North that cold, gray,
leaden roof presses us down to the earth, the cold wet earth,
which will hereafter press our coffin.

Yonder, in the Duke's palace garden, where a thousand
roses bloom in the winter time, a little ragged boy had sat
the whole day long, under the pine-tree's roof. He was a boy
that might be the image of Italy, so pretty, so laughing,
and yet so suffering. He was hungry and thirsty : no one
had given him a farthing ; and when it became dark, and
the garden was to be closed, the porter chased him away.
He stood long on the bridge over the Arno, dreaming and
looking at the stars as they glistened in the water, between
him and the noble marble bridge, Delia Trinita.

He bent his steps toward the Bronze Hog, knelt half down,
threw his arms around its neck, placed his little mouth to its
shining snout, and drank a deep draught of the fresh water.
Close by lay salad leaves, and a few chestnuts : these were his
supper. There was not a human being in the street ; he was
quite alone. He sat down on the swine's back, leaned forward
so that his little curled head rested on that of the animal,
and, before he himself knew it, was asleep.

It was midnight, the bronze figure moved ; he heard it say
quite distinctly, " Hold fast, little boy, for now I run I " and
away it ran with him. It was a laughable ride.

The first place they came to was Piazza del Granduca, and
the bronze horse which bore the statue of the Duke neighecJ


aloud ; the variegated arms on the old Council Hall shone
like transparent paintings ; and Michael Angelo's David
swung his sling. It was a strange life that moved ! The
bronze groups with Perseus, and the " Rape of the Sabines,"
were but too living : a death shriek from them passed over
that magnificent but solitary place.

Tne Bronze Hog stopped by the Palazzo degli Uffizi, in
the arcade where the nobility assemble during the pleasures of
the Carnival.

" Hold fast ! " said the animal, " hold fast ! for we are now
going up the stairs." The little boy said not a word ; he half
trembled, he was half happy.

They entered a long gallery ; he knew it well, for he had
been there before. The walls were covered with paintings ;
here stood statues and busts : everything was in the brightest
light, just as if it were day ; but it was most splendid when
the door to one of the side rooms opened. The little fellow
remembered the splendor here, yet this night everything was
in its most beauteous lustre.

Here stood a beautiful naked female, as beautiful as nature
and marble's greatest master alone could make her. She
moved her fine limbs, dolphins played around her feet, im-
mortality shone from her eyes. By the world she is called the
" Venus de' Medici." On each side of her were numerous
marble groups, in which the spirit of life had pierced the stone.
These were naked, well-formed men : the one sharpening the
sword, is called the Grinder ; the wrestling Gladiators form
the second group : the sword is whetted, the combatants
wrestle for the Goddess of Beauty.

The boy was almost blinded with all this lustre : the walls
beamed with colors, and all was life and motion there. The
double image of Venus was here seen that earthly Venus,
so swelling and impassioned, whom Titian had pressed to
his heart. It was strange to see. They were two beautiful
women ; their handsome, unveiled limbs were stretched on
soft cushions, their bosoms rose, and their heads moved, so
that the rich locks fell down on their round shoulders, whilst
their dark eyes spoke the glowing thoughts within ; but not
one of all the pictures ventured to step entirely out of the


frame. The Goddess of Beauty herself, the Gladiators and
Grinder, remained in their places, for the glory which beamed
from the Madonna, Jesus, and John, had bound them. The
holy images were no longer images they were the sainted
beings themselves.

From saloon to saloon what splendor ! what beauty !
and the little boy saw it all. The Bronze Hog went step
by step through all this magnificence and glory. But one
sight superseded the rest one image alone fixed itself in
his thoughts : it was caused by the glad, happy children whc
were there on the walls : the little boy had once nodded to
them by daylight.

Many, certainly, have wandered carelessly past this picture,
and yet it incloses a treasure of poesy: it is Christ who
descends into the nether world ; but it is not the tortured
we see around him ; no, they tell of hope and immortality.
Angiolo Bronzino, the Florentine, painted this picture. The
expression of the children's certainty that they are going to
heaven, is excellent ; two little ones embrace each other ; one
child stretches its hand out to another below, and points to
himself as if he said, " I am going to heaven ! " All the
elders stand uncertain, hoping, or bending in humble prayer
to the Lord Jesus.

The boy looked longer at this picture than at any other ;
the Bronze Hog stood still before it ; a gentle sigh was heard ;
did it come from the painting, or from the animal's breast?
The boy extended his hands toward the smiling children ;
then the animal started off with him, away through the
open front hall.

" Thanks, and blessings on thee, thou sweet animal ! " said
the little boy, and patted the Bronze Hog, who, with an amia-
ble grunt, sprang down the stairs with him.

"Thanks, and blessings on thyself! " said the animal. " I
have helped thee, and thou hast helped me, for it is only with
an innocent child on my back that I have strength to run.
\ay, I dare now enter under the light of the lamp, before
cfte image of the Madonna. I can bear thee away every-
where, only not into the church ; but when thou art with me
I can look in through the open door from the outside. Do



not get off my back if thou dost, I shall fail down dead, as
thou seest me in the day at the Porta Rossa."

" I will stay with thee, my blessed animal," said the little
boy ; and away they went with a whizzing flight thr&ugh the
streets of Florence, and out to the open square before the
church of Santa Croce.

The large folding door flew open, lights shone from the
altar, through the church, into the solitary square.

A strange ray of light streamed forth from a monument in
the left aisle ; a thousand moving stars formed, as it were, a
glory around it. A device displayed itself on the tomb ; a
red ladder on a blue ground it appeared to glow like fire.
It was the grave of Galileo : it is a simple monument, but the
red ladder on the blue ground is a significant device ; it is as
if it belonged to art alone, for here the way goes always up-
ward, on a glowing ladder, but to heaven. All the proph-
ets of genius go to heaven, like the prophet Elias.

In the right aisle of the church every statue on the rich
sarcophagus seemed to be endowed with life. Here stood
Michael Angelo, and there Dante, with the laurel-wreath
around his brow ; those great men, Italy's pride, with Alfieri
and Machiavelli, rest here side by side. 1 It is a handsome
church, far more so than the marble cathedral of Florence,
although it is not so large.

It was as if the marble habiliments moved ; as if those
great forms raised their heads with more dignity than ever,
and looked, in the deep night, during song and music, toward
that variegated, beaming altar, where white-robed boys swung
golden censers : the powerful odor streamed forth from the
church into the open square.

The boy stretched forth his hand toward the beaming light,
and at the same moment the bronze hog darted away with
him. He was obliged to cling fast to it ; the wind whistled

1 Opposite Galileo's tomb is that of Michael Angelo, on which is placed
his bust, beside three figures, Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture ;
close by is Dante's cenotaph (the body itself is in Ravenna) ; on the monu-
ment is seen Italy, she points to the colossal statue of Dante ; Poetry
weeps for her lost son. A few paces from this is the monument of Alfieri ;
it is adorned with laurels, lyres, and masks ; Italy weeps over his coffin.
Machiavelli closes the row of these celebrated men.


about his ears ; he heard the church doors creak on theii
hinges as they closed ; but at the same time he appeared to
lose all consciousness ; he felt an icy coldness, and opened
his eyes.

It was morning ; he sat, but half glided down from the
Bronze Hog, which stood, where it always used to stand, in
the street Porta Rossa.

Fear and anxiety filled the boy's mind when he thought of
her whom he called mother ; her who had the day before sent
him out and said that he must get money ; he had none,
he was hungry and thirsty. Once more he took the metal
hog round the neck, kissed its snout, nodded to it, and then
wandered away to one of the narrowest streets, only broad
enough for a well packed ass. A large iron-bound door stood
ajar ; he went up a bricked staircase with dirty walls and a
slippery rope to serve as a hand rail ; then came to an open
gallery hung round with rags ; a flight of stairs led from
thence to the yard, where thick iron wires were drawn from
the wall to all the floors in the house, and the one pail swung
by the side of the other, whilst the pulleys whistled, and the
pails danced in the air, so that the water splashed down into
the yard. There was another dilapidated brick staircase
which he went up ; two Russian sailors sprang merrily down,
and had nearly upset the little boy. They came from their
nightly carousal. An exuberant female form, not very young,
but with thick black hair, followed them.

" What have you brought home ? " she demanded of the

" Do not be angry," he exclaimed ; " I have got nothing !
nothing at all ! " and he took hold of his mother's gown as if
he would kiss it. They entered the chamber; but we will net
describe it. Only so much may be told, that there stood a
pot with a span handle, tnarito, it is called, and in this was
charcoal. She took it on her arm, warmed her fingers, and
struck the boy with her elbow.

" To be sure, you have money ? " said she.

The child cried, she kicked him ; he cried aloud. " Will
you be still, or I'll knock your screaming head in two ! " and
*he swung the fire-pot, which she held in her hand ; the bo)


fell to the ground with a scream. Then her neighbor entered
the door, she also had her marito on her arm.

" Felicita ! What are you doing with the child ? "

"The child is mine!" answered Felicita. "I can murder
him if I choose, and thee, also, Gianina," and she swung her
fire-pot ; the other raised her's to parry the blow. The pots
clashed against each other, and the broken pieces, fire and
ashes, flew about the room ; but at the same instant the boy
was out of the door, over the yard, and away from the house.
The poor child ran so that at last he was quite breathless.
He stopped at the church of Santa Croce, the church whose
large door had the night before opened to admit him, and
he went in. There was a flood of light ; he knelt by the first
grave to the right ; it was Michael Angelo's, and he sobbed
aloud. People came and went ; the mass was read ; no one
took notice of the boy. At length an elderly citizen stopped,
looked at him, and then went away like the rest.

Hunger and thirst tormented the little fellow ; he was quite
exhausted and sick ; he crept into a corner between the wall
and the marble monument, and fell asleep. It was toward
evening when he was again awakened by some one shaking
him ; he started up, and the same old citizen stood before

" Are you ill ? Where do you live ? Have you been here
the whole day ? " were a few of the questions put to him by
the old man. They were answered, and the old man took
him home with him to a small house close by, in one of the
side-streets. It was a glover's shop they entered ; the wife
sat diligently at work. A little white Bolognese dog, clipped
so close that one could see its rosy red skin, skipped on to the
table, and jumped about before the little boy.

" The innocent souls know each other," said the woman, as
she patted both the boy and the dog.

The good folks gave the poor boy to eat and to drink, and
they said he should be allowed to remain the night over.
Next day father Giuseppe would speak with his mother. He
had a poor little bed ; but it was a magnificent one for him,
who was often obliged to sleep on the hard stone floor. He
slept so well, and dreamt of the rich paintings, and of the
Bronze Hog.


Father Giuseppe went out next morning, and the poor child
was not happy on that account, for he knew that this going
out was in order to return him again to his mother ; and he
cried and kissed the nimble dog, and the woman nodded to
them both.

And what answer did father Giuseppe bring ? The citizen
spoke much with his wife, and she nodded, and patted the

" He is a sweet child ! " said she. " What a fine glover we
can make of him just as you were ! and he has such fine,
pliant fingers. Madonna has destined him to be a glover ! "

And so the boy remained there in the house, and the woman
herself taught him to sew. He lived well, he slept well, he
became lively, and he began to tease Bellissima so the
little dog was called ; the woman threatened him with her
finger, and chid him, and was angry, and it went to the
boy's heart, as he sat thoughtfully in his little chamber. It
looked out to the street, and they dried skins there ; thick iron
bars were before the windows. He could not sleep, the Bronze
Hog was in his thoughts, and he suddenly heard something
outside, " plask, plask ! " Yes, it was certainly the hog.
He sprang to the window, but there was nothing to be seen
it was past.

" Help Signer to carry his color-box! " said the old lady in
the morning to the boy, as their young neighbor, the painter,
came toiling along with it, and a large roll of canvas. The
child took the box, and followed the painter ; they made the
best of their way to the gallery, and went up the same stairs ;
he knew it well from the night that he rode on the Bronze Hog ;
he knew the statues and paintings ; the beautiful marble Ve-
nus ; and those that lived in colors ; he saw again Mary, Jesus,
and John. They now stood still before the picture by Bronzino,
where Christ descends into the nether world, and the children
ound about smile in sweet certainty of heaven ; the poor
child smiled also, for he was here in his heaven !

" Now go home ! " said the painter to him, when the boy
had stood until he had adjusted his easel.

" May I see you paint ? " said the boy ; " may I see how you
get the picture there on to that white piece ? "


" I am not going to paint now," answered the young man,
and took his black crayon out. His hand moved quickly, his
eye measured the large picture, and, though it was but a thin
stroke that came forth, yet Christ stood hovering there as on
the colored canvas.

" But you must go, now ! " said the painter, and the boy
sauntered silently homeward : he sat down on the table, and
learned to sew gloves.

But his thoughts were the wfyole day in the picture-gallery,
and, therefore, he pricked his fingers, was intolerably awkward,
but did not tease Bellissima. When it was evening, and the
street door just chanced to be open, he stole out ; it was cold
but starlight, so beautiful and clear, and he wandered away

Online LibraryH. C. (Hans Christian) AndersenA poet's bazaar : a picturesque tour in Germany, Italy, Greece, and the Orient → online text (page 5 of 31)