“To be born in a duck’s nest in a farmyard is of no consequence to a bird if it is hatched from a swan’s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the newcomer and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.”
–Hans Christian Andersen, “The Ugly Duckling” (1843)
Some say that Andersen considered this story to be autobiographical. As a child, he was mocked for his big nose and large feet, as well as for his beautiful singing voice and love of theater. There were also rumors that Hans Christian Andersen was the illegitimate son of King Christian VIII of Denmark! It is a story that many children can relate to on some level–at least those who feel excluded in some way from their peers.
Anyway, today is the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875), the great Danish writer, who is the author of many personal favorites. Our mother could not read through “The Little Match Girl” without weeping, which was quite disconcerting to me as a small child.
I will toast him tonight and perhaps listen to Danny Kaye singing about the Ugly Duckling…
Man oh man, the things people put on YouTube!
*Frank Loesser, “The Ugly Duckling”