Picture from the Fortress Wall
By Hans Christian Andersen
It is autumn :
we stand on the fortress wall, and look out
over the sea ; we look at the numerous ships,
and at the Swedish coast on the other side
of the Sound, which rises high in the
evening glow ; behind us the rampart goes
steeply down ; mighty trees surround us, the
leaves flutter down from the branches.
there where the sentinel goes, stand gloomy
houses fenced in with palisades ; inside
these it is very narrow and dismal, but
still more dismal is it behind the grated
loopholes in the wall, for there sit the
prisoners, the worst criminals.
A ray of the sinking sun shoots into the
bare cell of one of the captives. The sun
shines upon the good and the evil. The dark
stubborn criminal throws an impatient look
at the cold ray. A little bird flies towards
the grating. The bird twitters to the wicked
as to the just.
He only utters his short
tweet ! tweet ! ' but he perches upon the
grating, claps his wings, pecks a feather
from one of them, puffs himself out, and
sets his feathers on end on his neck and
breast ; and the bad chained man looks at
him : a milder expression comes into the
criminal's hard face ; in his breast there
swells up a thought a thought he himself
cannot rightly analyse ; but the thought has
with the sunbeam, with the scent of violets
which grow luxuriantly in spring at the foot
of the wall.
Now the horns of the hunters
sound merry and full. The little bird flies
away from the prisoner's grating ; the
sunbeam vanishes, and again it is dark in
the room, and dark in the heart of the bad
man;but still the sun has shone into that
heart, and the twittering of the bird has
touched it !
Sound on, ye glorious strains of the
hunting-horns ! The evening is mild, the sea
is smooth as a mirror and calm.