By Hans Christian Andersen
There was a man who had written some new
verses for the A.B.C. book ; two lines for
every letter, as in the old A.B.C. books ;
he thought that one ought to have something
new, the old verses were so stale, and he
always thought so well of his own. The new
A.B.C. book was
as yet only in manuscript, and it was placed
beside the old printed one in the big
book-case, in which stood so many learned
and interesting books ; but the old A.B.C.
book would not be a neighbour to the new one,
and so it had sprung from the shelf, and at
the same time had given
the new one a push, so that it also lay upon
the floor with all its loose leaves
scattered round about. The old A.B.C. book
was open at the first page, and it is the
most important : all the letters stand there,
the big and the little. That page contains
everything that all the other books
live upon, the alphabet, the letters, which
really rule the world ; they have a terrible
power ! it entirely depends on how they are
commanded to stand ; they can give life, put
to death, gladden, and afflict. Placed
separately they signify nothing, but placed
in ranks ah ! when our Lord caused them to
be placed under His thoughts, we learned
more than we had strength to bear, we bowed
ourselves deeply, but the letters had the
strength to bear it.
There the books lay now, facing upwards !
and the cock in the capital A shone with
red, blue, and green feathers ; he thrust
out his chest, for he knew what the letters
meant, and knew that he was the only living
thing amongst them. When the old A.B.C. book
fell on the floor, he flapped
his wings, flew out, and set himself on the
edge of the book-case, preened his feathers
and crowed, so that echo rang with it. Every
book in the book-case, which at other times
stood day and night as in a doze when not in
use, heard the trumpet-call and then the
cock talked clearly
and distinctly about the injustice which had
been done to the worthy old A.B.C. book.
Everything must now be new, be different,'
he said, ' everything must be so advanced !
Children are so clever, that they can now
read before they know the letters.
" They shall have something new," said he
who wrote the new A.B.C. verses, which lie
there scattered on the floor. I know them !
more than ten times have I heard him read
them aloud to himself ! it was such a
pleasure to him. No, may I beg to have my
own verses, the good old ones
with Xanthus, and the pictures which belong
to them ; these will I fight for, these will
I crow for ! Every book in the book-case
knows them well. Now I shall read the new
ones he has written, read them with all
calmness, and then let us agree that they
are no good ! '
An Ayah has an Eastern air
children are her care.
A Boor in former days but toiled ;
Now he 's
somewhat proud and spoiled.
now, I think wonderfully flat ! ' said the
cock, ' but I will read on ! '
Columbus sailed across the main,
became as large again.
Of Denmark's kingdom it is told,
God over it His
hand will hold.
' Many will
think that beautiful ! ' said the cock, but
I don't ! I find nothing beautiful here !
Let us read on ! '
The Elepliant, though young it be,
Can tread but
heavily, we see.
When rain makes rivers rise in Flood,
It may do harm,
but also good.
A Goose, though ne'er so wisely taught,
Is always slow
in learning aught.
Hurrah is used to mark applause,
And often for
but trifling cause.
' How 's a
child to understand that now ? ' said the
cock, ' there certainly stands on the
title-page " A.B.C. book for big and little
", but the big ones have other things to do
than read A.B.C. verses, and the little ones
cannot possibly understand it ! There is
limit to everything ! Lot us go on ! '
Our earth an Island is in space,
And we but
atoms on its face.
The Kine are kindred to the bull,
And with their calves the fields are full.
' How can one explain to children the
relationship of these to each other ? '
In deserts wild the Lions roam,
But we have other lions at home.
M. MORNING SUN
The Morning sun its beams has shown,
But not because the cock has crown.
' Now I am being insulted ! ' said the
cock, ' but I am in good company, in company
with the sun. Let 's go on ! '
Black is the Negro past all hope,
One cannot wash him white with soap.
The Olive leaf of Noah's dove
Must rank all other leaves above.
The Post conveys from land to land
The work of many a head and hand.
A Quey will one day be a cow,
And so is worth the having now.
One may as stout as Round-tower stand,
And yet have neither name nor land
Be not too proud, though all the Swine
That in the forest feed are thine
' Allow me to crow now ! ' said the cock.
' it tries one's strength to read so much !
one must take a breath ! ' and he crowed, so
that it rang like a brass trumpet, and it
was a great delight to hear it for the cock.
Though lowly the Tea-kettle's place,
It sings with all a Tea-urn's grace.
Though far as Uranus we fly,
Beyond is still the endless sky.
A Washerwoman may wash so long
That things will tear, however strong.
' Here he hasn't been able to invent
anything new '
A stormy cliff
in wedlock's seas
Xanthippe proved to Socrates.
' He had to take Xanthippe ; but Xanthus is
'Neath Ygdrasil the gods did dwell ;
The tree is dead, and the gods as well.
The Danish Zephyr from the west
Can blow through fur-lined coat and vest.
' There it ended ! but it is not done with !
now it is to be printed ! and then it is to
be read'- it is to be offered instead of the
worthy old letter-verses in my book ! What
says the meeting, learned and unlearned,
single and collected works ? What says the
book-case ? I have spoken
now the others can act ! '
And the books stood and the book-case stood,
but the cock flew down again into his
capital A, and looked about him proudly. I
talked well, I crowed well ! that the new
A.B.C. book cannot do after me ! it will
certainly die ! it is dead already ! it has
no cock ! '