Snowdrop or Summer-Geck
By Hans Christian Andersen
It was winter-time ; the air was cold, the
wind sharp ;but indoors it was snug and warm.
Indoors lay the flower ; it lay in its bulb
under the earth and the snow.
One day rain fell ; the drops trickled
through the snowcoverlet, down into the
ground, touched the flower-bulb, and told
about the bright world up above ; soon a
sunbeam, fine and pointed, pierced its way
through the snow, down to the bulb, and
tapped on it.
' Come in ! ' said the flower.
' I can't,' said the sunbeam, ' I am not
strong enough to open the door ; I shall be
strong when summer comes.'
'When will it be summer ? ' asked the flower,
and repeated it every time a new sunbeam
pierced down to it. But it was a long time
till summer : the snow still lay on the
ground, and every night ice formed on the
' How long it is in coming ! How long it is
! ' said the flower ; ' I feel a prickling
and tingling, I must stretch myself, I must
stir myself, I must open up, I must get out
and nod good morning to the summer ; that
will be a happy time ! '
And the flower stretched itself and strained
itself inside against the thin shell, which
the water outside had softened, which the
snow and the earth had warmed, and the
sunbeam had tapped upon ; it shot out under
the snow, with its whitey-green bud on its
green stalk, with narrow, thick
leaves, which seemed trying to shelter it.
The snow was cold, but permeated with light
and easy to push through ; and here the
sunbeams came with greater strength than
'Welcome ! welcome ! ' sang every sunbeam,
and the flower raised itself above the snow,
out into the world of light. The sunbeams
patted and kissed it, so that it opened
itself completely, white as snow, and
adorned with green stripes. It bowed its
head in gladness and humility.
' Beautiful flower,' sang the sunbeams, '
how fresh and pure thou art ! Thou art the
first ; thou art the only one ! Thou art our
darling ! Thou ringest in summer, lovely
summer, over town and field ! All the snow
shall melt ! the cold winds shall be chased
away ! we shall rule ! Everything will
become green ! And then thou wilt have
company, lilacs, and laburnum, and last of
all the roses ; but thou art the first, so
fine and pure ! '
It was a great delight. It seemed as if the
air was music, as if the beams of light
penetrated into its leaves and stalk. There
it stood, so fine and fragile, and yet so
strong, in its young beauty ; it stood there
in its white kirtle with green ribbons, and
praised the summer. But it was far from
summer-time, clouds hid the sun, and sharp
winds blew upon the flowers.
'Thou art come a little too early,' said
Wind and Weather ; ' we still have power,
and that thou shalt feel and submit to. Thou
shouldst have kept indoors, not run out to
make a show. It is not time yet ! '
It was biting cold ! The days which came,
brought not a single sunbeam ; it was
weather to freeze to pieces in, for such a
little delicate flower. But there was more
strength in it than it knew of ; it was
strong in joy and faith in the summer, which
must come, which was foretold to it by its
own deep longing, and confirmed by the warm
sunshine ; and so it stood with confident
hope, in its white dress, in the white snow,
bowing its head, when the snow-flakes fell
heavy and thick, whilst the icy winds swept
' Thou wilt be broken ! ' said they, '
wither and freeze : what didst thou seek out
here ! Why wert thou lured abroad ! the
sunbeam has fooled thee ! Now canst thou
enjoy thyself, thou summer-geek ? '
' Summer-geek ! ' echoed in the cold morning
' Summer-geek ! ' shouted some children who
came down into the garden, ' there stands
one so pretty, so beautiful, the first, the
only one ! '
And these words did the flower so much good
; they were words like warm sunbeams. The
flower did not even notice in its gladness
that it was being plucked : it lay in a
child's hand, was kissed by a child's lips,
was brought into a warm room, gazed at by
kind eyes, and put in water, so
strengthening, so enlivening. The flower
believed that it was come right into summer,
all at once.
The daughter of the house, a pretty little
girl, was just confirmed ; she had a dear
friend, and he was also just confirmed. ' He
shall be my summer-geek,' said she ; so she
took the fragile little flower, laid it in a
piece of scented paper, on which were
written verses, verses about the flower. Yes,
it was all in the verses, and it was made up
as a letter ; the flower was laid inside,
and it was all dark about it, as dark as
when it lay in the bulb. The flower went on
a journey, lay in the post-bag, was pressed
and squeezed, and that was not pleasant, but
it came to an end at last.
The journey was over, the letter was opened
and read by the dear friend ; he was so
delighted he kissed the flower, and laid it,
with the verses around it, in a drawer, in
which were many delightful letters, but all
without a flower ; this was the first, the
only one, as the sunbeams had called it, and
that was very pleasant to think about. It
got a long time to think about it, it
thought whilst the summer passed, and the
long winter passed, and it was summer once
more ; then it was brought out again. But
this time the young man was not at all
delighted ; he gripped the paper hard and
threw away the verses, so that the flower
fell on the floor ; it had become flat and
withered, but it should not have been thrown
on the floor for all that ; still it was
better lying there than on the fire, where
the letter and verses were blazing. What had
happened ? What so often happens. The flower
had fooled him ; it was a jest, the maiden
had fooled him, and that was no jest ; she
had chosen another sweetheart in mid-summer.
In the morning, the sun shone in on the
little flattened summer-geek, which looked
as if it were painted on the floor. The girl
who was sweeping took it up and put it in
one of the books on the table ; she thought
it had fallen out, when she was clearing up
and putting things in order. And so the
flower lay again amongst verses, printed
verses, and they are grander than written
ones ; at least more is spent upon them.
Years passed away, and the book stood on the
shelf. At length it was taken down, opened
and read ; it was a good book, songs and
poems by the Danish poet, Ambrosius Stub,
who is well worth knowing. And the man who
read the book, turned the page. ' Here is a
flower ! ' said he, 'a summer- geek ! not
without some meaning does it lie here. Poor
Ambrosius Stub ! he was
also a summer-geek, a befooled poet ! he was
too early in his time ; and so he got sleet
and sharp winds, and went his rounds amongst
the gentlemen of Fyen, like the flower in
the flower-glass, the flower in the verses.
A summergeek, a winter-fool, all jest and
foolery, and yet the first, the only, the
youthfully fresh Danish poet. Yes, lie as a
mark in the book, little summer-geek 1 Thou
art laid there with some meaning.'
And so the summer-geek was laid in the book
again, and felt itself both honoured and
delighted with the knowledge that it was a
mark in the lovely song-book, and that the
one who had first sung and written about it,
had also been a summer-geek, had been
befooled in the winter. Of course the flower
understood this in its own way, just as we
understand anything in our own way.
This is the story of the summer-geek.