H.C.Andersen Information







The Tea-Pot

By Hans Christian Andersen (1868)

There was a proud tea-pot, proud of its porcelain, proud of its long spout, proud of its broad handle ; it had something both before and behind, the spout before and the handle behind, and it talked about it ; but it did not talk about its lid ; that was cracked, it was riveted, it had a defect, and one does not willingly talk of one's defects ; others do that sufficiently. The cups, the cream-
pot, and the sugar-basin, the whole of the tea-service would remember more about the frailty of the lid and talk about it, than about the good handle and the splendid spout ; the tea-pot knew that.

' I know them ! ' it said to itself, ' I know also my defect and I admit it ; therein lies my humility, my modesty ; we all have defects, but one has also merits. The cups have a handle, the sugar-basin a lid, I have both of these and another thing besides, which they never have, I have a spout, and that makes me the queen of the teatable. To the sugar-basin and the cream -pot it is granted to be the servants of sweet taste, but I am the giver, the ruler of all ; I disseminate blessing among thirsty humanity ; in my inside the Chinese leaves are prepared in the boiling,
tasteless water.

The tea-pot said all this in its undaunted youth. It stood on the table laid for tea, and it was lifted by the finest hand ; but the finest hand was clumsy, the tea-pot fell, the spout broke off, the handle broke off, the lid is not worth talking about, for enough has been said about it. The tea-pot lay in a faint on the floor ; the boiling water ran out of it. That was a hard blow it got, and the hardest of all was that they laughed ; they laughed at it, and not at the awkward hand.

' I shall never get that experience out of my mind,' said the tea-pot, when it afterwards related its career to itself, ' I was called an invalid and set in a corner, and the day after, presented to a woman who begged kitchen-refuse. I came down into poverty, stood speechless both out and
in ; but there, as I stood, my better life began ; one is one thing, and becomes something quite different. Earth was put into me ; for a tea-pot, that is the same as to be buried, but in the earth was put a bulb : who laid it there, who gave it, I know not, but given it was, a compensation
for the Chinese leaves and the boiling water, a compensation for the broken -off handle and spout. And the bulb lay in the earth, the bulb lay in me, it became my heart, my living heart, and such a thing I had never had before. There was life in me, there was strength and vigour. The
pulse beat, the bulb sprouted, it was bursting with thoughts and feelings ; then it broke out in flower ; I saw it, I carried it, I forgot myself in its loveliness ; it is a blessed thing to forget oneself in others ! It did not thank me ; it did not think about me : it was admired and praised. I was so
glad about it ; how glad must it have been then ! One day I heard it said that it deserved a better pot. They broke me through the middle ; it was frightfully painful ; but the flower was put in a better pot, and I was thrown out into the yard ; I lie there like an old potsherd, but I have the remembrance, that I cannot lose.




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