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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Story That Breaks Your Heart & Puts You Back Together Again

"Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale."
~Hans Christian Andersen~

There were times as a child, when I was read aloud to or read quietly alone, a story that broke my heart and remains with me always. The Velveteen Rabbit still brings me to tears.  But before I had even heard of the bunny who became real, I heard the tale of the Emperor and the Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen. Today we remember Andersen on his birthday.

Read the tale in its entirety HERE.

Painting by Heinrich Lefler: Image Source

""The nightingale? I know him well. Yes, indeed he can sing. Every evening I get leave to carry scraps from table to my sick mother. She lives down by the shore. When I start back I am tired, and rest in the woods. Then I hear the nightingale sing. It brings tears to my eyes. It's as if my mother were kissing me.""

The Nightingale is often dismissed as a story about Hans' love for the famous singer Jenny Lind. The reader cannot help but see so much more in the profound story. The story is about what is artificial and what is real. The story is about what should be valued. The reader explores mortality and the human experience both good and bad. The story champions those who are overlooked by society in raising a poor girl and a plain, little songbird as the heroes of the story. Andersen reminds us of our commonality as people whether we are poor or rich, talented and beautiful or very ordinary. The nightingale song is a treasure offered as equally to peasants as to nobles and to a young girl just as generously to even the emperor himself. The Nightingale is an affirmation of life. We all need these reminders.

The Nightingale has inspired the arts all around the world from Stravinsky's opera to illustrators in many times and different places. Here are a few of my favorites:

Lisbeth Zwerger

Quentin Gréban

Perhaps even popstars?

Demi Lovato's The Nightingale:

"Where words fail, music speaks."

~Hans Christian Andersen~


Are you happy that it's April? Me too.


the Local Gal

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