Hans Christian Andersen is a famous Danish writer of fairy stories and tales. Andersen’s stories are a combination of fantasy and reality. The characters in his stories consists of both real people of all social classes, as well as strange or mystical creatures such as mermaids, a Snow Lord, and many others. In his stories one also finds objects and fun toys such as the tin soldier, a silver coin, a piggy bank, and so much more. There are also flora and fauna—birds, swans, pine trees, and the like.
Andersen’s style turns his fairy tales into allegories. His stories are rich in poetry and fantasy so they are appealing to young children. But in that dreamlike form, they deliver Andersen’s profound and compassionate view of life, humanity, and religion with profound human philosophy that captivates adults as well. That is the factor that makes Andersen fairy tales unique and a treasure to humankind. The BL would like to introduce to its readers a series covering and analyzing his iconic works.
Readers have always connected with Andersen through his outstanding works such as “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Little Match Girl,” “The Story of the Wind,” “Lord of the Snow,” The Wild Swans” … but there are still many more splendid and exquisite jewels hidden and waiting for us to explore. And when we find a jewel, its magical light will also touch the beautiful jewels in our hearts. A “Leaf From Heaven” is such a work.
It is astonishing that with only a thousand words Andersen could create a picture of a miniature society. One that contains a variety of social classes: from the king and scientist to soldiers, pigs, a poor religious girl, to the forest, flowers, birds, and insects. Each character represents a class of people and they express their own views and attitudes about “a leaf from heaven.”
It was just a leaf—a little bit of heaven, falling down to Earth, but stirrred so many emotions and conflicting world views. The thistle and stinging nettle – those who harm people and represent the ugliness and cruelty of the mundane world – felt very upset about the fact that such a good tree was growing right next to them. They felt that being placed next to that goodness, their evilness would become even more prominent; next to the beauty of the heavenly tree, their ugliness would be intensified.
Sluggish snails crawling in mud and under damp leaves also shared the same attitude.
They took pleasure in hearing an unfavorable comment about the heavenly tree: “It does not belong to any system.”
This comment came from the botanist—a scientist of some renown. Due to his reputation, people took that comment as reference without question. But actually, regardless of his education, his knowledge, his qualifications, his books, or his scientific analysis, he could not identify the leaf. He concluded that it was a hybrid. According to the analysis of scientific experts, he had to reach that conclusion. If not, what else was there?!
Eventually only a tiny, poor, innocent girl understood the value of the heavenly tree. Without the expertise of a specialist and the knowledge of a scientist, she had the wisdom of the pious. Therefore, only she could see the “scent smell, shimmering beauty and heavenly song” radiating from the flowers on the tree. It was because the light of her faith always shined in her, so that she was immersed in the wisdom and great compassion of God.
She also understood that once Jesus, the most beautiful and holy of God, was still humiliated and harmed, the heavenly tree or any other good thing of the world would suffer injustice, just the same. What she learned was immeasurable compassion to forgive those who harmed and humiliated her. As a result, she grew higher and larger than she was, escaping the world and returning to the Creator.
In fact, she was even higher than the head of the kingdom—a king who seemed to have all in hand. But despite all of his luxuries, and his knowledge of the world, the king could not escape his melancholy. He did not know what his soul was missing. That “spirit,”—the noble faith in a divine, compassionate, miraculous world where the heavenly tree was the representative, was the only thing that can compensate for the emptiness in his soul.
By the time he was aware of that, it was almost too late. The heavenly tree had become a victim of that shortsighted world. Nostalgic for the loss of something great, the king built a “memorial” with golden fence surrounding the lot where the heavenly tree had grown. As the saying goes: It’s too late to lock the stable door once the horse is gone.
Of course, the soldiers would be resentful again, since they had to go into the middle of the forest and guard a vacant lot. They still could not understand the meaning of this job.
And as usual, those who knew how to feign compliance with the king will be rewarded. The scientist tried to feign his regret in his long thesis. His “tears” then drew gold into his pocket. He should have done it earlier? And the uneducated swineherd was just silently ashamed of himself for having done a foolish thing.
The only “leaf from heaven” is now lying in the grave of a poor, virtuous, and pious girl.
“But no one knows it,” as Andersen wrote in the book.
Only we know:
The leaf of heaven falls to earth
A troublesome life bears injustice
In the darkness waiting for the compassionate person
Paradise song soared thousands of miles.