Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Children's Novel > The complete Andersen > THE METAL PIG
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  

IN the city of Florence, not far from the Piazza del Granduca, there runs a little cross-street , I think it is called Porta Rossa . In this street , in front of a kind of market hall where vegetables are sold, there lies a Pig artistically fashioned of metal. The fresh clear water pours from the snout of the creature , which has become a blackish-green from age; only the snout shines as if it had been polished, and indeed it has been, by many hundreds of children and poor people , who seize it with their hands , and place their mouths close to the mouth of the animal , to drink . It is a perfect picture to see the well-shaped creature clasped by a half-naked boy, who lays his red lips against its snout .

Every one who comes to Florence can easily find the place; he need only ask the first beggar he meets for the Metal Pig , and he will find it .

It was late on a winter evening. The mountains were covered with snow; but the moon shone, and moonlight in Italy is just as good as the light of a murky Northern winter' s day ; nay , it is better, for the air shines and lifts us up, while in the North the cold grey leaden covering seems to press us downwards to the earth----the cold damp earth, which will some day press down our coffin .

In the Grand Duke's palace garden, under a roof of Pines where a thousand roses bloom in winter, a little ragged boy had been sitting all day long, a boy who might serve as a type of Italy, pretty and smiling, and yet suffering. He was hungry and thirsty, but no one gave him anything; and when it became dark, and the garden was to be closed, the porter turned him out. Long he stood musing on the bridge that spans the Arno, and looked at the stars, whose light glittered in the water between him and the splendid marble bridge.

He took the way towards the Metal Pig, half knelt down; clasped his arms round it, put his mouth against its shining snout , and drank the fresh water in deep draughts. Close by lay a few leaves of salad and one or two chestnuts; these were his supper. No one was in the street but himself----it belonged to him alone, and so he boldly sat down on the Pig's back, bent forward, so that his curly head rested on the head of the animal, and before he was aware fell asleep .

It was midnight. The Metal Pig stirred, and he heard it say quite distinctly, “You little boy, hold tight, for now I am going to run,” and away it ran with him.

This was a wonderful ride . First they got to the Piazza del Granduca, and the metal horse which carries the Duke' s statue neighed loudly , the painted coats of arms on the old council-house looked like transparent pictures, and Michael Angelo's “David” swung his sling: there was a strange life stirring among them. The metal groups representing Perseus, and the rape of the Sabines, stood there only too much alive : a cry of mortal fear escaped them, and resounded over the splendid lonely square.

By the Palazzo degli Uffizi, in the arcade, where the nobility assemble for the Carnival amusements, the Metal Pig stopped . “Hold tight , ” said the creature , “for now we are going upstairs . ” The little boy spoke not a word , for he was half frightened , half delighted .

They came into a long gallery where the boy had already been. The walls were adorned with pictures; here stood statues and busts , all in the most charming light , as if it had been broad clay ; but the most beautiful of all was when the door of a side room opened : the little boy could remember the splendour that was there , but on this night everything shone in the most glorious colours.

Here stood a beautiful woman, as radiant in beauty as nature and the greatest master of sculpture could make her: she moved her graceful limbs, dolphins sprang at her feet, and immortality shone out of her eyes . The world calls her the Venus de Medici . By her side are statues in which the spirit of life had been breathed into the stone; they are handsome unclothed men. One was sharpening a sword, and was called the Grinder; the Wrestling Gladiators formed another group; and the sword was sharpened, and they strove for the goddess of beauty .

The boy was dazzled by all this pomp : the walls gleamed with bright colours, and everything was life and movement there . In twofold form was seen the image of Venus, the earthly Venus, full and glowing, as Titian had seen her. The pictures of two lovely women; their beautiful unveiled limbs were stretched out on the soft cushions; their bosoms heaved, and their heads moved, so that the rich locks fell down over the rounded shoulders , while their dark eyes uttered glowing thoughts . But not one of all the pictures dared to step quite out of its frame . The Goddess of Beauty herself, the Gladiators and the Grinder, remained in their places , for the glory that shone from the Madonna , Jesus , and St . John , restrained them . The holy pictures were pictures no longer, they were the Holy Ones themselves.

What splendour, what beauty shone from hall to hall! and the little boy saw everything plainly, for the Metal Pig went step by step through all this scene of magnificence. Each fresh sight effaced the last. One picture only fixed itself firmly in his soul, especially through the very happy children introduced into it ; the little boy had once nodded to these in the daylight .

Many persons pass by this picture with indifference, and yet it contains a treasure of poetry. It represents the Saviour descending into hell. But these are not the damned whom the spectator sees around him, they are the heathens. The Florentine Angiolo Bronzino painted this picture. Most beautiful is the expression on the faces of the children,----the full confidence that they will get to heaven: two little beings are already embracing, and one little one stretches out his hand towards another who stands below him, and points to himself as if he were saying, “I am going to heaven!” The older people stand uncertain, hoping, or bowing in humble adoration before the Lord Jesus . The boy' s eyes rested longer on this picture than on any other. The Metal Pig stood still before it. A low sigh was heard : did it come from the picture or from the animal? The boy lifted up his hands towards the smiling children; then the Pig ran away with him, away through the open vestibule .

“Thanks and blessings to you , you dear thing! ” said the little boy, and caressed the Metal Pig, as it sprang down the steps with him.

“Thanks and blessings to yourself,” replied the Metal Pig . “I have helped you , and you have helped me , for only with an innocent child on my back do I receive power to run! Yes , you see , I may even step into the rays of the lamp in front of the picture of the Madonna, I can carry you everywhere , only I may not go into the church . But from without , when you are with me , I may look in through the open door. Do not get down from my back; if you do so, I shall lie dead as you see me in the daytime at the Porta Rossa . ”

“I will stay with you , my dear creature!” cried the child .

So they went in hot haste through the streets of Florence , out into the place before the church of Santa Croce .

The folding doors flew open, and lights gleamed out from the altar through the church into the deserted square .

A wonderful blaze of light streamed forth from a monument in the left aisle, and a thousand moving stars seemed to form a glory round it . A coat of arms shone upon the grave, a red ladder in a blue field seemed to glow like fire. It was the grave of Galileo . The monument is unadorned, but the red ladder is a significant emblem, as if it were that of art , for in art the way always leads up a burning ladder, towards heaven. The prophets of mind soar upwards towards heaven , like Elias of old .

To the right, in the aisle of the church, every statue on the richly carved sarcophagi seemed endowed with life . Here stood Michael Angelo, there Dante with the laurel wreath round his brow, Alfieri and Machiavelli; for herethe great men, the pride of Italy, rest side by side. It is a glorious church , far more beautiful than the marble cathedral of Florence , though not so large .

It seemed as if the marble vestments stirred, as if the great forms raised their heads higher and looked up, amid song and music, to the bright altar glowing with colour, where the white-clad boys swing the golden censers; and the strong fragrance streamed out of the church into the open square .

The boy stretched forth his hand towards the gleaming light, and in a moment the Metal Pig resumed its headlong career; he was obliged to cling tightly; and the wind whistled about his ears; he heard the church door creak on its hinges as it closed; but at the same moment his senses seemed to desert him, he felt a cold shudder pass over him, and awoke.

It was morning, and he was still sitting on the Metal Pig, which stood where it always stood on the Porta Rossa, and he had slipped half off its back .

Fear and trembling filled the soul of the boy at the thought of her whom he called mother, and who had yesterday sent him forth to bring money; for he had none, and was hungry and thirsty . Once more he clasped his arms round the neck of his metal pig, kissed its lips, and nodded farewell to it . Then he wandered away into one of the narrowest streets , where there was scarcely room for a laden ass . A great iron-clamped door stood ajar; he passed through it , and climbed up a brick stair with dirty walls and a rope for a balustrade, till he came to an open gallery hung with rags; from here a flight of stairs led down into the court, where there was a fountain, and great iron wires led up to the different stories , and many water-buckets hung side by side, and at times the roller creaked, and one of the buckets would dance into the air, swaying so that the water splashed out of it down into the courtyard . A second ruinous brick staircase here led upwards. Two Russian sailors were running briskly down, and almost overturned the poor boy : they were going home from their nightly carouse. A strongly-built woman, no longer young, with coarse black hair, followed them.

“What do you bring home?” she asked the boy.

“Don ' t be angry , ” he pleaded . “ I received nothing----nothing at all . ” And he seized the mother' s dress, and would have kissed it .

They went into the little room. I will not describe it, but only say that there stood in it an earthen pot with handles, made for holding fire, and called a marito . This pot she took in her arms, warmed her fingers, and pushed the boy with her elbow.

“Certainly you must have brought some money?” said she.

The boy wept, and she struck him with her foot, so that he cried aloud .

“Will you be silent, or I' ll break your screaming head! ”And she brandished the fire-pot which she held in her hand . The boy crouched down to the earth with a screamof terror. Then a neighbour stepped in, also with a marito in her arms.

“Felicita,” she said, “what are you doing to the child?”

“The child is mine , ” retorted Felicita . “I can murder him if I like, and you too, Giannina.”

And she swung her fire-pot . The other lifted up hers in self-defence , and the two pots clashed together with such fury that fragments , fire , and ashes flew about the room; but at the same moment the boy rushed out at the door , sped across the courtyard , and fled from the house . The poor child ran till he was quite out of breath . He stopped by the church, whose great doors had opened to him the previous night, and went in. Everything was radiant . The boy knelt down at the first grave on the right hand, the grave of Michael Angelo, and soon he sobbed aloud. People came and went, and Mass was said; bu............

Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved