ENGLISH

The old street lamp

DANSK

Den gamle gadelygte


Did you ever hear the story of the old street lamp? It is not remarkably interesting, but for once in a way you may as well listen to it. It was a most respectable old lamp, which had seen many, many years of service, and now was to retire with a pension. It was this evening at its post for the last time, giving light to the street. His feelings were something like those of an old dancer at the theatre, who is dancing for the last time, and knows that on the morrow she will be in her garret, alone and forgotten. The lamp had very great anxiety about the next day, for he knew that he had to appear for the first time at the town hall, to be inspected by the mayor and the council, who were to decide if he were fit for further service or not;– whether the lamp was good enough to be used to light the inhabitants of one of the suburbs, or in the country, at some factory; and if not, it would be sent at once to an iron foundry, to be melted down. In this latter case it might be turned into anything, and he wondered very much whether he would then be able to remember that he had once been a street lamp, and it troubled him exceedingly. Whatever might happen, one thing seemed certain, that he would be separated from the watchman and his wife, whose family he looked upon as his own. The lamp had first been hung up on that very evening that the watchman, then a robust young man, had entered upon the duties of his office. Ah, well, it was a very long time since one became a lamp and the other a watchman. His wife had a little pride in those days; she seldom condescended to glance at the lamp, excepting when she passed by in the evening, never in the daytime. But in later years, when all these,– the watchman, the wife, and the lamp– had grown old, she had attended to it, cleaned it, and supplied it with oil. The old people were thoroughly honest, they had never cheated the lamp of a single drop of the oil provided for it.
Har du hørt historien om den gamle gadelygte? Den er slet ikke så overordentlig morsom, men man kan altid høre den én gang. Det var sådan en skikkelig gammel gadelygte, som i mange, mange år havde gjort tjeneste, men nu skulle kasseres. Det var den sidste aften, den sad på pælen og lyste der i gaden, og den var til mode ligesom en gammel balletfigurantinde, som danser den sidste aften og ved at i morgen skal hun på loftet. Lygten havde sådan en skræk for den dag i morgen, thi da vidste den, at den skulle på rådstuen for første gang og synes af stadens "seksogtredve mænd," om den var brugelig eller ikke brugelig. Da ville det blive bestemt om den skulle sendes ud på en af broerne og lyse der, eller på landet i en fabrik, måske gik den lige til en jernstøber og blev smeltet om, da kunne den jo rigtignok blive til alting, men det pinte den, at den ikke vidste om den da beholdt erindringen om, at den havde været gadelygte. - Hvorledes det gik eller ikke, den ville blive skilt fra vægteren og hans kone, hvem den betragtede ganske som sin familie. Den blev lygte da han blev vægter. Konen var den gang fin på det, kun om aftnen når hun gik forbi lygten så hun til den, men aldrig om dagen. Nu derimod, i de sidste år, da de alle tre var blevet gamle, vægteren, konen og lygten, havde konen også plejet den, pudset lampen af og skænket tran i den. Ærlige folk var det ægtepar, de havde ikke bedraget lygten for en dråbe. Det var den sidste aften i gaden og i morgen skulle den på rådstuen, det var to mørke tanker for lygten, og så kan man nok vide hvorledes den brændte. Men der gik også andre tanker igennem den; der var så meget, den havde set, så meget, den havde lyst til, måske lige så meget som "de seksogtredve mænd," men det sagde den ikke, for det var en skikkelig gammel lygte, den ville ingen fornærme, allermindst sin øvrighed. Den huskede så meget, og imellem blussede flammen op inde i den, det var som havde den en følelse af: "Ja, man husker også mig! der var nu den smukke unge mand, - ja, det er mange år siden! han kom med et brev, det var på rosenrødt papir, så fint, så fint og med guldkant, det var så nydeligt skrevet, det var en damehånd; han læste det to gange og han kyssede det og han så op til mig med sine to øjne, de sagde 'jeg er det lykkeligste menneske!' - ja kun han og jeg vidste hvad der stod i det første brev fra kæresten. - Jeg husker også to andre øjne, det er underligt hvor man kan springe med tankerne! her i gaden var en prægtig begravelse, den unge smukke frue lå i ligkisten på den fløjlsligvogn, der var så mange blomster og kranse, der lyste så mange fakler, at jeg blev rent borte ved det; hele fortovet var fuldt med mennesker, de fulgte alle med ligtoget, men da faklerne var af syne og jeg så mig omkring, stod her endnu en ved pælen og græd, jeg glemmer aldrig de to sorgens øjne, der så ind i mig!" - Sådan gik der mange tanker gennem den gamle gadelygte, som i aften lyste for sidste gang. Skildvagten, som løses af, ved dog sin efterfølger, og kan sige ham et par ord, men lygten vidste ikke sin og den kunne dog givet ham et og andet vink, om regn og rusk, om hvorvidt måneskinnet gik på fortovet og fra hvad kant vinden blæste.


This was the lamp's last night in the street, and to-morrow he must go to the town-hall,– two very dark things to think of. No wonder he did not burn brightly. Many other thoughts also passed through his mind. How many persons he had lighted on their way, and how much he had seen; as much, very likely, as the mayor and corporation themselves! None of these thoughts were uttered aloud, however; for he was a good, honorable old lamp, who would not willingly do harm to any one, especially to those in authority. As many things were recalled to his mind, the light would flash up with sudden brightness; he had, at such moments, a conviction that he would be remembered. "There was a handsome young man once," thought he; "it is certainly a long while ago, but I remember he had a little note, written on pink paper with a gold edge; the writing was elegant, evidently a lady's hand: twice he read it through, and kissed it, and then looked up at me, with eyes that said quite plainly, 'I am the happiest of men!' Only he and I know what was written on this his first letter from his lady-love. Ah, yes, and there was another pair of eyes that I remember,– it is really wonderful how the thoughts jump from one thing to another! A funeral passed through the street; a young and beautiful woman lay on a bier, decked with garlands of flowers, and attended by torches, which quite overpowered my light. All along the street stood the people from the houses, in crowds, ready to join the procession. But when the torches had passed from before me, and I could look round, I saw one person alone, standing, leaning against my post, and weeping. Never shall I forget the sorrowful eyes that looked up at me." These and similar reflections occupied the old street lamp, on this the last time that his light would shine. The sentry, when he is relieved from his post, knows at least who will succeed him, and may whisper a few words to him, but the lamp did not know his successor, or he could have given him a few hints respecting rain, or mist, and could have informed him how far the moon's rays would rest on the pavement, and from which side the wind generally blew, and so on.
På rendestensbrættet stod tre, som havde fremstillet sig for lygten, idet de troede at det var den, som gav embedet bort; den ene af disse var et sildehoved, for det lyser i mørke, og det mente at det kunne jo være en sand tranbesparelse, om det kom på lygtepælen. Den anden var et stykke trøske, der også skinner, og altid mere end en klipfisk, det sagde den selv, desuden var den det sidste stykke af et træ, som engang havde været en pragt for skoven. Den tredje var en sankthansorm; hvor den var kommet fra, begreb lygten ikke, men ormen var der og lyste gjorde den også, men trøsken og sildehovedet gav ed på, at det var kun til visse tider, den lyste, og at den derfor aldrig kunne tages i betragtning.


On the bridge over the canal stood three persons, who wished to recommend themselves to the lamp, for they thought he could give the office to whomsoever he chose. The first was a herring's head, which could emit light in the darkness. He remarked that it would be a great saving of oil if they placed him on the lamp-post. Number two was a piece of rotten wood, which also shines in the dark. He considered himself descended from an old stem, once the pride of the forest. The third was a glow-worm, and how he found his way there the lamp could not imagine, yet there he was, and could really give light as well as the others. But the rotten wood and the herring's head declared most solemnly, by all they held sacred, that the glow-worm only gave light at certain times, and must not be allowed to compete with themselves. The old lamp assured them that not one of them could give sufficient light to fill the position of a street lamp; but they would believe nothing he said. And when they discovered that he had not the power of naming his successor, they said they were very glad to hear it, for the lamp was too old and worn-out to make a proper choice.
Den gamle lygte sagde at ingen af dem lyste nok til at være gadelygte, men det troede nu ingen af dem, og da de hørte at lygten selv ikke gav embedet bort, sagde de, at det var meget glædeligt, thi den var da også alt for affældig til at den kunne vælge.


At this moment the wind came rushing round the corner of the street, and through the air-holes of the old lamp. "What is this I hear?" said he; "that you are going away to-morrow? Is this evening the last time we shall meet? Then I must present you with a farewell gift. I will blow into your brain, so that in future you shall not only be able to remember all that you have seen or heard in the past, but your light within shall be so bright, that you shall be able to understand all that is said or done in your presence."
I det samme kom vinden fra gadehjørnet, den susede gennem røghætten på den gamle lygte, og sagde til den: "Hvad er det for noget, jeg hører, vil du bort i morgen? Er det den sidste aften jeg skal træffe dig her? Ja så skal du have en present! nu lufter jeg op i din hjernekasse, så at du klart og tydeligt ikke alene skal kunne huske hvad du har hørt og set, men når der fortælles eller læses noget i din nærværelse, skal du være så klarhovedet, at du også ser det!"


"Oh, that is really a very, very great gift," said the old lamp; "I thank you most heartily. I only hope I shall not be melted down."
"Ja det er grumme meget!" sagde den gamle gadelygte, "mange tak! bliver jeg bare ikke støbt om!"


"That is not likely to happen yet," said the wind; "and I will also blow a memory into you, so that should you receive other similar presents your old age will pass very pleasantly."
"Det sker ikke endnu!" sagde vinden, "og nu blæser jeg din hukommelse op; kan du få flere presenter som den, så kan du have en ganske fornøjelig alderdom!"


"That is if I am not melted down," said the lamp. "But should I in that case still retain my memory?"
"Bliver jeg kun ikke støbt om!" sagde lygten, "eller kan du da også sikre mig hukommelsen?" -


"Do be reasonable, old lamp," said the wind, puffing away.
"Gamle lygte, vær fornuftig!" sagde vinden, og så blæste den. - i det samme kom Månen frem. "Hvad giver De?" spurgte vinden.


At this moment the moon burst forth from the clouds. "What will you give the old lamp?" asked the wind.
"Jeg giver ingen ting!" sagde den, "jeg er jo i aftagende, og lygterne har aldrig lyst for mig, men jeg har lyst for lygterne." Og så gik Månen bag ved skyerne igen, for den ville ikke plages. Da faldt lige på røghætten en vanddråbe, den var som et tagdryp, men dråben sagde, den kom fra de grå skyer og var også en present, og måske den allerbedste. Jeg trænger ind i dig, så at du får den evne, at du i en nat, når du ønsker dig det, kan gå over i rust, så du falder helt sammen og bliver til et støv. Men det syntes lygten var en dårlig present og vinden syntes det samme; "Er der ingen bedre, er der ingen bedre?" blæste den så højt den kunne; da faldt et skinnende stjerneskud, det lyste i en lang stribe.


"I can give nothing," she replied; "I am on the wane, and no lamps have ever given me light while I have frequently shone upon them." And with these words the moon hid herself again behind the clouds, that she might be saved from further importunities. Just then a drop fell upon the lamp, from the roof of the house, but the drop explained that he was a gift from those gray clouds, and perhaps the best of all gifts. "I shall penetrate you so thoroughly," he said, "that you will have the power of becoming rusty, and, if you wish it, to crumble into dust in one night."
"Hvad var det?" råbte sildehovedet, "faldt der ikke en stjerne lige ned? jeg tror den gik i lygten! - Nå, søges embedet også af så højtstående, så kan vi gå at lægge os!" og det gjorde det, og de andre med; men den gamle lygte lyste med et så forunderligt stærkt: "Det var en dejlig present!" sagde den. "De klare stjerner, som jeg altid har fornøjet mig så meget over, og som skinner så dejlige, som jeg egentlig aldrig har kunnet skinne, skønt det var min hele stræben og tragten, de har lagt mærke til mig fattige gamle lygte og sendt en ned med en present til mig, der består i den evne, at alt hvad jeg selv husker og ser rigtig tydeligt, skal også kunne ses af dem, jeg holder af! og det er først den sande fornøjelse, for når man ikke kan dele den med andre, så er den kun en halv glæde!"


But this seemed to the lamp a very shabby present, and the wind thought so too. "Does no one give any more? Will no one give any more?" shouted the breath of the wind, as loud as it could. Then a bright falling star came down, leaving a broad, luminous streak behind it.
"Det er meget agtværdigt tænkt!" sagde vinden, "men du ved nok ikke at der hører vokslys til. Uden at der bliver tændt et vokslys inden i dig, er der ingen af de andre, der kan se noget ved dig. Det har stjernerne ikke betænkt, de tror nu at alt hvad der skinner, har i det mindste et vokslys i sig. Men nu er jeg træt"! sagde vinden, "nu vil jeg lægge mig!" og så lagde den sig.


"What was that?" cried the herring's head. "Did not a star fall? I really believe it went into the lamp. Certainly, when such high-born personages try for the office, we may as well say 'Good-night,' and go home."
Næste dag – – ja næste dag kan vi springe over; næste aften så lå lygten i lænestol, og hvor -? Hos den gamle vægter. Han havde af "de seksogtredve mænd" udbedt sig for sin lange tro tjeneste, at måtte beholde den gamle lygte; de lo af ham da han bad og så gav de ham den, og nu lå lygten i lænestol tæt ved den varme kakkelovn, og det var ordentligt ligesom den var blevet større derved, den fyldte næsten hele stolen. Og de gamle folk sad alt ved aftensmaden og kastede milde øjne hen til den gamle lygte, som de gerne havde givet plads ved bordet med. Det var jo rigtignok i en kælder de boede, to alen nede i jorden; man måtte gennem en brolagt forstue for at komme ind i stuen, men lunt var her, for der var klædeslister for døren; rent og net så her ud; gardiner om sengestedet, og over de små vinduer, hvor der oppe på karmene stod to underlige urtepotter; matros Christian havde bragt dem hjem fra Ostindien eller Vestindien, det var af lertøj to elefanter, hvis ryg manglede, men i dennes sted blomstrede der ud af jorden, som var lagt deri, i den ene af den dejligste purløg, det var de gamle folks køkkenhave, og i den anden en stor blomstrende geranie, der var deres blomsterhave. På væggen hang et stort kulørt billede, med "Kongressen i Wien," der havde de alle konger og kejsere på engang! - Et bornholmsk ur med tunge blylodder gik "tik! tak!" og altid for gesvindt, men det var bedre end at det skulle gå for langsomt, sagde de gamle folk. De spiste deres aftensmad, og den gamle gadelygte lå som sagt i lænestolen tæt ved den varme kakkelovn. Det var for lygten, som om der var vendt op og ned på hele verden. - Men da den gamle vægter så på den og talte om hvad de to havde oplevet med hinanden, i regn og i rusk, i de klare, korte sommernætter og når sneen fygede så det var godt at komme i kælderskuret, da var alt igen i orden for den gamle lygte, den så det, som om det var endnu, jo, vinden havde rigtignok godt lyst op inde i den. -


And so they did, all three, while the old lamp threw a wonderfully strong light all around him.
De var så flittige og så flinke, de gamle folk, ingen time blev rent døset hen; søndag eftermiddag kom der en eller anden bog frem, helst en rejsebeskrivelse, og den gamle mand læste højt om Afrika, om de store skove og elefanterne, som der gik vilde omkring, og den gamle kone hørte sådan efter og skottede så hen til ler-elefanterne der var urtepotter! - "Jeg kan næsten tænke mig det!" sagde hun. Og lygten ønskede så inderligt at der var et vokslys at tænde og sætte inden i den, så skulle hun grangivelig se alt, således som lygten så det, de høje træer, de tætte grene slyngede i hverandre, de nøgne sorte mennesker til hest og hele skarer af elefanter, som med deres brede fødder knuste rør og buske.


"This is a glorious gift," said he; "the bright stars have always been a joy to me, and have always shone more brilliantly than I ever could shine, though I have tried with my whole might; and now they have noticed me, a poor old lamp, and have sent me a gift that will enable me to see clearly everything that I remember, as if it still stood before me, and to be seen by all those who love me. And herein lies the truest pleasure, for joy which we cannot share with others is only half enjoyed."
"Hvad kan alle mine evner hjælpe, når der ingen vokslys er!" sukkede lygten, "de har kun tran og tællelys, og det er ikke nok!" -


"That sentiment does you honor," said the wind; "but for this purpose wax lights will be necessary. If these are not lighted in you, your particular faculties will not benefit others in the least. The stars have not thought of this; they suppose that you and every other light must be a wax taper: but I must go down now." So he laid himself to rest.
En dag kom der et helt bundt vokslysstumper i kælderen, de største stykker blev brændt og de mindre brugte den gamle kone til at vokse sin tråd med når hun syede; vokslys var der, men de faldt ikke på at sætte et lille stykke i lygten.


"Wax tapers, indeed!" said the lamp, "I have never yet had these, nor is it likely I ever shall. If I could only be sure of not being melted down!"
"Her står jeg med mine sjældne evner!" sagde lygten, "jeg har alt indeni mig, men jeg kan ikke dele med dem! De ved ikke, at jeg kan forvandle de hvide vægge til de dejligste tapeter, til rige skove, til alt hvad de vil ønske sig! - De ved det ikke!"


The next day. Well, perhaps we had better pass over the next day. The evening had come, and the lamp was resting in a grandfather's chair, and guess where! Why, at the old watchman's house. He had begged, as a favor, that the mayor and corporation would allow him to keep the street lamp, in consideration of his long and faithful service, as he had himself hung it up and lit it on the day he first commenced his duties, four-and-twenty years ago. He looked upon it almost as his own child; he had no children, so the lamp was given to him. There it lay in the great arm-chair near to the warm stove. It seemed almost as if it had grown larger, for it appeared quite to fill the chair. The old people sat at their supper, casting friendly glances at the old lamp, whom they would willingly have admitted to a place at the table. It is quite true that they dwelt in a cellar, two yards deep in the earth, and they had to cross a stone passage to get to their room, but within it was warm and comfortable and strips of list had been nailed round the door. The bed and the little window had curtains, and everything looked clean and neat. On the window seat stood two curious flower-pots which a sailor, named Christian, had brought over from the East or West Indies. They were of clay, and in the form of two elephants, with open backs; they were hollow and filled with earth, and through the open space flowers bloomed. In one grew some very fine chives or leeks; this was the kitchen garden. The other elephant, which contained a beautiful geranium, they called their flower garden. On the wall hung a large colored print, representing the congress of Vienna, and all the kings and emperors at once. A clock, with heavy weights, hung on the wall and went "tick, tick," steadily enough; yet it was always rather too fast, which, however, the old people said was better than being too slow. They were now eating their supper, while the old street lamp, as we have heard, lay in the grandfather's arm-chair near the stove. It seemed to the lamp as if the whole world had turned round; but after a while the old watchman looked at the lamp, and spoke of what they had both gone through together,– in rain and in fog; during the short bright nights of summer, or in the long winter nights, through the drifting snow-storms, when he longed to be at home in the cellar. Then the lamp felt it was all right again. He saw everything that had happened quite clearly, as if it were passing before him. Surely the wind had given him an excellent gift. The old people were very active and industrious, they were never idle for even a single hour. On Sunday afternoons they would bring out some books, generally a book of travels which they were very fond of. The old man would read aloud about Africa, with its great forests and the wild elephants, while his wife would listen attentively, stealing a glance now and then at the clay elephants, which served as flower-pots.
Lygten stod i øvrigt skuret og net i en krog hvor den altid faldt i øjnene; folk sagde rigtig nok at den var et skrummel, men det brød de gamle sig ikke om, de holdt af lygten.


"I can almost imagine I am seeing it all," she said; and then how the lamp wished for a wax taper to be lighted in him, for then the old woman would have seen the smallest detail as clearly as he did himself. The lofty trees, with their thickly entwined branches, the naked negroes on horseback, and whole herds of elephants treading down bamboo thickets with their broad, heavy feet.
En dag, det var den gamle vægters fødselsdag, kom den gamle kone hen til lygten, smilede så småt og sagde: "Jeg vil illuminere for ham!" og lygten knagede i blikhætten, thi den tænkte: "Nu går lyset op for dem!" men der kom tran og ingen vokslys, den brændte hele aftnen, men vidste nu at den gave, stjernerne havde givet den, den bedste gave af alle, blev en død skat for dette liv. Da drømte den, - og når man har slige evner, kan man nok drømme, - at de gamle folk var døde, og at den selv var kommet til en jernstøber og skulle smeltes om, den var lige så angst som da den skulle på rådstuen og synes af de "seksogtredve mænd," men skønt den havde evnen at kunne falde sammen i rust og støv, når den ønskede sig det, så gjorde den det dog ikke, og så kom den i smelteovnen, og blev til den dejligste jernlysestage, hvori nogen ville sætte et vokslys; den havde form af en engel, der bar en buket og midt i buketten blev vokslyset sat og stagen fik plads på et grønt skrivebord, og værelset var så hyggeligt, der stod mange bøger, der hang dejlige billeder, det var hos en digter, og alt hvad han tænkte og skrev, det rullede op rundt omkring, stuen blev til dybe mørke skove, til solbelyste enge, hvor storken gik og spankede, og til skibsdækket højt på det svulmende hav! -


"What is the use of all my capabilities," sighed the old lamp, "when I cannot obtain any wax lights; they have only oil and tallow here, and these will not do." One day a great heap of wax-candle ends found their way into the cellar. The larger pieces were burnt, and the smaller ones the old woman kept for waxing her thread. So there were now candles enough, but it never occurred to any one to put a little piece in the lamp.
"Hvilke evner jeg har!" sagde den gamle lygte idet den vågnede. "Næsten kunne jeg længes efter at smeltes om! - dog nej, det må ikke ske så længe de gamle folk lever! De holder af mig for min persons skyld! Jeg er dem jo, som i barns sted og de har skuret mig og de har givet mig tran! og jeg har det lige så godt, som 'Kongressen', der er sådant noget fornemt noget!"


"Here I am now with my rare powers," thought the lamp, "I have faculties within me, but I cannot share them; they do not know that I could cover these white walls with beautiful tapestry, or change them into noble forests, or, indeed, to anything else they might wish for." The lamp, however, was always kept clean and shining in a corner where it attracted all eyes. Strangers looked upon it as lumber, but the old people did not care for that; they loved the lamp. One day– it was the watchman's birthday– the old woman approached the lamp, smiling to herself, and said, "I will have an illumination to-day in honor of my old man." And the lamp rattled in his metal frame, for he thought, "Now at last I shall have a light within me," but after all no wax light was placed in the lamp, but oil as usual. The lamp burned through the whole evening, and began to perceive too clearly that the gift of the stars would remain a hidden treasure all his life. Then he had a dream; for, to one with his faculties, dreaming was no difficulty. It appeared to him that the old people were dead, and that he had been taken to the iron foundry to be melted down. It caused him quite as much anxiety as on the day when he had been called upon to appear before the mayor and the council at the town-hall. But though he had been endowed with the power of falling into decay from rust when he pleased, he did not make use of it. He was therefore put into the melting-furnace and changed into as elegant an iron candlestick as you could wish to see, one intended to hold a wax taper. The candlestick was in the form of an angel holding a nosegay, in the centre of which the wax taper was to be placed. It was to stand on a green writing table, in a very pleasant room; many books were scattered about, and splendid paintings hung on the walls. The owner of the room was a poet, and a man of intellect; everything he thought or wrote was pictured around him. Nature showed herself to him sometimes in the dark forests, at others in cheerful meadows where the storks were strutting about, or on the deck of a ship sailing across the foaming sea with the clear, blue sky above, or at night the glittering stars. "What powers I possess!" said the lamp, awaking from his dream; "I could almost wish to be melted down; but no, that must not be while the old people live. They love me for myself alone, they keep me bright, and supply me with oil. I am as well off as the picture of the congress, in which they take so much pleasure." And from that time he felt at rest in himself, and not more so than such an honorable old lamp really deserved to be.
Og fra den tid havde den mere indvortes ro, og det fortjente den skikkelige gamle gadelygte.





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