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A Rose from Homer’s Grave
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A Rose from Homer’s Grave - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 4 min

All the songs of the east speak of the love of the nightingale for the rose in the silent starlight night. The winged songster serenades the fragrant flowers. Not far from Smyrna, where the merchant drives his loaded camels, proudly arching their long necks as they journey beneath the lofty pines over holy ground, I saw a hedge of roses.

The turtle-dove flew among the branches of the tall trees, and as the sunbeams fell upon her wings, they glistened as if they were mother-of-pearl. On the rose-bush grew a flower, more beautiful than them all, and to her the nightingale sung of his woes; but the rose remained silent, not even a dewdrop lay like a tear of sympathy on her leaves.

At last she bowed her head over a heap of stones, and said, „Here rests the greatest singer in the world. Over his tomb will I spread my fragrance, and on it I will let my leaves fall when the storm scatters them. He who sung of Troy became earth, and from that earth I have sprung. I, a rose from the grave of Homer, am too lofty to bloom for a nightingale.“

Then the nightingale sung himself to death. A camel-driver came by, with his loaded camels and his black slaves. His little son found the dead bird, and buried the lovely songster in the grave of the great Homer, while the rose trembled in the wind. The evening came, and the rose wrapped her leaves more closely round her, and dreamed: and this was her dream.

It was a fair sunshiny day. A crowd of strangers drew near who had undertaken a pilgrimage to the grave of Homer. Among the strangers was a minstrel from the north, the home of the clouds and the brilliant lights of the aurora borealis. He plucked the rose and placed it in a book, and carried it away into a distant part of the world, his fatherland.

The rose faded with grief, and lay between the leaves of the book, which he opened in his own home, saying, „Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.“ Then the flower awoke from her dream, and trembled in the wind. A drop of dew fell from the leaves upon the singer’s grave. The sun rose, and the flower bloomed more beautiful than ever.

The day was hot, and she was still in her own warm Asia. Then footsteps approached, strangers, such as the rose had seen in her dream, came by, and among them was a poet from the north. He plucked the rose, pressed a kiss upon her fresh mouth, and carried her away to the home of the clouds and the northern lights. Like a mummy, the flower now rests in his „Iliad,“ and, as in her dream, she hears him say, as he opens the book, „Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.“

Backgrounds to fairy tale „A rose from Homer’s grave“

„A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish author and poet. Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, and is best known for his famous and beloved fairy tales, such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Snow Queen,“ „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ and „Thumbelina.“

Andersen’s fairy tales have been translated into more than 125 languages and have become an integral part of world literature. His stories often contain moral lessons and are characterized by their rich imagination, poetic language, and deep emotion. Andersen’s works have been adapted into various forms of media, including plays, ballets, television shows, and films.

„A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ is a short tale that explores themes of love, sacrifice, beauty, art, and the power of legacy. The story is set in the region around Smyrna, an ancient city in modern-day Turkey. The setting serves as a connection to the Greek poet Homer, who is believed to have lived around the 8th century BCE and is known for his epic poems, „The Iliad“ and „The Odyssey.“ While Homer’s true identity and the authenticity of his works are subjects of ongoing debate, his impact on literature and art has been undeniable and long-lasting.

In the story, Andersen emphasizes the bond between nature and art, using the nightingale and the rose as symbolic representations of these themes. The tale’s poignant narrative and evocative imagery make it an excellent example of Andersen’s ability to weave emotion and imagination into his stories.

The background of the story revolves around the Greek poet Homer, who is considered one of the greatest poets in history. He is best known for his epic poems „The Iliad“ and „The Odyssey.“ Andersen’s tale pays homage to Homer’s legacy, highlighting the impact his works had on literature and culture. The backgrounds of this fairy tale may have been inspired by Andersen’s love of literature and his admiration for the classical poets, including Homer. The tale serves as an exploration of the connection between art, beauty, and the human experience, themes that are often present in Andersen’s work.

Interpretations to fairy tale „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“

„A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It is a romantic and philosophical story with a focus on the power of the imagination and the beauty of art. There are several interpretations one can derive from the fairy tale „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ by Hans Christian Andersen:

The Power of Art and Legacy: The tale highlights the lasting impact of art and the legacy left behind by great artists, like Homer. The rose, originating from the grave of the legendary poet, believes itself to be too lofty for a nightingale. This signifies the reverence and admiration bestowed upon the work of great artists, even long after their demise.

Beauty and Transience: The story also explores the themes of beauty and transience. The nightingale sings itself to death, and the rose eventually fades, symbolizing the fleeting nature of life and beauty. Despite this, the bond between the rose and the poet’s „Iliad“ demonstrates how beauty can be preserved and appreciated through art.

Love and Sacrifice: The nightingale’s unrequited love for the rose, to the point of singing itself to death, showcases the theme of love and sacrifice. The nightingale’s devotion to the rose exemplifies the lengths individuals may go to express their love, even if it remains unreciprocated.

Dreams and Reality: The rose’s dream foreshadows the events that eventually unfold in reality. The dream serves as a connection between the rose’s fate and the poet from the north. The tale highlights the potential influence of dreams on one’s life and their ability to offer insight or foretell future events.

The Connection between Nature and Art: The story underlines the deep bond between nature and art, as the nightingale represents the beauty of nature and the rose embodies the power of poetry. The preservation of the rose in the poet’s „Iliad“ further emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between the natural world and the world of art.

In conclusion, „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ can be interpreted in various ways, offering insights into the power of art, imagination, and the human experience.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“

There have not been many direct adaptations of the fairy tale „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ by Hans Christian Andersen. However, the story has been included in various collections and anthologies of Andersen’s fairy tales, and it has inspired other works and adaptations in different media. Some examples include:

Books and anthologies: „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ has been included in several collections of Andersen’s works, such as „The Complete Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen“ and „Hans Christian Andersen: Classic Fairy Tales.“ In the children’s book „The Rose from Homer’s Grave“ by Margaret Kennedy, the story is retold in a simplified version for younger readers. The book features illustrations by Tasha Tudor and was first published in 1947.

Audio recordings: The story has been narrated and recorded in audiobook form, allowing listeners to experience the tale in a different format. These recordings can be found in some collections of Andersen’s works or as standalone audio stories.

Theater: Although there haven’t been any direct adaptations of „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ as a play, the story’s themes and ideas have inspired playwrights and theatre directors to create works that reflect its concepts, such as the pursuit of beauty and the power of art.

Art: Artists have been inspired by the story’s vivid imagery and ideas, creating paintings, illustrations, or other visual representations of the tale or its elements.

While „A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ may not have been directly adapted into various formats as prominently as some of Andersen’s other works, its themes and ideas have resonated with audiences and creators in different ways, inspiring various artistic expressions.

Summary of the plot

„A Rose from Homer’s Grave“ by Hans Christian Andersen tells the story of a nightingale that sings for a rose, which grows on the grave of the legendary poet Homer. The nightingale serenades the rose, but the rose remains silent, considering herself too lofty to respond, as she originated from the grave of the great singer.

One day, a camel-driver and his son pass by, and the son buries the nightingale, who has sung itself to death, in Homer’s grave. That evening, the rose has a dream in which a minstrel from the north plucks her and takes her to his distant homeland, where she fades in grief between the pages of a book.

The rose awakens from her dream, more beautiful than ever, and soon encounters a group of strangers, just like in her dream. Among them is a poet from the north, who plucks the rose and takes her to his homeland. There, she rests like a mummy in his copy of the „Iliad,“ fulfilling the prophecy of her dream. As the poet opens the book, he says, „Here is a rose from the grave of Homer,“ illustrating the eternal bond between the beauty of nature and the power of poetry.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, FR,
Readability Index by Björnsson30.9
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index81.1
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level6.8
Gunning Fog Index9.3
Coleman–Liau Index8.1
SMOG Index8.1
Automated Readability Index7.5
Character Count2.595
Letter Count1.999
Sentence Count25
Word Count493
Average Words per Sentence19,72
Words with more than 6 letters55
Percentage of long words11.2%
Number of Syllables616
Average Syllables per Word1,25
Words with three Syllables18
Percentage Words with three Syllables3.7%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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