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The Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-cock
Grimm Märchen

The Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-cock - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 6 min

There were two cocks– one on the dung-hill, the other on the roof. They were both arrogant, but which of the two rendered most service? Tell us your opinion– we’ll keep to ours just the same though.

The poultry yard was divided by some planks from another yard in which there was a dung-hill, and on the dung-hill lay and grew a large cucumber which was conscious of being a hot-bed plant.

„One is born to that,“ said the cucumber to itself. „Not all can be born cucumbers. There must be other things, too. The hens, the ducks, and all the animals in the next yard are creatures too. Now I have a great opinion of the yard cock on the plank. He is certainly of much more importance than the weather-cock who is placed so high and can’t even creak, much less crow. The latter has neither hens nor chicks, and only thinks of himself and perspires verdigris. No, the yard cock is really a cock! His step is a dance! His crowing is music, and wherever he goes one knows what a trumpeter is like! If he would only come in here! Even if he ate me up stump, stalk, and all, and I had to dissolve in his body, it would be a happy death,“ said the cucumber.

In the night there was a terrible storm. The hens, chicks, and even the cock sought shelter. The wind tore down the planks between the two yards with a crash. The tiles came tumbling down, but the weather-cock sat firm. He did not even turn round, for he could not; and yet he was young and freshly cast, but prudent and sedate. He had been born old, and did not at all resemble the birds flying in the air– the sparrows, and the swallows; no, he despised them, these mean little piping birds, these common whistlers. He admitted that the pigeons, large and white and shining like mother-of-pearl, looked like a kind of weather-cock; but they were fat and stupid, and all their thoughts and endeavours were directed to filling themselves with food, and besides, they were tiresome things to converse with. The birds of passage had also paid the weather-cock a visit and told him of foreign countries, of airy caravans and robber stories that made one’s hair stand on end. All this was new and interesting. That is, for the first time, but afterwards, as the weather-cock found out, they repeated themselves and always told the same stories, and that’s very tedious, and there was no one with whom one could associate, for one and all were stale and small-minded.

„The world is no good!“ he said. „Everything in it is so stupid.“

The weather-cock was puffed up, and that quality would have made him interesting in the eyes of the cucumber if it had known it, but it had eyes only for the yard cock, who was now in the yard with it.

The wind had blown the planks, but the storm was over.

„What do you think of that crowing?“ said the yard cock to the hens and chickens. „It was a little rough– it wanted elegance.“

And the hens and chickens came up on the dung-hill, and the cock strutted about like a lord.

„Garden plant!“ he said to the cucumber, and in that one word his deep learning showed itself, and it forgot that he was pecking at her and eating it up.

„A happy death!“

The hens and the chickens came, for where one runs the others run too. They clucked, and chirped, and looked at the cock, and were proud that he was of their kind.

„Cock-a-doodle-doo!“ he crowed, „the chickens will grow up into great hens at once, if I cry it out in the poultry-yard of the world!“

And hens and chicks clucked and chirped!

And the cock announced a great piece of news.

„A cock can lay an egg! And do you know what’s in that egg? A basilisk. No one can stand the sight of such a thing; people know that, and now you know it too– you know what is in me, and what a champion of all cocks I am!“

With that the yard cock flapped his wings, made his comb swell up, and crowed again; and they all shuddered, the hens and the little chicks– but they were very proud that one of their number was such a champion of all cocks. They clucked and chirped till the weather-cock heard. He heard it; but he did not stir.

„Everything is very stupid,“ the weather-cock said to himself. „The yard cock lays no eggs, and I am too lazy to do so. If I liked, I could lay a wind-egg. But the world is not worth even a wind-egg. Everything is so stupid! I don’t want to sit here any longer.“

With that the weather-cock broke off; but he did not kill the yard cock, although the hens said that had been his intention. And what is the moral?

„Better to crow than to be puffed up and break off!

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“

„The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, published in 1854. The story revolves around the theme of vanity, pride, and social status, which were common topics in Andersen’s works.

The background to this story is rooted in the 19th-century Danish culture and social hierarchy. During this period, Denmark experienced a transition from an agrarian society to an industrialized nation, resulting in a shift in societal norms and values. Andersen often drew from his own experiences and observations of Danish society to create his stories, making them both relatable and relevant to his readers.

In „The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock,“ Andersen uses the characters of two roosters—a farmyard cock and a weather-cock mounted on a high tower—to highlight the contrasts between rural and urban life, as well as between the humble and the pretentious. The story addresses themes such as self-importance, class distinctions, and the importance of true worth over superficial appearances.
In the story, the farmyard cock, who lives among the hens and other farm animals, takes pride in his position and the importance of his role in waking up the farm every morning. He has a strong sense of purpose and is content with his life.

On the other hand, the weather-cock, situated atop a tall tower, looks down on the farmyard cock and the world below. He believes himself to be of higher status due to his elevated position and the fact that he is made of metal. However, the weather-cock does not have any real purpose or function besides indicating the direction of the wind.

One day, a terrible storm uproots the farmyard cock from his home and carries him up to the tower where the weather-cock resides. The two roosters engage in a conversation, during which the farmyard cock learns about the weather-cock’s vain and superficial existence. He realizes that true worth lies in one’s character and purpose, rather than in appearances or social standing.

Upon returning to the farm, the farmyard cock shares his newfound wisdom with the other animals, highlighting the importance of being true to oneself and finding meaning in one’s life. This story serves as a cautionary tale against pride and vanity, reminding readers to value substance over superficiality and not to judge others based on their appearance or social status.
The background of the story „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be viewed as an exploration of social dynamics, as well as a reflection of the values and ideals of the time. During Andersen’s life, social class and status were significant factors in people’s lives, and the divide between the rich and the poor was quite pronounced. The tale serves as a reminder to look beyond appearances and material wealth and instead focus on the true worth of a person, which is found in their character and the good they bring to the world.

The farmyard cock represents the working class or the common people, who may not have wealth or elevated social status but are nevertheless essential to the functioning of society. They possess a strong sense of purpose and community, and their contributions to the world around them have real value.

The weather-cock represents the aristocracy or the upper class, who may have wealth and status, but their contributions to society are often superficial or purely decorative. This character serves as a critique of those who place too much importance on appearances and social standing, without considering the more meaningful aspects of life.

Overall, the tale encourages readers to look past the superficial and appreciate the true value of people and their actions. It highlights the importance of humility, empathy, and recognizing the worth in others, regardless of their social status or material wealth.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“

„The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be interpreted in several ways, including as a commentary on social dynamics, the importance of humility, and the value of individual purpose.

Social dynamics: The story demonstrates the divide between the upper and lower classes, as represented by the weather-cock and the farm-yard cock, respectively. It serves as a reminder that appearances and social status do not determine a person’s worth, and that individuals from all walks of life can contribute meaningfully to society.

Humility: The farm-yard cock embodies humility, as he is content with his simple life and does not envy the weather-cock’s elevated position. In contrast, the weather-cock is vain and believes himself superior to the farm-yard cock. The story suggests that humility is a virtue and that self-importance can lead to isolation and misunderstanding.

Individual purpose: Each character in the story serves a unique purpose. The farm-yard cock wakes up the people and takes care of his hens, while the weather-cock indicates the direction of the wind. This can be interpreted as a reminder that everyone has a role to play in society, and that each person’s contributions, no matter how small, are valuable.

Authenticity: The farm-yard cock represents authenticity and genuine worth, as he is true to his nature and does not pretend to be something he is not. On the other hand, the weather-cock’s pride and superficiality serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of prioritizing appearances over substance.

The importance of perspective: The story illustrates that different perspectives can lead to misunderstandings and false judgments. The weather-cock looks down on the farm-yard cock, believing him to be inferior, while the farm-yard cock does not understand the weather-cock’s purpose. This tale serves as a reminder to keep an open mind and not to judge others based on appearances or misconceptions.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“

While „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“ might not be one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most well-known fairy tales, it has inspired several adaptations and references in various forms of media:

Children’s books: The story has been retold in various illustrated children’s books, with some adaptations simplifying the language to cater to a younger audience, while others maintain the original text.

Animated shorts: The tale has been adapted into animated short films and cartoons that bring the story to life visually. These adaptations often use vibrant colors and anthropomorphic characters to make the story more engaging for children.

Theater and puppet shows: The story has been adapted for the stage, with puppet shows and children’s theatre productions. These adaptations often include songs and interactive elements to keep the audience engaged and entertained.

Educational resources: The story has been used as a teaching tool in classrooms to help students explore themes such as humility, social dynamics, and the importance of perspective. Teachers may use the story as a starting point for discussions, writing exercises, or group activities.

Artwork: Various artists have been inspired by the tale and have created paintings, illustrations, and sculptures that depict the farm-yard cock and the weather-cock in different settings and styles. These artistic interpretations often explore the story’s themes and characters from a unique perspective.

While „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“ might not be as famous as some of Andersen’s other fairy tales, its themes and moral lessons continue to resonate with audiences, leading to various adaptations and reinterpretations over the years.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“

„The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock“ is a classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that has inspired numerous adaptations and retellings. Here are a few examples:

Animated adaptations: The story has been adapted into several animated films and TV shows, including the 1955 Soviet animated film „The Weather-Vane“ and the 1991 animated TV special „The Emperor’s New Clothes and Other Fairy Tales“ by Rankin/Bass.

Picture books: „The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock“ has been adapted into several picture books, including versions by Eric Carle and Paul Galdone.

Plays and musicals: The story has also been adapted into stage plays and musicals, such as the 2015 children’s musical „The Farmyard Cock and the Weathercock“ by composer Alexander L’Estrange.

Variations and retellings: The basic plot and themes of the story have been used in various adaptations and retellings, including „The Rooster Who Wanted to Fly“ by Barbara Gregorich and „The Crow and the Pitcher“ by Aesop.

Parodies and humorous adaptations: The story has been parodied and adapted in humorous ways, such as the 2017 YouTube video „The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock (In the Style of Edgar Allan Poe)“ by Benvolio Music Productions.

Overall, „The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock“ is a versatile story that has inspired a wide range of adaptations in various mediums and styles.

Summary of the plot

In „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock,“ Hans Christian Andersen tells the story of two roosters – one that lives in the farmyard, and another that sits atop a tower as a weather vane. Both roosters are proud of their positions and believe that they are the most important birds in the world.

The farmyard cock, responsible for waking up the farmer and his family every morning, believes his role is vital to the daily life of the farm. The weather-cock, on the other hand, thinks that he is superior because he is made of metal, cannot be eaten, and has a place high up on the tower, where he can see everything that happens.

One day, a large party is held at the mansion, and the weather-cock observes the celebrations from his lofty position. He sees the farmyard cock being brought to the table as a roasted dish, which makes him feel even more important and superior. However, as the evening progresses, the weather-cock gets blown down from his perch during a storm, and he realizes that he has no real influence or purpose, as he cannot control the weather or the wind.

As he lies on the ground, the weather-cock reflects on his own arrogance and the true value of the farmyard cock’s role. In the end, the story emphasizes the importance of humility and recognizing one’s own significance in the world.

——

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“

„The Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-cock“ is a fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who is renowned for his vast collection of fairy tales and stories, including „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ and „The Emperor’s New Clothes.“ Andersen’s stories are known for their captivating narratives, profound morals, and unique blend of fantasy and reality.

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, in 1805 and lived a humble life before achieving fame as a writer. He began publishing his fairy tales in the 1830s, drawing inspiration from folklore, as well as his own experiences and imagination. Andersen’s stories often explore themes of beauty, love, and the triumph of the human spirit, while also examining the darker aspects of human nature, such as greed, pride, and vanity.

„The Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-cock“ was first published in 1854 as part of a collection called „New Fairy Tales. Second Volume. First Collection“ (Nye Eventyr. Andet Bind. Første Samling). The story is lesser-known compared to some of Andersen’s other works but still conveys important messages and themes that are characteristic of his writing.

In this tale, Andersen employs the use of anthropomorphism, imbuing animals and objects with human characteristics, such as the yard cock, the weather-cock, and the cucumber. This technique allows him to explore complex themes and morals in a way that is engaging and accessible to readers of all ages. The story’s vivid imagery and engaging narrative make it a unique and thought-provoking addition to Andersen’s repertoire of fairy tales.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The farm-yard cock and the weather-cock“

„The Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-cock“ offers several interpretations that can be drawn from the story, exploring themes such as arrogance, pride, self-worth, and the importance of staying grounded.

Arrogance and Pride: Both the yard cock and the weather-cock are portrayed as arrogant characters, each believing they are superior to the other. The yard cock boasts about his abilities and presence, while the weather-cock looks down on other birds and the world in general. This theme cautions readers against arrogance and pride, as both characters are ultimately flawed in their beliefs.

Self-worth and Comparison: The cucumber admires the yard cock, wishing to be part of his world, even at the cost of its own life. This highlights the dangers of seeking validation from others and comparing oneself to others, as it can lead to a loss of self-worth and identity.

The Importance of Staying Grounded: The weather-cock’s detachment from the world below him serves as a metaphor for the danger of losing touch with reality and the people around us. The yard cock, on the other hand, remains connected to the hens and chicks, and as a result, he is admired by them. This theme emphasizes the importance of staying grounded and maintaining connections with others.

Self-expression vs. Detachment: The moral of the story, „Better to crow than to be puffed up and break off,“ encourages self-expression and warns against becoming detached and disdainful. The yard cock’s crowing demonstrates his confidence and ability to express himself, whereas the weather-cock’s detachment leads him to break away from his post. This interpretation suggests that it is better to embrace our strengths and express ourselves rather than becoming aloof and disengaged from the world around us.

In conclusion, „The Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-cock“ presents various interpretations that explore themes such as arrogance, pride, self-worth, and the importance of staying grounded. The story serves as a reminder to embrace our strengths and express ourselves, while also staying connected to others and the world around us.

Summary of the plot

„The Farm-yard Cock and the Weather-cock“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that tells the story of two arrogant cocks – one living in a farmyard and the other atop a roof as a weather-cock. The tale starts with a cucumber in a dung-hill, admiring the yard cock for his lively presence and wishing to be a part of his world, even at the cost of its own life.

One night, a violent storm damages the farm, tearing down the planks between the yards and breaking tiles from the roof. The weather-cock, though young and newly cast, remains unmoved, showing his prudence and sense of superiority over other birds. He finds the pigeons, sparrows, and swallows beneath him and only tolerates the tales of adventure from the birds of passage. However, he quickly becomes bored with their repetitive stories and starts to view the world as dull and uninteresting.

After the storm, the yard cock, along with the hens and chicks, enters the cucumber’s yard. The cucumber is overjoyed when the yard cock addresses it as a „garden plant“ and does not mind being eaten by him. The yard cock continues to boast about his abilities, announcing that he can lay an egg containing a basilisk – a creature so deadly that no one can withstand its gaze. The hens and chicks are in awe of the yard cock’s claim, and their admiration reaches the weather-cock.

Frustrated by the mundane world and feeling too lazy to lay even a wind-egg, the weather-cock decides to break off from his post, leaving the yard cock unharmed. The tale concludes with a moral: „Better to crow than to be puffed up and break off,“ reminding readers that it is better to be confident and express oneself than to become detached and disdainful.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, FR, IT,
Readability Index by Björnsson26
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index87.6
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level4.7
Gunning Fog Index7.7
Coleman–Liau Index7.4
SMOG Index8
Automated Readability Index4.5
Character Count4.573
Letter Count3.466
Sentence Count60
Word Count878
Average Words per Sentence14,63
Words with more than 6 letters100
Percentage of long words11.4%
Number of Syllables1.083
Average Syllables per Word1,23
Words with three Syllables41
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.7%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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