Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Tallow Candle fairy tale

The following is my summary of the fairy tale 'The Tallow Candle' by Hans Christian Andersen. I had only one translation (by Compass Languages) to work from, so whilst I was faithful to the story's events, for copyright reasons I've taken a lot of liberties with the story's voice.


When it came into the world, the tallow candle shone with beauty both angelic and pure. All who saw the candle imagined it would lead an extraordinary future. It was radiant white like its mother, a fair and dainty sheep. It longed for an eternal flame, like its father, a melting pot. The candle embraced life, but its innocent nature meant that it placed trust in others too easily.

Treated with carelessness and callousness, the candle was smeared in pitch black and lost its brilliance. Wicked people dirtied the candle’s appearance, but try as they might, the candle’s heart was out of their grasp. They threw the candle out in disgust.

Shouldering the dirt of the world, the tallow candle was unhappy and alone. Any goodness to be found dared not approach; people were scared of the candle’s blackness and thought it might corrupt their souls.

Deep in sorrow, the candle wondered what meaning could be found in its existence. Had it been brought into the world only to be used by darkness and poison those who meet it? It was beginning to think there was no way out, when somebody came with a warm and lovely flame. It was a tinderbox and it had the ability to see what others could not: the little white light that was buried inside the candle’s heart.

With the eternal flame it carried, the tinderbox melted away the candle’s blackness. Everything brightened in that newfound light. Goodness reached the tallow candle and at last it knew what true light looked and felt like. Together with the tinderbox, the candle embraced the world once again, so that others will know what true light looks and feels like, too.


Read the complete story by purchasing a collection of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales that has been professionally translated from the original Danish. The following book was consulted to write this summary:

Andersen, Hans Christian, Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales, ed. Jean Hersholt (San Diego: Canterbury Classics, 2014).