Like all American young ladies, my childhood was filled with the enchanting stories of Disney princesses. One of my favorites was "The Little Mermaid." Once I learned that it was based on an old story written by Hans Christian Andersen, I had to read the original. During my 4th grade year, I acquired a hefty paperback containing his complete works. I read that thing cover to cover, and somewhere in that time, it broke in two. I carried one or both halves to school each day to occupy myself during free reading time. When I reached the story of "The Little Sea-Maid," my whole life changed.
It was the single most beautiful and painful thing I had ever encountered. The only word I've been able to formulate that totally encompasses that moment is "exquisite." Nothing was ever going to be the same. I've spent the last 20 years holding onto that fascination. Every once in awhile, when I see something so beautiful that my lungs stop working, I feel it again. And it reminds me that even in darkness, this world is a magical place.
"She had always been gentle and melancholy, but now she became much more so. Her sisters asked her what she had seen the first time she rose up to the surface, but she would tell them nothing."
"The little Sea-maid thought of the first time when she had risen up out of the sea, and beheld a similar scene of splendor and joy; and she joined in the whirling dance, and flitted on as the swallow flits away when he is pursued; and all shouted and admired her, for she had danced so prettily. Her delicate feet were cut as if with knives, but she did not feel it, for her heart was wounded far more painfully."
|"Now the sun rose up out of the sea. The rays fell mild and warm upon the cold sea-foam, and the little Sea-maid felt nothing of death. She saw the bright sun, and over her head sailed hundreds of glorious ethereal beings—she could see them through the white sails of the ship and the red clouds of the sky; their speech was melody, but of such a spiritual kind that no human ear could hear it, just as no human eye could see them; without wings they floated through the air. The little Sea-maid found that she had a frame like these, and was rising more and more out of the foam."|
What stories or books from your young life have impacted you?
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(All images were sourced from my Pinterest account.)