Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

What the Moon Saw-Twenty-Second Evening

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Twenty-Second Evening

I looked down upon Tyrol,” said the Moon, “and my beams caused the dark pines to throw long shadows upon the rocks. I looked at the pictures of St. Christopher carrying the Infant Jesus that are painted there upon the walls of the houses, colossal figures reaching from the ground to the roof. St. Florian was represented pouring water on the burning house, and the Lord hung bleeding on the great cross by the wayside. To the present generation these are old pictures, but I saw when they were put up, and marked how one followed the other. On the brow of the mountain yonder is perched, like a swallow’s nest, a lonely convent of nuns. Two of the sisters stood up in the tower tolling the bell; they were both young, and therefore their glances flew over the mountain out into the world. A travelling coach passed by below, the postillion wound his horn, and the poor nuns looked after the carriage for a moment with a mournful glance, and a tear gleamed in the eyes of the younger one. And the horn sounded faint and more faintly, and the convent bell drowned its expiring echoes.”

That was the twenty-second evening.


Tyrol as described in this story doesn’t exist anymore. These buildings spoken of in the story may or may not still exist, but the governmental region that was once Tyrol isn’t a thing anymore. WWII caused Tyrol to be divided. Tyrol had actually been around for quite while, just as the story describes. It was split from a larger governed region early in the 1000s and became Tyrol. Today Tyrol is partially in Austria and partially in Italy. South Tyrol, the Italian part of Tyrol, is a little different from other regions of Italy. The German-speaking citizens of South Tyrol have a little more governmental leverage than the Italian speaking citizens of other areas. Basically, the government in Tyrol is just a bit different because South Tyrol was annexed from Austria.

Growing up, there used to be a business in Helen, a Bavarian-esque town near where I grew up, called The House of Tyrol. I always thought it was a strange name, but now I know what its namesake was. The House of Tyrol no longer exists. In the early 1990s a tornado came through and basically leveled the place, although I believe it lived on for a short while after that.


The moon is waxing poetic about time in this story. He remembers seeing the iconography created in Tyrol, but now it’s all very old. The moon is looking at the march of time. We do that in our lives. We will often look back at an area and say to ourselves, “I remember when that used to be a field,” or in my case, “I remember when The House of Tyrol used to sit in this spot, but now it’s just a bunch of empty pavement.” Time goes on and so do we.


Why do you think younger people see further than older people?

Do you think the younger nun felt regret at becoming a nun?


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