Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Most Incredible Thing

The Most Incredible ThingThe Most Incredible Thing

It was decreed that if a man could come up with the most incredible thing he would marry the princess and have half the kingdom. Men stepped forward with projects. The most wonderful thing was a clock. Upon each hour a figure would come out the clock. There was Moses and there was Adam and Eve. All manner of wonderful things came out of the clock. One man decided that to destroy the clock would be the most wonderful thing, so he destroyed it.

The judges agreed that destroying the clock was the most wonderful thing and that he should marry the princess. At the wedding, the clock made an appearance and looked as it did when it was new. The figure of Moses came out of the clock and dropped his stone tablets upon the feet of the groom. The Moses figure said he could not pick up the tablets because the man had broken his arms off.

The princess called for the real groom, the man who had made the clock. He was brought forth and married to the princess and not one person was jealous of him and that was the most incredible thing.


Clocks are some complicated stuff. There are so many moving pieces that when someone says something is “running like clockwork” it’s a high compliment. There was an age when clocks got fancy. There would be figures that moved around when the hour struck like a Cuckoo or little figures that came out and kissed, whatever the case may be. Mostly, there was only one action to the clock. The action may have been repeated, but usually there was just one set of figures, or whatever the case may be. For this clock to have different figures and different actions for each hour, would have been incredibly impressive and almost impossible.


Destroying something is not the most incredible thing. To be praised for destruction is not high praise. Being praised for destruction means the people praising you aren’t exactly right in the head. There is something about destruction that fascinates people, but destruction, is generally not something that should be praised. In destruction, you’re destroying someone’s hard work. Maybe it’s your own, maybe it’s someone else’s–ultimately, it doesn’t matter. You’re still undoing and negating the work someone did. We should not praise destruction.

People went along with this praise of destruction for a bit, just as we all might if we got caught up in the moment, but then, the creation’s magnificence reminded people how great it had really been. They were reminded at what a sorrow it was that it was destroyed. Afterward, the creator of the wonderful clock was put back in this place of honor.

We have done this in history. Things of antiquity have been destroyed because we got carried away in destroying things, for whatever reason, usually war, and later on, we end up praising the person or people who made the thing that was destroyed. We mourn the loss of this piece of art or this building and so forth, even though we’re the ones who destroyed it when we got carried away in destruction lust. It’s better not to destroy something if you can help it. It’s better to leave something be.


If you see something great and wonderful, it’s not a good thing to destroy it.

Weigh In

Do you think teenagers often have destruction lust?

Do you think we all have a bit of destruction lust in us?


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