Djurgarden -
As seen by Hans Christian Andersen


From Hans Christian Andersen’s “Visit to Sweden”


Diurgarden is a large piece of land made into a garden by our Lord himself. Come with us over there. We are still in the city, but before the palace lie the broad hewn stone stairs, leading down to the water, where the Dalkulls—i.e., the Dalecarlian women—stand and ring with metal bells.


On board! here are boats enough to choose amongst, all with wheels, which the Dalkulls turn. In coarse white linen, red stockings, with green heels, and singularly thick-soled shoes, with the upper-leather right up the shin-bone, stands the Dalkull; she has ornamented the boat, that now shoots away, with green branches.

In Djurgarden houses and streets rise and unfold themselves; churches and gardens start forth; they stand on Södermalm high above the tops of the ships' masts. The scenery reminds one of the Bhosphorus and Pera; the motley dress of the Dalkulls is quite Oriental—and listen! the wind bears melancholy Skalmeie tones out to us. Two poor Dalecarlians are playing music on the quay; they are the same drawn-out, melancholy tones that are played by the Bulgarian musicians in the streets of Pera.

We stept out, and are in the Djurgarden.

What a crowd of equipages pass in rows through the broad avenue! and what a throng of well-dressed pedestrians of all classes! One thinks of the garden of the Villa Borghese, when, at the time of the wine feast, the Roman people and strangers take the air there. We are in the Borghese garden; we are by the Bosphorus, and yet far in the North. The pine-tree rises large and free; the birch droops its branches, as the weeping willow alone has power to do—and what magnificently grand oaks!

The pine-trees themselves are mighty trees, beautiful to the painter's eye; splendid green grass plains lie stretched before us, and the fiord rolls its green, deep waters close past, as if it were a river. Large ships with swelling sails, the one high above the other, steamers and boats, come and go in varied numbers.

Come! let us up to Byström's villa; it lies on the stony cliff up there, where the large oak-trees stand in their stubborn grandeur: we see from here the whole tripartite city, Södermalm, Nordmalm and the island with that huge palace. It is delightful, the building here on this rock, and the building stands, and that almost entirely of marble, a "Casa santa d'Italia," as if borne through the air here in the North. The walls within are painted in the Pompeian style, but heavy: there is nothing genial. Round about stand large marble figures by Byström, which have not, however, the soul of antiquity.

Madonna is encumbered by her heavy marble drapery, the girl with the flower-garland is an ugly young thing, and on seeing Hero with the weeping Cupid, one thinks of a pose arranged by a ballet-master.

Let us, however, see what is pretty. The little Cupid-seller is pretty, and the stone is made as flexible as life in the waists of the bathing-women. One of them, as she steps out, feels the water with her feet, and we feel, with her, a sensation that the water is cold. The coolness of the marble-hall realizes this feeling. Let us go out into the sunshine, and up to the neighbouring cliff, which rises above the mansions and houses. Here the wild roses shoot forth from the crevices in the rock; the sunbeams fall prettily between the splendid pines and the graceful birches, upon the high grass before the colossal bronze bust of Bellmann.

Djurgarden - This place was the favourite one of that Scandinavian improvisatore. Here he lay in the grass, composed and sang his anacreontic songs, and here, in the summer-time, his annual festival is held.

We will raise his altar here in the red evening sunlight. It is a flaming bowl, raised high on the jolly tun, and it is wreathed with roses. Morits tries his hunting-horn, that which was Oberon's horn in the inn-parlour, and everything danced, from Ulla to "Mutter paa Toppen:"[M] they stamped with their feet and clapped their hands, and clinked the pewter lid of the ale-tankard; "hej kara Sjæl! fukta din aske!" (Hey! dear soul! moisten your clay).

A Teniers' picture became animated, and still lives in song. Morits blows the horn on Bellmann's place around the flowing bowl, and whole crowds dance in a circle, young and old; the carriages too, horses and waggons, filled bottles and clattering tankards: the Bellmann dithyrambic clangs melodiously; humour and low life, sadness—and amongst others, about"—— hur ögat gretVed de Cypresser, som ströddes."


Painter, seize thy brush and palette and paint the Maenade—but not her who treads the winebag, whilst her hair flutters in the wind, and she sings ecstatic songs. No, but the Maenade that ascends from Bellmann's steaming bowl is the Punch's Anadyomene—she, with the high heels to the red shoes, with rosettes on her gown and with fluttering veil and mantilla—fluttering, far too fluttering!

She plucks the rose of poetry from her breast and sets it in the ale-can's spout; clinks with the lid, sings about the clang of the hunting horn, about breeches and old shoes and all manner of stuff. Yet we are sensible that he is a true poet; we see two human eyes shining, that announce to us the human heart's sadness and hope.


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