....In my opininon, anyway.
The story is in the public domain so I shall reproduce it for you herein in full. It can also be found
Merry Christmas, ATS/BTS.
The Happy Prince
By Oscar Wilde
From The Happy Prince and Other Tales,
THE HAPPY PRINCE
High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the
Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine
gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby
glowed on his sword-hilt.
He was very much admired indeed. "He is as beautiful as a
weathercock," remarked one of the Town Councillors who wished to
gain a reputation for having artistic tastes; "only not quite so
useful," he added, fearing lest people should think him
unpractical, which he really was not.
"Why can't you be like the Happy Prince?" asked a sensible mother
of her little boy who was crying for the moon. "The Happy Prince
never dreams of crying for anything."
"I am glad there is some one in the world who is quite happy,"
muttered a disappointed man as he gazed at the wonderful statue.
"He looks just like an angel," said the Charity Children as they
came out of the cathedral in their bright scarlet cloaks and their
clean white pinafores.
"How do you know?" said the Mathematical Master, "you have never
"Ah! but we have, in our dreams," answered the children; and the
Mathematical Master frowned and looked very severe, for he did not
approve of children dreaming.
One night there flew over the city a little Swallow. His friends
had gone away to Egypt six weeks before, but he had stayed behind,
for he was in love with the most beautiful Reed. He had met her
early in the spring as he was flying down the river after a big
yellow moth, and had been so attracted by her slender waist that he
had stopped to talk to her.
"Shall I love you?" said the Swallow, who liked to come to the
point at once, and the Reed made him a low bow. So he flew round
and round her, touching the water with his wings, and making silver
ripples. This was his courtship, and it lasted all through the
"It is a ridiculous attachment," twittered the other Swallows; "she
has no money, and far too many relations"; and indeed the river was
quite full of Reeds. Then, when the autumn came they all flew
After they had gone he felt lonely, and began to tire of his lady-
love. "She has no conversation," he said, "and I am afraid that
she is a coquette, for she is always flirting with the wind." And
certainly, whenever the wind blew, the Reed made the most graceful
curtseys. "I admit that she is domestic," he continued, "but I
love travelling, and my wife, consequently, should love travelling
"Will you come away with me?" he said finally to her; but the Reed
shook her head, she was so attached to her home.
"You have been trifling with me," he cried. "I am off to the
Pyramids. Good-bye!" and he flew away.
All day long he flew, and at night-time he arrived at the city.
"Where shall I put up?" he said; "I hope the town has made
Then he saw the statue on the tall column.
"I will put up there," he cried; "it is a fine position, with
plenty of fresh air." So he alighted just between the feet of the
"I have a golden bedroom," he said softly to himself as he looked
round, and he prepared to go to sleep; but just as he was putting
his head under his wing a large drop of water fell on him. "What a
curious thing!" he cried; "there is not a single cloud in the sky,
the stars are quite clear and bright, and yet it is raining. The
climate in the north of Europe is really dreadful. The Reed used
to like the rain, but that was merely her selfishness."
Then another drop fell.
"What is the use of a statue if it cannot keep the rain off?" he
said; "I must look for a good chimney-pot," and he determined to
But before he had opened his wings, a third drop fell, and he
looked up, and saw--Ah! what did he see?
The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled with tears, and tears were
running down his golden cheeks. His face was so beautiful in the
moonlight that the little Swallow was filled with pity.
"Who are you?" he said.
"I am the Happy Prince."
"Why are you weeping then?" asked the Swallow; "you have quite
"When I was alive and had a human heart," answered the statue, "I
did not know what tears were, for I lived in the Palace of Sans-
Souci, where sorrow is not allowed to enter. In the daytime I
played with my companions in the garden, and in the evening I led
the dance in the Great Hall. Round the garden ran a very lofty
wall, but I never cared to ask what lay beyond it, everything about
me was so beautiful. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and
happy indeed I was, if pleasure be happiness. So I lived, and so I
died. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that
I can see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city, and
though my heart is made of lead yet I cannot chose but weep."
"What! is he not solid gold?" said the Swallow to himself. He was
too polite to make any personal remarks out loud.
"Far away," continued the statue in a low musical voice, "far away
in a little street there is a poor house. One of the windows is
open, and through it I can see a woman seated at a table. Her face
is thin and worn, and she has coarse, red hands, all pricked by the
needle, for she is a seamstress. She is embroidering passion-
flowers on a satin gown for the loveliest of the Queen's maids-of-
honour to wear at the next Court-ball. In a bed in the corner of
the room her little boy is lying ill. He has a fever, and is
asking for oranges. His mother has nothing to give him but river
water, so he is crying. Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow, will you
not bring her the ruby out of my sword-hilt? My feet are fastened
to this pedestal and I cannot move."
"I am waited for in Egypt," said the Swallow. "My friends are
flying up and down the Nile, and talking to the large lotus-
flowers. Soon they will go to sleep in the tomb of the great King.
The King is there himself in his painted coffin. He is wrapped in
yellow linen, and embalmed with spices. Round his neck is a chain
of pale green jade, and his hands are like withered leaves."
"Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "will you not
stay with me for one night, and be my messenger? The boy is so
thirsty, and the mother so sad."
"I don't think I like boys," answered the Swallow. "Last summer,
when I was staying on the river, there were two rude boys, the
miller's sons, who were always throwing stones at me. They never
hit me, of course; we swallows fly far too well for that, and
besides, I come of a family famous for its agility; but still, it
was a mark of disrespect."
But the Happy Prince looked so sad that the little Swallow was
sorry. "It is very cold here," he said; "but I will stay with you
for one night, and be your messenger."
"Thank you, little Swallow," said the Prince.
So the Swallow picked out the great ruby from the Prince's sword,
and flew away with it in his beak over the roofs of the town.
He passed by the cathedral tower, where the white marble angels
were sculptured. He passed by the palace and heard the sound of
dancing. A beautiful girl came out on the balcony with her lover.
"How wonderful the stars are," he said to her, "and how wonderful
is the power of love!"
"I hope my dress will be ready in time for the State-ball," she
answered; "I have ordered passion-flowers to be embroidered on it;
but the seamstresses are so lazy."
He passed over the river, and saw the lanterns hanging to the masts
of the ships. He passed over the Ghetto, and saw the old Jews
bargaining with each other, and weighing out money in copper
scales. At last he came to the poor house and looked in. The boy
was tossing feverishly on his bed, and the mother had fallen
asleep, she was so tired. In he hopped, and laid the great ruby on
the table beside the woman's thimble. Then he flew gently round
the bed, fanning the boy's forehead with his wings. "How cool I
feel," said the boy, "I must be getting better"; and he sank into a
Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy Prince, and told him what
he had done. "It is curious," he remarked, "but I feel quite warm
now, although it is so cold."
"That is because you have done a good action," said the Prince.
And the little Swallow began to think, and then he fell asleep.
Thinking always made him sleepy.
When day broke he flew down to the river and had a bath. "What a
remarkable phenomenon," said the Professor of Ornithology as he was
passing over the bridge. "A swallow in winter!" And he wrote a
long letter about it to the local newspaper. Every one quoted it,
it was full of so many words that they could not understand.
"To-night I go to Egypt," said the Swallow, and he was in high
spirits at the prospect. He visited all the public monuments, and
sat a long time on top of the church steeple. Wherever he went the
Sparrows chirruped, and said to each other, "What a distinguished
stranger!" so he enjoyed himself very much.
When the moon rose he flew back to the Happy Prince. "Have you any
commissions for Egypt?" he cried; "I am just starting."
"Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "will you not
stay with me one night longer?"
[con't in next post]
[edit on 12/18/09 by silent thunder]