Speech at the burial of The Storytellerís Fountain Saturday Oct. 8 2011 at the Odense harbor
The old poet was sad. He heard that
he had to move today, and blessed he was so happy of where he was sitting. He
was sitting in the outskirts of the loveliest place in town, every day a bunch
of people came, children and adults, old and young and many from countries far
away, yes that, he could hear. They talked and laughed and were more than
willing to be photographed with an arm around his knee or a hand in his big hand.
Yes it was a wonderful life for the old poet - but he had to move now - and he didn't know where to or why.
To know this we have to go back in time some years, it gives us prior knowledge and thatís good to have.
His memory wasn't what it had been, but as far as he remembered it started the year before his 200th birthday.
A curly haired artist from town had come forth with a suggestion to make a magnificent sculpture with him in the centre Ė of course - but surrounded by all of his fairy tale characters and with room for everything that could be told and heard and this was the whole idea of this - and he himself should be seated with his feet in water. He found it marvelous - finally he got to take off the constricting galoshes.
It was a marvelous idea - everyone
agreed on it - well, maybe not everyone - but the city council decided that
they wanted The Storytellerís Fountain, as it was called. Excited citizens
started collecting money for the big project, and they started a collection committee.
The chairman of the committee was a small woman and those who thought, that she probably wasn't good for anything special, were so very wrong.
It led to a great deal of idle chatter in relation with his big birthday. There was another - and a lot finer artist - some said - that wanted to make a sculpture of him as well. The city council got excited about this - it was the greatest fellow-townsman that turned 200, so they agreed that they wanted both sculptures.
So many things happened in the year of his birthday that he got completely overwhelmed. He never thought he could get too much attention, but this had been slightly over the edge. The thing he remembers best is a black lightly dressed female singer - he liked her - but she had been expensive from what he understood.
The birthday was finally over and he
got to take a good long nap on top of it. He woke up sometime in 2006 for some
The city council had granted 4 million quarters of a pound for the great Fountain. There was great happiness. The mayor had a picture taken of himself holding the check for the city times newspaper, and as if that wasn't enough, and it wasn't, a private fund by the name of Nielsen came by and gave 2.5 million. Together with the money the committee had collected from the city's citizens there was now enough money to make the big project a reality.
Everyone was happy - well, maybe not everyone - but he knew very well from his own life - there will always be some who think they know better. There was no reason to let that get to you - the only thing missing now was finding out where he should be seated - that is where the Storytellerís Fountain should be placed. The city officials got told to figure that out - and the curly haired artist, the committee and he himself waited anxiously.
And the old poet waited and waited and waited. He couldn't understand that it had to take such a long time - yes, he should probably be seated in the best place in town - but no, nobody even asked him.
The committee for the Storytellerís Fountain came with one suggestion after another as to where the sculpture should be placed, but they didn't get an answer. It was really odd. It was as if the city council and all the city officials had gone into a deep slumber. Or maybe they thought that if they were completely silent and didn't say or do anything in a couple of years, then everyone, even the curly artist would forget about the project.
But why is that - he couldn't quite figure it out, but he had noticed that the city's art consultant for finer art more than once had stood at his sculpture together with one and then another member of the city council. He - the art consultant for finer art shook his head every time and said "well, what can you expect, the man is nothing but a simple blacksmith." and the one city council member looked at the sculpture and said "But - He isn't wearing any shoes" and the next said "No good - away with it"
When three years had passed and there still wasn't any answer, but in the meantime a great storm had come across the country - an international financial crisis and the committee and the curly haired artist got summoned for a meeting with the city council. They told him that the board of the city's treasure trove, had forgotten to get the millions from the Nielsenís foundation locked into the treasure trove and the fund had now gone down and the money was lost. They asked the artist if he could make the sculpture a little smaller, and he cut off a heel and chopped off a toe and made the old poet smaller - the poet did not like this one bit.
Another year passed with nothing happening, but then one day the committee and the artist got summoned to another meeting. They told him that the city needed to save money and that they didn't want to use the 4 million on art, because there were more squares and streets in the city that desperately needed renewal, but they did want to give 1 million to the project.
What can you make for 199.50 quarters of a pound? - they then asked. The chairman of the committee stood up tall and it was now clear to everyone that she was a giant in reality, disguised as a small woman.
Are you out of your mind, she said right at their open faces, you can't make art for 199.50 quarters of a pound.
The curly haired artist did think that he could cut off another heel and another toe, and made the poet even smaller.
The old poet had been really angry that day. If you make me as much as an inch smaller, I'll never sit model for you again he told the artist, and the artist understood why.
And now they waited again, the artist, the committee and the old poet and all of those who had given money to the project, to get told where the now, quite small sculpture, should be placed. The committee came with some more suggestions, but it was as if the city council and all of the city officials had fallen into a deep slumber once again and they didn't get the least bit excited about all of the committeeís suggestions.
Then one day, in this year of the Lord we are in now, the artist and the committee got invited for a meeting at the town hall. The chairman for arts management smiled and said: we redefined the project a little - the curly haired artist suspected something might be amiss Ė no, no, calm down, said the chairman - the sculpture itself is intact it won't get any smaller we just redefined the idea a little. We now call the piece "Find Hans Christian" and we have 4 suggestions for places where nobody - guaranteed nobody - will find it. Then the chairman junior discreetly poked the chairman and whispered him something in the ear. I mean, said the chairman, where it will be an exciting challenge to find the sculpture, and it fits perfectly into the city's play concept "to play is to live".
"Find Hans Christian" - isn't it brilliant - I came up with it myself.
What happened then the old poet can't quite remember, for he had gotten so incredibly angry by the thought that he was going to be hidden away - he might not be the most famous fellow-townsman. Luckily both the committee and the curly haired artist put their foot down as well and said then it didn't matter anyway.
And now he was sitting here. Well actually he was hanging, and he didn't like it very much. Where he was going? What did they have in mind? Why was he here above the water? Should he be placed at the entrance to the harbor, as a landmark for the city?
At this point the H.C.A. sculpture should be hanging 10 meters above the docks.
At this point I think we should break the story and go over to dialog. The spokesman should pretend that she has an earpiece and that HCA starts shouting to her that he wants to go down.
And then the music starts playing and there will be burial beer sausages and soup.
Meanwhile the HCA sculpture is sitting out in the docks with water at his neck watching us - after half an hour we pack up our stuff and go home.