THE SNOW QUEEN
RETOLD BY SANDRA DERMARK
18TH OF MARCH, 2016
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH BY THE AUTHOR HERSELF
ON THE 2ND OF APRIL,
WORLD CHILDREN'S LITERATURE DAY:
Once upon a time,
there was a mirror
that only showed
the dark side of reality.
One day, it shattered,
and countless shards were scattered
across the Earth's athmosphere...
And two children, who were not siblings,
but whose friendship was
as strong as a blood tie,
were watching a sunset
when, suddenly, something
entered his left eye:
it was a shard of the mirror,
that lodged in his heart
and froze it to ice.
Ever since then, he had no eyes for beauty,
and he only sought perfection,
complete lack of feelings;
and ice crystals
seemed to him far more beautiful
than the misshapen flowers of plants...
And the Snow Queen
wanted to keep such a boy
for a son of her own,
and she came to him one winter evening
in her white carriage;
and, stealing a kiss from him,
she stripped him of his memories...
she brought that indifferent stripling
to her fortress of ice,
north of the Arctic Circle...
When springtime came,
the warmth of the sun reassured her
that he was still alive,
and thus, she went forth to seek him
across the wide world,
yet she stopped for a rest
at the home of a good witch,
though she was very lonely,
in whose garden it was always springtime
and there were all kinds of flowering plants...
And, after drinking a certain infusion,
she lost her memories as well,
and she enjoyed that Eden every day,
until she saw the white rose
that the witch had tucked among her locks:
her friend's favourite flower...
And then, the springtime
having segued into summer,
she resumed her quest...
The maiden kept on walking forwards
when she met a pair of crows
not far from the royal palace,
and she learned that the crown princess
was finally going to get married
to a young man from the provinces,
a dashing, bold, and clever one:
the only suitor
who had come just to engage in conversation with her,
the only one whose mind had not been clouded
by rococo splendour
when she opened the gates of the court
to find a spouse worthy of her.
Believing that this was her friend,
our heroine managed
to get a job as a maidservant;
but imagine her disappointment
when she saw that it was another stripling,
five years older.
Still, the royal family
had pity on the maiden:
they let her sleep in a guest-room,
they gave her costly winter clothing,
and they gave her a carriage
stocked with provisions, with an escort.
And she felt very thankful for
the kindness of royalty.
When summer turned to autumn,
within a gloomy forest,
the carriage fell into an ambush:
they butchered the entire escort,
and they would have slit our heroine's throat,
if the outlaw leader's daughter,
a wild, stubborn, dark-haired maiden,
had not interceded for her
or wanted her alive
to keep her as a friend or sister...
and thus, they merely took her prisoner
and brought her into their lair.
There, the outlaw maiden had,
for a steed, an old reindeer,
who, when the captive told her the tale
of her friend's disappearance,
told her that he had seen the stripling
in a white, flying open coach,
that was heading for the ice palace
of the Snow Queen.
The outlaw maiden heard the tale as well,
and, the next morning,
while everyone else was sleeping off their drinks,
she freed the reindeer and the captive,
giving them provisions,
and soon they left the woodlands behind
and rode deep into the tundra.
And the reindeer went to see a shaman,
and asked her for a way
to empower the maiden,
but the wise woman replied
that she already had a great power:
that of the warmth of her heart.
And they kept on riding
to the gates of the ice palace,
where the reindeer left the girl,
but she was surrounded
by a regiment of ice warriors.
She chanted a song of her childhood,
and the monsters retreated,
as she entered the icy fortress,
crossing vast, austere halls,
seeking her lost friend,
and at last she found him
in the endless throne room,
before an empty throne of ice
(for the Queen had returned southward
to bring the winter),
combining flat pieces of ice
in the most abstract of ways,
since, if he solved the puzzle,
he would regain his freedom.
Though she called him by his name,
with tears in her eyes,
in a broken voice,
he was still, indifferent;
until she embraced him,
pressed her chest to his,
and, sobbing, sang him that song.
Then, something stirred within him:
her warmth thawed that heart of his
and pulled back the little crystal shard into the bloodstream,
and the shard came out through his left eye,
inside a teardrop.
He embraced her and recognized her,
and, drunk with elation,
they solved the puzzle together, with four hands.
And, upon leaving the ice palace,
they left a glittering sun on the pavement,
without any captive prince by its side.
They got on the reindeer's back
and headed southward, homeward,
and they saw once more the outlaw maiden,
who had gone forth to see the wide world,
and she told them that the princess
had married her fiancé,
and both of them were on their honeymoon,
journeying across strange lands.
And, at last, the two young ones came
to the doors of their homes,
and they saw that springtime had returned,
and the roses were once more in bloom,
and their little chairs had become too small.
And they looked into one another's eyes,
and they kissed each other for an instant,
understanding everything at last.
They were adults, but children at heart;
and it was springtime,
a warm and lovely springtime.