the swineherd

During my childhood I read and re-read a fairy story by Hans Christian Anderson. It was called The Swineherd.

Wikipedia summarizes the story goes like this:

A poor prince wants to marry the Emperor's daughter and sends her two beautiful gifts, a nightingale and a rose. The princess rejects the humble gifts because they're real and natural, rather than artificial. The prince then disguises himself and applies for the position of swineherd at the palace. Once on the job, he creates a musical pot. The princess slogs through the mud to the swineherd's hut and pays ten kisses for the pot. When the swineherd follows the pot with the creation of a musical rattle, she pays one hundred kisses for it. The Emperor, disgusted that his daughter would kiss a swineherd for a toy, casts her out. The prince then washes his face, dons his royal raiment, and spurns the princess as her father did. The princess is left outside the palace door singing dolefully.

That princess lost the opportunity to marry a beautiful prince because of her shallow consumerist values. She couldn’t appreciate the power of a flawless rose or lovely birdsong. She preferred the glitziness of an expensive tacky toy.

Personally I would much rather go for a walk in a national park than go shopping in an airconditioned shopping mall - even at sale time. Give me flowers and birds any time over musical pots and rattles.

Image by Hans Holbien the Younger.
Design for a stained glass window with swinherd. c. 1518/19.


  1. What a delightful post and I agree nature over glitter any day well most days.

  2. Absolutely, gardens over shopping centres any day - but if there's a plant nursery involved?? Hope you have a beautiful Christmas, and on Christmas Eve when you leave a snack for the reindeer, I hope they share with the possums!

  3. This is a great story - I feel badly for the princess, but I guess she got her just desserts, right? Thanks for sharing this great story!

  4. Hi Catmint, Absolutely love being outdoors over shopping... unless, of course, there's a plant nursery and/or garden tour involved! ;-) Wishing you a Wonderful Christmas celebration!

  5. Hi Catmint, thanks for sharing this delightful story, so appropriate at this time of blatant consumerism. We understand the need for businesses to make sales, but it seems to have gotten out of hand.

    On a different, or is it?, note, I have just ordered and received some garden decor from a business that is near you called Burrd, on 3 Clive Street in Murrumbeena. Do you know that area? I got the order in five days, over a weekend, from there to Tennessee in the US. Incredible speed. I am curious about the business, since I found it online.

    Hope you are getting ready for a fabulous Christmas, with plenty of natural gift giving. :-)


  6. Nature does make the most exquisite beauties, but I confess that I really love air conditioning.
    I hope you have a great holiday season! We'll have a houseful of family visiting, should be great.

  7. Lovely story and values. More of the world should think like this. Merry Christmas.

  8. Thanks for sharing this wise fairy story. But you're right, we have to make exceptions for garden stuff! (LOL)

    Re - you made me laugh, I'm sure the Santa reindeer shared with the possums!

    Frances, How interesting - Murrumbeena is quite close by, but I have never heard of Burrd. I checked out their website, and they have wonderful products. And how amazing - to Tennessee in 5 days! What did you buy from them?
    Cheers, catmint

  9. Thanks Catmint, for reminding me to come back and see your answer about Burrd. I bought four terracotta finials shaped like onions that hold poles together like a tripod at the top. I am using them in the quadrants of the knot garden as vertical interest and to support tall lilies in the summer. I will be buying from this company again. They emailed me several times when the order was shipped and I let them know it was received and even sent a photo of the finials in the garden. I will be posting about them next week, after my company leaves and I can get back into the garden again. Do check them out. I would be interested to know more about them. :-)


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