Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Tinderbox


I have been listening to Patrick Wolf's EP Vulture which contains an overlooked song called The Tinderbox. This carries a special significance for me because as a child I starred as the soldier in our school play The Tinderbox, which of course is one of the more popular children's stories by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Tinderbox is a look at Romanticist Denmark through the viewpoint of a homebound soldier who by chance meets a Witch that commissions him to climb down into a tree and fetch a magical tinderbox. Down in the hollow tree he meets three dogs with eyes as big as saucers, mill weels and the Round Tower (a famous building in Copenhagen built by king Christian IV). He returns only to find the demand of the Witch unreasonable and thus chops off her head. The storyline then proceeds to portray the soldier's love for the Princess of the kingdom. This love is of course forbidden by the then contemporary societal conventions, causing lots of problems to the poor soldier.

Patrick Wolf has interpreted the story as a bittersweet lovestory.

And now I live alone in this dirty old attic
and my friends have no strength to climb up the stairs

so in the dark (dark), I spark (spark) a small box of tinder
and your love is ferried to here

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