The Happy Prince

1 Nov 2022

The statue of the Happy Prince stood high above
the city. It was covered with gold, its eyes were bright
blue jewels, and a red jewel hung from its waist.
Everyone thought that it was very beautiful.
‘Why aren’t you like the Happy Prince?’ mothers
said to their little boys when they cried.
Sad men looked at the statue and said, ‘I am glad
that someone in the world is happy.’
One night a little Swallow flew alone over the city.
His friends had gone away but he had stayed behind
for six weeks, ‘Where can I stay tonight?’ he thought.
Then he saw the statue. ‘I will stay there,’ he thought.
‘It is high up, so there is plenty of fresh air.’
He landed between the feet of the Happy Prince. ‘I
have a golden bedroom!’ he thought. But as he put his
head under his wing, a large drop of water fell on him.
He looked up ‘That, is very strange!’ he thought.
There is not a cloud in the sky, but it is raining!’
Then another drop fell. ‘I cannot stay on a statue
that does not keep me dry,’ he thought. ‘I must find
another place.’ And he decided to fly away. But as he
opened his wings, a third drop fell. He looked up and
saw - Ah! What did he see?
The eyes of the Happy Prince were full of tears.
Tears rolled down his golden face. The face was very
beautiful in the moonlight, and the Swallow felt sorry
for him.
‘Who are you?’ asked the bird.
‘I am the Happy Prince.’
‘Then why are you crying? I am wet with your
‘When I was alive,’ said the prince, ‘I had a heart
like every other man. But I did not know what tears
were. I lived in a palace where there was no sadness.
In the daytime I played with my friends in a beautiful
garden, and in the evening I danced. There was a high
wall round the garden. But I did not know what lay
on the other side. So I was called the Happy Prince. I
was pleased with my little world. Now I am dead, andthey have put me up here. I can see all the unhappiness
of my city. My heart now is made of a cheap metal.
But even that poor heart can feel, and so I cry.’
‘Oh,’ said the Swallow to himself, ‘he is not only
gold on the outside.’
‘Far away from here,’ said the Happy Prince in
a low voice, ‘there is a poor house in a little street.
Through an open window, I can see a woman at a
table. Her face is very thin and she has rough, red
hands. She is making a dress for one of the queen’s
ladies, for a dance in the palace. Her little boy is lying
on a bed in the corner of the room. He is very ill. He
is crying because she can only give him water from the
river. Little bird, will you take my red jewel to her? I
cannot move from here.’
‘My friends are waiting for me in Egypt,’ said the
‘Little bird, little bird,’ said the prince, ‘Please
stay! The boy is crying and his mother is so unhappy.’
The Happy Prince looked very sad, and the little
Swallow was sorry for him. ‘It is very cold here,’ he
said ‘but I will stay with you for one night. Tomorrow
I will take the jewel.’
‘Thank you, little bird,’ said the prince.
So, the Swallow took the great red jewel from the
prince’s waist and flew away with it over the roofs of
the town. He passed the palace and heard the sound
of dancing.
The bird passed over the river and flew and flew.
At last he came to the poor little house and looked
inside. The boy was lying on the bed. The mother was
asleep; she was so tired. He flew in and put the great
red jewel on the table. Then he flew round the bed,
moving the air around the boy’s face with his wings.
‘Oh,’ said the boy, my face does not feel so hot.
I think I am getting better.’ And he fell asleep.
Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy Prince.
‘It is strange,’ the Swallow said. ‘It is very cold, but
I feel quite warm.’
‘That is because you have done a good thing,’ said
the prince. The little Swallow fell asleep.
When day came, the Swallow flew down to the
river for a bath. A clever man saw him. ‘That is very unusual!’ he said. ‘That kind of bird, here in winter!
I must write that down!’
‘I will go to Egypt tonight,’ thought the Swallow.
When the moon came up, he flew back to the
Happy Prince. ‘Can I do anything for you in Egypt?’
he said.
‘Little bird, little bird,’ said the prince, ‘please will
you stay with me for one more night?’
‘My friends are waiting for me,’ answered the bird.
‘Far away across the city’, said the prince, ‘I can
see a young writer in a little room at the top of a
house. He is sitting at a table that is covered with
papers. At his side there are some dead flowers. He
is trying to finish a story. But he is very cold and he
cannot write. There is no fire in the room, and he is
weak and hungry.’
‘I will wait with you for one more night,’ said the
Swallow kindly. ‘What shall I take to him?’
‘Take him one of my eyes,’ said the prince. ‘They
are made of beautiful blue stones. ‘The young man can
sell it and buy wood and food. He can finish his story.’
‘Take out your eye, dear prince?’ said the Swallow.
‘I cannot do that!’ And he began to cry.
‘Do it!’ said the prince.
So the Swallow took out the prince’s eye and flew
away to the young man’s room. It was easy to get in
because there was a hole in the roof. The young man
was sitting with his head in his hands, so he did not
hear the bird’s wings. When he looked up, a beautiful
blue jewel was lying on the dead flowers.
‘Someone likes my stories!’ he cried happily. ‘This
is a gift from someone who has read my books, now
I can finish writing this story!’
On the next day the Swallow flew down to the
river. He watched the seamen working on the ships.
‘I am going to Egypt !’ he cried, but no one listened
to him.
When the moon came up, he flew back to the
Happy Prince. ‘I have come to say goodbye to you,’
he said.
‘Little bird, little bird,’ said the prince, ‘please will
you stay with me for one more night?’ ‘It is winter,’ answered the Swallow.’ The snow
will soon come. In Egypt the sun is warm and the
trees are green. Dear prince, I must leave you; but I
will never forget you.’
‘A little girl is standing there in the square below.
She is selling eggs. Her eggs have fallen on the ground
and they are broken. She has no money to take home.
Her father will hit her. Take out my other eye and
give it to her.’
‘I will stay with you for one more night,’ said the
Swallow, ‘but I cannot take out your other eye. You
will not be able to see!’
‘Do it!’ said the prince.
So the Swallow took out the prince’s other eye
and flew down with it. He flew to the girl and put
the jewel in her hand.
‘This is a beautiful piece of glass!’ cried the little
girl. She ran home, laughing.
Then the Swallow flew back to the prince. ‘You
cannot see now,’ he said,’ so I will stay with you.’
‘No,’ said the poor prince,’ ‘you must go to Egypt.’
‘I will stay with you,’ repeated the Swallow, and
he slept at the prince’s feet.
The next day he stayed with the prince. He told
the prince stories about the strange lands that he knew.
‘Dear little bird,’ said the prince, ‘you are telling
me about strange and wonderful things, but the suffering
of men and women is stranger than anything. Fly over
my city, little bird. Tell me what you see there.’
So the swallow flew over the great city. He saw
the poor people sitting at the gate. He flew into the
dark streets and saw the white faces of hungry children
with sad eyes. Under a bridge, two little boys were
lying close together to keep warm. ‘We are so hungry!’
they said. ‘You cannot lie there!’ shouted a guard.
Then the Swallow flew back and told the prince.
‘I am covered with fine gold,’ said the prince.
‘Take it off, piece by piece, and give it to my poor
The Swallow pulled off the gold, until the Happy
Prince looked grey and ugly. The Swallow took the gold
to the poor, and the children’s faces became brighter.‘We have bread now!’ they cried.
Then the snow came. Ice followed the snow, and
hung down from the roofs of the houses. Everyone
wore thick coats.
The little Swallow became colder. He did not leave
the prince, because he loved him very much. But he
was dying.
‘Goodbye, dear prince!’ he said.
‘I am glad that you are going to Egypt,’ said the
prince. ‘You have stayed too long.
‘I am not going to Egypt,’ said the Swallow. ‘I am
going to the House of God’. It fell down dead at his
feet. Then there was a strange sound inside the statue.
CRACK — the metal heart broke into two pieces.
Early next morning, an important man in the city
was walking below with two of his friends. He looked
up at the statue.’ The Happy Prince does not look very
bright!’ he said. ‘The red stone has disappeared, his
eyes are not there, and he is not golden. He looks like
a beggar.’
‘Yes he does!’ said the man’s friends.
‘Here is a dead Swallow at his feet!’ said the
officer. ‘We must make an order that birds cannot die
They pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince
and put it in the fire. A stream of bright metal ran out.
‘This is strange ! said the workmen. ‘This broken
piece in the middle of the statue has stayed hard. We
must throw it away.’ So they threw it away with the
dead bird.
God said to his servants, ‘Bring me the two best
things in the city.’ They brought Him the broken heart
and the dead bird.
‘Yes, you have brought the right things,’ God said.
‘This little Swallow will sing for ever in my garden,
and the Happy Prince will stand in my city of gold.’

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