Ole-Luk-Oie, The Dream God
written by Hans Christian Andersen
One of the more well-known fairy tale authors, Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author in the 1800’s. He wrote Ole-Luk-Oie (or Ole Lukøje in other versions) and published it originally on December 20, 1841 by C. A. Reitzel. Not one of his well-known works, the tale is based off of the mythical creature, the Sandman, who takes children off to sleep and gives them dreams.
Other versions of this tale exist in Western and Northern European folklore, where this being is referred to as: Jon, or John Blund (Swedish), Wee Willie Winkie (Scottish), Klaas Vaak (The Netherlands), Dormette (France), Billy Winker (Lancashire), as well as Morpheus (the Greek god of dreams).
This tale has been paraphrased in my own words from the original version.
Ole-Luk-Oie knows more stories in the world than anyone. Every evening, he sneaks into houses and gently blows dust in children’s eyes and on the back of their necks to make their heads droop. But he is not menacing, for he loves children, and wants to give them nice stories to dream of when they sleep. He wears beautiful color-changing clothes, and carries an umbrella in each arm that have pictures on the inside. One has nice pictures which he spreads over the good children, the other has no pictures, which is spread over the naughty children so they do not dream.
Ole-Luk-Oie visited a boy named Hjalmar for an entire week, and shared with him seven stories.
On Monday, Ole-Luk-Oie decorates Hjalmar’s room to look like a greenhouse. Although the room was beautiful, dismal noises came from the desk where Hjalmar stored his school books. Curious, Ole-Luk-Oie went to investigate. He found a writing slate with terrible math, and an alphabet copy-book with poor writing. Seeing the state in which the letters were, he made them practice standing how they stood. But the next morning, Hjalmar found them looking as bad as before.
On Tuesday, Ole-Luk-Oie made Hjalmar’s furniture speak. A picture of large tree began to chirp with birds. Ole-Luk-Oie helped Hjalmar into the picture frame. He felt the sun on his face and ran down to the water and into a boat pulled by six swans sat. They sailed down the river, passing all sorts of magical landscapes. Great palaces with princes and princesses passed. He landed in the town where his nurse from when he was young resided. She sang to him and the landscape around them joined in.
On Wednesday, it was raining, and filled Hjalmar’s room with water up to the window-sill. A beautiful ship sat outside the house and Ole-Luk-Oie invited the boy to sail with him to foreign countries that night. In their travels, they came across a flock of storks. One being too tired to keep up, dropped to the ship, where Hjalmar put in him a pen with other fowl. The stork told the other birds stories of Africa, but they were not nice to the him and made fun of his long legs. Now rested, Hjalmar let the stork out of the pen and to continue on his journey. Because of their cruelness, Hjalmar told the birds that the next day they would be made into soup.
On Thursday, brought a mouse to Hjalmar who invited him to come to a mouse wedding taking place under his mother’s store-room. Ole-Luk-Oie shrank the boy and dressed him in finery. The mouse pulled him to the wedding in a thimble. He observed the grand event, then returned back to his room.
On Friday, Ole-Luk-Oie told Hjalmar how many old people wanted to pay him to give them good dreams. Their evil deeds haunted them at night, but he wouldn’t work for money. Ole-Luk-Oie took Hjalmar to the hundred and first wedding of his sister’s two dolls, Herman and Bertha. The couple decided to go to the sand-pit in the front of the gate for their honeymoon.
On Saturday, Ole-Luk-Oie was tasked with making the whole world beautiful, for tomorrow was Sunday. He told Hjalmar that he had to take down the stars to polish them. But Hjalmar’s great-grandfather hanging in a portrait told him not to tell the boy lies. Ole-Luk-Oie told him that he is an ancient heathen that the Romans and Greeks called the Dream-god, and that he knows how to conduct himself. Great-grandfather was disgruntled at the response.
On Sunday, Ole-Luk-Oie showed Hjalmar his brother, who only visits a person but once. He takes them away on his horse, and tells him stories on the ride. His brother, called Ole-Luk-Oie was also called Death. Hjalmar watched as the picked up people and placed them on his horse, and checked their mark books. Two stories are told of his brother, one being beautiful, the other terrifying. But Ole-Luk-Oie tells Hjalmar that if he keeps a good conduct book, then he has nothing to fear.
Ole-Luk-Oie, The Dream God is a sweet little fairy tale about the Sandman, an elusive mythical being that coaxes children to sleep each night. He comes and gives beautiful dreams to the good, and no dreams to the naughty. Steeped in creativity, this fairy tale has something for every generation to draw from.
For seven days, Ole-Luk-Oie visits a boy named Hjalmar, and takes him all sorts of adventures through dreamland. He visits faraway places, attends a mouse wedding, and then a doll wedding, and learns how Ole-Luk-Oie prepares the world for each Sunday. One the last night of his visit, Ole-Luk-Oie introduces Hjalmar to his brother, also called Ole-Luk-Oie (aka Death). I thought the tale was going to end with the boy dying, but it didn’t. I almost started tearing up! He explains that one is visited by his brother only once, and that visit is either beautiful or terrifying, depending on the life each person leads.
The moral of the story is this: what you do in life will come back to haunt you. At a point in the tale, Ole-Luk-Oie shares with Hjalmar that many old people try to bribe him to come to their houses to give them good dreams because the choices they have made in life haunt them at night. Hjalmar, being young and innocent, does not fear Death when he sees him because his conduct book is clean.
For being such a simple tale, it was full of whimsy and has learning points for all.
My Rating: ★★★★★