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The Little Man at the Angel's Pillar

Close to the famous clock in the Cathedral of Strassburg there is a little man in stone gazing up at the angel's pillar which supports the south wing of the cathedral. Long ago the little man who is now sculptured in stone, stood there in flesh and blood. He used to stare up at the pillar with a keen eye from top to bottom and again from bottom to top. Then he would shake his head doubtfully each time.

It happened once that a sculptor passed the cathedral and saw the little man looking up, evidently comparing the proportions of the pillar.

"It seems to me you are finding fault with the pillar, my good fellow," the stone-cutter remarked, and the little man nodded.

"Well, what do you think of it? Speak out my man," said the master, tapping the fellow's shoulder encouragingly.

"The pillar is splendid," began the latter slowly, "the apostles, the angels, and the Lord are beautiful too. But there is one thing troubling me. The slender pillar cannot support that heavy vault much longer; it will soon totter and fall down, and all will go to pieces."

The sculptor looked alternately at the work of art and at its fault-finder. A contemptuous smile passed over his features. "You are quite convinced you are right, are not you?" he asked.

The man repeated his doubts.

"Well," cried the stone-cutter, "then you will remain there always, gazing at the pillar and waiting for it to sink down, crushed by the vault."

He went straight off into his workshop, seized hammer and chisel, and formed a stone statue of the little man looking upwards with a knowing face, with both hands leaning on the balustrade of St. Nicholas' chapel.

(Ruland 1906, 25-26. - The book references are in the collection's book list).

Against staring upwards and being overpowered by wights, that is, creatures, things, wizards, ghosts, spirits or other supernatural beings, spooky spectres or better: "Look not up in battle . . . lest the wights bewitch you with spells." (Havamal, v. 129, in Olive Bray's translation). The documentation of any of these is at best inconclusive, some might tell too. Beware of opinions . . .


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Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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