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The Happy Prince, Class 9 English Explanation, summary, Question Answers

By Ruchika Gupta


CBSE Class 9 English Moments Lesson 5 - The Happy Prince

CBSE Class 9 English Moments Lesson - The Happy Prince.  Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of the difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered.

CBSE Class 9 Moments Lesson 5 - The Happy Prince

[Oscar Wilde]



Introduction to the lesson

This story is about a Prince. When the prince was alive, he was very happy. After his death, a big statue of his was erected on a pedestal. From there, the statue of Prince could see the entire city and at that time he saw the miseries of the people. He saw the poor people, the homeless, their hunger, and starvation. The Prince was sad to see all these miseries, sadness of the people. So in this chapter we will study the story of this prince.





See Video for Explanation and Summary of the Lesson


Lesson and Explanation

HIGH above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword hilt.


gilded: to covered with something,  coating of something
hilt: the handle of a weapon or tool, especially a sword, dagger, or knife

The statue of a prince stood on a high platform, overlooking the city. This prince was called a Happy Prince because when he was alive, he always remained very happy. Upon his death, a big statue of his was erected in the center of the city in his remembrance. The statue of this happy prince was covered with thin layers of gold and instead of eyeballs, there were two bright, shining sapphire stones. In the handle of his sword, a bright ruby stone was placed.


One night there flew over the city a little swallow. His friends had gone away to Egypt six weeks before, but he had stayed behind; then he decided to go to Egypt too.

swallow: a tiny bird

Swallow is a tiny bird. Although it is not a human being, still the writer is referring to it as ‘he’ and ‘his’. He says that all the friends of this swallow had flown away to Egypt six weeks ago. This bird did not go with them. But later, it thought of going to Egypt to his friends. So, it was on its way to Egypt.

All day long he flew, and at night time he arrived at the city.
“Where shall I put up?” he said. “I hope the town has made preparations.”

Put up means where to live for the night

This bird kept on flying on its way to Egypt and at night it reached the city, the city of the Happy Prince. It wanted to stay somewhere for the night. It thinks upon where to stay at night. The bird says that hopefully, the city has made some arrangements for it to stay.  Obviously the bird does not mean what it is saying. We can say that probably the bird is being humorous.  

Then he saw the statue on the tall column.
“I will put up there,” he cried. “It is a fine position with plenty of fresh air.” So he alighted just between the feet of the Happy Prince.

Alighted: descended

Now when this tiny bird saw this huge statue of the Happy Prince, it thought of staying there for the night.
So the bird thought that it was a good place spend the night. There was shelter and a lot of fresh air. So, the bird came and alighted. It stopped and sat in between the feet of the statue of the Happy Prince.

“I have a golden bed-room,” he said softly to himself as he looked round, and he prepared to go to sleep; but just as he was putting his head under his wing a large drop of water fell on him.  “What a curious thing!” he cried. “There is not a single cloud in the sky, the stars are quite clear and bright, and yet it is raining.”
Then another drop fell.

curious: strange

When the bird sat in between the feet of the happy prince it was surrounded with gold. So, it thought that it had a bedroom made of gold because it was surrounded by gold all around. As it was about to sleep, as it was putting its head under the wing, suddenly, a large drop of water fell on it. The bird was surprised because all of a sudden, a drop of water fell on it. It thought that neither was it raining nor the rainy season was going on. The swallow could not believe this because the sky was not cloudy and stars were shining. Just then, another drop of water fell on it.


“What is the use of a statue if it cannot keep the rain off ?” he said. “I must look for a good chimney pot,” and he determined to fly away.

The swallow thought that the statue was useless because it was not able to protect it from the rain. So he thought he should not sleep under the statue. The swallow thought that it was better if it took shelter in a chimney of a house. And thought to move away from there because the statue was not able to protect from the rain.

But before he had opened his wings, a third drop fell, and he looked up, and saw — Ah! What did he see?

Before the bird flew away, the third drop of water fell on him and it looked up. What did he see? Let’s find out.

The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled with tears, and tears were running down his golden cheeks. His face was so beautiful in the moonlight that the little swallow was filled with pity.
“Who are you?” he said.
“I am the Happy Prince.”

As soon as the bird looked up, he saw that the eyes of the Happy Prince’s statue were filled with tears. These drops of water were the tear drops falling off the statue’s golden cheeks. When swallow looked at Happy Prince’s face, it was looking beautiful in the moonlight. The little bird’s heart was filled with pity for the weeping statue. It asked the statue that who it was. The statue replied that it was the ‘Happy Prince’.  

“Why are you weeping then?” asked the swallow.  “You have quite drenched me.”

drenched: soaked with water

The swallow thought that the statue was of the Happy Prince but it was crying. The bird asked the statue that why it was crying. It added that it had soaked it with it’s tears.

“When I was alive and had a human heart,” answered the statue, “I did not know what tears were, for I lived in the Palace, where sorrow is not allowed to enter. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and happy indeed I was. So I lived, and so I died. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see the ugliness and all the misery of my city, and though my heart is made of lead yet I cannot choose but weep.”

misery: sadness

The Happy Prince narrated his story to the swallow. The Happy prince said that when he was alive and he had a human heart, human heart means the heart which beats, is alive, at that time he was not aware what tears were and what sorrow was as he lived in a palace where there was happiness all around.  All the people who used to work in his court, used to call him Happy Prince because he used to be happy all the time and he had not seen sorrow at all. And he said that he lived happily and died in happiness only.
When he had a human heart, he never cried. He was not aware what tears were because he had seen happiness only and never faced any sorrow. Now when he was dead, they had put him so high, in the form of a statue on a pedestal that he could see the whole city and the ugliness of the city. He could see that there were so many people living in misery - lack of food, hunger, money, homelessness. Now when the statue’s heart was made of lead - a metal, although it did not have any feelings, then also when it saw all the sadness, it became sad and wept.

‘What! Is he not solid gold?’ said the swallow to himself. He was too polite to make any personal remarks.

When the Happy Prince was telling his sad story, the swallow was thinking about something else in his mind. The bird wondered that the statue of the prince was not made of solid gold. It was surprised. It thought that from outside the statue was covered with gold but as it said that the heart was made of lead and not of gold. It realized that it was hollow and was not made of solid gold. It saw that the statue was very sad and was crying, so he did not make any personal remarks. It did not comment anything about the statue because it was giving the value to the statue’s feelings.

“Far away,” continued the statue in a low musical voice, “far away in a little street there is a poor house. One of the windows is open, and through it I can see a woman seated at a table. Her face is thin and worn, and she has coarse, red hands, all pricked by the needle, for she is a seamstress.

coarse: rough
seamstress: a woman who makes a living by sewing.

The statue continued its story. It spoke in a very musical voice that far away there was a house of a poor woman. The window of her house was open and it could see through the window that she was sitting near the table. Her face was thin and she was tired. Her hands were rough and had become red because they had been pricked by the needle. The woman was a seamstress.

She is embroidering flowers on a satin gown for the loveliest of the Queen’s maids of honour, to wear at the next Court ball. In a bed in the corner of the room her little boy is lying ill. He has a fever, and is asking his mother to give him oranges. His mother has nothing to give him but river water, so he is crying. Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow, will you not bring her the ruby out of my sword hilt? My feet are fastened to this pedestal and I cannot move.”

sword hilt: the handle of the sword
pedestal: raised platform


The woman was embroidering flowers on a gown of the Queen’s maid who would walk along with the queen during the court ball. The statue said that the lady, who was embroidering the gown, had a little child who was not well. He was suffering from fever and was asking his mom to give him oranges. His mother was very poor. She had no money. She could only give him water that also river water and that is why the little boy was crying. So, the Happy Prince’s statue requested the swallow to take out the ruby stone from the handle of it’s sword and give it to the lady. It added that it’s feet were fastened to the platform because of which it could not move.

“I am waited for in Egypt,” said the swallow. “My friends are flying up and down the Nile, and talking to the large lotus flowers. Soon they will go to sleep.”

The swallow replied that it had to go to Egypt. Its friends were waiting for it.The swallow said that it’s friends were in Egypt. They were flying near the Nile river and talking to the large lotus flowers which grew there. Soon they would go to sleep and so, it wanted to reach Egypt at the earliest.

The Prince asked the swallow to stay with him for one night and be his messenger. “The boy is so thirsty, and the mother so sad,” he said.

The statue requested the swallow to stay with him for one night. He asked him to be his messenger and work on his behalf. He said that the boy was very thirsty and his mother was very sad. So, it should go and give the ruby stone to her.

“I don’t think I like boys,” answered the swallow. “I want to go to Egypt.”

Once again the swallow opposed his request and said that it did not like boys, so why should it help that boy. Moreover, it had to go to Egypt.

But the Happy Prince looked so sad that the little swallow was sorry. “It is very cold here,” he said. But he agreed to stay with him for one night and be his messenger.
“Thank you, little Swallow,” said the Prince.

The Happy prince was so sad that swallow felt sorry for him. It said that it was very cold there but it would stay with him for one night and the next morning it would do his work. The Happy Prince thanked him.

The swallow picked out the great ruby from the Prince’s sword, and flew away with it in his beak over the roofs of the town.

Finally, the swallow took out the ruby stone from the Happy Prince’s sword and the bird took the ruby in its beak and flew over the town.

He passed by the cathedral tower, where the white marble angels were sculptured. He passed by the palace and heard the sound of dancing.

As this swallow was on its way to the poor woman’s house, it passed the Cathedral. (Cathedral is a church and on the church’s tower, white coloured marble angels were sculptured). Then he reached the palace, he crossed the palace and he could hear the sound of dancing from inside the palace.

A beautiful girl came out on the balcony with her lover.
“I hope my dress will be ready in time for the State ball,” she said. “I have ordered flowers to be embroidered on it, but the seamstresses are so lazy.”

When this swallow was crossing over the palace, a girl came out on the balcony along with her lover. She was hoping that the gown which she had given to the seamstress for embroidering would be ready on time. She was talking about the same gown on which that lady was doing embroidering to whom the bird had to give the ruby stone.

He passed over the river, and saw the lanterns hanging on the masts of the ships. At last he came to the poor woman’s house and looked in.

mast: sail of the ship

When the swallow flew over the river, ships also came along the way. Lanterns were hanging on their sails. Finally, the swallow reached the woman’s house.

The boy was tossing feverishly on his bed, and the mother had fallen asleep, she was so tired.

tossing: turning left and right

The boy was suffering from fever and for that reason he was not able to go to sleep. So he was turning left and right on his bed and his mother was very tired due to working for long and had fallen asleep.

In he hopped, and laid the great ruby on the table beside the woman’s thimble.
thimble :a metal or plastic cap with a closed end, worn to protect the finger and push the needle in sewing
The swallow put the ruby stone on the table near the thimble.

Then he flew gently round the bed, fanning the boy’s forehead with his wings. “How cool I feel!” said the boy, “I must be getting better;” and he sank into a delicious slumber.
slumber: sleep

sank: drown but here it means the boy in going to sleep

After keeping the ruby stone on the table, the swallow went near the boy as his mother was sleeping and no one was taking care of him. It shook its wings near him because of which the boy could felt the cool air and felt better. The boy felt that he was getting better and went to sleep. With this we can make out that the swallow was a kind hearted bird.

happy prince

Then the swallow flew back to the Happy Prince, and told him what he had done.

The swallow flew back and went to the statue of Happy Prince and told him what all he had done.

“It is curious,” he remarked, “but I feel quite warm now, although it is so cold.”

Now the bird felt warm. It says that it was very strange that it was feeling little warm even though the weather was very cold.  

“That is because you have done a good action,” said the Prince.

The prince said that it was feeling warm because it had done a good deed. It had helped someone.

And the little swallow began to think, and then fell asleep. Thinking always made him sleepy  

After Listening to happy prince, the swallow started thinking and when he started thinking, he felt sleepy because whenever he thought, he used to feel sleepy.

When day broke he flew down to the river and had a bath. “Tonight I go to Egypt,” said the swallow, and he was in high spirits at the prospect.

prospect: thought of something

Next morning the swallow bird went to the river and took a bath and thought that that night he would reach Egypt. He was very happy.

 He visited all the monuments and sat a long time on top of the church steeple.

Steeple: high tower of the church

So the swallow bird visited all the monuments of the city and finally he went and sat on the high tower of the church.

When the moon rose he flew back to the Happy Prince. “Have you any commissions for Egypt?” he cried. “I am just starting.”

When it was night and the moon rose in the sky, the swallow went to Happy Prince and sought permission to leave for Egypt.

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “will you stay with me one night longer?”
“I am waited for in Egypt,” answered the swallow.

Now again Happy Prince requested swallow to stay with him for one more night and swallow replied that he needed to go to Egypt because his friends were waiting for him.

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “far away across the city I see a young man in a garret.
He is leaning over a desk covered with papers, and in the glass by his side there is a bunch of withered violets.

garret: small dark room at the top of the house
withered: worn out
violet: kind of flower


Now here the Happy Prince is telling the swallow about his second work. He says that far away, across the city, I could seein a small dark room, at the top of thehouse, a young man is sitting. He was sitting on a desk on which the papers were spread all over. And he was trying to work hard. He had a glass lying near him in which withered flowers were lying.

His hair is brown and crisp, and his lips are red as a pomegranate, and he has large and dreamy eyes.

pomegranate: is a fruit

Further, the Happy Prince gave a description of that boy. He said that his hair were brown and crisp which meant that he had not taken bath for a long time. His lips were red like a pomegranate and he had big dreamy eyes. That means that this boy was very ambitious and hardworking.

He is trying to finish a play for the Director of the Theatre, but he is too cold to write any more. There is no fire in the grate, and hunger has made him faint.”

faint: weak

grate: fireplace

Further, the Happy Prince said that this boy needed to finish writing a play, he was a writer. And he had to give the play to the director after writing. But he did not have strength to write any more because he was feeling very cold. The boy had no money so that’s why there was no fire in his fireplace and he was very hungry also due to which he was feeling very weak.

“I will wait with you one night longer,” said the swallow, who really had a good heart. He asked if he should take another ruby to the young playwright.

The swallow understood what Happy Prince was trying to tell him. He knew that Happy Prince wanted to help this boy, so he agreed to stay back for one more night. And further, the swallow asked Happy Prince if he should take another ruby stone to give it to the young playwright (the one who writes play) just like he had given it to the old lady.

“Alas! I have no ruby now,” said the Prince.

Prince said that it was very sad that he did not have any more ruby stones with him.

“My eyes are all that I have left. They are made of rare sapphires, which were brought out of India a thousand years ago.”

Happy Prince said that now he had his eyes which were made of very precious and rare sapphire stones which had been bought thousands of year ago from India.

He ordered the swallow to pluck out one of them and take it to the playwright.

So, Happy Prince told swallow to take out one sapphire and give it to the boy.

“He will sell it to the jeweller, and buy firewood, and finish his play,” he said.
“Dear Prince,” said the swallow, “I cannot do that,” and he began to weep.

The swallow was very sad to learn that the Happy Prince wanted to give his eyes to that boy and he started crying. He told Happy Prince that he could not do so.  

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “do as I command you.”
So the swallow plucked out the Prince’s eye, and flew away to the young man’s garret. It was easy enough to get in, as there was a hole in the roof. Through this he darted, and came into the room. The young man had his head buried in his hands, so he did not hear the flutter of the bird’s wings, and when he looked up he found the beautiful sapphire lying on the withered violets.

darted: pushed himself inside

But then, the Happy Prince ordered the swallow to do what he had told him to do. So finally the swallow took out one eye, one sapphire out of the prince’s eye and flew to the young man’s garret. There was a hole on the roof of the room. So, the swallow entered the room through that hole. The boy was sitting with his head on his hands and that’s why he did not hear the flutter of the bird’s wing. And when he looked up, he saw the sapphire stone lying on the dried flowers.

“I am beginning to be appreciated,” he cried. “This is from some great admirer. Now I can finish my play,” and he looked quite happy.

appreciate: to praise someone

When the boy saw the beautiful stone, he felt that some admirer, some person who praised him had sent a gift for him. So, he thought that with this, he could now finish his play.

The next day the swallow flew down to the harbour. He sat on the mast of a large vessel and watched the sailors working. “I am going to Egypt,” cried the swallow, but nobody minded, and when the moon rose he flew back to the Happy Prince.

harbor: sea port

Next morning, the swallow bird flew down to the harbour and sat on a mast of a ship. He spoke loudly that he was going to Egypt. And when it was night, he flew back to Happy Prince.

“I have come to bid you goodbye,” he cried.

Swallow once again told the Happy Prince that it had come to say goodbye. He was going to Egypt.

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “will you not stay with me one night longer?”

And Once again Happy Prince requested swallow to stay with him for one more night.

“It is winter,” answered the swallow, “and the snow will soon be here. In Egypt the sun is warm on the green palm trees, and the crocodiles lie in the mud and look lazily about them.”

The swallow said to the Happy Prince that the winter season had started and after sometime it would start snowing. The weather in Egypt was warm and even the crocodiles lay on the mud lazily there. So, he told him to let him go to Egypt.

“In the square below,” said the Happy Prince, “there stands a little matchgirl. She has let her matches fall in the gutter, and they are all spoiled. Her father will beat her if she does not bring home some money, and she is crying. She has no shoes or stockings, and her little head is bare. Pluck out my other eye, and give it to her, and her father will not beat her.”

Now this was the third assignment. The Happy Prince said that there was a match girl, She was a little girl and all her matchsticks had fallen in the gutter (sewage) and got wet. All her match sticks were spoilt so, she could not sell them and she would not earn any money. And when she would go home without money, then her father would get angry and beat her. For this reason the girl was crying. Further, the Happy Prince said that she was not wearing shoes or stockings and she had not covered her head. She was very poor. So he said to the swallow to take out another sapphire from his eyes and give it to her so that her father didn’t beat her.

“I will stay with you one night longer,” said the swallow, “but I cannot pluck out your eye. You would be quite blind then.”

Swallow agreed to stay with him for one more night but he refused to take out another sapphire because if he did that, then Happy Prince would be blind.

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “do as I command you.”

Again Happy Prince told swallow to do what he had ordered him.

So he plucked out the Prince’s other eye, and darted down with it. He swooped past the matchgirl, and slipped the jewel into the palm of her hand.
“What a lovely bit of glass!” cried the little girl; and she ran home, laughing.

swooped: fly very low

So, finally, the swallow obeyed the Happy Prince’s order. He took another sapphire stone from his eye and flew to the little match girl. And when he saw the match girl, he bent very low and kept the sapphire stone on the little girl’s hand. The little girl was very happy to see the stone and she went home happily.

Then the swallow came back to the Prince. “You are blind now,” he said, “so I will stay with you always.”

When swallow returned to the Happy Prince, he told him that now he was blind and so, he would stay with him forever.

“No, little Swallow,” said the poor Prince, “you must go away to Egypt.”

But Happy Prince said to the swallow that he should go to Egypt.

“No, I will stay with you always,” said the swallow, and he slept at the Prince’s feet.

But swallow refused and said that he would stay with him only and she slept on the Prince’s feet.

All the next day he sat on the Prince’s shoulder, and told him stories of what he had seen in strange lands.

The swallow used to stay along with Happy Prince all the time and used to tell him the stories of the different places that he had visited.

“Dear little Swallow,” said the Prince, “you tell me of marvellous things, but more marvellous than anything is the suffering of men and women. There is no Mystery so great as Misery. Fly over my city, little Swallow, and tell me what you see there.”
The Happy Prince said to the swallow to tell him wonderful things but added that nothing was more wonderful than the suffering of people. No mystery was bigger than sadness and he want to know who all were sad in his kingdom. So he asked the swallow to go and let him know what he saw while flying over the city.


So the swallow flew over the great city, and saw the rich making merry in their beautiful houses, while the beggars were sitting at the gates. He flew into dark lanes, and saw the white faces of starving children looking out listlessly at the black streets.

So, the swallow flew and took a round over the city and saw that the rich people were living happily in their beautiful houses and they were partying while the poor people were begging and sitting outside the gates. Then he went to the dark lanes where there was no light also and the poor people lived. There he saw that the children were hungry due to which their faces had turned white.  

Under the archway of a bridge two little boys were lying in each other’s arms to try and keep themselves warm.

Further, the swallow saw two little boys under the archway of the bridge. They were lying much close to each other so that they kept themselves warm. They were so poor, they didn’t have food, so they were trying to keep each other warm.

“How hungry we are!” they said. “You must not lie here,” shouted the watchman, and they wandered out into the rain.

Two children were starving and wondering that how hungry they were. Just then, a watchman appeared and scolded them. He shouted and made them go away from there. The poor children keep wandering in the rain as they were homeless.

Then he flew back and told the Prince what he had seen.

Swallow went back to Happy Prince and told him what he had seen in the city.

“I am covered with fine gold,” said the Prince. “You must take it off, leaf by leaf, and give it to the poor; the living always think that gold can make them happy.”

The Happy Prince told swallow that his whole body was covered with fine gold. He could take tiny pieces of gold from his body and give it to the poor people in need. All the living beings required money and when they would get gold, they would feel happy.

Leaf after leaf of the fine gold the swallow picked off, till the Happy Prince looked quite dull and grey.

Slowly, the swallow took out the gold layers from the statue of Happy Prince and as he removed the layers of the gold, the Happy Prince’s statue started looking dull and grey.

Leaf after lead of the fine gold he brought to the poor, and the children’s faces grew rosier, and they laughed and played in the street. “We have bread now!” they cried.

As the statue of Happy Prince started looking dull and grey, the children grew happier because through it, they were getting food to eat.

Then the snow came, and after the snow came the frost.

Finally it started snowing and when a lot of snow fell, everything froze.

The streets looked as if they were made of silver. Everybody went about in furs, and the little boys wore scarlet caps and skated on the ice.

Everyone was wearing clothes made of fur. Small children were wearing red colour caps and were roaming here and there. They were skating on the ice.  

The poor little swallow grew colder and colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he loved him too well.

Swallow bird was feeling very cold but he kept on sitting near the Happy Prince’s statue. He did not want to leave him because he loved the Happy Prince.

He picked up crumbs outside the baker’s door when the baker was not looking, and tried to keep himself warm by flapping his wings.

The bird did not want to die, so he used to go to the bakery where the baker use to bake the bread, to eat the bread crumbs and tried to keep himself warm by flapping his wings.

But at last he knew that he was going to die. He had just enough strength to fly up to the Prince’s shoulder once more.

The swallow was aware that he was about to die. He had only enough strength to fly back to the statue of Happy Prince. And he says -

 “Goodbye, dear Prince!” he murmured. “Will you let me kiss your hand?
Now when this swallow is about to die he says to the happy prince that can I kiss your hand?
“I am glad that you are going to Egypt at last, little Swallow,” said the Prince.

Happy Prince thought that the swallow wanted to go to Egypt. So, he said that he was happy that finally, the bird was going to Egypt.

“You have stayed too long here but you must kiss me on the lips, for I love you.”

Happy prince said to the swallow that it had stayed there for a very long time and now, it should go to Egypt. It wanted the bird to kiss its lips instead of the hands because the statue loved the bird.

“It is not to Egypt that I am going,” said the swallow. “I am going to the House of Death. Death is the brother of Sleep, is he not?”
And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips, and fell down dead at his feet.

The swallow bird said to the Happy Prince that he was not going to Egypt but to the house of Death. He added that death was a brother of sleep. He kissed the Happy Prince on his lips and fell down to the feet of Happy Prince and died.

At that moment a curious crack sounded inside the statue, as if something had broken. The fact is that the leaden heart had snapped right in two. It certainly was a dreadfully hard frost.
As soon as the bird died on the Happy Prince’s feet, an unusual sound came out from the statue. The sound was of the breaking of the statue’s heart which was made of a lead. The heart broke because of the death of his beloved bird. But it is said that it was so cold that the heart broke into two pieces.



Early the next morning the Mayor was walking in the square below in company with the Town Councillors. As they passed the column he looked up at the statue. “Dear me! How shabby the Happy Prince looks!” he said.

shabby (untidy)

The next morning the Mayor of the city along with his councillors was taking a round of the area where the statue of Happy Prince was erected and when he crossed the statue and looked up at it, he said that the statue of Happy prince looked untidy.

“How shabby, indeed!” cried the Town Councillors, who always agreed with the Mayor and they went up to look at it.

The councillors always agreed with whatever the Mayor used to say, so, they also asserted that the statue looked untidy.

“The ruby has fallen out of his sword, his eyes are gone, and he is golden no longer,” said the Mayor.

The Mayor noticed that the ruby stone which was placed in the handle of the sword was missing, the sapphires from the statue’s eyes were also missing and the layer of the gold from its body was also missing.

“In fact, he is little better than a beggar!
“Little better than a beggar,” said the Town Councillors.

The Mayor said that it seemed as if it was the statue of a beggar and the town councilors agreed with him.

“And here is actually a dead bird at his feet!” continued the Mayor. “We must really issue a proclamation that birds are not to be allowed to die here.” And the Town Clerk made a note of the suggestion.

proclamation: order, rule

The Mayor noticed that a dead bird was lying on the feet of the statue. Then he told the  town councilors to pass an order that birds were not allowed to die on the feet of the statue and the town clerk made a note of the suggestion given by him.

So they pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince. “As he is no longer beautiful he is no longer useful,” said the Art Professor at the University.

The Art Professor of the University said that now, the statue of the Happy Prince did not look beautiful and was not useful anymore and so, they should demolish it.

Then they melted the statue in a furnace.

furnace: is a fire place where metal are melted

So they melted the statue which was made of lead in a furnace.

“What a strange thing!” said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry.

overseer: supervisor
foundry: workshop for casting metals

The supervisor of the foundry saw a strange thing.

“This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.”

The heart of the Happy Prince’s statue which was broken into two pieces was not melting in the furnace. So, they threw it as it is in the dust heap.

So they threw it on a dust heap where the dead swallow was also lying.

Coincidentally, they threw the heart of the Happy Prince where the dead swallow was also lying.

“Bring me the two most precious things in the city,” said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird.

God asked one of his Angels to bring him the two most precious things of the city. The Angel brought the two pieces of heart of the statue and the dead swallow bird.

“You have rightly chosen,” said God, “for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for ever more and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me.”

God said to the Angel that it had brought the right thing. It had chosen the right things which were indeed the most precious things of the city.  He said that the bird would always sing in the garden of his Paradise and the Happy Prince would stay in his city of gold and admire him.





Once in a town there lived a prince. He was called the Happy Prince because he had been happy all his life. After his death, his statue was erected on a tall pedestal in the middle of the town. The statue was covered with gold and had two precious sapphire stones embedded in the eyes. A ruby stone had been fitted into the handle of his sword. From there, he could see all around the place and realized that the people lived in a lot of poverty and misery. This sight saddened the prince and being helpless, he would weep to see the plight of his people.

One day a swallow bird was flying through the city, on its way to Egypt to meet its friends. On the way, it took shelter for the night at the feet of the statue of the happy prince. The bird realized that the statue was weeping and upon inquiry, realized the plight of the prince. The helpless prince requested the bird to help it by becoming its messenger. After initial refusal, the bird agreed and took the ruby stone out of the sword hilt and delivered it to a poor seamstress. The next morning, as he went to bid goodbye, the statue convinced him to stay back for one more day. That day, the bird was asked to remove the sapphire stone from one of the statue’s eyes and deliver it to a young playwright. Also, on the third day the bird had to pull out the second sapphire stone for a poor match girl. By this time, the weather had become cold and the bird had developed an attachment with the statue. The bird did not want to leave the statue which had now become blind. The happy prince asked the bird to go around the city and inform him the condition of the people living there. The bird told him that the rich were making merry while the poor lived in misery. As the happy prince did not have any more precious stones, he ordered the bird to remove the gold foils from his body and distribute among the living who needed money for survival. Gradually, the statue of the prince lost its covering of gold and became dull and grey. On the other hand, the poor became joyous as they got bread to eat. The swallow bird was now unable to withstand the cold weather and realized that death was approaching. It informed the statue that it had to leave and the statue, who loved the bird asked it to kiss him. As the bird died and fell at the statue’s feet, a strange sound came out of the statue - the sound of the breaking of its heart. Although the statue’s heart was made of lead, it broke as it was overwhelmed with affection towards the bird. When the statue was melted in the furnace, the heart did not melt and was thrown in the garbage. It landed near the swallow’s body. God’s angels took both the dead swallow and the broken heart to him as they were the most precious things on land.


Question and Answers

Q1. Why do the courtiers call the prince ‘the Happy Prince’? Is he really happy? What does he see all around him?

A.The prince was called the ‘Happy Prince’ because all his life, he had lived in happiness. After his death, his statue was put up in the middle of the town. Form there he could see the plight of the people which made him unhappy. The sight of poor, sad people made him unhappy.

Q2. Why does the Happy Prince send a ruby for the seamstress? What does the swallow do in the seamstress’ house?

A.The happy prince saw that the poor seamstress was tired and had no money to look after her ill son. He thought of helping her by sending her the ruby. The swallow placed the ruby stone on the worktable next to the thimble. Them it flew over to the sick child who was uneasy. As his mother had dozed off while working, and the boy was feeling hot, the swallow flapped its wings to give him some air. This comforted the boy and put him to sleep.

Q3. For whom does the prince send the sapphires and why?

Q4. What does the swallow see when it flies over the city?

A.The swallow bird saw the rich making merry in their beautiful houses, while the beggars were sitting at the gates. He flew into dark lanes, and saw the white faces of starving children looking out listlessly at the black streets. Under the archway of a bridge two little boys were lying in each other’s arms trying to keep themselves warm. They were hungry. They ran away from there when the watchman shouted at them.

Q5. Why did the swallow not leave the prince and go to Egypt?

A.The swallow bird did not leave the prince as it loved him. As the statue was blind, the bird wanted to remain with it.

Q6. What are the precious things mentioned in the story? Why are they precious?

A. The two precious things are the dead swallow bird and the statue’s broken heart. According to God, they were precious because in the garden of paradise, the little bird shall sing for ever more and in heaven, the Happy Prince’s heart shall praise God.