"Ole Luk-Oie" (Danish: "Ole Lukøie" or "Ole Lukøje"; also known in English as "Ole-Luk-Oie, the Dream God", "A Week with Olé Luk Oie", "Ole Shut-Eye", "Old Shut-Eye", '"The Sandman" and "Daddy Dustman") is a short fantasy story for children by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published on December 20, 1841 as part of the anthology Fairy Tales Told for Children, New Collection, Third Booklet, 1842.
The story's title character, whose name means "Olaf the Eye Shutter", is a figure from Scandinavian folklore. He is roughly equivalent to the Sandman in English-speaking countries. Ole Luk-Oie is said to make children feel sleepy and go to sleep. He is also said to reward good children by giving them pleasant dreams. The story describes the visits which Ole Luk-Oie makes to a boy called Hjalmar on seven consecutive nights and the dreams which Hjalmar has.
Ole Luk-Oie is the best storyteller in the world and knows more stories than anyone else. However, he only tells his stories to children when they are perfectly still. This means that children have to be asleep before Ole Luk-Oie will tell them a story. It is Ole Luk-Oie who makes children begin to feel sleepy in the evening. After they have gone to bed, Ole Luk-Oie quietly goes up to children's bedrooms. He casts a little dust into their eyes. Children find it impossible to open their eyes after he has done that. After children go to sleep, Ole Luk-Oie places one of his two umbrellas over their heads. The inside of one umbrella is decorated with pretty pictures. It is placed over the heads of well-behaved children who are rewarded with good dreams. The inside of the other umbrella is black. It is placed over the heads of naughty children as a punishment. Those children have no dreams at all.
After the boy Hjalmar has gone to bed on Monday night, Ole Luk-Oie goes into his bedroom. He magically changes some potted plants in Hjalmars room into gigantic trees which have sweet-smelling blossom and golden fruit. After he has done this, Ole Luk-Oie hears some moaning coming from the box which contains Hjalmar's school supplies. The slate is complaining because Hjalmar has written an incorrect sum on it. The exercise book is unhappy because Hjalmar has copied the alphabet into it very badly. Ole Luk-Oie corrects Hjalmar's writing. In the morning, however, Hjalmar finds that his writing is just as bad as it was before.
On Tuesday night, Ole Luk-Oie uses magic to make it possible for Hjalmar to go inside a landscape painting in his bedroom. Hjalmar runs to a river and gets into a boat. He sails past castles where princesses throw pieces of sugar hearts to him and princes make it rain plums and toy soldiers. He then sails into his own town and sees the nurse who looked after him when he was a baby.
It rains very heavily on Wednesday night. Ole Luk-Oie tells Hjalmar that the rainwater has formed a lake and that they can go sailing. They sail through the town and out to sea. They see a flock of storks flying south. One of the storks gets very tired, falls out of the sky and lands on Ole Luk-Oie and Hjalmar's boat. A sailor puts the stork into a henhouse with some hens, ducks and guinea fowl. The domestic birds make fun of the stork's appearance. The stork tries to tell them about his travels to Africa. The other birds, however, do not understand what the stork is talking about and conclude that he must be stupid. The stork is relieved when Hjalmar releases him from the henhouse and he is able to fly away again.
On Thursday night, Hjalmar is invited to the wedding of two mice. Ole Luk-Oie uses magic to make Hjalmar very small. After he has become tiny, the boy is told to put on the clothes of one of his toy soldiers. Hjalmar sits in a thimble and a mouse leads him to the wedding. A lot of mice come to the wedding, which means that the room where they are gathered soon gets extremely crowded. The only food to be served at the wedding are bacon rinds, which are smeared all over the wall, and a pea which stands in for a wedding cake. When Hjalmar wakes up, he has mixed feelings about his dream. He enjoyed the company of the mice but did not like shrinking in size or wearing someone else's clothes.
When Ole Luk-Oie arrives on Friday night, he tells Hjalmar that many adults have difficulty sleeping, especially those who have done bad deeds. Ole Luk-Oie says that, at night, those wicked deeds take the form of goblins which stop people from sleeping by staring at them and splashing them with warm water. Ole Luk-Oie says that many adults have begged him to come to them and make them fall asleep. However, he is only able to do that for children.
Ole Luk-Oie tells Hjalmar that he has been invited to another wedding. Two of Hjalmar's sister's dolls, called Hermann and Bertha, are getting married. Ole Luk-Oie himself, wearing a black robe which belongs to Hjalmar's grandmother, performs the wedding ceremony. The two dolls cannot decide whether they should stay at home or go abroad on their honeymoon. A swallow tells them to go abroad, where the weather is warmer and there is beautiful scenery. A hen tells them that other countries do not have the good quality red cabbage which they can get at home. Hermann and Bertha agree with the hen. They spend their honeymoon by a sandpit in the garden.
When he arrives on Saturday night, Ole Luk-Oie tells Hjalmar that he cannot stay long. Ole Luk-Oie says that he has a lot of work to do to make the world ready for Sunday. One of the things that Ole Luk-Oie says he must do is take the stars down from the sky to clean them. A portrait of Hjalmar's great-grandfather takes objection when he hears this. The portrait says that it is impossible to take the stars down from the sky. Ole Luk-Oie acknowledges that Hjalmar's great-grandfather is old and wise but points out that he is older and wiser because he was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
On Sunday night, Hjalmar is told to look out of the window to see Ole Luk-Oie's brother. Ole Luk-Oie's brother is riding a horse. He is wearing a black soldier's uniform trimmed with silver and a long black cape. Unlike Ole Luk-Oie, he visits people only once in their lifetimes. His name is Death. Death also differs from Ole Luk-Oie in that he knows only two stories, an incredibly beautiful one and an unbelievably frightening one. Death asks all the people that he visits to show him their "books of merit". If their "books of merit" have comments such as "Very good" written in them, people get to ride at the front of Death's horse and listen to the beautiful story. If their "books of merit" only have comments such as "Tolerably good" written in them, people are forced to ride at the back of Death's horse and listen to the horrifying story. Hjalmar says that he does not find Death very frightening. Ole Luk-Oie says that Hjalmar has no reason to be scared of Death, provided that the boy can make sure that only good comments are written in his "book of merit". The portrait of Hjalmar's great-grandfather agrees that this is good advice.
- Text of Hans Christian Andersen's "Ole Luk-Oie" in Danish and English on Wikisource.
- Public domain audiobook of "Ole Luk-Oie" on YouTube.