The story, written by Hans Christian Andersen, is about an ugly duckling that looked different from the chicks of the same brood. He was dark and ugly. The other ducklings didn’t want to play with him. He remained isolated in the corner of the pond, until one day he decided to run away in search of a place where he would be accepted.

Wandering here and there, he joined first a family of geese and then a farmhouse. Both the geese and the farmers considered him ugly and useless.

The ugly duckling spent the winter alone and hungry. With the arrival of spring he landed up in a pond where very beautiful birds were swimming.

He didn’t dare to approach them. It was unthinkable that a so ugly duckling, as he was, would have been accepted by those graceful birds! He kept standing on the edge of the pond until one of those birds glided towards him.

How beautiful you are!” I have never seen such white feathers!” said the swan.

The ugly duckling bent his head incredulous and saw his image reflected on the water. He was a swan as well! His feathers had become white!

A similar allegory can be found in Jalaluddin Rumi’s Mathnawi. Rumi tells his hearers that they are “ducks, being brought up by hens”. They have to realize that their destiny is to swim, not to be chickens.

Both Rumi’s and Andersen’s stories are allegories of life. There is a natural evolutionist process in all living beings. It varies from individual to individual, depending on the happenings of life.

Character and personality may change, like the feathers of the swan. The essence, the innermost being is always the same.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




Every now and then, I have the good habit of purchasing a book at random. Doing so, I broad my horizons and I am not confined to reading books that are within my sphere of interests.

A year ago, while I was walking on the high street of Southport, a city in the north of England, I entered a used bookstore. Using a special ladder provided by the owner, I picked two books from the upper shelf: one by Samuel Richardson and one by Henry Fielding; then before going out I closed my eyes and picked up at random a book among those lying on the table at the entrance: it was The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.

I’ll give it to you for free! It is the most boring book in the world!” said the bookseller.

I kept that book for several months on my bookshelf and now, while I am in Peru, I want to have a look at it.

To my surprise, the book is not boring at all; it is one of the most interesting books I have read so far; it is an allegory of life and a window to look into the amazing world of the Puritans.

What is the moral of the story? We must have a mind of our own, without being influenced by different opinions.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind





The river has emerald-green waters.

It flows calm and marks the border between life and


If I could, I would have built a bridge to unite the two


but I cannot. I am too frail, too powerless.

I am a human being and

only the gods can make up such a bridge.

For now we are separated, O my beloved brother,

and Charon keeps ferrying souls across the river.

One day a new light will guide me to you,

and we will stay together in our star, which is the same

as that from where we came.


Ettore Grillo, author of:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

-The Vibrations of Words

-Travels of the Mind






We were sitting on our stone staircase.

What is life? I asked my siblings.

“Life is breathing,”answered Biagio. “Even trees breathe.”

“Life is a tiny bird on a small branch,”said Vincenzo.

“Unexpectedly the sprig snaps,

and the little bird flies away.”

“As for me,” replied Carolina, “life is a dream,

sometimes beautiful and often nightmarish.”

“Life is destiny!” I ended off. “It is a beautiful drawing on the sand,

and the drawer already knows when the tide will erase it .”


This poem is an excerpt from my book, A Hidden Sicilian History.