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Saturday, December 22, 2012

 

The Burning Babe

As I in hoary winter's night

Stood shivering in the snow,

Surprised I was with sudden heat,

Which made my heart to glow;

And lifting up a fearful eye

To view what fire was near,

A pretty babe all burning bright,

Did in the air appear:

Who, scorched with excessive heat,

Such floods of tears did shed,

As though his floods should quench his flames,

Which with his tears were fed:

"Alas!" quoth he, "but newly born,

In fiery heats I fry,

Yet none approach to warm their hearts

Or feel my fire, but I!

My faultless breast the furnace is,

The fuel wounding thorns;

Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,

The ashes shames and scorns'

The fuel Justice layeth on,

And Mercy blows the coals;

The metal in this furnace wrought

Are men's defiled souls:

For which, as now on fire I am

To work them to their good,

So will I melt into a bath

To wash them in my blood."

With this he vanished out of sight,

And swiftly shrunk away,

And straight I called unto my mind

That it was Christmas Day.

Robert Southwell

Saturday, November 3, 2012

To Friends of the Fairy Tale and Followers of this Blog

I would like to thank all of you for your interest in fairy tales and following my blog. While I have translated most of the tales on this blog, as a result of a recent and rather long illness I have not been able to translate as before. Therefore I think it only appropriate to acknowledge and  thank my editor, reviser and text consultant for all the support he has provided in continuing this blog. I hope our collaboration will be able to continue and we will be able to publish both well-known and obscure tales. Please feel free to provide your feedback. At this stage in my illness it would be very nice to hear from some of the readers who love fairy and folk tales as much as I do. Take care and God bless!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Water becomes Ice in this Fairy Tale of the Two Sorceresses

In Autumn, Killing the Demons Within and Without

Grimm's Saga No. 251, Making Weather and Hail


One time long ago two sorceresses met while residing in a public house. They carried two pails or buckets of water with them, which they placed in a special spot, each discussing with the other whether the contents of these vessels should be made into corn schnaps or wine. The innkeeper, who secretly stood in the corner, listened carefully and in the evening when the two women had gone to bed he took the pails and poured them over the two women sleeping. The water became ice and in that very hour the two both froze to death.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Art of Making Hailstones and Winter Gales


A rather gruesome tale for gruesome weather.

How to Influence the Weather with Hailstones and Winter Gales

Grimm's Saga No. 251: Making Weather and Hail

In Berlin two women with supernatural powers were caught in the year 1553 because they knew the art of ice-making. Through their powers these wives were able to ruin the fruits of trees and had snatched the small child of a neighbor woman, gruesomely dismembering the body and cooking it in small pieces. But it happened that through God's grace, the mother searching for her babe came upon the lost child with its little limbs jutting out of the cooking pot. Now both wives were caught and interrogated under torture during which they admitted that if their cooking had not been halted, a frigid frost with ice and storm would have descended on all and ruined the fruit.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Witch's Dance


Grimm’s Sage No. 252: The Witch’s Dance


There lived a woman in Hembach whose son of barely sixteen years was named Johannes. She took this son to the Witch’s gathering. Because he knew how to whistle, she demanded that he whistle while they danced.  And so that he could be heard by the dancers, he was told to climb the highest tree. The young lad followed these instructions, and climbed the tree. He sat and whistled down upon the group that danced with such verve and because everything seemed so wonderfully odd he called out foolishly: “May dear God protect you, from whence comes such dotty and absurd riff raff?
 He had hardly spoken these words when he fell from the tree, sprained his shoulder and cried out that the assembled should come to his aid. But there was no one there, only him alone.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Mysterious Wild Man Grinkenschmidt from the Brothers Grimm


The Mysterious Wild Man

Grimm’s Saga No. 157: Grinkenschmidt

In the Detter Mountains, three hours from Muenster, lived a Wild Man by the name of Grinkenschmidt. He lived deep in a hole beneath the ground, covered with grass and straw and you can still see today where it once was. In that hole deep below the soil he made things of iron, rod-like and no one could open these artifacts.





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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Grimm’s Saga 464: King Ludwigs Rib Chatters


Grimm’s Saga 464: King Ludwig's Rib Chatters


Much has been said about King Ludwig’s hardiness and strength. Also the following story has been told: King Ludwig was on a war campaign when a porch or chamber collapsed under his weight. He fell down and his rib jutted out. But he concealed the injury from everyone, completed his trip and it was said that those who accompanied him heard his rib rattling in the procession. When all was done he moved on toward Ach and lay there in bed two months and had his wounds bound properly.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fairy Tale of the Kitten



(Illustration, Tomi Ungerer)

Fairy Tale of the Little KittenA Tale from the German by Ludwig Bechstein

Once a poor wife went into the forest to fetch wood. As she was returning with her burden, she saw a sickly little cat lying behind the fence and it was meowing woefully. The poor woman took pity and carried the little animal home in her apron. But on the way she encountered her own two children. When they saw what their mother was carrying, they asked: “Mother, what are you carrying?“ And both wanted to hold the kitten. But the woman had sympathy for the little creature and would not give it to her children thinking they might bother or tease it, or torment it in some other way. Instead she went home and placed it on a soft cloth and gave it milk to drink. When the kitten had lapped up the milk and had returned to health, it suddenly vanished. After some time the poor woman returned to the forest and with a bundle of wood on her back, she came to the spot where she had found the sick kitten . Now there stood a beautiful woman. She waved to the poor wife and threw five knitting needles into her apron.  The woman didn’t know what to think and expressed her gratitude for the strange gift. In the evening she placed the five knitting needles on the table. But the next morning when the woman was leaving home, a pair of new, freshly knitted stockings lay on the table. The poor wife was filled with wonder and the next evening she placed the knitting needles on the table once again. In the morning new stockings lay on the table. Now she noticed that the reward for her compassion was the gift of these hard-working needles. She allowed them to knit every night until she and her children had enough. Then she sold the stockings and had plenty for all the days of her life.


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Loki and Thor Travel to Gerroedsgard

Thor Travels to Gerrödsgard


Loki, the sly one, often brought his comrades into unpleasant predicaments.


Once he stole Frouwa’s feather dress out of boredom and flew through the world as brilliantly-plumed falcon. From the air he saw thick clouds of smoke rising out of an enormous tree. Filled with curiosity he flew closer and saw that the tree was part of the stronghold of the giant Geirröd. “Perhaps I shall find a tasty meal here,” Loki thought and alighted on the windowsill so he could catch a glimpse inside. When the giant discovered the beautiful falcon, he immediately commanded the capture of the rare bird. Before he knew what was happening, Loki was captured by the giant king.


The giant king looked deep into the eyes of the bird and knew immediately that this was no ordinary falcon but a higher being. Because Loki did not say a word about his origins, the giant king locked him in a cage and let him starve. It took three months before Loki admitted where he came from. The king was very happy that he finally had a surety over the gods of Asen and decided not to let this opportunity slip by. When Loki asked to be released, the king replied that he could return to Asgard if he promised to bring Thor back to Gerrödsgard without his hammer or any other weapons.


Loki promised everything so desperate was he to regain his freedom. He was also so crafty that he was able to lure the good-natured Thor back to Gerrödsgard without his weapons. On the way Thor met the giantess Grid, who saw through Gerröd’s intentions and gave Thor three weapons: a belt that bestowed strength on the wearer, a pair of iron gloves and a staff.


Both Thor and Loki soon detected how treacherous Gerröd’s plans were. First they came to the wide and turbulent Wimur River and had to wade through the rushing floods. Thor fastened his strength-giving belt, took the staff of the giantess against the waves and stepped confidently into the stream. When they had both reached the middle of the stream, the water surged up dangerously around them. The god thundered into the crashing waves: “Do not surge, Wimur. I am wading to the giant’s house! If you surge, my godly strength shall surge to the heavens!”


Thor saw how Gerröd’s daughter Gialp stood on the river bank and caused the turbulence of the river. Quickly he seized a granite block from the river bed and drove away the malicious maiden. He grasped the branches of a rowan (bird-berry) tree standing on shore and pulled himself onto land. The old adage reminds us of this feat: “The rowan tree is Thor’s salvation.”


After wandering a short time, Thor and Loki now entered the fortress of the giants. Fatigued, Thor sank onto the only chair in the great hall. He had hardly taken his seat when he noticed that he was being lifted higher and higher. Finally he was only a small distance from the ceiling and would soon be crushed. He didn’t wait long. Pushing against the ceiling he pressed the chair down to the floor again. A loud crashing sound and loud screams revealed that something was caught under the chair. He looked down and found both of the giant’s daughters lying lifelessly underneath with broken necks.


Thor was now summoned by a servant of Gerröd himself. When he entered the hall he saw flames rising up the walls and chambers. Before he could look around, a burning iron wedge came flying at him, catapulted by Gerröd’s own hand. Any other would have been destroyed. Thor caught the burning iron in his iron-gloved hand and threw it back with such force, that the wedge not only bore through the pillar, which the giant quickly fled behind, but also hit the giant in the middle of his heart, continuing on with such force that it penetrated the wall behind the giant and became embedded in the earth beyond.
The giant lay dead on the ground. Thor propped up the giant who now became petrified into stone. The giant stood for centuries in this position and Germanic tribes believed  the site was a testament to the violent power of the thunder god.


According to Uhland, Gerröd the giant represents the unbearable heat of high summer that burns like fire. The giant’s two daughters are the flooding of mountain streams after the heavy storms of midsummer. The harmful manifestations of weather are not caused by Thor, but by evil giants. That is why the thunder god fights and neutralizes them.


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