Friday, 25 March 2011

Friday is for Fairy-Tales: The Fiddler and the Sea Nymph

This is a meme hosted by me every Friday.

My post today is about: The Fiddler and the Sea Nymph (Swedish fairy-tale)

Many years ago a dancing society of Brasta, a village in the parish of Stora Mellosa, planned a great Christmas festival, to which the old and the young came from far and near, knowing that Sexton Kant, of Norrbyas, would be there with his fiddle and that they would have a very merry time. Sexton Kant was no ordinary fiddler and he was very proud of his skill and ready at the least word of praise to laud himself to the skies.

When the merry making had gone well into the night and the pleasures were at their height, someone remarked that not many could measure themselves with Father Kant when he let the bow leap over the strings and played in "tour voices," as he himself called it. Nothing further was needed. Kant, always ready to begin where the others left off, declared that the devil, good player as he was reputed to be, could not compete with him in the waltz which they had just heard. This boast came near costing Kant dear. When the dance ended and he set out in the night on his way home, he met, near the hill of Bjurbacka, a young woman dressed in white, who saluted him and addressed him as follows:

"If you will play a polka for me, Father Kant, I will dance for you."

Father Kant sat himself upon a stone and applied the bow to the strings of the instrument. Instantly he lost all control of himself. Such a polka as now came from his fiddle he had never expected to hear, much less play. The tones seemed to come without any help from him. The bow ran over the strings and his arm was forced to follow. One melody followed another; his arm became numb, but the music continued in the same wild measure.

Kant now understood that something was wrong. Finally he burst forth:

"God forgive me, poor sinner. What have I brought upon myself?"

Upon the instant the fiddle strings parted and an awful-sounding laugh was heard from the brook at the foot of the hill. Heavy of heart, Kant hastened homeward, acknowledging to himself that the devil, after all, was his superior. For a long time he could not be persuaded to again take up his fiddle, but, when he finally complied, he found that one of the beautiful waltzes he had played on the eventful night had fastened itself upon his memory and he acquired greater renown than before as a fiddler.


The sea nymph is never mentioned, although we may assume she is the woman in white, working for the devil. I wish she had a bigger role; I kind of like nymphs. However, I think this is an interesting story about humility.


Jan von Harz said...

Once again you have introduced me to a new fairy tale. I agree it would have been nice to hear more about the nymph though. Great Post.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I'm not sure that I like the devil triumphing although I guess Kant isn't totally destroyed as he gets to keep that waltz in his memory. It would have been interesting to read more about the nymph but the fiddler does seem like the most important character.

Blodeuedd said...

I wonder if those names are supposed to be other names cos they are sure not Swedish, except for Norrbyas :)

Anyway, I may have heard this one :=)

Robert Stephen Parry said...

Enjoying your re-telling of these tales, and introducing new ones!
Perhaps the woman in white was demonstrating to the fiddler that only God can outplay the Devil.