Friday, 4 March 2011

Friday is for Fairy-tales: The Golden Bird

This is a meme hosted by me every Friday.



My post today is about: The Golden Bird, a Slovene fairy-tale

I found a very old book of Slovene fairy-tales when cleaning our spare room and have started re-reading them. I'm really glad I'm re-discovering them and I thought I'd share another Slovene fairy-tale with you.

The story goes as follows:

There was a king who had three sons. There was a beautiful garden next to the castle and in the garden was an apple tree, the king's favourite, that bore only about six gold apples every year. One year, the king noticed that every night, one apple went missing, so he promised to give his castle to the son who would catch the thief.

The three brothers decided to keep guard of the tree every night. The first night was the eldest brother's turn. He soon fell asleep and suddenly, he heard a rustling noise in the branches of the tree. When he opened his eyes, he saw something shiny fly away and one apple was missing. The next night, the same happened to the middle brother. On the third night, when it was the youngest brother's turn to guard the tree, the young man did not fall asleep. The rustling noise came and he saw a golden bird trying to take an apple. He tried to catch it and the bird escaped, but he did get a hold of one of its golden feathers. In the morning, he took the feather to his father and the king promised to give the castle to the son who brought him the golden bird.

The three brothers went in search of the bird, the older two together, the youngest on his own. Some time passed and there was no sign of the golden bird. On his way, the youngest brother met a fox and the animal, seeing the look of despair in his eyes, offered to help him. At first, the young man did not wish to tell the fox the truth about his quest, but finally he relented and despite the lack of trust on the young man's part, the fox told him in which castle the golden bird lived. It told the young man to find employment in the castle and steal the bird, but he must not look at it, or it would begin to screech and alert everyone in the castle. The young man followed the advice. He found the castle and became a servant in it, feeding the birds - among them the golden bird - that lived in the castle. One day, he stole the cage with the golden bird in it, but made the mistake of looking at the bird. The animal began to screech and the young man was arrested and put into a dungeon. The king of the castle, however, was curious to know why the young man wanted to steal the bird and visited the prisoner. The young man told him the truth and the king promised to free him and give him the bird if the young man brought him the golden horse from another castle.

So, the young man went in search of the golden horse and again he met the fox. The animal told him to become a groom in that castle's stables and once the animal became used to him, he must ride away with it, but he must not look at the horse for too long, or the animal would begin to neigh loudly and alert everyone in the castle. The young man found the castle and became the groom in the stables which also contained the golden horse. Once the animal became used to it, he stole it, riding away with it to the castle where the golden bird lived. He did not make his presence known to the king, not trusting him, but stole the golden bird and rode towards home.

On his way home, he found his brothers working for a smithy because they had spent all of their money on their quest. The young man took pity on their brothers and offered to take them home with him. His brothers, howevered, attacked him, threw him in a ditch and rode away with the horse and the bird. When they arrived home, the king gave them the castle and when he asked after their brother, the said they hadn't seen him since the first left the castle.

After a while, however, the youngest brother, who survived the attack, returned home and told his father the truth. The king gave the castle to him, then, and had his first two lying sons executed.

***

So, this is the story. I really like it. It's a typical Slovene fairy-tale. I think the ending is a bit too harsh - a father killing his own sons - but other than that, it's a pretty entertaining tale. Perhaps not very educational, as it's all about gaining possession and stealing, but it serves for ten entertaining minutes it takes to read the story.

4 comments:

Bookworm1858 said...

It's interesting to see commonalities across countries; just like many Grimm stories, there are three sons and the youngest is the kind strong hero unlike his wasteful two older brothers. The ending is super harsh but if the king had kept them alive, they probably would have just fomented revolt against their brother

Blodeuedd said...

There were sure harsh punishments in the olden fairytales, but some just had to lean their lessons ;)

Becky said...

This fairytale is so like the Russian ones I'm reading. The family situation. The quest. The animals.

I don't like the ending either. Soemthing I've noticed is that fairytales like shades of grey. Good and evil just are. There is very little middle ground. How else would it be acceptable to kill two of your sons?

Great post Irena.

Willa said...

Love your blog!