A tale of greed, power, deception, discrimination and love.
Miller, daughter, king—
All the actors are present
Except the small man.
The king summons the miller for some reason. Summons a humble working man.
Miller, shaken, scared,
Pleases king, saying daughter
Spins straw into gold.
The king, a very greedy king, says bring her here, then she can spin and be my wife or die.
The daughter is very beautiful and also shrewd as well as clever but she’s really not up to the task.
Daughter locked in room
Piles of straw, spinning wheel too.
Spin gold or die? Sobs…
The next thing she knows is a little man, (manikin, troll, angel?) appears and for a price offers to do the job (not an angel). So she offers her ring and he spins the straw into gold:
‘Round about, round, round
Lo, behold, straw spun to gold
Reel away, more, more
When the straw was gone the dwarf man disappeared. The king, next day allowed that that gold was fine but, greedier than ever wanted more (or was that just to prove her worthy wife material?).
Piles and piles of it. Again?
What now? Oh woe, woe
While she was weeping the manikin appeared again but this time offered his services at a price, a huge price: her firstborn child.
Well, she thought this job is too big even for the little man’s magic and I’ll die before I have a child anyway so she said OK and the dwarf set to work. He was fast.
Round about, round, round
Lo, behold, straw spun to gold
Reel away, more—done
The great straw pile was gone. All turned to gold in a twinkling. Manikin vanished.
The king was delighted and married her forthwith. No more testing. Besides if she’s my queen I can make her refill the treasury any time I want.
The new queen soon with
Child forgot the little man.
Time passed; first babe born.
King and queen were thrilled. Little man, manikin, dwarf, troll (he really was a troll) was totally forgotten. (Trolls always want human children.)
One evening the little troll reappeared in the young queen’s boudoire.
It’s time to pay up.
Give me what you promised now.
The queen began to weep inconsolably and shake with alarm. What have I done?
What can I give you instead? But the dwarf was adamant. Nothing! I will have the child because I will!
The went on and on until the manikin relented somewhat.
I’ll come back. Three days.
Guess my name by then; if not
Your son is mine. Mine.
Again he disappears and the queen is still stunned. What to do. A plan. She sends all the king’s horses and all the king’s men out and around to ascertain the troll’s name. No luck the first day. No luck the second day. No luck the third day either except for one old huntsman who couldn’t keep up with the rest. Sitting on a log in the forest quiet he hears merry singing.
Today I brew and
Tomorrow I bake; the next
Thing—the boy I take!
The old huntsman creeps closer and sees the troll dancing around a fire in front of his cave. Oblivious in the dusk he sings:
The queen won’t ever
Know my fame—Rumpelstiltskin
Really is my name.
Poor Troll. Should not have celebrated so soon.
Vary quietly leaving the forest the huntsman races back to tell the queen who, in a funk-had about given up. Tables turned, the ecstatic queen now thinks how she’ll string along the manikin when he comes to collect.
Tease him with titles
Name after name and then-bam!
his real cognomen!
And so she did; in front of her whole court too. Norman, no, Jake, no, Aloyisius, no—how about RUMPELSTILTSKIN?
“Witch, you’re a witch,” he says. The queen sweetly smiles.
Down through the floor, deep
Rumpelstiltskin stamps so heavily through the castle floor into the earth that he disappears completely—swallowed up, back to troll country.
Finis, finis, fin
Moral? What can you winkle
Out of this story?
The Carrion Crow
Crows abound in the neighborhood and around the yard. Often in early morning a great, noisy caw-fest occurs.
A carrion crow
sat on an oak, fol de rid-
dle, lol de riddle…
Only tiny oaks sprout here and there, as planted by industrious blue jays. Crows sit in the neighbors’ incense cedar, redwoods and other miscellaneous, unlooked-after bushes.
Watching a taylor
Shape his cloak; Sing heigh-ho the
carrion crow, fol…
Crows are very smart, it’s known. They can pick latches, love to collect small shiny objects and are good thieves.
Wife bring me my old,
bent bow, fol de riddle, lol
De riddle, hi ding…
Crows in this neighborhood are urban crows. It may be this makes them smarter than their country cousins. Nevertheless they are well nourished and sleek for living on the city streets.
That I may shoot
Yon carrion crow; sing heigh-
Ho, the carrion…
Crows often crack a walnut by dropping it repeatedly from a street light standard. There’s an instance in town where a house down-spout was clogged with too many shells. A crow or crows opened nuts while on the roof.
The Taylor he shot
And missed his mark, fol de rid-
dle, lol de riddle…
A crow across town enjoyed a left-over, smashed-flat-in-a-parking lot, bag of French-fry and hamburger leavings; held the paper down with a foot and picked it clean.
And shot his old sow
Quite through the heart; sing heigh-ho
The carrion crow,
Fol-de-riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do.
Wife bring brandy—in
A spoon for our old sow is
In a swoon! Heigh-ho…