We visited Kenyon College again yesterday. The Admissions office is in Ransom Hall, named after Kenyon poet John Crowe Ransom. Across the top of the building are a set of crows, the work of Peter Woytuk, a 1980 Kenyon graduate who is considered one the foremost sculptors of animal forms in the world. I wanted to share a photo of the crows, so I found a crow story to go along with them today. “The Crow” is a Polish fairy tale that Andrew Lang included in his Yellow Fairy Book, 1889.
A king has three beautiful daughters, although the youngest of them is the most loveable. And as we know, the youngest is almost always the hero/heroine of a fairy tale. While walking in a garden near the ruins of a nearby castle, the youngest princess comes upon a crow that has been badly wounded. Noticing that the princess pities it, the crow reveals to her that he is a prince enchanted into taking the form of a crow for seven years. However, should the princess agree to live in the one remaining habitable room of the castle and sleep on the golden bed each night without making a sound, she might free him. He warns her that if she does not obey this, his suffering will be doubled.
The princess agrees and moves into the ruined castle without hesitation. Every night at midnight, wicked ghosts appear and threaten her until dawn, yet in spite of her terror she makes no sound. Each morning the visitor disappear when the cock crows. The crow visits her daily, telling her that his suffering is less and less. One of her visiting sisters attempts to sleep in the golden bed with the youngest princess, yet is so terrified by the apparitions she screams; the youngest princess insists on being alone after this incident. The princess continues on with her silence.
After two years, the crow tells her he will soon be free of his spell, as seven years is almost over. However, before he can regain his form, the princess must find work as a servant for one year. She succeeds, but is treated poorly by her new master despite her youth and beauty. As the year comes to an end, the prince regains his human form and marries the princess. They return to live in the ruined castle, which has now been fully restored. “And there they lived for a hundred years, a hundred years of joy and happiness.”
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.