22 April 2011

Friday night folktale: A Little Trip to Heaven

I wanted to post an Easter tale today, but the only one I could find in my small collection of folktales is a variation of a story I have posted before, so here instead is a tall tale. 

Tall tales are a favourite among most societies, and Icelanders are no exception. I seem to recall a Munchausen’s tale that has some elements in common with this one.

Once upon a time there was a king and queen who ruled over a small country. They had one daughter.There was also a widow who lived on a small farm. She had one son. 

The king had sworn to give his daughter‘s hand in marriage to the first man who would tell him something he did not believe. Many had tried, but all had failed. The widow‘s son now decided to try his luck and went to the palace and offered to tell the king a tale. His offer was accepted and he began his tale so: 

"Once I was with my mother in her kitchen and she was whipping some milk and doing it with such gusto that soon a solid column of whipped milk rose up into the air and went up through the kitchen chimney and reached all the way to Heaven. So I took my mother‘s kitchen poker and used it to poke holes in the milk column and pull myself up it until I reached Heaven."

"What did you see there?“ asked the king.

"The Saviour was carrying hay, Saint Peter was taking the hay home on the back of a skewbald mare, and the Virgin Mary was baking bread. She gave me one loaf. 

I then turned back and when I got to the edge of Heaven I sat down to pick lice off myself. I took the intestines from all the lice, tied them together into a rope and fastened it to Heaven‘s edge and then I climbed down the rope.

The rope didn‘t reach quite all the way down, and when I reached the end I saw below me a heard of bulls that were drinking water from a brook. I was then ten arm‘s lengths from the ground. I let go of the rope and when the bulls heard my fall, they all looked up and I landed in the mouth of one of them, the very biggest. They were all your majesty‘s bulls.

The bull swallowed me up and when I reached its stomach I saw such sights, such beauty! There was room after glorious room and I walked from one to the other, going deeper into the bull‘s guts, until I reached the most glorious room of them all. There I saw twelve people sitting at a table, with your royal majesty right at the end of the table.“

"That‘s a lie,“ said the king. "I have never been inside a bull‘s arse!“

And that is how the widow‘s son won the hand of the princess.


Copyright notice: The wording used to tell this folk-tale is under copyright. The story itself is not copyrighted. If you want to re-tell it, for a collection of folk-tales, incorporate it into fiction, use it in a school essay or any kind of publication, please tell it in your own words or give the proper attribution if you choose to use the wording unchanged.

1 comment:

Phaedosia said...

Ha! I love it! Thanks for posting.