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Underworld Maiden

In the house where I live, I serve an old grey-bearded man. I am not allowed to speak. Only the old man can speak, and his grandmother, whose snoring can be heard throughout the countryside. But the rest of us must remain silent. Not even the oxen are allowed to...

Underworld Speaking

A grey-bearded stranger comes and goes from here. He stamps the ground three times with his left foot and I open a secret door. Then he comes down from above and enters my thick darkness. Here, the earth and water, trees and plants, birds and beasts are only pale...

Ian the Privileged Prince

I was much loved by my mother and father, and I grew up tall and strong and handsome. I learned to run and shoot, and I could swim and dive better than any lad my age in the isles of the west. I knew how to sail, I sang with the harp, and I liked nothing better than...

Princess Who Appears as a Hag

When the young man found me, I had been shut away for a long, long time. How did he find me? Not by any ordinary means. The Castle of the Golden Sun is not on any map. Yet, he arrived, and when he came in, he was shocked to see me. My skin was grey and wrinkled, my...

Maiden in the Dark

The drummer has taken my linen shift! My sisters have flown from the lake, and I am stranded here. I have to follow him. But I’m naked! I’ll keep myself hidden, but what else can I do? Without my linen I have no wings to fly back to the castle. I follow him home and...

High and Mighty Tower

I am a landmark in this country. People can see me from miles away. A high and mighty princess inhabits my high apartments, and she can see the whole kingdom through my twelve windows. Through the first window she can see more clearly than any human being, in every...

Servant Girl

I was in the carriage with the family when the robbers attacked. They sprang out of the thicket, and killed everyone but me. I ran and ran and now I'm alone in the woods, without any food or shelter. What will I do? I can't find my way back to the road, and even if I...

Raven Princess

My mother has turned me into a raven, and though I have told a young man how to set me free, he can't resist the temptation to eat and drink. For three days, he has failed to stay awake. He has lost his chances now, and so I have left him with several gifts. I have...

Mirror of Understanding

The Snow Queen calls me the Mirror of Understanding, but I am cracked in a thousand pieces. She has recruited an intelligent little boy named Kay to fit my pieces together, but he has gone quite black and blue with cold. His heart has become a lump of ice, and yet he...

Princess Coming Out of Isolation

When the green knight stopped coming to the castle, I became frantic. What happened to my love? Surely he did not give his heart to another. Yet, what could I know, isolated on that lonely island? It was the only place where I could live safely, out of the reach of my...

Snowflake

My mother and father wanted a child so much that they made me out of snow, and I came to life. They called me Snowflake. Spring has arrived. The fields are full of flowers. Nightingales sing in the trees, and my friends are playing outside and shouting with glee. The...

Snow Man

I take pride in being cool and collected. I'm a Snow Man, after all. But something at the very core of me cracks. It's always cracking, and I find myself longing for something that is not at all becoming of a Snow Man—the hot stove! I look through the window of the...

Urashimataro

I do not know where I belong anymore. My parents, my children, their children, are dead. I have seen their graves and with my own fingers I have felt their names crumbling away under the moss. Where is my home? Not on the land. Not beneath. I open the jeweled box that...

Little Match Girl

I make my living selling matches on the street. They burn so prettily, why won't anyone buy them? I know, because they already have light in their homes, and so much warmth. Oh, what warmth! I don't have any of that. I'm freezing cold but I don't want to go home...

Merchant Father

I can tell you firsthand that the wealthiest merchant can lose his fortune overnight, and fall into the direst poverty! My house burned to the ground quite suddenly. My six sons and six daughters fortunately survived the fire, but all the splendid furniture, the...

Parrot of the Beast

When the girl came into our room of parrots and cockatoos, she had songbirds from the aviary perching on her shoulders and her head. I squawked. "Awk! Hello, pretty bird. Pretty songs. Awk!“ "Aren't you a handsome fellow!" she said, opening my cage door. "You might...

Sea Tower Princess

One day, when I was standing on the balcony of my sea tower, the most extraordinary figure rose out of the water. He seemed to be some kind of a man, with a bluish face and long, sea-green hair. He swam towards the tower, and I was amazed to see that the sharks took...

Abandoned Youth

I have been surviving alone on this island for months. Winter has come, and I've collected all the driftwood I can. I'm standing on the shore and looking out towards the mainland, thinking of Christmas Eve last year and the fun I had celebrating with my friends....

Glass Princess

Everybody wants to realize the dream, and I am the dream. I sit in my silver room, in my golden castle on a high glass mountain. The suitor who reaches the top and plucks the golden apple from the tree will join me in my enchanted life. Many have died trying. The...

Child Left to the Wolves

My sister went into the woods and she never came back. Something must have eaten her. Where am I going to get more food? Now I've gone into the woods and I've eaten all the nuts I can find. The snow is coming, and, oh, I'm so cold! The wolves are howling, and I'm...

Lonely Husband

When she stopped hunting with me, life became hard. When I hunted alone, I never had any luck. Then she fell ill and died, and I was left alone in an empty house, far away from our people. Her absence became so unbearable that I made a wooden doll in her image. The...

Snow-daughter

I am cold. I have always been cold. I must stay in the cold or I'll melt. In the winter, I live in the forest. In the summer, I come inside, and I stay in the cold cellar. My brother is the opposite. He must have heat. He spends his summers outside, and, in the...

Dying Emperor

I am cold and pale and the halls of the palace are silent. I am dying slowly...too slowly. The monotony is deadening. If only someone would sing to me! Music would drive away the doom that weighs on my chest. Even the moonlight streaming through the window is silent....

Shepherd Who Survived the Flood

How did we survive being overwhelmed by the flood? The good witch turned me into a frog, and my wife into a toad. We were carried on the water, but it tore us apart and carried us far away from one another. When the flood ended, we resumed our natural shapes, but we...