Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Tale of Hope

Four Candles burned slowly.
Their Ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak ....

The first candle said, "I Am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep me lit."
Then Peace's flame slowly diminished and went out completely.

The second candle said, "I Am Faith, but these days, I am no longer indispensable."
Then Faith's flame slowly diminished and went out completely.

Sadly the third candle spoke, "I Am Love and I haven't the strength to stay lit any longer."
"People put me aside and don't understand my importance. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them."
And waiting no longer, Love went out completely.

A child entered the room and saw the three candles no longer burning.

The child began to cry, "Why are you not burning? You're supposed to stay lit until the end."

Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the child, "Don't be afraid, for I Am Hope, and while I still burn, we can re-light the other candles."

With Shining eyes the child took the Candle of Hope and lit the other three candles.

Never let the Flame of Hope go out of your life.

With Hope, no matter how bad things look and are...Peace, Faith and Love can Shine Brightly in our lives.

Author Unknown

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Coyote Steals Fire

I happened to find this wonderful vid (on Youtube of course) and I couldn't wait to share it.
The animators tell the story of Coyote Steals Fire without using words.
I think it's very well done.
I have added a written version of the story after the vid.
You'll notice that the written version is different than video. It has more animal characters.

How Coyote Stole Fire (Karuk)

Long ago, when man was newly come into the world, there were days when he was the happiest creature of all. Those were the days when spring brushed across the willow tails, or when his children ripened with the blueberries in the sun of summer, or when the goldenrod bloomed in the autumn haze.
But always the mists of autumn evenings grew more chill, and the sun's strokes grew shorter. Then man saw winter moving near, and he became fearful and unhappy. He was afraid for his children, and for the grandfathers and grandmothers who carried in their heads the sacred tales of the tribe. Many of these, young and old, would die in the long, ice-bitter months of winter.

Coyote, like the rest of the People, had no need for fire. So he seldom concerned himself with it, until one spring day when he was passing a human village. There the women were singing a song of mourning for the babies and the old ones who had died in the winter. Their voices moaned like the west wind through a buffalo skull, prickling the hairs on Coyote's neck.
"Feel how the sun is now warm on our backs," one of the men was saying. "Feel how it warms the earth and makes these stones hot to the touch. If only we could have had a small piece of the sun in our teepees during the winter."

Coyote, overhearing this, felt sorry for the men and women. He also felt that there was something he could do to help them. He knew of a faraway mountain-top where the three Fire Beings lived. These Beings kept fire to themselves, guarding it carefully for fear that man might somehow acquire it and become as strong as they.
Coyote saw that he could do a good turn for man at the expense of these selfish Fire Beings. So Coyote went to the mountain of the Fire Beings and crept to its top. He watched the way that the Beings guarded their fire. As he approached, the Beings leaped to their feet and gazed searchingly round their camp. Their eyes glinted like bloodstones, and their hands were clawed like the talons of the great black vulture.

"What's that? What's that I hear?" hissed one of the Beings.

"A thief, skulking in the bushes!" screeched another.

The third looked more closely, and saw Coyote.
But he had gone to the mountain-top on all fours, so the Being thought she saw only an ordinary coyote slinking among the trees.
"It is no one, it is nothing!" she cried, and the other two looked where she pointed and also saw only a grey coyote. They sat down again by their fire and paid Coyote no more attention.

So he watched all day and night as the Fire Beings guarded their fire. He saw how they fed it pine cones and dry branches from the sycamore trees. He saw how they stamped furiously on runaway rivulets of flame that sometimes nibbled outwards on edges of dry grass. He saw also how, at night, the Beings took turns to sit by the fire. Two would sleep while one was on guard; and at certain times the Being by the fire would get up and go into their teepee, and another would come out to sit by the fire.

Coyote saw that the Beings were always jealously watchful of their fire except during one part of the day. That was in the earliest morning, when the first winds of dawn arose on the mountains. Then the Being by the fire would hurry, shivering, into the teepee calling, "Sister, sister, go out and watch the fire." But the next Being would always be slow to go out for her turn, her head spinning with sleep and the thin dreams of dawn.

Coyote, seeing all this, went down the mountain and spoke to his friends among the People. He told them of hairless man, fearing the cold and death of winter. And he told them of the Fire Beings, and the warmth and brightness of the flame. They all agreed that man should have fire, and they all promised to help Coyote's undertaking.

Then Coyote sped again to the mountain top. Again the Fire Beings leaped up when he came close, and one cried out, "What's that? A thief, a thief!"

But again the others looked closely, and saw only a grey coyote hunting among the bushes. So they sat down again and paid him no more attention.

Coyote waited through the day, and watched as night fell and two of the Beings went off to the teepee to sleep. He watched as they changed over at certain times all the night long, until at last the dawn winds rose.

Then the Being on guard called, "Sister, sister, get up and watch the fire."

And the Being whose turn it was climbed slow and sleepy from her bed, saying, "Yes, yes, I am coming. Do not shout so."
But before she could come out of the teepee, Coyote lunged from the bushes, snatched up a glowing portion of fire, and sprang away down the mountainside.

Screaming, the Fire Beings flew after him. Swift as Coyote ran, they caught up with him, and one of them reached out a clutching hand. Her fingers touched only the tip of the tail, but the touch was enough to turn the hairs white, and coyote tail tips are white still. Coyote shouted, and flung the fire away from him. But the others of the People had gathered at the mountain's foot.
Squirrel saw the fire falling, and caught it, putting it on her back and fleeing away through the treetops. The fire scorched her back so painfully that her tail curled up and back, as squirrels' tails still do today.

The Fire Beings then pursued Squirrel, who threw the fire to Chipmunk. Chattering with fear, Chipmunk stood still as if rooted until the Beings were almost upon her. Then, as she turned to run, one Being clawed at her, tearing down the length of her back and leaving three stripes that are to be seen on chipmunks' backs even today.

Chipmunk threw the fire to Frog, and the Beings turned towards him. One of the Beings grasped his tail, but Frog gave a mighty leap and tore himself free, leaving his tail behind in the Being's hand, which is why frogs have had no tails ever since.

As the Beings came after him again, Frog flung the fire on to Wood. And Wood swallowed it.

The Fire Beings gathered round, but they did not know how to get the fire out of Wood. They promised it gifts, sang to it and shouted at it. They twisted it and struck it and tore it with their knives. But Wood did not give up the fire. In the end, defeated, the Beings went back to their mountaintop and left the People alone.

But Coyote knew how to get fire out of Wood. And he went to the village of men and showed them how. He showed them the trick of rubbing two dry sticks together, and the trick of spinning a sharpened stick in a hole made in another piece of wood.
So man was from then on warm and safe through the killing cold of winter.

story found online at Native American Trickster Tales

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why Eagle is Bald...a Raven Tale

This is a Canadian TV show based on Native American folk tales.
The story is in 3 parts.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What Women Want.....

"Women wish to be loved not because they are pretty, or good, or well bred, or graceful, or intelligent, but because they are themselves"
Henri Frederic Amiel-1821-1881, Swiss Philosopher, Poet, Critic

I found this quote a few days ago and the first story I thought of was the tale of Sir Gawain and the Lady Ragnell.
Hmmm...okay to be honest the FIRST story I thought of was the Wife of Bath's tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales THEN I thought of Sir Gawain and the Lady Ragnell.

The Wife of Bath's tale and The Marriage of Sir Gawain, sometimes titled the Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell, are very similar stories.
In both stories, a male character must look for the answer to the question "What is it that women most desire?" In both stories, if they can not find the answer to the question, they face death. Both characters get the correct answer from an old, not very attractive (understatement), woman.

In Chaucer's tale, a knight is asked this question by Queen Guinevere. If he can find the answer, he will not be killed for his crime (the crime was the rape of a maiden).
In Sir Gawain's story, it is King Arthur who is asked the question by his rival/enemy Sir Gromer.
I have chosen two versions of the story. The first is from Bullfinch's Mythology, The Age of Chivalry and the second is an anonymous text from 1450 translated from the original Middle English.

Once upon a time King Arthur held his court in merry Carlisle, when a damsel came before him and craved a boon. It was for vengeance upon a caitiff knight, who had made her lover captive and despoiled her of her lands. King Arthur commanded to bring him his sword, Excalibar, and to saddle his steed, and rode forth without delay to right the lady’s wrong. Ere long he reached the castle of the grim baron, and challenged him to the conflict. But the castle stood on magic ground, and the spell was such that no knight could tread thereon but straight his courage fell and his strength decayed. King Arthur felt the charm, and before a blow was struck his sturdy limbs lost their strength, and his head grew faint. He was fain to yield himself prisoner to the churlish knight, who refused to release him except upon condition that he should return at the end of a year, and bring a true answer to the question, “What thing is it which women most desire?” or in default thereof surrender himself and his lands. King Arthur accepted the terms, and gave his oath to return at the time appointed. During the year the king rode east, and he rode west, and inquired of all whom he met what thing it is which all women most desire. Some told him riches; some pomp and state; some mirth; some flattery; and some a gallant knight. But in the diversity of answers he could find no sure dependence. The year was well nigh spent when, one day, as he rode thoughtfully through a forest, he saw sitting beneath a tree a lady of such hideous aspect that he turned away his eyes, and when she greeted him in seemly sort made no answer. “What wight art thou,” the lady said, “that will not speak to me? It may chance that I may resolve thy doubts, though I be not fair of aspect.” “If thou wilt do so,” said King Arthur, “choose what reward thou wilt, thou grim lady, and it shall be given thee.” “Swear me this upon thy faith,” she said, and Arthur swore it. Then the lady told him the secret, and demanded her reward, which was that the king should find some fair and courtly knight to be her husband.

King Arthur hastened to the grim baron’s castle and told him one by one all the answers which he had received from his various advisers, except the last, and not one was admitted as the true one. “Now yield thee, Arthur,” the giant said, “for thou hast not paid thy ransom, and thou and thy lands are forfeited to me.” Then King Arthur said:–

“Yet hold thy hand, thou proud baron,
I pray thee hold thy hand.
And give me leave to speak once more,
In rescue of my land.
This morn, as I came over a moor,
I saw a lady set,
Between an oak and a green holly,
All clad in red scarlet.
She says all women would have their will,
This is their chief desire;
Now yield, as thou art a baron true,
That I have paid my hire.”

“It was my sister that told thee this,” the churlish baron exclaimed. “Vengeance light on her! I will some time or other do her as ill a turn.”

King Arthur rode homeward, but not light of heart; for he remembered the promise he was under to the loathly lady to give her one of his young and gallant knights for a husband. He told his grief to Sir Gawain, his nephew, and he replied, “Be not sad, my lord, for I will marry the loathly lady.” King Arthur replied:–

“Now nay, now nay, good Sir Gawaine,
My sister’s son ye be;
The loathly lady’s all too grim,
And all too foule for thee.”

But Gawain persisted, and the king at last, with sorrow of heart, consented that Gawain should be his ransom. So, one day, the king and his knights rode to the forest, met the loathly lady, and brought her to the court. Sir Gawain stood the scoffs and jeers of his companions as he best might, and the marriage was solemnized, but not with the usual festivities, Chaucer tells us:–

“There was no joye, ne feste at alle;
There n’as but hevinesse and mochel sorwe,
For prively he wed her on the morwe,
And all day after hid him as an owle,
So wo was him his wife loked so foule!”

When night came, and they were alone together, Sir Gawain could not conceal his aversion; and the lady asked him why he sighed so heavily, and turned away his face. He candidly confessed it was on account of three things, her age, her ugliness, and her low degree. The lady, not at all offended, replied with excellent arguments to all his objections. She showed him that with age is discretion, with ugliness security from rivals, and that all true gentility depends, not upon the accident of birth, but upon the character of the individual.

Sir Gawain made no reply; but, turning his eyes on his bride, what was his amazement to perceive that she wore no longer the unseemly aspect that had so distressed him. She then told him that the form she had worn was not her true form, but a disguise imposed upon her by a wicked enchanter, and that she was condemned to wear it until two things should happen; one, that she should obtain some young and gallant knight to be her husband. This having been done, one half of the charm was removed. She was now at liberty to wear her true form for half the time, and she bade him choose whether he would have her fair by day and ugly by night, or the reverse. Sir Gawain would fain have had her look, her best by night, when he alone should see her, and show her repulsive visage, if at all, to others. But she reminded him how much more pleasant it would be to her to wear her best looks in the throng of knights and ladies by day. Sir Gawain yielded, and gave up his will to hers. This alone was wanting to dissolve the charm. The lovely lady now with joy assured him that she should change no more; but as she now was so would she remain by night as well as by day.

“Sweet blushes stayned her rud-red cheek,
Her eyen were black as sloe,
The ripening cherrye swelled her lippe,
And all her neck was snow.
Sir Gawain kist that ladye faire
Lying upon the sheete,
And swore, as he was a true knight,
The spice was never so swete.”

The dissolution of the charm which had held the lady also released her brother, the “grim baron,” for he too had been implicated in it. He ceased to be a churlish oppressor, and became a gallant and generous knight as any at Arthur’s court.

from Bulfinch's Mythology_Age of Chivalry,Legends of King Arthur


Hark and listen to the life of a rich lord
Who, while he lived, was like no one else
In bedroom or in court.
In the time of Arthur this adventure was,
And he himself, the courteous and royal king.
Of all knighthood he bore away the honor,
Wherever he went.
In his country there was nothing but chivalry:
He loved all brave knights;
Cowards were always disgraced.

Now, if you will listen a bit to my talking,
I shall tell you of Arthur the king
And what once befell him
As he was hunting in Inglewood
With all his bold knights.

Listen to my tale:
The king stood at his deer blind,
Ready with his bow to slay a wild deer,
And his knights sat there beside him.
As the king waited, he became aware
Of a great and beautiful hart standing.
When the men saw the king,
They waited as still as they could.
Then the hart darted off
Into a fern thicket

"Hold still, everyone,
And I will go myself,
Stalking as best I can,"
The king said, taking bow in hand.
Like a good hunter he stooped
Low to stalk the deer.

When he got close,
The hart jumped into a briar patch.
But the king crept closer and closer,
And so it went, until the king had gone,
I would swear, half a mile.
No man went with him.

At last, Arthur let fly an arrow
And hit the hart squarely,
Such was the grace God had sent him.
Down the deer tumbled, wounded,
And fell into a large fern thicket.
The king followed quickly
And savagely killed the deer
As it chewed the grass.

While the king was alone with the deer
Suddenly there came to him a quaint fellow
Armed well and sure--
A knight strong and mighty.
He said these grim words to the king:

"Well met, King Arthur!
You have done me wrong many a year,
And woefully I shall repay you now.
Indeed, you have wrongfully given
My lands to Sir Gawain.
What say you, king, alone as you are?"

"Sir knight, what is your honored name?" said Arthur.

"Sir king," he answered, "Gromer Somer Joure,
I tell you now the truth."

"Ah, Sir Gromer Somer, think you well
that slaying me here will get you no honor.
Remember that you are a knight.
If you slay me now--in this situation--
All knights will refuse you everywhere.
That shame shall never leave you.
Let your anger go and follow reason,
And I shall fix what is amiss--
If you wish--before I go."

"No," said Sir Gromer Somer, "by heaven's king!
You shall not escape by lying.
I have the advantage now.
If I should let you go with mocking,
Another time you will defy me.
I shall not fail in my purpose."

Then said the king, "So God save me!
But, sir, spare my life and ask anything;
I shall grant it you right now.
Shame you shall have in killing my at hunting--
You armed and me like this."

"All this will not help you, surely,"
Said Sir Gromer Somer.
"For I want neither land nor gold, really.
Will you grant me, at a certain day--
Which I will set--to come again as you are?"

"Yes," said the king. "Here is my hand."

"Yes, but, abide, king, and hear me awhile.
First you shall swear
Upon my burnished sword
To tell me when next we meet
What women love best
In field and in town.
And you shall meet me
Here without my sending for you
At the end of twelve months;
And you shall swear
Upon my good sword--
And by the holy cross--
that none of your knights
Will come with you,
Neither friend nor stranger.
And if you fail to bring an answer
You shall lose
Your head for your trouble.
This shall now be your oath.
What do you say, king?
Let's get this over with."

"Sir, I swear to this. Now let me be gone.
Though it is to me very sad,
I swear to you as a true king
To come again at the end of twelve months
And bring you your answer."

"Go your way, King Arthur,
Your life is in my hand, I am sure.
You are not aware of your sorrow.
Yet, wait, King Arthur, a little while.
Be sure you are not beguiled today.
And keep all this in secret;
For if I knew, by the mild virgin,
That you would betray me anywhere,
You would lose your life now."

"No," said King Arthur, "that will not be.
You will not find me an untrue knight.
I would much rather die.
Farewell, sir, ill-met knight.
I will come on the day set,
Even though there be no escape."

Then the king blew his bugle.
Every knight recognized it
And rushed to him right away.
There they found the hart
And the king with a sad face and spirit.
He no longer felt like sport.

"We shall go home to Carlisle.
I don't feel like hunting anymore."

All the lords knew by his look
That the king had met with some disturbance.

The king went to Carlisle
And no man knew
The reason for his sorrow,
For his heart so heavy.
His heart was very heavy,
And in this heaviness he stayed
So long that his knights marveled.

Finally, Sir Gawain said to the king,
"Sir, I am much amazed
And wonder at what makes you sorrowful."

The king answered quickly:
"I shall tell you, Gawain, gentle knight.
In the forest I was today,
And there I met a knight in his armor,
And certain words he said to me
And charged me that I not betray him.
I must keep his council, therefore,
Or else I am a liar."

"Dread not, lord, by the Virgin.
I am not the man who would dishonor you.
Neither in the evening nor the morning,"
Said Sir Gawain.

The king said:
"Truly, I was hunting in Inglewood.
By the cross, you know I killed a deer.
I was alone and there
Met a well-armed knight.
His name, he told me,
Was Sir Gromer Somer Joure.
And therefore I make my moan.
That knight threatened me
And would have slain me in his anger
Except that I spoke well in return.
I had no weapons, so,
Alas, my honor is gone."

"What of it?" said Gawain.

Arthur said; "I do not lie.
He would have slain me without mercy,
He hated me so much. He made me swear
That at the end of twelve months
I shall meet him there again, unarmed,
And to that I pledged my faith.
At that time I must tell him
What women desire most.
Otherwise, I lose my life.
This oath I made to that knight,
And that I would not tell this to anyone.
I had no choice about it.
And I swore I would come in no other clothes
Than those I wore when first we met.
If I fail to answer the question,
I know I shall be killed then and there.
Blame me not for being a woeful man.
All this is my dread and my fear."

"Yea, sir, be of good cheer,"
Said Sir Gawain. "Let your horse be made ready
To ride into a foreign country,
And indeed everywhere
You meet man or woman
Ask of them what they have to answer.
And I shall also ride--another way--
And inquire of every man and woman
And learn what I may
Of every man and woman's answer.
These answers I shall write in a book"

"I grant," said the king quickly,
that this is well advised, Gawain the Good.
Even by the holy cross."

Soon were they both ready,
Gawain and the king.
The king rode one way, Gawain the other.
And they inquired of both men and women
What it is women desire most.

Some said women love to be well dressed;
Some said they love to be well courted;
Some said they love a lusty man
Who will clasp them in his arms and kiss them;
Some said one thing, some said another,
And so Gawain got many an answer.

Soon Gawain had spent many a day,
Having gotten so many answers
That he had a book large indeed.
So he went to the court again.
By that time the king had come back also,
With his book, and each looked
At the volumes the other had written.

"We shall not fail," said Gawain.

"By God," said the king, "I am afraid.
I see I must seek more in Inglewood forest.
I have but a month more to go.
Perhaps I will happen on good news.
This I now think is best."

"Do as you wish," said Gawain.
"Whatever you do, I will be satisfied.
It is good to be on this quest.
Some of these answers will be correct,
Otherwise would be very bad luck."


King Arthur rode out his gate
The next day into Inglewood.
There he met with a lady.
She was the ugliest creature
That a man ever saw.
King Arthur surely marveled.
Her face was red, her nose running,
Her mouth wide, her teeth all yellow.
Her eyes were bleary, as large as balls,
Her mouth just as large.
Her teeth hung out of her lips,
Her cheeks were as broad as a woman's hips.
He back was as curved as a lute.
Her neck was long and also thick.
Her hair clotted in a heap.
In the shoulders she was a yard across.
Her breasts would have been a load for a horse.
Like a barrel was she made.
To recite the foulness of that lady
There is no tongue fit.
She had ugliness to spare.

Yet she sat upon a gaily outfitted horse,
With gold and many a precious stone.
This was an unseemly sight
To see so measurelessly foul a creature
Riding so well, I can tell you.

She rode up to Arthur and said:
"God speed, sir king.
I am well pleased
That I have met with you.
I advise you to talk with me
For your life is in my hand.
Only I can prevent your death."

"What do you want with me, lady?"

"Sir, I will gladly speak with you
And tell you good news.
All the answers you have now
Will do you no good.
By the cross you will know that.
What? Did you think I don't know
Your secret? I know all.
Without my help, you are dead.
Grant me, sir king, one thing only.
Then I will promise you your life.
Otherwise, you lose your head."

"Lady, tell me, in few words, what you mean.
I have contempt for your words.
I have no need of you.
In short, tell me what you want, fair lady.
What is your meaning?
Why is my life in your hand?
Tell me, and I shall grant all you ask."

"Truly," said the lady, "I am no villain.
You must grant me a knight to wed.
His name is Sir Gawain.
Then I shall make you a promise.
Tell me: will you save your life
Or is my desire in vain?
If my answer saves your life,
Let me marry Sir Gawain.
Think now, sir king. For it must be so,
Or you are dead. Hurry. Tell me.
Or lose your head."

"Heavens,," said the king,"
I cannot promise you
I will order Sir Gawain to wed.
That all depends on him.
But, since it must be, I will work
At saving my life by trying.
I will tell Gawain my predicament."

"Well," she said, "now go home
And speak nicely to Gawain,
For I may save your life.
Though I am foul, I am lusty.
Through me he can save you.
Or cause your death."

"Alas!" Arthur said, "woe is me
That I should cause Gawain to marry you,
For he will hate saying no.
I've never seen such an ugly woman
Anywhere on this earth.
I don't know what to do!"

"It doesn't matter," sir king, "that I am foul.
Even an owl finds a mate.
This is the only chance you get.
When you come again, for the answer,
I will meet you here,
Or else I know you will be lost."

"Now farewell, lady," said the king.

"Yes, sir," said the lady, "there is a bird
Men call an owl. And yet I am a lady."

"What is your name, I pray you tell me."

"Sir king, I am truly called Dame Ragnell,
Who never yet lied to a man."

"Dame Ragnell, have a good day."

"Sir king, God speed you on your way.
I shall meet you right here.

Thus they departed, fair and well,
And the king came soon to Carlisle,
His heart heavy and sad.

The first man he met was Sir Gawain
Who said to the king,
"Sire, how have you done?"

"Foresooth," said the king, "never as badly.
Alas! I am at the point of killing myself,
For I would be better off dead."

"No," said Gawain, "that must not be.
I would rather be dead myself.
This is very distressing news."

"Gawain, I met the foulest lady today,
Certainly the worst I've ever seen.
She told me she would save my life
But first she wants to have a husband.
Therefore, I moan. I am woebegone."

"Is that all?" said Gawain.
"I shall wed her and wed her again,
Even if she be a fiend.
Even were she as foul as Beelzebub,
I would wed here, I swear by the cross.
Otherwise, I wouldn't be your friend.
You are my honored king
And have done me good many times.
Therefore, I hesitate not
To save your life, my lord. It is my duty.
Otherwise, I would be a false coward.
My service is better than that!"
"Indeed, Gawain, I met her in Inglewood.
I swear, she told me her name.
It is Dame Ragnell.
She said unless I had her answer,
All my labor is in vain.
She said that.
But if her answer helps me,
Then she wants you.
That's what she said.
She promised me that.

"As for this," said Gawain,
"It will not stop me.
I will wed her at the time you set.
I pray you worry no more.
Though she be the foulest person
That ever has been seen on earth,
For you I will not hesitate."

"Oh, thank you, Gawain," said King Arthur.
"Of all knights, you are the best
That I have ever found!
You have saved my life and reputation forever.
I will never stop honoring you
As long as I am king of the land!"


Five or six days later,
The king was to make his answer.
The king and Sir Gawain rode out of town,
No men with them, far or near,
But all alone. When the king got to the forest
He said, "Sir Gawain, farewell.
I must go West. You should go no farther."

"My lord, God speed you on your journey.
I wish I could ride with you,
For parting ways makes me quite sad."

The king had ridden only a short distance,
No more than a mile, when we me Dame Ragnell.

"Ah! Sir king! You are welcome here!
I know you come with your answer
That will help you not a little."

"Now," said the king, "since it's the only way,
Tell me your answer and save my life.
Sir Gawain will marry you.
He has promised to save my life,
And you shall have your desire,
Both in chamber and in bed.
Therefore, tell me quickly,
At last, what will help me.
Hurry. I can't wait."

"Sire," said Dame Ragnell,
"Now you shall know
What women want most,
From rich men and poor.
I will tell you the truth.
Some men say we desire to be beautiful.
Or that we desire sex
With as many men as we can find.
Others say we want pleasure in bed.
Others say we want many husbands.
You men just don't understand.
We want an entirely different thing.
We want to be seen as young, fresh.
We want to be flattered cleverly.
Thus you men can win us always
And get what you want.
But there is one thing that is our fantasy,
And that is what you shall know now:
We desire most from men,
From men both rich and poor,
To have sovereignty without lies.
For where we have sovereignty, all is ours,
Though a knight be ever so fierce,
And ever win mastery.
It is our desire to have mastery
Over such a sir. Such is our purpose.
Therefore, go, sir king, on your way,
And tell that knight what I have told you
That we women want most.
He will be angry and harsh
And curse the one who asked you,
For he has lost the battle.
Go, king, and keep your promise.
Your life is safe now in every way.
That much I promise."

The king rode a long time
As fast as he could go,
Through mire and moor and bog,
To the place appointed
To meet Sir Gromer.

Stern words he said to the king:
"Come on, sir king, let's hear
What your answer shall be.
I am prepared."

The king pulled out two books.
"Sir, here is my answer, I dare say,
For some will help those in need."

Sir Gromer looked at each answer.
"No, no, sir king. You are a dead man.
You shall bleed."

"Wait, Sir Gromer," said King Arthur,
"I have one answer that can't miss."

"Let's see it," said Sir Gromer,
Or else, so help me God, as I say,
You death you will have, violently.
That is for sure."

"Now," said the king, "I have seen,
As I guessed, very little kindness, by God.
Here is the answer, the true one--
What women desire most,
From rich men and from poor--
I say that above all things,
Women desire sovereignty. That is what they want.
And that is their greatest desire.
They want rule over the manliest of men,
Then they are happy. This I have learned,
And you are beaten, Sir Gromer."

"And she who told you this, King Arthur,
I pray to God I shall see her burn in fire.
That was my sister, Dame Ragnell.
That old hag! God send her shame!
Otherwise I would have tamed you.
Now I have wasted all my work.
Go where you will, King Arthur,
For now you need not fear me.
Alas! That I ever saw this day!
Now I well know you shall be my enemy.
I will never get the advantage again.
My song shall ever be alas, alas."

"No," said the king, "that much I swear.
Some armor I will ever after have, to defend myself.
That much I promise to God.
You will never find me like this again.
If you do, may I be beaten and bound,
As would be your right."

"Have a good day," said Sir Gromer.

"Farewell," said Sir Arthur. "So may I thrive.
I am glad to have beaten you."


King Arthur turned his horse toward the plain.
And soon he met with Dame Ragnell again,
In exactly the same spot as before.

"Sir king, I am glad we have won!
I told you exactly how it would be!
Now keep to what you have promised.
Since I have saved your life, me and no one else,
Gawain must marry me, Sir Arthur.
It's the only way to be an honorable knight."

"No, lady. What I promised I will not fail to do.
If you will heed my advice, keeping quiet,
You shall have all that you wish."

"No, sir king. I will not do so.
Openly I will wed, or I will leave.
Otherwise, I will be shamed.
Ride on, and I will follow you
To your court, King Arthur, sire.
I will take shame from no man.
Remember how I have saved your life.
Don't argue with me.
If you do, you bring shame on yourself."

The king felt very much ashamed,
But she rode on, despite him,
Until they got to Carlisle.
Into the court she rode, by his side,
For she would spare the feelings of no man.
The king liked it not at all.
All the people wondered greatly
At whence she had come,
Such a foul, ugly thing.
They had never seen such an ugly thing.
She rode right into the hall.

"Arthur, king, fetch me Sir Gawain quickly
Before these knights, that I may be certain
You intend to marry us, for richer or poorer.
In front of all your knights.
That was your promise.
Let's see that you do it.
Bring me my love, Sir Gawain,
As quickly as you can.
I don't want to wait any longer."

Then came forth Sir Gawain the knight.
"Sire, I am ready to do what I promised,
Ready to fulfill all my vows."

"God-a-mercy!" shouted Dame Ragnell.
"For your sake, I wish
I were a good looking woman,
Since you are such a good man."

Then sir Gawain pledged to her his troth,
For richer and for poorer.
He was a true knight.
And Dame Ragnell was happy.

"Alas!" said Dame Guinevere.
And all the ladies of her chamber said the same.
They all wept for Sir Gawain.

"Alas!" said the king and all the knights.
That he should have to wed such a person!
So foul. So horrible. They said
She had long teeth on each side,
Boar's tusks, as long as your hand,
One going up, one down on each side.
And grey hairs. And her lips
Lay like lumps on her chin.
No one had ever seen
A neck like that. She was ugly!
I swear, no one would marry her
For any reason,
Unless there was some sort
Of proclamation or law over the country.

Guinevere summoned the ladies of the land
To help keep this marriage proper,
So it was that the foul lady would be married
Unto Sir Gawain very soon.
The ladies had great pity.
"Alas!" they said. The queen begged
Dame Ragnell to marry early in the morning
And "as privately as possible."
"No," she said. "By heaven's king
That is something I will never do,
No matter what you say.
I will be wedded openly,
For I have an agreement with the king.
Do not doubt: I will not come to the church
Until high mass time, and I will dine
In the open hall, in the middle of everybody."

"I am agreed," said Dame Guinevere,
"But I think it more honorable,
And to your own benefit to do otherwise."

"Well, as to that, lady, God save you,
This day I will have what I want--
I tell you that without boasting."

She made herself ready to go to church,
And all the nobles were there--I'm not lying.
She was dressed in the very best,
Fancier even than Guinevere.
Her dress was worth a king's ransom,
A thousand marks,
The very best gold coins.
That's how richly we was dressed.
Yet for all the clothing she wore,
She still was the ugliest woman I've heard of--
A hog isn't as ugly,
I can say, to keep it short.

After she was married,
Everyone hurried to dinner.
The foul lady sat at the head of the dais.
She was very foul and rude.
Everyone said so.
When the food came,
She ate everything,
Amazing everyone.
Her nails were three inches long
And with them she uncouthly cut her meat.
Therefore she ate alone.
She ate three chickens and three curlews,
And large meat pies she also ate up, indeed.
Everyone there wondered at it.
No food came before her
But she ate it, the foul woman.
Everyone who saw her,
Both the knights and the squires,
Prayed that the devil would gnaw her bones.
So she ate until everything was gone.
Until they brought the finger towels,
As is the custom and fashion.
Many men spoke of diverse foods,
I believe you know there was
Both domestic and wild meat.
There was never a lack in King Arthur's court
Of anything that could be gotten
Either in forest or in field.
There were people there from many lands.


(NOTE: a page of the manuscript is missing here)

"Ah, Sir Gawain, since I have married you,
Show me a little courtesy in bed.
You cannot rightfully deny me that.
Indeed, Sir Gawain," the lady said,
If I were beautiful,
You would act a bit differently.
But you take no heed of marriage.
Still, for Arthur's sake, kiss me at least.
I ask that you do it,
So we can see how you manage."

Sir Gawain said, "I will do more
Than kiss, I swear to God!"
So he turned…
And saw she was
The fairest creature alive.
"Jesus!" he said. "What are you?"

"Sir, I am certainly your wife.
Why are you unkind to me?"

"Ah, lady, I am to blame.
I ask you mercy, fair madam.
I hadn't realized. You are so beautiful,
And earlier you were the ugliest woman
I have ever seen.
I am happy, lady, to see you thus."
So he embraced her in his arms
And began to kiss her
And made great joy, certainly.

"Sir," she said, "thus shall you have me.
By God, choose one--for my beauty will not hold.
Choose whether you will have me
Beautiful in the nights
And as ugly in the days, when men see me,
Or else have me beautiful in the day
And the ugliest woman in the nights.
One or the other you must have. Choose.
Choose, sir knight, which is more important
To your honor."

"Alas!" said Gawain, "the choice is hard.
Choosing the best is difficult.
I don't know what to choose.
To have you beautiful
At night and no more,
That would grieve my heart.
And I would lose my reputation.
But if I choose to have you beautiful in the day,
Then at night I would have slim pickings.
Now, gladly would I choose the best,
But I don't know what in the world to say.
Choose what you think best, happy lady.
The choice I put into your hand.
Do as you want, as you choose.
Untie me when you will, for I am bound.
I give the decision to you.
Body, possessions, heart and everything,
It is all yours, to buy and sell.
This I swear to God."

"Thank you, courteous knight," said the lady.
Of all the earth's knights, may you be blessed.
For now I am worshipped.
You shall have me beautiful both day and night,
And always I shall be fair and bright.
Therefore, grieve not,
For I was transformed through necromancy
By my stepmother, God have mercy on her.
She changed me by enchantment
From my true form--
Until the best of England
Had truly married me
And given me sovereignty
Over his body and all his goods.
Thus I was deformed,
And you, sir knight, courteous Gawain,
Have given me sovereignty indeed.
Never will you be sorry for that.
Kiss me, sir knight, right now,
I pray you. Be glad and make good cheer.
For all has turned out well."

Then they had joy beyond imagination,
The natural way of two people alone.
She thanked God and Mary
That she was recovered from her ugliness.
And so did Sir Gawain.
He made mirth in her bedroom
And gave many thanks to our savior, I can tell you.
With joy and mirth they stayed awake all night.


In the morning, the fair maiden went to get up.
"You shall not!" Sir Gawain said.
We will stay here until noon
And let the king call us to lunch."

"I agree," the maiden said,
And thus they went on till mid-day.

"Sirs," said the king, "let us go
To see if Sir Gawain is still alive.
I am very afraid for Sir Gawain,
Afraid the fiend has killed him.
I really must find out.
Go we now. We shall see them get up
And see how they have managed."

So they came to the bed chamber.
"Arise!" shouted the king to Sir Gawain.
"Why do you stay in be so long?"

"Oh, my!" said Gawain. "Surely, sir king,
I would be very happy if you would leave me alone.
For I am very much at ease.
Wait, I shall unlock the door.
Then, I think, you will say I am well fixed.
I am very reluctant to get up."

Sir Gawain arose and took his lady by the hand.
He hurried to the door and opened it.
She stood in a smock by the fire.
Her hair hung to her knees, a red gold.
"Lo, this is my pleasure."
"Lo!" said Gawain to Arthur.
"This is my wife, Dame Ragnell,
The one who saved your life."

Then he told the king and queen
How suddenly her shape had turned.
"My lord, by your leave, I will tell you
How she came to be misshapen."
Then Sir Gawain told it all.

"I thank God!" said the queen.
"I thought, Sir Gawain, you had been harmed.
I was much grieved at heart.
But I see the opposite is the case."

There were games, revelries, playing.
And every man said, "She is beautiful!"

Then the king told them all
How Dame Ragnell saved his life.
"My death had been prepared."
The king told the queen, swearing it was true,
How he had been bested in Inglewood
By Sir Gromer Somer Joure.
He told what that knight had made him swear.
"Otherwise, he would have slain me right there,
Without mercy or measure. This same lady,
Dame Ragnell, saved me from that death.
All for the love of Gawain.

Then Gawain told the king
How her stepmother had deformed her
Until a knight should save her.
And Dame Ragnell told the king
How Gawain had given her sovereignty
Over all he had. Whatever she wanted.

"God save him for such courtesy.
He saved me from villainy and a terrible fate,
One that was both foul and grim.
Therefore, courteous, gracious Gawain,
I shall never anger you. That is certain.
That promise I make to you.
While I live, I shall be obedient.
To God above I promise
That I will never quarrel with you."

"Thank you, lady," said Gawain.
"With you I feel quite content.
And I believe you will do these things."
Gawain said, "She shall have my love.
She will never lack it, for she has been
So kind to me."

The queen said, and the ladies all agreed,
"I swear by Saint John
That she is the fairest in this court.
My love, lady, you shall always have,
As I am a gentle woman,
Because you saved my lord Arthur."

Sir Gawain begot Gyngolyn of the Round Table,
A knight of strength and goodness.

And at every feast where a lady should be,
Wherever she went,
Dame Ragnell won the prize for beauty.

I can tell you without lying
That in all his life Gawain loved none so well.
He acted like a coward, avoiding jousting,
Just so he could be in bed with her day and night.
King Arthur wondered at it.

Dame Ragnell asked the king
For kindness to Sir Gromer.
"Be a good lord to Sir Gromer, indeed.
Fix the matter in which you offended him."

"Yes, lady, that I shall do for your sake,
Though I know he cannot make amends to me
For acting as he did."


Now, to make a short conclusion.
I intend to finish quickly.
This gentle lady lived with Gawain
But five years. I tell you truly,
That grieved Gawain all his life.
Yet in her life she grieved him never.
And no woman was ever dearer to him.

Thus I will stop talking.
She was the fairest lady
In all of England
When she lived.
Even Arthur said so.
Thus ends this adventure of King Arthur--
A man who suffered much in his life--
And of the wedding of Gawain.

Gawain married often in his life
But I have heard men say
He never loved another woman so well.

Thus I have told the story
Of King Arthur's hunting adventure In Inglewood.

Now, God, as you were born in Bethlehem,
Never let our souls be lost in burning fire!
And, Jesus, as you were born of a virgin,
Help the composer of this tale out of sorrow,
And in a hurry if you can.
For he is beset by jailers
With wills wrong and hard
Who keep him locked away.

Now, God, as you are the true royal king,
Help him out of danger who made this tale,
For he has been in it a long time.
Have pity on Your servant.
I give body and soul to your hand,
For my suffering is great.

Here ends The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell
For the Helping of King Arthur.

The Marriage of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell by Anonymous(circa 1450) Adapted from the Middle English by Dr. David Breeden

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Darby Ram

I decided that by now folks might be ready for me to blog about something other than recycling.
Although I must warn you that I have 3 more recycling blogs in draft form (cue evil laughter) just waiting be unleashed.
But I figured a change would be nice.
So we have The Darby Ram.
Why? Because it's a fun storysong.
And...why not?
(BTW, although this is a great song for kids, there are a few versions or verses that are definitely more for adults, I added a link for one at the end if the blog)

The Darby or Derby Ram was originally an English folk song.
Basically, it tells the story of a humongous ram and the problems of butchering it and other outrageous lies about how large it was.

according to Wiki:
Llewellyn Jewitt wrote about the song in his The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire of 1867, asserting that song had been alluded to for at least a century before that.
The song and the association of a ram with the town of Derby has been incorporated by a number of groups based there.
The song was also adapted by the English composer John Wall Callcott (1766-1821) into a 3 part glee "As I was going to Derby".

Like many English folk tunes, it made it's way to America and was....Americanized. In other words, we probably forgot all the words or the true meaning of them and just changed it around until it was relevant to our surroundings.
There are so many different versions of the lyrics, and even minor variations in the tune, that it would be impossible to name them all.
What started out as an English folk song became a ragtime classic and even a jazz classic, called "Oh Didn't He Ramble."
(I really like Louie Armstrong's and Harry Connick Jr's versions of "Didn't He Ramble")

I have included four versions of the song here.
And a video of the Darby Ram sung by Mickey and Elizabeth.

The following version is the one transcribed by Llewellynn Jewitt in The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire (1867).
As I was going to Darby, Sir,
All on a market day,
I met the finest Ram, Sir,
That ever was fed on hay.

Daddle-i-day, daddle-i-day,
Fal-de-ral, fal-de-ral, daddle-i-day.

This Ram was fat behind, Sir,
This Ram was fat before,
This Ram was ten yards high, Sir,
Indeed he was no more.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The Wool upon his back, Sir,
Reached up unto the sky,
The Eagles made their nests there, Sir,
For I heard the young ones cry.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The Wool upon his belly, Sir,
It dragged upon the ground,
It was sold in Darby town, Sir,
For forty thousand pound.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The space between his horns, Sir,
Was as far as a man could reach,
And there they built a pulpit
For the Parson there to preach.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The teeth that were in his mouth, Sir,
Were like a regiment of men;
And the tongue that hung between them, Sir,
Would have dined them twice and again.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

This Ram jumped o'er a wall, Sir,
His tail caught on a briar,
It reached from Darby town, Sir,
All into Leicestershire.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

And of this tail so long, Sir,
'Twas ten miles and an ell,
They made a goodly rope, Sir,
To toll the market bell.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

This Ram had four legs to walk on, Sir,
This Ram had four legs to stand,
And every leg he had, Sir,
Stood on an acre of land.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The Butcher that killed this Ram, Sir,
Was drownded in the blood,
And the boy that held the pail, Sir,
Was carried away in the flood.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

All the maids in Darby, Sir,
Came begging for his horns,
To take them to coopers,
To make them milking gawns.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The little boys of Darby, Sir,
They came to beg his eyes,
To kick about the streets, Sir,
For they were football size.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The tanner that tanned its hide, Sir,
Would never be poor any more,
For when he had tanned and retched it,
It covered all Sinfin Moor.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

The Jaws that were in his head, Sir,
They were so fine and thin,
They were sold to a Methodist Parson,
For a pulpit to preach in.

Daddle-i-day, &c.

Indeed, Sir, this is true, Sir,
I never was taught to lie,
And had you been to Darby, Sir,
You'd have seen it as well as I.

Daddle-i-day, daddle-i-day,
Fal-de-ral, fal-de-ral, daddle-i-day.

As I went down to Darby, Sir, 'twas on a market day,
I saw the finest ram, Sir, that ever was fed on hay.

And indeed, Sir, 'tis true, Sir, I never was taught to lie,
And if you'd been to Darby, Sir, you'd have seen him the same as I.

He had four feet to walk on, Sir, he had four feet to stand
And every foot he had, Sir, did cover an acre of land.

Repeat Chorus

The horns that grew on his head, Sir, they grew up to the sky,
And eagles built their nests there, for I heard the young ones cry.

Repeat Chorus

The wool that grew on his tail, Sir, filled more than fifty bags,
You'd better keep away, Sir, when that tail shakes and wags.

Repeat Chorus

The tail that hung behind him, was fifty yards and an ell
And that was sent to Darby, to ring the town church bell

Repeat Chorus

The man that killed the ram, Sir, was drowned, Sir, in the flood,
The boy who held the bowl, Sir, was washed away by blood.

Repeat Chorus

The man that owned the ram, Sir, I think is very rich,
And the boy who wrote this song, Sir, is a lying son of a bitch

Repeat Chorus

As I was going to Darby
Upon a market day,
I saw the biggest ram, sir,
That ever was fed on hay,
That ever was fed on hay.

The ram was fat behind, sir,
The ram was fat before.
He measured ten yards round, sir,
I think it was no more, (twice)

And he who knocked this ram down
Was drowned in the blood,
And he who held the dish, sir,
Was carried away by the flood, (twice)

The wool grew on his back, sir,
It reached to the sky.
And there the eagles built their nests,
I heard the young ones cry. (twice)

And all the boys in Darby, sir,
Came begging for his eyes,
To kick about the street, sir,
As any good football flies, (twice)

The wool grew on his belly, sir,
It reached to the ground.
It was sold in Darby Town, sir,
For forty thousand pound, (twice)

The wool upon his tail, sir,
Filled more than fifty bags.
You'd better keep away, sir,
When that tail shakes and wags, (twice)

The horns upon his head, sir,
As high as a man could reach,
And there they built a pulpit, sir,
The Quakers for to preach, (twice)

And one of this ram's teeth, sir,
Was hollow as a horn;
And when they took its measure, sir,
It held a bushel of corn, (twice)

The mutton that the ram made
Gave the whole Army meat,
And what was left, I'm told, sir,
Was served out to the fleet, (twice)

The man who owned this ram, sir,
Was considered mighty rich,
But the man who told this story, sir,
Was a lyin' son of a------. (twice)

V1: As I was going to Derby,
Upon a market day,
I saw the biggest ram, sir,
That ever was fed on hay,

Chorus: And didn't he ramble, ramble?
He rambled all round,
In and out of the town,
(Oh) didn't he ramble, ramble?
Well, he rambled ‘til them butchers cut him down.

V2: The wool upon his back, sir,
Was a hundred stories high,
'Twas there the eagles built their nest,
I heard the little ones cry,


V3: The horns upon his head, sir,
They reached up to the sky,
A man climbed up in January
And didn't come down ‘til July,


V4: The wool upon his tail, sir,
Filled more than fifty bags,
You'd better not stand behind, sir
When that tail shakes and wags,


V5: The butcher that cut him down, sir,
Was drownded (sic) in the blood,
And the little boy
Who held the bowl,
Was washed away in the flood.


Derby Ram @ grandfolkies.com
Derby Ram published in 1867...folkplay.info
A more "adult" version of the Darby Ram can be found at Mudcat.org

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This is a marvelous recycling story and can be found in a wonderful book called Spinning Tales Weaving Hope
BTW, Papa Joe has generously given permission (to anyone not just myself) to use and tell this story, be sure to give appropriate credit. Enjoy!

A long time ago, before your parents were born, before your grandparents were born, even before your great great great grandparents were born, there was a village near a river. It was so far away that we would never have known of it if not for the old storytellers.

In the village, by the river, lived a family who dearly loved to play with mud. There was a large bank of gray mud behind their house. At first, the family just squished it between their fingers or patted it into pies. One day, however, they realized that this was special mud. It was different than the mud taken from other places on the river. This mud kept its shape when it dried.

What do you suppose it was? Can you imagine? That's right. It was clay.

So what do you suppose they made with it?

Well, the first thing they made was a bowl. It was a fine bowl, a little rough around the edges, but they were just starting out.

Next, they made a spoon. The bowl was great for putting soup in, but they needed a spoon to get the soup out.

Oh, boats! They made the most wonderful toy boats to sail in the river.

Jugs! The day the family learned to make jugs was a happy day for the whole village by the river. For that was the day that everyone could start storing water in their homes. Imagine that! Before that day, everyone had to walk to the spring every time they needed water.

Oh yes! They made pipes! And valves too! Pipes to carry the water from the spring into the homes.

And shirts. It became quite the fad, wearing clay mural shirts. Each little clay square stitched together to form the clothes and clicking and clacking with every step.

But mostly they made pots.

Well, the years went by and the years went on and the family made better and better pots, fancier and fancier pots. Everyone in the village bought pots from them. In fact, the villagers called them the Potters.

But the Potters didn't just sell pots. They made and sold anything you could want and they made it all from clay. They made toys and tables, tiles for walls, floors, and roofs. They made bricks for streets and buildings.

Well, the years went by and the years went on and the village by the river used more and more clay for more and more things. If you were to look at the village you might think it was all made of clay. And maybe it was. For now everyone lived in clay houses with clay roofs. They sat on clay chairs and slept on clay beds. They ate from clay plates on clay tables with clay forks.

From the beginning they found that they needed a hot fire to dry the clay hard. Each day, the Potters had to cut down trees to fire the clay. They cut the trees until the woods near the village were gone and only a few scattered trees were left. When the woods were gone the animals left. They walked, flew, or clawed until they found new woods so far away that the villagers knew nothing about them.

But the clay! Aha! Everywhere you looked, anything that could be made with clay was. And you know about clay? If you drop it, what happens?

It breaks! No one really worried about breaking anything. If something broke they would go to the Potters and have a new thing made. A new thing, a better thing, a thing with new colors and new designs, not last year's colors or scenes of trees and animals, no one wanted trees and animals any more.

And what did they do with all the bits and pieces? What did they do with all the old clay shards? They hauled them out of the village to a big hole and threw them in. As the years went by and the years went on the hole filled up with shards. As the years went by and the years went on the hole became a pile, then a hill, and finally a mountain of clay shards. The people called it Shard Mountain.

As the mountain grew bigger and bigger, the clay bank by the river grew smaller and smaller until it became a pit that grew deeper and deeper. Finally the day came when the Potters could find no more clay.

"No clay! What are we going to do?"

"I don't know. What can we do?"

What could they do? They had never bothered to learn anything but making things with clay. For generations the Potters had used this clay and now they were helpless.
At first, the villagers thought nothing of the used up clay pit. But soon everyone was thinking of it. For whenever something broke it was gone and it could not be replaced.
The day a strong wind came and tore clay tiles from the roofs, people thought of the empty clay pit.
Every time it rained, they thought of the clay pit.
The day a village elder tripped on a chair, fell on his table and broke two of its legs, he thought of the empty clay pit.
As all of his clay dishes and cups crashed to the floor, he thought of the clay pit.
Each time a thing broke people thought of the empty clay pit and knew the thing could not be replaced.

One day the villagers had a meeting.
One cried, "This is terrible! I don't have a single pot left."
The second said, "We must do something!"
A third called, "What can we do?"
Then they all began shouting ideas.
"Look for a new clay pit." "We tried that."
"Get a new Potter family." "That won't help."
"How about replacing the broken things with something else? Something different than clay?"
"Like what?"
"Wood?" "There is no more!"
"Paper?" "That's made from wood!"
"Animal skins?" "They left with the trees."
"Glass?" "Wonderful, how do you make it?"
"Sand!" "We don't have any."
"Rocks?" "None around here."
"Steel?" "Steal what."
"Plastic?" "It hasn't been invented yet."

Finally someone said, "This is all the Potters' fault. We should be making them find the answer. We wouldn't be in this mess if it wasn't for them. I vote we tell them to find the answer or get out of the village."

The village elders went to the Potters and told them what had been decided. Do you know what the Potters did? They sat around and cried, "I don't want to leave."

But one little girl wasn't crying. Her name was Penny. Of all the people in the Potter family, Penny Potter was particularly perceptive. Penny Potter perceived that if no one in the village knew the answer to the problem, then she would need to go out of the village to find the answer. The only person she knew outside the village was the Witch of Shard Mountain.

In a cave on the on the far side of Shard Mountain, lived an old witch. She had lived there as long as anyone in the village could remember. She only came into the village about once a month to do her shopping. When she came the children would laugh at her and call her names. They threw clay shards at her and sang a terrible song.

Witchy, Witchy, Witchy
Lives in the ditchy.
Skin like dry clay.
Hair like dry hay
Witchy, witch, Witchy.

Penny thought of these things as she walked down the path to Shard Mountain. It was a long and hard climb around and up the far side of that mountain. She stood at last at the gaping hole that was the entrance to the witch's cave.

Penny was shaking. She thought, "Ohhh! What if she turns me into a frog."
And then, "Well, I don't remember anyone really being hurt by her."
Still shaking, she called out:
"Hello" (Hello, Hello, Hello)
"Hello" (Hello, Hello, Hello)
"Is anyone home?" (Home, Home, Home)

From the back of the cave came the sound of a boot scraping across the floor. Scrape. Thump. Scrape. Thump. Scrape. Thump.

Penny shook harder and harder. The witch stepped into the light.

"I know you. You're one of those village children. One of those children who throw shards at me. What are you doing up here? Did you come to call me names?"

Penny was still shaking. "Oh no! I never threw anything at you. I never called you names."

"Maybe you did and maybe you didn't, but you haven't answered my question: What are you doing up here? Tell me now."

Penny was almost sobbing. "I came because we need help and I was hoping you could give it to me."

The witch fixed her eyes on Penny. "What kind of help could an old one like me give to you?

"You've seen how our village is built of clay?"

"I've noticed," returned the witch bitterly.

"We've run out of clay. There isn't any more. I was hoping that if you really were a witch, then you could make more clay for us."

"Ha!" Scolded the witch. "Why should I help you, little one? Why should I help your village? After the way your people have destroyed the woods? After the way your people have treated me, I'd rather punish you than help

Penny was in tears. "But we need your help."
"Your Village never helped me! I never did anything to those children. Why do they treat me so ill?"
"Well," stammered Penny. "Perhaps because you're different."
"Is that a reason to hurt me?" Screamed the witch.
"No," Penny whispered. "I am sorry the children hurt you."

The witch looked at Penny for a long time. "Listen, Penny Potter. I do know you. You are particularly perceptive. I can help you.

"I don't like being disliked. If you can bring the children of the village here and if you can help me stop them from being so cruel, then I will help you and your village. Bring the children to me."

So Penny went back down the around the mountain. Down and around she ran as fast as she could. At last she came to the village. "Come out, come out wherever you are," she called. "Olly olly in free!"

All of the village children came running up to Penny.

"If we want to get new clay we need to get help from the witch. But the witch won't help because you've been so mean. Come up to her cave and tell her you're sorry. Come up to her cave and ask to be friends."

But the children began with "ohs!" and "No!" They were afraid to go to the witch.

"I'm not going! said one. "Nor I," said the another. "None of us will go.
She'll turn us all into polliwogs!" Claimed the third.

Penny shook her head. "I was just up there. She didn't do anything to me. She is just upset because you've been so hateful. If you don't come with me to the cave, I'll go back alone. But you'll never see another new clay toy or game or anything again."

Penny turned and headed back for the cave. At first the children watched her walk away. Then someone said, "We have been cruel. The witch never did anything to us even when we threw shards at her. I'm going."

As the first child walked forward another followed. Slowly, one by one the children headed up the path to Shard Mountain. Up and around they went until they came to the gaping black hole near the top. Now it was the children's turn to shake as Penny called into the cave.

"Hello" (Hello, Hello, Hello)
"Hello" (Hello, Hello, Hello)
"Are you home?" (Home, Home, Home)

From the back of the cave came the sound of a boot scraping across the floor. Scrape. Thump. Scrape. Thump. Scrape. Thump.

The children were shaking harder and harder.

Out came the witch. "So! You're all here, eh? All the nice children who enjoy torturing an old lady? Have you had your fun? Do you think I like it? Would you like me to treat you like that? Well? What have you got to say for yourselves?"

"We're sorry." "What? I can't hear you!"
"We're sorry." "What?"
"We're Sorry?"
"Will you think it's fun to mistreat people like that again?"
"No ma'am." "What?"
"No ma'am." "What?"
"No, Ma'am?"
"Then off you go. Penny, come with me."

If you think Penny was brave to come to the witch's cave, can you imagine how brave she was to walk into its dark entrance?" Deeper and deeper they walked through the dark tunnel until they came to a small room lit by one red candle with a green flame.

"Let's see. It's around here somewhere." The witch began tossing books off the shelves.

"No, not that one.
Not that one.
Nor that one.
Or that one
No, no, no?

"Here it is. Now which page? Hmm, hmm, hmm. Yes, that's right. Yes! Just as I thought."

The witch turned to Penny. "Now you start by taking the old clay..."

"What?" Penny was confused. "I thought you were going to make new clay. I thought you'd say a spell and the clay pit would be full again."

"Ha! A spell to refill the old pit. You want something from nothing? You've been wasting clay and wood for years. Do you want to do it all again? Penny, your village needs to start recycling. You need to start saving things like clay and reusing them. You have a whole mountain of clay here and a whole village below. you'll never run out of clay again if you just stop throwing it all away.

"As I was saying," the witch continued. "Take the old clay and grind it into a fine powder. Add a little of this and a little of that and here you go: new soft pliable clay!"

Penny began to leap with joy. "Oh! Thank you! Thank you!"

"Wait, you silly goose! What good is the new clay now? You've used up nearly every tree for the fires that baked your clay."

Penny sat down. She had been so worried about the clay she had forgotten about the wood. Ah well. So had everyone else in the village.

The witch continued, "If your people will promise to leave the trees alone and, more than that, if you will help replant the woods, I will help you build a new kiln to bake your clay. A kiln that doesn't burn wood."

Penny's eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open. "You really are magic!"

"Maybe I am and maybe I'm not, but the sun has all the power you need to fire your pots. The sun will heat the new kiln we'll build."

"The sun?" Penny was amazed. "That's wonderful!" And with one last "thank you and good-bye," she was gone. She was running down and around the mountain back to her home.

"Mother! Father Everyone! Potters, one and all! Look what the witch has given to us. We can make new pots from old. Just take the old shards and grind them up. Add this and that and look: new clay. But that's not all. The witch is coming to help us build a new kiln, a kiln that is heated by the sun instead of burning all the wood."

The Potters were so pleased that they invited the witch to stay and live with them. And since they were so pleased with what she could do with all her strangeness, she was glad to become part of their family.

From that day on and from that day since, the Potters have wheeled their wagons through the streets collected old shards to make new clay. And every year they go to the woods, plant young trees, and pray that the animals come back.

Now in the streets of the village you can hear the children sing:

New pots from old,
New pots from old,
The witch and Penny Potter
Gave us new pots from old.

New Pots from Old - a recycling tale by Papa Joe © 1991

A Great activity to use with this story is recycling paper to make Paper Clay.
The following is a very simple set of directions.

Paper Clay
2 cups construction paper scraps (sorted by color)
4 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup flour

Tear construction paper into small pieces. Pour water and paper scraps into a blender. Blend 20 seconds or until the mixture turns into pulp. Drain and squeeze excess water from the mixture. Mix flour and the remaining 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl until blended. Slowly add the flour and water mixture to paper pulp. Knead until it forms a dough. Mold paper clay as you would any clay or dough. Let finished creations dry 1 to 2 days.

Paper clay can be used to create 3-D greeting cards, pictures, package ties or tree ornaments. Try adding glitter or bits of confetti. Press paper clay into candy molds, cookie cutters or gelatin molds to create interesting shapes.

Crepe Paper cut into thin strips (any colors you wish).
1 cup flour
1 cup salt
Large container and water
Place crepe paper into a large container and add enough water to cover the paper. Let that soak for about one hour until most of the water is absorbed into the paper. Pour off the excess water and add small amounts of flour and salt until you have a clay-like mixture. Create sculptures by forming the crepe paper clay with your hands. Let dry and apply either a varnish or a glue and water mixture to seal.

Here are a few good sites with directions and information about Paper Clay.
Construction Paper Clay @ EasyFunSchool.com
Paper Clay Directions @ CreativeHomemaking.com
Expert Villiage.com Vids showing how to recycle scrap pottery clay