Thursday, 2 August 2012

Friday My Town: Bridges of Fairyland

A couple of weeks ago my brother and I went out into the countryside for a bit of touristing. One day we had lunch in a café at an old mill, and there we found these two bridges leading into the world of fairytales.

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Näcken, the Neck, the Nix… A kind of water spirit; in this part of the world often taking the shape of a violin-playing man appearing in lakes, streams or waterfalls, playing enchanted tunes on the violin and trying to lure especially women and children into the water to drown… While a man taught by Näcken to play the violin, might get so enchanted by the music that he could not stop playing until he lost all control of his senses.

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A tale I remember well from my childhood is that of the Three Billy Goats Gruff (Sw: ‘Bockarna Bruse’) and the Troll living under the bridge that they had to pass.

In the village where I grew up, a shortcut road to the village centre included crossing three narrow wooden bridges over a winding little river. Every time I walked that way, my thoughts went to the billy goats tale (even though in the story, there was only one bridge).

 

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Once upon a time there were three billy goats, who were to go up to the hillside to make themselves fat, and the name of all three was "Gruff."

On the way up was a bridge over a cascading stream they had to cross; and under the bridge lived a great ugly troll , with eyes as big as saucers, and a nose as long as a poker.

So first of all came the youngest Billy Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.

"Trip, trap, trip, trap! " went the bridge.

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll .

"Oh, it is only I, the tiniest Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, with such a small voice.

"Now, I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll.

"Oh, no! pray don't take me. I'm too little, that I am," said the billy goat. "Wait a bit till the second Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger."

"Well, be off with you," said the troll.

A little while after came the second Billy Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap, went the bridge.

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll.

"Oh, it's the second Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, who hadn't such a small voice.

"Now I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll.

"Oh, no! Don't take me. Wait a little till the big Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger."

"Very well! Be off with you," said the troll.

But just then up came the big Billy Goat Gruff .

Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap! went the bridge, for the billy goat was so heavy that the bridge creaked and groaned under him.

"Who's that tramping over my bridge?" roared the troll.

"It's I! The big Billy Goat Gruff ," said the billy goat, who had an ugly hoarse voice of his own.

"Now I 'm coming to gobble you up," roared the troll.

Well, come along! I've got two spears,
And I'll poke your eyeballs out at your ears;
I've got besides two curling-stones,
And I'll crush you to bits, body and bones.

That was what the big billy goat said. And then he flew at the troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade, and after that he went up to the hillside. There the billy goats got so fat they were scarcely able to walk home again. And if the fat hasn't fallen off them, why, they're still fat; and so,

Snip, snap, snout.
This tale's told out.

 

This post will be linked to
Friday My Town Shoot Out: Bridges of ________.

8 comments:

  1. I well remember Billy Goat Gruff, and always loved the story. the little Nix is cute, so are the billy goats.

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  2. The Three Billy Goats Gruff was a favourite tale of all my children. They all had it in a Ladybird Book edition (a set of popular British children's books). I think I coulsd quote it from memory after reading it so many times. I love it!

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  3. I remembered that the Billy Goat Gruff too, one of my kids favorite bedtime story years ago. Hopefully they will read it to their children in time. Still got the book somewhere at home..

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  4. DT that was wonderful. I heard of Billy Goat Gruff but not the other one. Very creative.
    QMM

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  5. Fancy finding two magical bridges! Little Georgia often encourages us to speed over our bridges in case the Troll is laying in wait. Guess she is just another kid who loves that story. Love the story of your first bridge!

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  6. I enjoyed that, and the memories of the stories told when I was young (er). yes we had the same story. Must have had a moral that excapes me now.

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  7. Great take on the bridge theme. Thanks for providing the real version of the story. Today we tell the watered down version where the troll just runs away unharmed. We don't want our fairy tales to scare children with violence. So they smile at us, grab their video games and shoot and blow up things.

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    1. Of course in childhood I heard the story in Swedish, not in English, and I can't actually recall whether the ending had quite as many gruesome details as this one that I found now when searching the internet.

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