March 24, 2011

The Other End of The Tale, By Gerri Leen

The walk is long
The covering robes heavy
The child whimpers in her arms
She has women who could carry him
She left them behind

This must be done alone

The forest house
Slowly comes into view
Her legs ache as she climbs the rise
The little man sits on his porch
He smiles at her

As if he knew all along she'd come

"You showed me mercy"
He shrugs
"You could have taken my child"
He nods
"You let me servant hear your name"
He laughs

The child reaches out for him

He is the crown prince
She must keep him safe
She hands him to the little man
who cuddles the child close
and sings softly

She cannot understand the words

He hands her back the child
"I didn't help you for riches
I can spin straw into gold
What need have I for gems?"
She understands

He is kinder than she ever gave him credit for

The king would have killed her
For something her father promised

Something she could not do
This little man saved her
This little man set her free

"I like your name" -- the only gift she has for him

His eyes sparkle
"It was a neat trick
Pulling myself apart that way
Surprised you didn't fall for it"
She did

But only for a little while

In addition to having several stories and poems published by
Enchanted Conversation, Gerri Leen is celebrating the release of her
first collection of short stories, Life Without Crows, published by
Hadley Rille Books.  See what else she's been up to at her website:


Deborah Walker said...

Lovely poem, Gerri. I especially liked the line:

"I like your name" -- the only gift she has for him.

I shall look out for more of your work.

my lucky number is 589

Anonymous said...

The Other End of The Tale, By Gerri Leen

The poem “The Other End of The Tale,” is a hopeful way to look at the classic fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin.” In this poem it gives me the thought that maybe the little man (Rumpel) and the young girl had not only a friendship but also maybe a love connection between them. From the classic story of “Rumpelstiltskin” the thought that the Miller’s daughter’s child could actually belong to Rumpel is a possibility. In the original story the Miller’s daughter has her baby not even a year after she spends the nights with Rumpel when he spins the gold for her. This is a reason why Rumpel may request to have her first-born child knowing that there is a possibility that it could be his. In the poem the girl says, “She hands him to the little man who cuddles the child close and sings softly.” This behavior by the little man could explain the undeniable connection between himself and the baby making my thought possibly true.
-Tiffany P.

Unknown said...

“The Other End of the Tale” is one of many versions of “Rumpelstiltskin” which is sympathetic to the character. It is a kind hearted tale which illustrates the friendship which grew between the two after the birth of the child. The one aspect of this tale which really strikes a chord is the admittance to the miller’s daughter that he did not spin the straw into gold for any riches. Instead, as seen in this tale, he likely did so for the gift of friendship. Rumpelstiltskin suggests to this by stating, “I can spin straw into gold. What need have I for gems?” The miller’s daughter comes to this understanding on her own and thus attempts to find Rumpelstiltskin. She realizes that it is her friendship and perhaps even gift of family which he wanted all along. Maybe the reason he gave her three days to guess his name was to observe her parenting, and upon determining that she was in fact a good mother, allowing her servant to overhear his name. “The Other End of the Tale” prompts readers to rethink the actions and incentives of Rumpelstiltskin and truly portrays the desire for acceptance and belonging.

-Adam Z.

Anonymous said...

This poem brings a new light to the character of Rumpelstiltskin and the Miller’s daughter. In the original tales, Rumpelstiltskin may have been viewed as a evil and twisted being, trying to take away a child from his mother. At the same time, the soon to be queen could be viewed as a terrible person, willing to give up her future child. In this story we see a great deal of maturity and gratefulness on the part of the mother. She realizes how lucky she is that Rumpelstiltskin gave her a second chance, and gave him the only thing she could, kind words. Rumpelstiltskin can also be seen as a good person at heart. He is simply a man who had everything, except for a family, which he really wanted. In the end it can be implied that he couldn’t get himself to take a child away from his mother when it says

["You let me servant hear your name"
He laughs]

Maybe he really did allow the servant to hear the name in order to allow the mother to keep her child while still saving face.

-Thomas Lizzi

Kristina T. said...

In “The Other End of the Table” the tone is much more sympathetic toward Rumplestiltskin than original story line I was used to reading growing up. The line that stuck out the most is “the child reaches out for him.” The poem itself made it appear there was a greater closeness between the miller’s daughter and Rumplestiltskin, but that line really verifies that to me. The child did not cry upon seeing him. The child found him familiar, warm, welcoming, and intriguing. The women came to visit him again after he “tore himself in two”. She visited him after she guessed him name, insinuating there is more to the story. Growing up I assumed she despised him, but after reading this poem I can’t help but wonder if she cared deeply for him. It left me wondering: what really went on between those two? Was he spinning more than gold in that room?

HD said...

The beautiful imagery this poem provides inspires ideas about the power of love, kindness, and the sort of selfless giving that is mostly lost upon popular culture in our modern society. The most basic versions of “Rumplestiltskin” often portray him as a wicked trickster hiding behind the false image of a savior. The request for human life as payment seems abhorrent, yet we are led to believe he never intended to go through with such a request. In this version he is portrayed as a wise and somewhat harmless little old man, who is also gifted with the Queen’s possibly everlasting friendship, and certainly gratitude. Having already offered him every possible worldly item, she offers him the gift of friendship, even letting him hold the child. Perhaps she intends to let him play the role of a beloved uncle? I rather enjoyed this sweetly written extra-ending twist in contrast to the norm of Rumple’s not so happy ending.

Joyce D. said...

The story begins by letting us know that the queen is going on a long and tiresome journey on her own. It seems as though this is meant to emphasize on the fact that she felt indebted to Rumplestiltskin for without him, she wouldn’t be alive. We are told that this is a secret journey which seems obvious that it should be but then it makes sense that if anyone found out that she was visiting Rumple then eventually it would be revealed that he was behind the spinning of straw into gold. Not only is she protecting herself but it can be viewed that she is also protecting him from being taken advantage of for his gift. In this poem we really feel her guilt especially when she says “you should have taken my child” she knows that not only did he spare her life, he created the circumstances for this child to be born. When the queen hands him the child, there seems to be a strange bond between them. In this poem Rumple is portrayed as an all knowing, kind, and gentle soul whose only desire in this world was a child. It is also interesting to note that the lines “The king would have killed her for something her father promised” seems to indicate that all the other men in her life are not as dependable as Rumple. The king is portrayed as merciless and the merchant is portrayed as careless whereas Rumple is the person she most owes her gratitude.