Friday, July 27, 2007

Poetry Friday: A Fairy Tale Poem

When I was an elementary classroom teacher, I did an extensive unit on folklore. I like the old fairy tales and folktales--not the sanitized versions, but the traditional retellings, including the "grim" Grimm tales in which Snow White's stepmother dances to her death in hot iron shoes...and the nasty stepsisters of Ashputtle (Cinderella) get their eyes pecked out by birds.

I also enjoyed reading modern humorous picture book versions of old tales to my students when I was a school librarian. To name a few of the books I read: Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox, Goldie and the Three Bears by Diane Stanley, Henny Penny by Jane Wattenberg, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka, and The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman.

With these old tales in mind, I selected the following poem for this Poetry Friday. I hope you like it.

Lisel Mueller

In Sleeping Beauty's castle
the clock strikes one hundred years
and the girl in the tower returns to the
So do the servants in the kitchen,
who don't even rub their eyes.
The cook's right hand, lifted
an exact century ago,
completes its downward arc
to the kitchen boy's left ear;
the boy's tensed vocal cords
finally let go
the trapped, enduring whimper,
the fly, arrested mid-plunge
above the strawberry pie,
fulfills its abiding mission
and dives into the sweet, red glaze.

You can read the rest of the poem here at Poetry 180.


John Mutford said...

Another great modern take on an old classic is Eugene Trivisas and Helen Oxenbury's "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig."

Great poem you shared, btw.

Anonymous said...

I love fractured fairy tales, too. And I love this poem. I always felt bad for all the innocent castle-folk who got caught up in Sleeping Beauty's curse.

Roswila said...

Wonderful poem. IMHO only, but although I think I understand why you have the second stanza, it felt very complete ending with "...sweet red glaze."

Jone said...

A wonderful poem. Are you going to Chicago?

Elaine Magliaro said...


That's a good one, too! There are so many of them. Have you ever read FANNY'S DREAM written by Caralyn Buehner and illuustrated by Mark Buehner?


Are you settled into your new place yet? Sorry I missed you bon voyage party.


I guess I'm a bit behind the times with the shorthand messaging. What does IMHO stand for?


I had hoped to go to Chicago--but the first snowflake exhibit event of Robert's Snow 2007 is scheduled for October 6th. I wouldn't miss that for anything!

Emily Jiang said...

Great poem, Elaine! I'm a huge fan of fairy tales, myths, and fractured fairy tales. Have you read Anne Sexton's Transformation poems? For adults, but great collection.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I haven't read those poems. They sound interesting. There was a book published a several years ago entitled THE POETS GRIMM--I think that's the title. Unfortunately, I didn't buy the book then and it is now out of print. The used copies I found were a little too expensive.

There's a poem by Jane Yolen at Poetry 180 that I posted a link to at Blue Rose Girls some time ago. Its title is "Fat Is Not a Fairy Tale." I bet you'd like that one, too.

Roswila said...


A belated answer: IMHO means "in my humble opinion..." :-)

Elaine Magliaro said...

Thanks, Roswila! Being a sixty-something I'm not quite hip to the new shorthand.

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