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Rumpelstiltskin, a Poetic Revision
Once upon a time,
in a country a long way off,
next to a forest,
there was a stream of water,
and next to the water lived a miller.
And because this is a fairytale, the miller had a daughter.
And one day the miller told the king,
who was passing by,
(because why wouldn’t the king be passing by a random stream
next to a forest
in a country a long way off?)
that his daughter could spin straw into gold.
Because that was the sensible thing to tell the king.
The king, being the gullible and greedy man he was,
ordered the miller’s daughter to be brought to his castle
where she was locked in a room
full of straw
and told to spin it all into gold
lest she die with the sunrise.
The miller’s daughter,
a very practical young woman,
threw herself upon the straw,
the moment the door closed upon her,
and began to sob.
But then the door opened.
A little man,
who had somehow gained access into the castle,
eluded all the king’s men,
and entered into a locked room
(for no real reason at all),
offered the girl help
in spinning the straw to gold
if she just give him her necklace.
A small price to pay
for a room full of gold.
The little man,
who looked much more like a goblin,
sat himself down at the spinning wheel.
where he sang as he worked,
like dwarves in a jewel mine,
and when he was done,
the straw was gold.
Without as much as a “thank you,”
the girl sat in the room and waited
for the king,
and when he came,
she claimed all the goblin’s hard work
as her own.
And since the king,
who was already a very rich man,
was not satisfied with one room
full of gold,
he forced the miller’s daughter
into an even bigger room
full of even more straw
that she must spin into riches
lest she die with the sunrise.
And the girl,
just as practical as before,
began to sob again.
Once again the little man
came to her rescue.
“What will you give me,
to spin this straw to gold?”
And the girl gave him the ring from her finger.
Once again the goblin sang
as he worked on the girl’s chore.
And, just as before,
the room was glittering gold by morning.
And still the king was not satisfied.
He stole the girl once more
into an even larger room
filled with even more straw
and told the miller’s daughter
that if she spin this straw to gold by morning
she would become his queen.
And once again the girl began to sob,
though the threat was much less this time,
and once again
the little man answered the girl’s sobs
for the third time.
“What will you give me?”
But the girl had nothing left to give.
“Then give me the first child
you have when you are
And the girl,
thinking that gambling away
her first born child
was the safest bet,
or perhaps hoping she was infertile,
or perhaps willing to give anything to become
And once again the straw was spun to gold.
And the miller’s daughter married the king
never once considering he might ask for spun gold again
some other time down the line.
Then the new queen gave birth,
and the little man appeared
to receive his payment.
And, like a politician who has already been elected,
the girl backed away from her promise.
But the little man had a soft heart,
and offered the new queen
a three day grace period
and an escape from their deal
if she could guess his name.
So the new queen guessed,
but at the end of the first day,
even the most unusual of names had
failed the test.
The queen sent out her servants
to find the most exceptional names
in this country a long way off.
But by the end of the second day
she still had not guessed.
On the third day
a servant returned.
“I have traveled two days,”
“without hearing any names,
anywhere in the kingdom,
But on my third day of travel,
I was climbing a high hill,
next to a deserted forest,
thinking this empty place a great place to find new names,
when I saw a little hut,
whereupon a little dwarf was dancing and singing.
And his name was
And so the queen gathered all her court
to humiliate the little dwarf
when he came to take her child.
“Is your name John?”
“Is it Tom?”
“Well then, can your name be
Upon hearing his name
the little imp screamed and
stamped his foot into the floor
so deep that he disappeared.
And the queen never saw
nor heard from him again.
And so the moral of this fairy tale
goes to show
that if you lie to kings,
enslave and threaten millers’ daughters
and make bargains you do not tend to keep,
your daughter will become queen,
you will gain rooms full of gold,
and you will become royalty.
However, if you are honest,
and follow through on your word,
others will merely use you for your skill
and leave you to disappear forever.
be careful what you say out loud.
© 2014 Sckylar Gibby-Brown