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Swan Maiden, the Bird of Heaven and the Crown of Paradise, The.

A Christmas Carol.

High up on the top of the mountains,
On the brow of the rocks,
At the gates of the fairies,
On the land of Neculea,
Appeared a white swan
Sent by God,
Selected by God.
She has been flying under the heavens,
And settled on the rock.
She turned off from her flight,
And fell near the brave,
For he is to wed
The little white swan.
The king’s son, as soon as he saw her,
Was wounded at his heart,
And spake as follows:
“O thou white fairy,
O thou beautiful swan,
I will bathe thee in a bath of white milk,
So that thou shouldst not be able to depart.”
The swan replied, and said:
“Young son of kings,
I will not be bathed,
For I am not a white swan,
But the fairy from heaven,
From the gate of Paradise.”
The prince, when he heard her,
His love burned in him fiercely
And what did he say with his mouth?
“O thou white little swan,
O thou beautiful fairy,
Stay here and be my wife.”
The swan answered and replied,
And thus spake with her mouth:
“I will wed thee,
And remain as wife to thee,
If thou wilt go,
If thou wilt bring me
The bird of heaven
And the crown of Paradise.
The bird which sings in heaven with sweet and beautiful speech,
To which God Almighty and the angels listen constantly,
Singing among the trees in bloom,
And some laden with ripe fruit;
And the crown of Paradise,
Of the Paradise of God,
Woven of jasmine,
With the fruits of virginity.”
When the prince heard her words,
He went to his stable-yard of stone,
Brought forth his whole stud—a great company—
And he started on his journey
On the road
Where the sun rises.
Nine horses he made lame,
Other nine horses he broke ere he arrived at the mansion of the Lord,
At the gate of Paradise.
Who came there to meet him?
St. Basile came to meet him,
Came to try him, and to ask him
What might be his wish?
What might be in his mind?
The prince replied and said:
“The Holy God has selected for me,
The Holy God has sent to me
A wonderful swan to wed me,
But she will not marry me
Until she wears
The crown of Paradise,
The crown of our Lord,
Woven with jasmine,
With fruits of virgin maidens.
She will not marry me,
Unless at our wedding sings
The bird of heaven and the Lord’s bird,
Which discourses here in Paradise,
With such sweet and charming speech,
In between the blooming trees—
Some decked with flowers,
Others laden with fruit—
And the Lord
And the angels listen constantly.”
Thus spake the Prince,
Praying very deeply,
And shed tears all the while.
St. Basile had mercy on him.
He gave him the bird
And the crown.
He then returned to
The crest of the mountains,
The valley of Neculea.
There he set the bird free,
And placed the crown upon the altar,
And he spake thus:
“Come forth, my beautiful swan,
Come forth, my wonderful fairy.
Behold the crown,
And listen to the bird;
For the crown is that of Paradise,
From the mansions of the Lord;
And the bird is the bird of heaven,
From among the trees of Paradise.”
When the swan came forth, it turned into a maiden fair;
The crown leapt on to her head;
The bird began to sing,
With sweet and beautiful song,
The song of heaven.
They went to church,
And the priest married them.
Who was his sponsor?
Who but St. John,
Who stood sponsor to Jesus.
He blessed them,
And gave them,
To each one gifts,
To her a small cross,
As well as a small Ikon;
To him a staff of silver,
To rule over the whole world,
To have power upon earth.
And this young bride
With golden tresses
That shone like the sun’s rays,
Together with her groom,
Young and brave,
May they live
For many years
With happy cheer and with health,
Together with their brothers
And with their parents.


Here we have a remarkable "carol," full of mystical lore, in which the swan-like maiden in the tale is really a fairy in disguise. The bird of heaven, and the crown of paradise, and all the rest stand here for the tests which often are found in fairy tales. The hero must first win these mythical beings before he can obtain the love of the maiden, or probably before she can turn from a swan into a human being, and remain as such. We have here thus a version of the large cycle of the Swan Maiden (v. Cosquin, ii. 16; Saineanu, p. 264 ff.). Such miraculous birds occur very often in Rumanian (v. Saineanu, p. 410 ff.).

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Swan Maiden, the Bird of Heaven and the Crown of Paradise, The.
Tale Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Book Title: Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Book Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1915
Country of Origin: Romania
Classification: Swan Maiden

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