Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Folklore Snippets - The Night Troll


The Night Troll


In this short tale, reminiscent of the Scottish ballad ‘The False Knight on the Road’, a quick-witted girl keeps a monster at bay. It was collected by the 19th century Icelandic folklorist Jón Árnason; trans May and Hallberg Hallmundsen, ‘Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales’, Iceland Review Library, 1987 – and goes to show once again that girls and women in fairytales and folktales are resourceful and brave.



It happened at a certain farm that the person who was left to guard the house on Christmas Eve while the others were at evensong, were always found either dead or mad the following morning.

The farm people were greatly distressed over this, and there were few who wanted to stay home on that particular night. One Christmas, howeve, a young girl volunteered, and that was a relief to other members of the household.

After they left, the girl sat on a dais in the badstofa [heated sauna room], singing to the baby she held in her arms. As the night wore on she heard someone at the window saying:

“What a pretty hand you have,
my quick one, my keen one, and diddly-doe.”

The girl answered:

“It has never raked the muck,
my prowler, my Kári, and corry-roe.”

The one at the window said:

“What a pretty eye you have,
my quick one, my keen one, and diddly-doe.”

And the girl shot back:

“Never has it evil seen,
my prowler, my Kári, and corry-roe.”

The answer came from the window:

“What a pretty foot you have,
my quick one, my keen one, and diddly-doe.”

To which the girl replied,

“It has never trod in filth,
my prowler, my Kári, and corry-roe.”

From the voice at the window came:


“Day is dawning in the east,
my quick one, my keen one, and diddly-doe.”

And the girl within replied,

“Stay and turn to stone,
but be of harm to no one,
my prowler, my Kári, and corry-roe.”

Then the being disappeared from the window. In the morning when the farm people returned, a huge boulder was found in the alley between the farm buildings, and it has remained there ever since.

The girl recounted everything that had happened during the night. It appeared that it had been a night-troll that spoke to her through the window.



Picture credit: The Night Troll At the Window by Asgrimur Jonsson, 1876-1958

2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful picture -- where is it from? I love the colours and would love to know who the artist is!

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  2. It's The Night Troll At the Window by Asgrimur Jonsson, 1876-1958

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