by Sarah Kortemeier

two poems from the Brothers Grimm:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR DAUGHTERS


BE STILL AS A MOUSE.
Be comforted.
Be good and pious.
Be imprisoned.
Be quiet.
Be easy.
Be content.
Be quick and draw water.

Build me a castle on the plain there.

Can you not think of something better?
Carry me to your room.
Climb up.

Come and live with me.
Come here and help me.
Come in.
Come out; the bear will do you no harm.
Come, sit on my tail.
Come with me now to my room.

Cook some soup.
Cook something nice.
Cook for everyone, but take no money for it.

Creep in.
Creep under this, and don't disgrace us.

Cut the toe off.
Cut off a piece of your heel.

Do not let one of your hairs fall in.
Do not be afraid.
Do not forget what is best of all.
Do not weep.
Don't cry.
Don't forget to say good morning.
Fetch water.
Forgive me for the wicked deed I have promised to do.

Gather some of the fruit.
Get up.
Give her no answer.

Go and drive this knife into his heart.
Go and fetch it out again.
Go ever onwards by this road.
Go into the garden, and drive out the rabbit.
Go into the house.
Go to the fire, and cook us our supper.
Go upstairs, and you will find a room with two beds.
Go to a potter, and begin a trade in earthen vessels.
Go to sleep.
Go to the frozen river and break a hole in the ice.
Go with me.

Help me in my trouble.

Here are twelve pounds of feathers which you must pick.
Here is a broom. Go and sweep all clean by the back door.

Knock the snow out of my coat a little.

Leave your bedroom door open.
Leave me alive.

Let down your hair.
Let him in.
Let me in.
Let no one see the picture.
Let the wand fall.

Lift me up.
Live and sleep.

Look out of the carriage.
Look at the pretty flowers that are growing all around you.

Make haste and start.
Make ready your silken bed.
Make me my bed.
Make my bed well, and shake it up thoroughly.

Off with you and your husband.

Open that tree there, and you will find a bed.
Open the door.
Open to me.

Pass by her.
Pass silently and boldly.

Preserve this carefully.
Push your plate a little nearer.

Put on my wedding-clothes.
Put on this frock, go out into the wood and fetch me a basket of strawberries.
Put the kitchen in order.

Rinse the yarn.

Shake me, shake me, we apples are all of us ripe!
Shake them up, and put white linen on them.

Spin me this flax.
Spin this straw to gold.
Spin it all in one night.

Stop.

Take a glass of water out of the fountain.
Take me up.
Take me out, or I shall burn; I am baked enough already.
Take off your golden dress and give it to your sister.
Take off your golden hood and give it to your sister.
Take this boot. Hang it on the big nail and pour water in it.

Tell us something.
Tell your father that I will marry him.
Tell your sorrows to the iron-stove.

That which thou hast promised, must thou now perform.
Then bring me his heart and tongue.

Tomorrow our marriage shall take place.
Tomorrow you must begin to work.

Turn back.

Wait a little.
Wait a while longer.

Walk properly and nicely, and don't run.
Wash my dishes.

What one has she must share with the other.

Wipe away your tears.

You can have some of the window.
You can sweep up the ashes.

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SONS

 

1.

Bring me three golden hairs from the head of the demon of the Black Forest. Bring me a feather from the Griffin's tail. Bring a man who can drink up a whole cellar of wine. Bring me a ship that can sail on land or on water. Bring home the most beautiful woman.

You must do it alone.

2.

Get up, you lazy bones. Get home as fast as you can. Get away, you stupid fellow, you must wait until you are wiser. Give it up, you understand nothing about it. Go away, we do not want you. Go thither, and try your luck, for I know no other means of curing you. Go with your eleven brothers out into the world. Go and bring me an apple of the tree of life. Go up to her and give her a kiss. Go into the world, and try to learn a trade. Go and sell your damaged axe, and see what you can get for it. Go to a country where what you have is as yet unknown, and your fortune is made.

You will soon come home again.

3.

If you say a single word, you shall lose your life. If you keep silent, you shall have it as a gift. If you will trust me, I will try to help you. If you must eat, you must work, and if you do anything wrong, you shall be taught by blows.

You shall be tormented till your breath stops.

4.

Tell us why our master's fountain, from which wine used to flow, is dried up. Tell us why a tree in our town, which once bore golden apples, now only produces leaves. Tell me how it is that I am obliged to go backward and forward in my ferryboat every day, without a change of any kind. Tell me how you obtained all this gold.

You must learn to be a rogue.

5.

What are you looking at? Whither away so fast? Whichever of you is the laziest shall have the kingdom. Wish for a beautiful castle, with a garden, and everything belonging to it. Wish for a beautiful maiden to be your companion.

You must fight with me for it.

6.

Act like a fool. Be off with you; you will only learn by experience. Build up a great castle. Cover the face of your father. Do not shoot me. Hasten to fetch some of the water of life. Here is a sword to take with you on your journey. Hide in a private chamber. I want you to promise to do as I wish about your marriage. Let no fear enter your heart. Manage well. Return in a year. Rise and swing your sword, and all will be delivered. Slay me, and cut my head and feet off. Throw a loaf to each of the lions.

You are not my son. I don't want you; leave me.


Photo credit: Hannah Ensor

Photo credit:
Hannah Ensor

SARAH KORTEMEIER holds an MFA in Poetry from The University of Arizona. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Alaska Quarterly Review, Folio, Fairy Tale Review, The Feminist Wire, Sentence,  and Pilgrimage,  among others. She serves on the library staff of The University of Arizona Poetry Center .

 

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