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The Juniper Tree.

The Original as Written by the Brothers Grimm, Translation by Lore Segal. Trees by Alia.

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It was a long time ago now, as much as two thousand years maybe, that there was a rich man and he had a wife and she was beautiful and good, and they loved each other very much but they had no children even though they wanted some so much, the wife prayed and prayed for one both day and night, and still they did not and they did not get one. In front of their house was a yard and in the yard stood a juniper tree. Once, in wintertime, the woman stood under the tree and peeled herself an apple, and as she was peeling the apple she cut her finger and the blood fell onto the snow. "Ah," said the woman and sighed a deep sigh, and she looked at the blood before her and her heart ached. "If only I had a chid as red as blood and as white as snow." And as she said it, it made her feel very happy, as if it was really going to happen. And so she went into the house, and a month went by, the snow was gone; and two months, and everything was green; and three months, and the flowers came up out of the ground; and four months, and all the trees in the woods sprouted and the green branches grew dense and tangled with one another and the little birds sang so that the woods echoed, and the blossoms fell from the trees; and so five months were gone, and she stood under the juniper tree and it smelled so sweet her heart leaped and she fell on her knees and was beside herself with happiness; and when six months had gone by, the fruit grew round and heavy and she was very still; and seven months, and she snatched the juniper berries and ate them so greedily she became sad and ill; and so the eighth month went by, and she called her husband and cried and said, "When I die, bury me under the juniper." And she was comforted and felt happy, but when the nine months were gone, she had a child white as snow and red as blood and when she saw it she was so happy that she died.

And so her husband buried her under the juniper tree and began to cry and cried bitterly; and then for a time he cried more gently and when he had cried some more he stopped crying and more time passed and he took himself another wife.

By the second wife he had a daughter, but the child of his first wife was a little son as red as blood and as white as snow. Now when the woman looked at her daughter she loved her so, but looking at the little boy cut her to the heart. It seemed that wherever he was standing, he was always in her way and then she kept wondering how to get the whole fortune just for her daughter, and the evil one got into her so that she began to hate the little boy and would push him around from one corner to the other and punch him here and pinch him there so that the poor child was always in a fright. When he came home from school there was no quiet place where he could be.

Once the woman had gone upstairs and her little daughter came up too and said, "Mother, can I have an apple?" "Yes, my child," said the woman and gave her a beautiful apple out of the chest. Now this chest had a great heavy lid with a sharp iron lock. "Mother," said the little daughter, "couldn't brother have one too?" This upset the woman, but she said, "He can have one when he gets back from school." And as she looked out the window she saw him coming and it was as the dvil got into her and she reached out and snatched the apple out of her daughter's hand and said, "You can't have one till your brother comes," and threw the apple back into the chest and closed the lid. And then the little boy came in the door and the evil one made her speak kindly to him and she said, "My son, would you like an apple?" and looked at him full of hatred."Mother," said the little boy, "how strange and wild you look! Please give me an apple." And it was as if she must still draw him on and she said, "Come with me," and lifted up the lid. "You can pick your own apple." And as the little boy leaned in, the evil one spoke in her hear. Crunch! she slammed the lid shut so that the head flew off and rolled among the red apples. And now terror overwhelmed her and she thought, "How can I get myself out of this?" and so she went up to her room, to her wardrobe, and out of the top drawer she took a white cloth and set the head back on the neck and tied the scarf around it in such a way that you couldn't see anything and set him on a chair in front of the door and put the apple in his hand.

And little Ann Marie came into the kitchen where her mother was standing by the fire with a pot of hot water in front of her that she kept stirring around and around. "Mother," said Ann Marie, "brother is sitting in front of the door. He looks so white and has an apple in his hand. I asked him to give me the apple but he wouldn't answer me, and it made my flesh creep!" "Go back out," said her mother, "and if he won't answer you, you box his ears for him." And so Ann Marie went out and said, "Brother, give me your apple," but he said nothing and so she boxed his ears, and his head fell off and she was horror-stricken and began to cry and to scream and ran to her mother and said, "Oh, Mother, I've hit my brother and knocked his head off," and cried and cried and could not stop. "Ann Marie," said the mother, "what have you done! But you just keep quiet and nobody will know. After all, it can't be helped now; we will stew him in a sour broth." And so the mother took the little boy and hacked him in pieces and put the pieces in a pot and stewed him in the sour broth. But Ann Marie stood by and cried and cried and the tears fell in the pot so that it didn't need any salt.

When the father came home he sat down to supper and said, "And where is my son?" And so the mother brought a big dish of black stew and Ann Marie cried and couldn't stop crying. And again the father said, "Where is my son?" "Oh," said the mother, "he's gone on a trip. He went to his mother's great-uncle and wants to stay there for a while." "What's he going to do there? And never even say goodbye to me!" "Oh," he wanted so much to go, he asked me if he could stay six weeks; they'll take good care of him there." "Ah," said the man, "why am I feeling so sad? It doesn't seem right, somehow. He might at least have come and said goodbye to me!" With that he began to eat and said, "Ann Marie, what are you crying for? You'll see, your brother will be back." Then he said, "Ah, wife, what good food this is! Give me some more." And the more he ate the more he wanted, and said, "Give me more. You can't have any of it; it's as if all of this were for me." And he ate and ate, and threw the bones under the table, and finished it all up. But Ann Marie went to her chest of drawers and took her best silk scarf out of the bottom drawer and fetched every last little bone from under the table and tied them up in the silk cloth and carried them outside, weeping tears of blood. Then she laid them under the juniper tree in the green grass and as soon as she had laid them there she felt so much better and didn't cry anymore. But the juniper began to stir and the branches kept opening out and coming back together again, just like someone who is really happy and goes like this with his hands. And then there was a sort of mist coming out of the tree and right in this mist it burned like fire and out of the fire flew this lovely bird that sang oh, so gloriously sweet and flew high into the air and when it was gone the juniper tree was just the way it had always been and the cloth with the bones was gone. But Ann Marie felt so light of heart and so gay, just as if her brother were still alive. And so she went back into the house and was happy and sat down at the table and ate.

But the bird flew away and sat down on the roof of the goldsmith's house and began to sing:

"My mother she butchered me,
 My father he ate me,
 My sister, little Ann Marie,
 She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth 
 To lay under the juniper.
 Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

The goldsmith was sitting in his workshop, making a golden chain, and he heard the bird that sat on his roof and sang, and it seemed so beautiful to him. He got up and as he was walking across the doorstep he lost one of his sippers. But he kept walking right out into the middle of the street with one slipper and one stocking foot; he had his apron tied around his middle and in one hand he had the golden chain and in the other the pliers and the sun shone so brightly into the street. And he just stood there and looked at the bird. "Bird," said he, "how beautifully you sing! Sing that piece again." "No," said the bird, "the second time I don't sing for nothing. Give me the golden chain and I'll sing it again." "Here," said the goldsmith, "take the golden chain, now sing it again." And so the bird came and took the golden chain in its right claw and sat in front of the goldsmith and sang:

"My mother she butchered me,
 My father he ate me,
 My sister, little Ann Marie,
 She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth 
 To lay under the juniper.
 Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

And so the bird flew off to a cobbler's and sat down on the roof and sang:

"My mother she butchered me,
 My father he ate me,
 My sister, little Ann Marie,
 She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth 
 To lay under the juniper.
 Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

The cobbler heard it and ran out of the door in this shirtsleeves and looked up to the roof and had to hold his hand over his eyes so the sun would not blind him. "Bird," said he, "how beautifully you sing!" And he called in through the door, "Wife, come out here a moment. There's a bird here, look at this bird! And how it can sing!" And he called his daughter and the children and the servants, the apprentice and the maid, and they all came into the street and saw the bird, how pretty it was, and it had such red feathers and green feathers and round the neck it was pure gold and its eyes glittered in its head like stars. "Bird," said the cobbler, "sing me that piece again." "No," said the bird, "the second time I don't sing for nothing. You have to give me a present." "Wife," said the man, "go to the attic; up on the top shelf is a pair of red shoes, bring them down." And so the wife went up and got the shoes. "Here, bird," said the man, "bow sing that piece again." And so the bird came and took the shoes in it's left claw and flew back up the roof and sang:

"My mother she butchered me,
 My father he ate me,
 My sister, little Ann Marie,
 She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth 
 To lay under the juniper.
 Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

And when it had finished singing, it flew away; it held the chain in its right claw and the shoes in its left, and flew far away to a mill and the mill went, "clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack." And in the door of the mill sat twenty of the miller's men hewing a new millstone and they chopped, "Chip-chop, chip-chop, chip-chop," and the mill went, "Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack." And so the bird went and sat on the linden tree that stood in front of the mill and sang:

"My mother she butchered me,"

and one of them stopped,

 "My father he ate me,"

and two more stopped to listen,

"My sister, little Ann Marie,"

and four more stopped,

"She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth,"

now there were only eight still chopping,

" To lay,"

now only five,

"under the juniper,"

now only one,

Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

And so the last one stopped too and he had heard only the last part. "Bird," said he, "how beautifully you sing! I want to hear it too. Sing it again." "No," said the bird, "the second time I don't sing for nothing." Give me the millstone and I'll sing it again." "Yes, " said he, "if it belonged to me alone, you could have it." "Yes," the others said, "if he sings again he can have it." And so the bird came down and the millers, all twenty of them, set the beam to and raised up the stone, "Heave-ho-hup, heave-ho-hup, heave-ho-hup." And the bird stuck its neck through the hole and put it on as if it were a collar and flew back to into the tree and sang:

"My mother she butchered me,
 My father he ate me,
 My sister, little Ann Marie,
 She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth 
 To lay under the juniper.
 Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

And when it was finished singing, it spread its wings, and in the right claw it carried the chain, and the shoes in the left, and around the neck it wore the millstone, and flew all they back to its father's house.

Inside, the father, the mother, and Ann Marie were sitting at the table and the father said, "Ah, suddenly my heart feels so easy. Why do I feel so wonderfully good?" "No," said the mother, "I'm just so frightened, as if there was a great storm coming." But Ann Marie sat and cried and cried and right then the bird came flying along and as it sat down on the roof the father said, "How happy I'm feeling! And outside the sun is shining so brightly! It's just as if I were going to meet an old friend." "No," said the wife, "I'm so frightened! My teeth are chattering and it's as if I had fire in my veins." And she tore at her bodice to loosen it, but Ann Marie sat in a corner crying and held her plate in front of her eyes and cried so hard she was getting it wet and messy. And so the bird sat in the juniper tree and sang:

"My mother she butchered me"

And so then the mother stopped her ears up and squeezed her eyes shut and did not want to see or hear, but in her ears it roared like the wildest of storms and her eyes burned and twitched like lightning.

"My father he ate me,"

"Ah, mother," said the man, "what a pretty bird and how sweetly it sings, and the sun so warm, and everything smells like cinnamon."

"My sister, little Ann Marie"

And Ann Marie laid her head on her knees and just kept crying and crying, but the man said, "I'm going outside, I must see the bird close up." "Don't go!" said the woman. "I feel as if the whole house were trembling and in flames." But the man went outside and looked at the bird:

"She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth 
 To lay under the juniper.
 Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

With this bird let the golden chain fall, and it fell right around the man's neck and looked so well on him, and he went inside and he said, "Look at the pretty bird, what a pretty golden chain it gave me for a present, and how pretty it is to look at!" But the woman was so frightened she fell full length on the floor and the cap fell off her head. And still the bird sang.

"My mother she butchered me"

"I wish I were a thousand miles under the earth so that I wouldn't have to hear it."

"My father he ate me"

And the woman lay there as if she were dead.

"My sister, little Ann Marie"

"Ah," said Ann Marie, "I'm going out too to see if the bird has a present for me," and so she went out.

"She gathered up the bones of me
 And tied them in a silken cloth,"

and here it threw the shoes down to her.

"To lay under the juniper.
 Tweet twee, what a pretty bird am I!"

And she felt so lighthearted and gay. She put on the new red shoes and came dancing and skipping into the house. "Ah," said she, "I was so sad when I went outside, and now I feel so much better. What a wonderful bird it is! It gave me a pair of red shoes for a present." "No," said the woman and she jumped up and her hair stood straight on end like flaming fire. "It's as if the world were coming to an end. I'm going out and maybe I will feel better too." And as she came out of the door, crunch! the bird threw the millstone on her head and she was squashed. The father and Ann Marie heard it and came out. There was steam and flames and fire rising from the spot, and when they were gone, there stood the little brother and he took his father and Ann Marie by the hand and the three of them were so happy and went into the house and sat down at the table and ate their supper.







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