The Bird of Folklore
It is wintertime, and the earth is covered with a layer of snow, as smooth as if it were marble cut from a mountain. The sky is high and clear, and the wind as sharp as an elfin-forged sword; the trees stand like white coral, or resemble blooming almond branches, and the air is as fresh as it is in the high Alps. The night is beautiful with streaming northern lights and countless twinkling stars.
Storms are coming; the clouds rise and scatter swan feathers; the snowflakes drift down, covering the hollow lane, the houses, the open fields, and the quiet streets. But we are sitting in a cozy room, before a glowing fire, and tales of olden days are being told. We hear a legend.
"By the open sea there lay a viking's grave, and on it at midnight sat the ghost of that buried hero. He had been a king, the golden crown encircling his brow. His hair fluttered in the wind, and he was clad in iron and steel. He bowed his head sorrowfully and sighed in deep grief, like an unblessed spirit.
"Then a ship came near. The men cast anchor and went on land. Among them was a scald, and he stepped forth toward the kingly form and asked, 'Why do you grieve and suffer?'
"Thereupon the dead man answered, 'No man has sung of my deeds; they are dead and gone. Song has never carried them over the lands and into the hearts of men; therefore I have no rest, no peace.'
"And he told of his work and his mighty deeds; the men of his time had known them, but not sung of them, for then there were no scalds.
"Then the old scald plucked the strings of his harp and sang of the hero - of his daring as a youth, his strength in manhood, and his great and noble deeds. At that the dead one's face brightened, like the edge of a cloud touched with moonlight; happy and blessed, the form arose in beams of glory and vanished like a trail of the northern lights. Only the green mound of turf with the stone devoid of runes remained to be seen; but over it, at the last sound of the chords, and as if it had come from the harp itself, there flew a tiny bird.
The Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Bagdad
Category: Arabic folktales
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