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The Bird of Folklore

It is wintertime, the wind still as sharp as an elfin-forged sword; the snow is drifting - it has been drifting, it seems to us, for days and weeks - and it lies like a monstrous snow mountain over the big town; it is like a weighty dream in the winter night. All beneath it is hidden and seemingly nonexistent; only the golden cross on the church, the symbol of faith, rises above the snow grave and glitters against the blue sky in the clear sunshine.

And away over the snow-covered town fly the birds of heaven, the large and the small; they chirp and they sing, each in its own tongue.

First is the flock of sparrows; they chirp about all the little things in street and lane, in nest and house; they know tales of the kitchen and the parlor. "We know that buried town," they say. "Every living soul there has cheep, cheep, cheep!"

Then the black ravens and crows fly over the white snow. "Dig! Dig!" they scream. "There's still something to get down there, something for the belly - that's the most important thing. That's the opinion of most people down below there, and that opinion is caw, caw, caw!"

The wild swans come with whizzing wings and sing of the greatness and glory that still live in the thoughts and hearts of the men in the snow-covered slumber of the town. It is not the sleep of death, for evidence of life comes forth; we hear it in tones of music; they swell and sound as if they are coming from the church organ, they are gripping as a strain from an elfin mound, as Ossianic songs, as the winged rush of the Valkyries. What harmony! It speaks to our inmost heart, uplifts our thoughts; we hear the Bird of Folklore! And now the warm breath of God breathes down from above; the snow mountain breaks open, and the sun shines in through it. The spring is coming, and the birds are coming, a new generation, with the same familiar tones. Hearken to the drama of the year - the mighty snowstorm - the weighty dream of a winter night! All fetters shall be broken here, and everything shall rise again at the beautiful song of the Bird of Folklore - the Bird that never dies.

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Category: Arabic folktales
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