After a brief hiatus, here comes another poem from the collection "Kytice z pověstí národních" (A Bouquet of National Legends/A Garland of National Myths) by Karel Jaromír Erben (1811-1870). Supposedly translated by Flora Pauline Wilson Kopta around 1896, no longer protected by copyright. Original Czech text to be found below this post. THE GOLD SPINNING-WHEEL PART FIRST A forest and a widening plain — And see a rider comes amain; From out the forest, on fiery steed, One hears the horseshoes ring at his speed As he rides alone, alone. And by a hamlet down he sprang. And on the door knocks, bang, ban^, bang. " Hola within! come open the door! In hunting I've lost my way once more. Come, give me water to drink." Out came a maiden, wondrous fair. The world n'er saw such beauty rare — She brought him water from out the spring, Bashfully then, made the spin-wheel sing, As she sat there spinning flax. The rider stops, is looking on. Forgotten thirst in that sweet song. Wondering he watches the fine white thread; His eyes are fixed on the bowed fair head Of the beautiful spinner. "If your hand is free, maiden mine — My wife thou'lt be — for thee I pine." He fain would have clasped her to his breast. But she said, "My mother's will is best. And I have no will but hers." "And who may be thy mother, maid? There's no one here, my maiden staid." " Oh, sir, my stepmother's in the town. She went for her daughter to the town; To-morrow they both come home." PART SECOND A forest and a widening plain. And see the rider comes again From out the forest on snowy steed — One hears the hoof-irons ring at his speed. As he rides to the hamlet. And by the hamlet down he sprang. And on the door knocks, bang, bang, bang. " Hola within, come open the door. Let me see thy face, beloved, once more. Oh, thou who art my treasure." Out came a granny, skin and bone: "Ha! What brings you?" Harsh was her tone " I bring you a change in house," he said. "I fain would your handsome daughter wed — The one you call not your own." "Ha! ha! your words are passing strange — Who would have thought of such a change! Be welcome though, my honorable guest, Unknown to me, I still bid you rest — Come, tell me how you came here." "Know I am king of all this land — I strayed here from my knightly band. I'll give you silver, I'll give you gold For that daughter of yours — wealth untold, For that beautiful spinner." "Oh, master king, 'tis strange, most strange — Who would have thought of such a change! We are not worthy, oh, master king, To dare to think of such a thing; We are poor, humble people." "Still one thing — yes, that I can do For stranger, give my daughter true. They are alike — one like the other; Like two eyes, from the selfsame mother, And see her thread is silken." "Granny, your words I do not like- Do as I order, that is right. To-morrow when the dawn is nearing, Bring your stepdaughter, her heart cheering, Unto my kingly castle." PART THIRD "Arise, my daughter, it is time — The king waits — 'tis a merry rhyme — The banquet's ready; sure, I never Spake better for you — though I never Dared hope for such an honor." "Array thyself, oh, sister mine: In the king's courts their clothes are fine; Oh, very high you have sought your mate. And you leave me to my lonely fate — No matter — be but happy." "Come, Dorothy, beloved one, come. Your bridegroom waits, so only come. When you have entered the forest's shade You'll think no more of your home, my maid. Come, hasten, daughter, hasten." "Mother, dear mother, tell me why You take that knife? It makes me sigh." " The knife is sharp — in the forest deep I'll cut the eyes of a snake asleep. Come, hasten, daughter, hasten." "Listen, dear sister, tell me why You take that axe? It makes me sigh." " The axe is good — in the forest still, I'll maim a beast, a beast of ill-will. Come, hasten, sister, hasten." And when they reached the forest dark They said, "That snake, that beast, thou art!" The mountains and valleys wept to see How they killed the bride that was to be. That poor girl without blemish. "Rejoice now in your stalwart groom; Rejoice within your pleasant room; Look on him stately as a tower; Gaze on his brow in festive hour. You spinner, great in beauty." "Dear mother, tell me what to do With eyes and limbs, what shall I do?" " Don't leave them by the trunk, my daughter, Who knows but some one here might loiter — Yes, rather take them with you." And when they left the forest shade The mother said, "Be not afraid; You are alike — one like the other; Like two eyes from the selfsame mother. Take courage, then, my daughter." And as they neared the castle gate. The king was watching for his mate. He left the window, and went to meet, With his lords behind, his maiden sweet; He did not dream of treachery. There was a wedding! Play on play. The bride sat laughing all the day. There were banquets, music all the time; The world seemed to dance, to merry chime. Till the seventh day had passed. And on the eighth day the king spake: "Alas! my bride I must forsake. I must go and fight the haughty foe. Be happy, my bride, and let no woe Be thine till I come again." "When from the battle I come back. Our love will blossom without lack. Till then I bid thee diligent be: Spin thy flax, and keep thinking of me. As you spin the linen thread." PART FOURTH And in the forest dark and drear. How sleeps the maid, I want to hear. From out six wounds her blood is gushing. And nought to still its awful rushing, As she lay on the emerald moss. Gladly she went to meet her fate — Now death is near her — it is late. Her body's cooling — her blood is set — Yes, even the ground with blood is wet, Alas, that you saw the king! Behind a rock an old man came. One could not tell from where he came; His long gray beard hung below his knees; He took up the murdered maid with ease. And carried her to his cell. "Get up, my lad, the need is great — Take the gold spinning-wheel of fate; In the king's palace they will buy it; But hear: Only for feet I sell it. No other pay will answer." The lad jumped on his fiery steed, The spinning-wheel he held with heed. " Who buys?" he called at the castle gate, "Who would buy a spinning-wheel of fate. Of purest gold, I warrant?" "Go, my mother, and ask the price. The spinning-wheel is strong and nice." " Buy it, my lady! It is not dear — My father is cheap — you need not fear. For two feet he will give it." "For two feet! 'Tis a strange, odd price — Still I will buy — the wheel is nice. So mother bring our Dorothy's feet From out our room — let your steps be fleet— And I will take the spin-wheel." The feet were given to the lad. He rode back to the forest sad. Hand me, my boy, the living water, I soon will heal this ill-starred daughter. Without a scar I'll heal her." Wound upon wound he gently pressed; It grew together like the rest, And the dead feet warmed with living heat. And grew to the body as was meet. And no scar was to be seen. "Take, my boy, from the cupboard there. The distaff — golden, very fair. In the king's palace they will buy it; But hear: Only for hands I sell it. No other pay will answer." The lad jumped on his fiery steed. The golden distaff he held with heed. The queen looked out of the window high, "If I had that distaff," she did sigh, "To match my golden spin-wheel." "Get up, my mother, from your seat, And ask the price of that distaff neat." " Buy it, my lady! It is not dear — My father is cheap — you need not fear. For two hands he will give it." "For two hands! 'Tis a strange, odd price — But I'll buy the distaff — it is nice. Go bring our Dorothy's hands, I pray. Though it seems to me 'tis hardly pay. For a golden distaff fine." The hands were given to the lad. He rode back to the forest sad. " Hand me, my boy, the living water, I soon will heal this ill-starred daughter, Without a scar, I'll heal her." Wound upon wound he gently pressed; It grew together like the rest, And the dead hands warmed with living heat, And grew to the body as was meet. But no scar was to be seen. "Up, my lad, and be on the way, I have a whirl to sell this day; In the king's palace they will buy it; But listen: Only for eyes I sell it, No other pay will answer." The lad jumped on his fiery steed, The precious whirl he held with heed. The queen looked out of the window high, "If I had that whirl" — and she did sigh, " To match my golden distaff." "Get up, my mother, from your seat. And ask the price of that whirl so neat!" " For eyes, my lady! The whirl to-day, 'Tis my father's will, I must obey. For two eyes you can have it." "For two eyes! Are you crazy, lad? Who is your father, speak out, lad?" " Who is my father, you need not know, Those who seek him, find him not I know, But he'll come to you I ween." "Mother, mother, what shall I say? I must have that whirl — come what may! " So bring our Dorothy's eyes, I pray; I must have that whirl this very day, Give him our Dorothy's eyes." The eyes were given to the lad. He rode back to the forest sad. " Hand me, my boy, the living water, I soon will heal this ill-starred daughter. Without a scar I'll heal her." He placed the eyes where they should be; Life came back, and the girl could see. And the maiden rose, and looked around — She was alone — not even a sonnd Disturbed the forest's silence. PART FIFTH Three weeks had passed, the king rode home. Merrily back upon his roan. " How are you, beloved wife," he said, "And have you been spinning linen thread. And thinking of me, my love?" "Your parting words I kept with care — Look at this golden spin-wheel fair. The only spin-wheel of gold, I trow. With distaff and whirl I bought it now. For love of you I bought it." "I pray thee sit and spin, my dove, A golden thread spin me, my love." with joy she sat herself down to spin. Turned the wheel — then blanched, her face grew thin, As she heard that awful song. "Vrrr — you have spun an awful thread — Yes, blood is on your hands and head — You killed your sister, and took her place. You tore her limbs and eyes from their place. Vrrr — you have spun an awful thread." "What spinning wheel is this, I pray? Strange is the song it sings, I say? But spin on, my wife, I fain would hear Some more of this song, so strange and drear, Spin — my wife, spin on, I pray." "Vrrr — you have spun an awful thread! Through treachery you are now wed; You killed your sister, and took her place! Yes, you tore her eyes from out her race! Vrrr — you have spun an awful thread!" "Ho! dreadful is this song to me! You are not wife what you should be. But spin, I bid thee, for the third time; Let me hear once more that dreadful rhyme; Spin, my wife — spin on, I say." "Vrrr — you have spun an awful thread! Through treachery you are now wed; In the wood your murdered sister lies — You cheated the king with shameful lies. Vrrr — you have spun an awful thread!" The king heard, and he rushed away. On steed he sprang and went his way. In the forest vast he wandered far. And he called her name near and afar, "Dorothy, where art thou, love?" PART SIXTH Forest, castle, a stretching plain — Two riders ride along amain. The bridegroom and bride ride on with speed. One hears the horseshoes ring at their speed. As they ride to the castle. And a wedding was held once more — The bride was fairer than before. There were banquets, music all the time, The world seemed to dance to merry chime. Till three weeks had pass'd away. And what of that raven mother? And cruel, cruel sister? Four foxes run in the forest dark, Each one has a woman's trunk for part, As they rush into the wood. The heads hang down without the eyes, The hands and feet are cut likewise, In the forest dark, they met their fate, Where they killed the maid they met their fate, The death they made her suffer. And what of the gold spinning wheel? Its song was done — that golden wheel Sang but three times that miserable lay, Then, strange to say, it vanished away. But where no man can tell you.