Friday, 1 January 2010

Not Quite A #Fridayflash - A Modern Fairytale in Verse

I'm not feeling very inspired where prose is concerned this week, so I thought, rather than force a story, I'd post a poetic modernisation of a traditional fairytale for #fridayflash. I don't think it strictly qualifies as 'telling a story', so I won't be putting it in the collector, but I hope it's enjoyed nonetheless. The poem is a revision of the tale of Rapunzel...and I suppose, more a critique of modern expectations!

The Old Fairytale...

For those whose memories of the nursery fail them, in the original tale, the baby Rapunzel is locked in a tower by an evil enchantress as retribution for food stolen by her father from the witch's garden. Rapunzel's eventual rescue from the tower frees her into the world for the first time, through marriage to a rich, handsome prince. She lures this prince to her rescue (the hussy!) with the following qualities - beauty, virginity, a stunning talent for song, and expert spinning skills (specifically, the ability to make rope with her own hair...charming!). Oh, and post-marriage, Rapunzel also turns out to be capable of multiple births without remote damage to her figure (she was surely the witch!).

In return for all this loveliness, Rapunzel's prince must prove his courage, virility and martial skill by fighting for her. He essentially earns Rapunzel by enduring various physical trials and suffering permanently maiming wounds in the process (attention-seeker!). Needless to say, the prince proves himself a formidable warrior and rescues Rapunzel, winning her love. She proves herself beautiful on the inside as well as out and weds him despite his blindness, suffered in pursuit of her. Then, of couse, the two live happily ever after.

These characters, I'm sure, held useful lessons for the children of 15th-century gentlefolk. The tale of Rapunzel taught attainment and rags-to-riches aspiration in the society they'd grow up to join, providing they were brave or pure...but I think the legacies of these characters probably need updating for today’s audience! You see, though their examples are now all but impossible to achieve, Rapunzel and the prince are, from time to time, still to be found setting the bar for modern folk! And it only leads to confusion all round when neither Rapunzels or princes turn out as the fairytale predicts... So, I reckon, it's time we got things straight!

The Poetic Update:

Walls (The Modern Tale of Rapunzel)

"You ask too much of me –"
said the girl from her high pedestal
"Be honest
Be loving
Be faithful
And so
be not surprised
if I fall at the first hurdle."

"You make it sound so easy,
but I’m
no butterfly, no daisy,
none so delicate
I am

"Nothing passes unchallenged there –
your fingers on my soul, you see, are different
to your fingers
in my hair."

"History screams from my every pore -
an enchantress to keep you from
a door that does not exist beyond a crown
of thistles
there to encircle and protect
my skin of bricks and mortar.
And it is going to take much more
Than water
to wash away these walls."

"Try words", Rapunzel called down from her tower,
"Try fire."
And the prince below her
looked puzzled
and scratched his head.

Maybe I'll re-write 'Walls' in prose as my #fridayflash for next week?! :)


  1. Damn, this was fantastic! You've a gift.

  2. This was a cool interpretation of an old tale. Well done.

    The end is a bit anticlimactic [I wanted more] - however, I think you captured the prince's uncertainty nicely.

  3. That was great. I loved this line:

    "Nothing passes unchallenged there –
    your fingers on my soul, you see, are different
    to your fingers
    in my hair."

  4. Thanks guys! I'm so pleased you liked it. Maybe I'll work on putting it into prose this week. :)

  5. Very nice, and agree with Anton, best part.

  6. Maybe those lines speak loudest because no one is willing to yeild entirely to another without tests & challenges & adequate proof of passions! We're all ruled by past experiences, which is basically what this poem says: neither Rapunzel nor the prince are blank canvases these days!

  7. I was struck by the same line that Anton mentioned. This is wonderful - a woman standing up for who she actually is. Bravo!

  8. Ahh What Carrie said!
    I loved it!

  9. I like this take on the Rapunzel theme very much. I think with some tweaking (minor) this would be a most stellar poem. Second, third, and last stanzas very strong.

    Why not a prose poem? And some dialogue from the Prince? Great stuff - you got me all excited here (uh, can you tell I groove on poetry?). HNY! Peace, Linda