Sunday, 21 May 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--The Dead Girl's Bone (Switzerland)

Hello and welcome to Murder Story Monday. For the next two weeks I will be looking at versions of the Singing Bone from Switzerland that were collected and retold by Swiss folklorist Otto Sutermeister in his 1873 book Kinder- und Hausmärchen aus der Schweiz. (Children and Domestic Fairy Tales from Switzerland)

This version has some similarities to the ballad The Little Maple Tree and the fairy tale The Griffin from Italy as well as the German version of The Singing Bone collected by the Brothers Grimm where siblings set out to complete a task, one is successful and then is killed and the other attempts to take the credit. 

In this variation, the murdered girl's bone is turned into a flute by a shepherd boy. 
This version came from here.

Image result for singing bone illustration
The Dead Girl's Bone
Once there was a king who died. His wife and two children, a girl and a boy, were still alive. Then one day they asked the mother which of them should someday become king. She said to them, "Dear children, go out into the woods together and look for a certain flower. The first one of you to find it will someday become king."

So the two set forth together, and while searching in the woods they separated, and the girl was the first one to find the flower. She thought she would wait for her brother, so she put the flower in her hand, closed it in God's name, and lay down in the shade.

Then the boy came to her. He had not found the flower, but when he saw it in his sister's hand, a terrible thought came to him: "I will murder my sister, take the flower home with me, and then I will become king."

That is what he thought, and that is what he did. He killed her and buried her in the woods, covering with earth so that no one would know what had happened.

Many years later a shepherd boy who was there tending his sheep found one of the girl's bones lying on the ground. He made a few holes in it like a flute, and blew into it. Then the bone began to sing ever so sadly and told the entire story how the girl had been killed by her brother. To hear the song would bring tears to your eyes.

One day a knight came by where the boy was playing the flute. He bought the flute and played it wherever he went in the land. Finally the old queen heard the knight and became very sad. She had her son removed from the throne, and she mourned for the rest of her life.

That's it for this week's Murder Story Monday. Stay tuned next week where I examine another version from Switzerland entitled The Little Bone.

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