Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors.
What’s a legend without a weapon? There’s Excalibur, the Arthurian stone-pull of choice, which parallels the Norse sword Gram, originally encased in King Völsung’s tree, Barnstokkr (“child’s trunk”). A creation of Völund the Smith, Gram passes from Sigmund to his son, Sigurd, who slays
Fáfnir, a dwarf prince changed into a dragon by a trove of enchanted gold. The sword later features in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which clocks in at 15 hours.
Another opera inspired by a legendary weapon wielder is Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, based on the Swiss folk hero mentioned in the 15th century German text Weisses Buch von Sarnen (White Book of Sarnen). Slated for exectuion by the Habsburg bailiff Gessler, Tell’s sentence is commuted to life imprisonment after he successfully crossbows an apple off his son’s head. Though he assassinates Gessler after a watery escape, Tell isn’t the only one with a knack for arrows and fruit, as the 12th-century Danish story of Palnatoke depicts similar circumstances.
It’s doubtful he’s read Hayden Carruth’s poem “Regarding Chainsaws,” but that hasn’t stopped Ash Williams of the Evil Dead franchise from waging a campaign to guarantee the ever-ready amalgam of guide bar, tensioning mechanism, and cutting chain ascendency in the pantheon of power tool arts. Acquired in the trilogy’s second installment (released in March of ′87), it would take another nine years before the world was introduced to Forest Warrior, in which Chuck Norris fells what appears to be a logger’s Husqvarna 350 with his bare hands.
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by Fairy Tale Review Poetry Editor Jon Riccio.