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Kay Nielsen's Rapunzel from Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm, 1925.

Kay Nielsen’s Rapunzel from Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm, 1925.

Magical friends had gathered in the Fairy Tale Lobby, gobbled goodies, gabbed and giggled, and gradually gathered around the grand piano. Not that it would be used, but that it was a fine backdrop.

Sagacia tuned her flute. Charles Kiernan set up his snare drum.

Simplia was warming up in the next room, but you could hear her from here: “Do-mi-so-DO-so-mi-do.)

At last the room grew quiet, and Simplia, radiant in her gold lamé gown, stepped in to affectionate applause.

Charles beat out a couple of measures, Sagacia blew an 8-bar introduction to “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and Simplia began her magnum opus:

Once a future Mama spied some rampion sweetly waving;
Future Papa sought to pluck it just to ease her craving.

But the gardener, an enchantress lacking in compassion,
Saw him and required he trade the baby for the ration.

    Papa, don’t agree! Go home!
    This will bring you sorrow!
    Fearfully the man agreed;
    He’ll pay the price tomorrow.

For a while Dame Gothel seemed to be a decent mother,
But, when puberty set in, she turned into another.

Built a tower high as Babel with a single casement,
No way up and down between the attic and the basement

    Take the key and lock her up!
    Keep her chaste and groundless!
    Gothel, you’re contemptible!
    Your cruelty is boundless!

Daily Gothel scaled Rapunzel’s braid up to the window,
Brought her food and clothes and such; permitted no men in, though.

Then a prince who heard her singing saw the Dame’s ascension,
Tried it next himself–and this is where begins the tension!

    Prince and sweet Rapunzel did
    What Dame Gothel feared most.
    How long do you think this can
    Go on before you’re both toast?

Gothel cut Rapunzel’s hair and hung it from the tower.
When the prince came calling, Gothel met him, looking sour.

“Out the window you must go!” she said and firmly tossed him
To the thorny brush below. Rapunzel feared she’d lost him.    

    Thus, it happened, just like that:
    Prince, defenestrated;
    Wiley Gothel up in smoke;
    Rapunzel impregnated.

But she searched the forests, fields, and deserts near and distant,
Twins in tow, in sun and snow, courageous and persistent.

When she found her prince at last, how eagerly she kissed him!
He could see reciprocally how much his darling missed him.

    Prince! Rapunzel! Fill the air
    With your joyful laughter!
    Marry, raise your sons, and
    Happily live ever after!

Sagacia brought the melody to closure on the flute. Charles rat-a-tat-tatted two more measures, ritardando. Silence followed for a moment, then suddenly the awed listeners rose to their feet.

“Brava! Brava!” they shouted.

Simplia curtsied low. Her heart was full.

As the cheers settled, “Fox” Ellis could be heard to say, almost as though out of context, “YES! ballads, poems, songs are naturally dense and a great place to condense a metaphorically rich fairy tale!”

Eagerly Mario Rups agreed, adding thoughtfully, “Poems tend to distill concept, subject, and meaning down to the very essence. And, perhaps, even change the heart of the story.”

“How about ballads?” Marion Leeper asked Pam Faro, still applauding “Certainly less than 5-minutes! Tiny, compressed little stories, like those dried up Japanese flowers that unfurl in water: they’re gutsy, whole-hearted tragedies that take you on a roller-coaster of all the emotions. My favourite is the Wife of Usher’s Well.”

“It worked,” Simplia thought to herself. Her hands crossed her heart, and she bowed once more, glancing at her watch as she knelt. “Two minutes and forty-eight seconds!” She smiled victoriously.

“Encore! Encore!” Someone called. It looked like Adam Hoffman, but Simplia couldn’t be sure.

“Encore!” she heard again. Was it Richard Martin? So many warm and gleeful voices! Or could it be Nick Smith?

Simplia was simply too dizzy to discern. Besides, so many of her magical friends had shown up! So many who had helped her rise from her greatest defeat, her most despised loss, to this treasured moment of glory!

She glanced over at her accompanists. They nodded. She took a deep breath and cleared her throat. The evening would go on!

This whole idea of telling fairy tales in breve just might work, she thought, if one did it artfully.

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