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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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Your search for BIRDS, ANIMALS, TRANSFORMATION returned 1 result.

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CUCKOO MOTHER

A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, A WIDOW MOTHER LIVED ON A FARM WITH HER
THREE SONS; STRONG AS OAK TREES AS BROAD AS TREE-TRUNKS. THEY
LIVED MANY YEARS HAPPILY, EVERYONE'S RESPECTED, TILL HER SONS
GREW UP. AND WHEN THEY GREW UP, THE KING INVITED THEM TO RIDE
WITH HIM INTO WAR. ONE RODE OUT TO THE EAST, ANOTHER TO THE SOUTH,
AND THE THIRD, THE YOUNGEST--TO THE WEST. WHEN THEY RODE OUT,
THROUGH THE THREE YEARS NOT ONE SENT ANY WORD AND THE MOTHER
DIDN'T KNOW WHETHER THEY WERE ALIVE OR DEAD. SHE CRIED, BUT
DIDN'T GIVE UP HOPE, THAT SOMEDAY THEY WILL RETURN, TO CALM
HER OLD DAYS. BUT WHEN THE THIRD SPRING CAME, SHE WENT OUT
ON TOP OF A HILL AND SAW, THAT A HORSE WAS RIDING EMPTY-SADDLED.
AND SHE RECOGNIZED IT AS HER OLDEST SON'S HORSE. SHE
RECOGNIZED AND REALIZED, THAT HER OLDEST SON WAS NO LONGER ALIVE.
AND WHEN SHE REALIZED THIS, SHE CRIED FOR THREE DAYS AND THREE
NIGHTS. BUT THE PEOPLE TOLD HER: "DON'T CRY, THAT YOUR SON DIED
IN WAR. GOD GAVE, AND GOD TAKETH AWAY. BETTER YOU ASK HIM TO
RETURN YOUR OTHER TWO SONS WELL." WHILE THEY WERE CALMING HER,
THEY SAW A SECOND HORSE COME GALLOPING UP, NEIGHING AS IF
WEEPING HIMSELF. THE REIGNS PULLED OFF, THE SADDLE SPLASHED WITH
BLOOD AND THE HORSE ITSELF WOUNDED. HE RAN UP TO THE GATE, KNELT
DOWN ON ALL FOURS AND FELL OVER DEAD. AND THE MOTHER RECOGNIZED
THAT THE SECOND HORSE BROUGHT HER PAINFUL NEWS. SHE BEGAN TO CRY
EVEN MORE PAINFULLY, THAT NOW HER SECOND SON WAS DEAD. THE
PEOPLE DIDN'T KNOW TO COMFORT HER NOW. "IF ONLY. LORD, I KNEW
WHERE MY SONS LIE. WITH A FOX I'D RUN THERE, WITH A BIRD I'D FLY
THERE, ON THEIR GRAVES I WOULD CRY." SHE CRIED DAY AND NIGHT,
CURSING HER FUTURE, WAITING FOR HER YOUNGEST SON. BUT WHILE
SHE WAS CRYING, THE THIRD HORSE CAME HOME, TOO, INJURED AND
WOUNDED. HE RAN UP TO THE GATES, NEIGHED SORROWFULLY AND
KNEELING ON ALL FOURS, FELL OVER DEAD. THE MOTHER RECOGNIZED THAT
NOW HER THIRD SON WOULDN'T COME HOME. SHE FELL TO THE GROUND
FROM THE GRIEF AND TURNED INTO A CUCKOO BIRD, CUCKOOD IN A
SORROWFUL WAY AND FLEW AWAY TO FOREIGN LANDS IN SEARCH OF HER
SONS: SHE FLIES AND HUNTS FOR THEM YEAR ROUND IN THE STRANGE LANDS,
AND IN THE SPRING TIME COMES HOME, FLIES THROUGH THE FORESTS,
CRYING FOR HER SONS. AND WHEN THE DAY COMES THAT THE YOUNGEST
SON'S HORSE CAME HOME, SHE AGAIN FLIES OUT TO THE FOREIGN LANDS
TO SEARCH FOR THEM. AND THAT'S HOW IT ALWAYS WAS, AND ALWAYS WILL
BE....

Submitter comment: (TRANSLATED FROM LITHANIA BY RAMUNE M. STONYS)

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD

Keyword(s): BIRDS, ANIMALS, TRANSFORMATION

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Mammal
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Bird

Date learned: DATE NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR

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