Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Welsh folksong’

Storytelling Starters ~ Too busy?

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

Yesterday morning I needed to look up a song. Early in January Paul and I have a tryst to meet up with some friends in Llansteffan, a village on a Carmarthenshire estuary where I once stayed for a couple of lovely weeks while doing storytelling work in some nearby schools. I told these friends that when we are there, looking out over the sea or, if the tide is out, the sandflats, I shall sing them a Welsh song that I love which tells the story of someone rowing across the estuary to fetch his loved one.

Reminders:

It was a pleasure to be reminded of the song when I found it. But, my goodness, as I searched for it in my file boxes – now would it be in the box labelled Wales, which is full of Welsh stories and stuff about Welsh places, or in the box labelled Songs, Poems, Sayings? – I had such a weird combination of feelings. Past and future swirled around in my mind. Which items had I previously used in my storytelling work? Which could be good in the future? I felt a bit like Janus, the ancient Roman deity who, as my Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable reminds me, was the guardian of gates and doors and, for this reason, represented with two faces, one in front and one behind. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The blackbird’s song

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Know any stories about the blackbird? After racking my brain, I’ve concluded I don’t. But I’d like to. For this year, the blackbirds round us seem more beautiful than ever. With one pair out the front, one at the back, it feels like we’re surrounded by golden song – and it goes on from dawn to dusk. With some friends the other day, we all agreed. Yes, they said – and they weren’t all from round here – the blackbirds are especially brilliant this year. As good as the nightingale, two of us ventured. Maybe even better.

And that put me in mind of a story. You probably need no reminding. It’s the one about how the nightingale got its song. But at first it masquerades as the story of how the birds got their colours.

How the birds got their colours

P1060296One day long ago when the world was new, God sent a message to the birds to let them know that he’d soon be coming to give them colours. He even appointed a day and told them not to be late. The birds became very excited. On the day, they were ready and waiting, fascinated to know what these colours would be.

When God arrived with his suitcase, he got them all to line up. Then he opened his case, arranged his paints, picked up his brushes and began. You should have seen what he did – how beautiful he made them look and how different from each other in different combinations of reds and greens and yellows and blues.

After he’d finished, God was putting his things away when one little brown bird came hurrying up, all dishevelled and sad because he was late. God said he was terribly sorry: all his paints were used up by now, he had nothing left. When the little bird heard this, he was so distressed that God said he’d take another look just in case he could find a little something for him. ‘Ah yes,’ God said as he rummaged around. ‘Here is something, it’ll be just right.’

What God had found was a tiny spot of gold at the bottom of one of his pots. ‘Now open your beak,’ God told the little brown bird as he picked up the gold with one of his finest brushes. When the little bird’s mouth was open wide, God placed that tiny spot of gold right at the back of its throat. And ever since, that otherwise undistinguished little bird – it was the nightingale – has had gold in its song. (more…)