poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘fairy tale

the wisdom of faerie tales

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As I write and revise the poetry for my ‘garden escapes‘ project, I search for references to enrich my poems. One category of these is the faerie tale. Many faerie tales include gardens in their tale-telling. Some include wisdom to be applied to my experience of the abandoned garden.


I have chosen three faerie tales to include in my poems:

Rapunzel: the beautiful girl with the long, long hair is imprisoned in the tower because her father makes a bargain with a witch. In one version of the tale, the father steals rampion bellflower from the witch’s garden and gives his daughter as compensation.

Beauty and the Beast: a beautiful girl falls in love with an ugly beast. The tale tells us that you must sometimes look beneath the exterior to find inner beauty. This is another tale where a father is caught stealing a flower (a rose) from a garden and gives his daughter as compensation. Hmmmm.

Sleeping Beauty: when the princess is put to sleep, a thorny vine grows around the castle to hide her away.


I have included these faerie tales in three of the poems I have written. Below is my poem incorporating the tale of Sleeping Beauty.


wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)


I think the story of Sleeping Beauty requires a little retelling, to make the princess less compliant. The three vines in the poem are:

  • Clematis (Clematis virginiana): names include virgin’s bower and devil’s darning needle. This climbing vine has delicate white flowers and fluffy seeds
  • Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia): an aggressive climber with leaves palmately divided into five lobes
  • Wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata): a prickly annual vine and a climber with tall columns of white flowers


Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)


Sleeping Beauty


“… round about the castle there began to grow a hedge of thorns, which every year became higher, and at last grew close up round the castle and all over it, so that there was nothing of it to be seen … ” –The Tale of Sleeping Beauty, the Brothers Grimm


three vines whisper—

Clematis virginiana

Virginia creeper

wild cucumber, reshape

the hawthorn, the rose

with frail flowers

and five fingers

tendrils like springs

disguise the thorns


keep curiosity seekers away


dampen noises from

beyond the barrier

where wakeful Beauty

taps her nails

on foundation granite

wonders if anyone

will dare to tear

at tendrils, breach wall

of thorn and vine


the need for rescue always in doubt


only decades ago

a home chuckled

behind the hedgerow

mowed lawn and a dyer’s garden

tansy at the cellar door

flax in the meadow

Beauty dibbling seeds

deadheading flowers

tying up sweet pea


only the cellar remains


perhaps she will slash

her way through hawthorn

rip out wild cucumber

scrape away suckers of creeper

tame the hawthorn, the briar

renovate house and barn

encourage the scent of sweet pea and petunia

transparency of hollyhock and mallow

whisper of yellow rattle, rustle of grasses


no more virgin’s bower


Clematis virginiana


This work was made possible by a Creations Grant from artsnb!


All my best.

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Written by jane tims

September 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

writing a novel – wearing red shoes

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So the poet has decided to write a novel…


Title: unknown

Working Title: unknown

Setting: an abandoned church (in part)

Characters: main character a writer (not a very successful writer) who spends a lot of time at some other creative endeavor, loves to wear red shoes

Plot: unknown


Almost five years ago, I went shoe-shopping in Halifax.  This sounds OK until you realise I have only been shopping for shoes about eight times in my adult life (I’m 58).  I buy shoes to last – sensible, good leather, well stitched, usually Clarks but occasionally Naots.  I was started on this path by my Aunt who said I should only ever wear the most comfortable shoes available.  She often brought me a pair of Clarks after one of her visits to England.

Since those days, I only wear sensible, very comfortable shoes.  I also wear one pair of shoes for everything.  Since I retired in May, I have been wearing sneakers most often, but my leather shoes go with me to church, work, university classes, writing workshops, botany excursions, walks on the beach, everywhere.  Mud or hardwood floors, it’s all the same.  Friends have made fun of me for overwearing and outwearing my shoes.

At the shopping trip in Halifax, I bought a pair of sensible Naots and these have been my everyday shoes ever since.  But that day, I also fell in love with a pair of red leather Clarks.  They were a little tight, but I thought, they’ll stretch.  Five years later, they havn’t stretched because I’ve only worn them about three times.  They are too small.  My husband says I was a fool to buy a pair of shoes too small, even if they were a beautiful red.

So, if I can’t wear my beautiful red shoes, my main character in my book will wear them instead.

Red shoes.  A use of symbolism to support an underlying theme.  In the The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 film, Dorothy wore ‘ruby slippers’ to get back home, where she desperately wanted to be.  In the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1900, Dorothy actually wore silver shoes!

the passage in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz where Dorothy gets her silver shoes

In Hans Christian Andersen’s rather macabre fairy tale The Red Shoes, an enchanted pair of red shoes causes a girl to dance to her doom.  Early in the fairy tale, she gets in trouble for obsessing over her red shoes while wearing them in church.  There is also a 1948 film, The Red Shoes, based on the fairy tale, about a ballet dancer who is torn between wanting to be a ballet dancer and wanting to be with her lover.

two books of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen

In my novel, my main character will want something desperately (not to get to Kansas, or to dance, or to be a dancer, but something important to her).  Her red shoes are a symbol of her willingness to face all sorts of consequences to achieve her goal.


Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

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