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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Jacobs - Beth Gelert - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

ANGER!  Is there anybody who hasn't felt it?  If ever there was a tale to pop in your head before acting, "Beth Gelert" is it.  Anybody addressing the topic of Anger Management or Character Education and Values needs this story in their resources.

Read the story first, it won't take long. After it I'll give both Joseph Jacobs' own notes on the story and additional online information including photos -- but please don't skip ahead as it will ruin the story.  The story is given repeatedly by many people, but I think it's best told by Jacobs. He was an Australian best known for his collections of English and Celtic folklore and I've earlier posted a bit of that and a little of his Aesop fables.  This comes from his book, Celtic Fairy Tales, published in 1892.
That story has been told many times and even can be traced moving across the globe.  Wait a second.  I'm sometimes asked "Is that story true?"  Well truth and what really happened or even if it happened as a story may retell it can be different things.

Historic UK tells the facts in the briefest way:
To this day, a cairn of stones marks the place, and the name Beddgelert means in Welsh 'The grave of Gelert'. Every year thousands of people visit the grave of this brave dog; slight problem however, is that the cairn of stones is actually less than 200 years old!
Nevertheless this story has great appeal. History and myth appear to have become a little confused when in 1793, a man called David Pritchard came to live in Beddgelert. He was the landlord of the Royal Goat Inn and knew the story of the brave dog and adapted it to fit the village, and so benefit his trade at the inn.
He apparently invented the name Gelert, and introduced the name Llywelyn into the story because of the Prince's connection with the nearby Abbey, and it was with the help of the parish clerk that Pritchard, not Llywelyn, raised the cairn!

That site gives a quick view of the two tablets shown at Historic UK and placed in Beddgelert.  The second tablet repeats in Welsh, so here is the English version.  It and the appealing dog are found on  Their source is a postcard entitled "The Faithful Hound" and was published by Gwynedd Crafts, Beddgelert. The hound pictured was named Sean and sadly died in May, 1989 from osteosarcoma at the age of three.  The site also gives the poem by William Robert Spencer, often given as a source and mentioned by Joseph Jacobs.   If you are further interested in the Irish Wolfhound,  the site mentions it's the "world's tallest breed of dog."  They also provide a great deal of information on the breed for Wolfhound fanciers and potential lovers of the breed. looked at the legend and had a Forum discussion following it.  One Forum member, "Maverick", said:
a comprehensive look at the legend and the Celtic myths behind it Croker (Fairy Legends of Ireland, vol. iii. p. 165) points out several places where the legend seems to have been localised in place-names - two places, called "Gwal y Vilast" ("Greyhound's Couch"), in Carmarthen and Glamorganshire; "Llech y Asp" ("Dog's Stone"), in Cardigan, and another place.

I love the idea of these tales migrating across the face of the globe so that a Bhuddhistic text eventually becomes subsumed into Celtic culture (and we wonder about the migration of language!)

This concludes the literary route of the Legend of Gellert from India to Wales: Buddhistic Vinaya Pitaka - Fables of Bidpai; - Oriental Sindibad;-Occidental Seven Sages of Rome ; - " English" (Latin), Gesta Romanorum ;-Welsh, Fables of Cattwg.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Some Stories to Build a Better World

Why do I believe stories can make a difference?  Like music, a story has the ability to get inside a listener and play over and over.  I think back to a story I heard in grade school about gossip or misinformation being like feathers scattered, never to be retrieved.  Similarly I want to change the way young people handle disagreements and bullying.

Whether at​ a political l​ocation or a playground, conflict resolution and anger management are needed.  View the news to see what I mean.  Many libraries this summer use the Summer Reading theme of "Build a Better World."  It's a topic applied in many ways, but needs to include character education.  I believe it also should be brought to schools, too.  We must build that better world by reaching as young as possible in schools, libraries, or wherever children are.

A story may fit more than one topic. Beyond Anger Management and Conflict Resolution I add Cooperation, Courage, Creative Thinking, Forgiveness, Honesty, Patience, Persistence, Respect, and Responsibility.  Notice my puppet sidekick, Priscilla Gorilla, in her cheer leading outfit.  Just as stories or music can stay with us a long time, so can cheers.  I bet you remember the old saying: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Similarly cheers can be what is called an Earworm, an important enough topic to generate a Wikipedia article.  I'll give a sample cheer later that may contain an earworm.

I won't give all of the stories I use -- the list is long and I enjoy being able to pick stories suiting my audience.  Here the need is for stories I can either link or reprint.  Today I will only give a few stories helping Anger Management or Conflict Resolution. 

Because of copyright, I can't print here the African story, "A Blind Man Catches a Bird", from Alexander McCall Smith in his anthology, The Girl Who Married a Lion.  He has delighted me with his novels set in Botswana about Mma Ramotswe and The Number One Ladies Detective Agency, but that link should take you to PDF of a teacher's unit reprinting and using the story for her class of English language learners.

Fellow storyteller, Doug Lipman, in addition to other offerings, hosts the Hasidic Stories Home Page.  Because "Can You See the Turning" is an original copyrighted story by Doug, as opposed to many of the traditional tales there, I called and asked if I can reproduce it here.  As I expected, he graciously agreed.
Sometimes on the internet you can't be sure if something truly is a traditional story or not.  A site called Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors gives the story "The Gift of Insults" complete with reactions to it.  If I could choose only one story, this is the most important.  My only hesitation with printing it here is I also see it attributed to Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho, best known for The Alchemist.  I believe he is the author and should have been credited there even though his own posting of the story does end with this statement: Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet.  Generosity should still include known origin.  Because I consider the story so important I'm not going to risk your clicking on a link being too difficult.  Here it is.

Near Tokyo lived a great Samurai warrior, now old, who decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people. In spite of his age, the legend was that he could defeat any adversary.
One afternoon, a warrior – known for his complete lack of scruples – arrived there. He was famous for using techniques of provocation: he waited until his adversary made the first move and, being gifted with an enviable intelligence in order to repair any mistakes made, he counterattacked with fulminating speed.
The young and impatient warrior had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, and increase his fame.
All the students were against the idea, but the old man accepted the challenge.
All gathered on the town square, and the young man started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in his direction, spat in his face, shouted every insult under the sun – he even insulted his ancestors. For hours, he did everything to provoke him, but the old man remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling exhausted and humiliated, the impetuous warrior left.
Disappointed by the fact that the master had received so many insults and provocations, the students asked:
– How could you bear such indignity? Why didn’t you use your sword, even knowing you might lose the fight, instead of displaying your cowardice in front of us all?
– If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, who does the gift belong to? – asked the Samurai.
– He who tried to deliver it – replied one of his disciples.
– The same goes for envy, anger and insults – said the master. – When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who carried them.

That's only a third of my Conflict Resolution stories.  Another story that only fits Anger will be next week in the Keeping the Public in Public Domain series.  It's a perfect story about the need to take a few moments before reacting.  Sometimes I like to joke and say "The most frequent exercise I get is jumping to conclusions."  This is a longer cheer, so if you remembered it all, there would certainly be a few moments before reacting, but the "earworm" is the final part of the cheer which should be shouted twice.  (Actions are given in parentheses.)

Hey you angry folk
Come and clap your hands (clap, clap)
Stomp your feet (stomp, stomp)
You've got the beat (clap, clap)
Feel the groove (clap, clap)
Start to move (stomp, stomp)
Now have no fear / Take it in one ear
Just wait and send it out
Yes, twice just shout it out:

An Australian storyteller's friends worried when she moved to the U.S. for a while.  Their perception of how violent it is may not fit the average American's daily life, but increasingly the world is becoming dangerous in both personal and global ways.

I've seen the U.S. political temperature heat up, with the need for compromise and conflict resolution disappearing first with the "Tea Party" and now "The Resistance."  When politicians are criticized for failing to accomplish anything, such knee-jerk opposition plays a role.  I guess you could say it's taking the wait before reacting to extremes.  It also seems to be making it impossible for people to get along.  My father was a business man and always said there were two things you should never discuss...politics and religion.  I might occasionally find ways my beliefs will be discussed, but I hope it doesn't get to the point of hatred.

Am I perfect enough to never get angry? On a more global scale, will stories stop ISIS or someone in need of mental health intervention?  DUNBERIDICULOUS! but maybe we can slow down and think before acting.

We need to do what we can to Build a Better World.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Carrick - The Crane and the Heron - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

"Storyteller Sorepaw" here, bringing a story from my own field and that of my neighbors, yet it reaches out from here in Michigan to Utah and possibly back into the dawn of time.  Every year at this time we are visited by a few Sandhill Cranes.  It's like watching something from the age of the dinosaurs.  In fact this article from The Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah may interest those of us who have wondered "Are Birds Really Dinosaurs?"  That article is from the controversial author, Stephen Czerkas.  He died in 2015 and Wikipedia at this point has yet to do an article on him, but as of last month the self-taught paleontologist's work attempting to trace the link from prehistoric raptors to modern birds fills up most of the 62 citations under the name of Czerkas including several from May 2017.  I'm certainly not a paleontologist, and don't know if past mistakes like his National Geographic accidental hoax about Archaeoraptor prove anything beyond curiosity will always leave us wondering.

Fortunately I do have the ability to find stories, including many in the Public Domain which can be published for our enjoyment without restriction.  The stories are not necessarily about this particular type of Crane as Sandhill Cranes are one of 15 living species of a bird with a record that continues to fascinate paleontologists and the public alike.  That fascination includes stories wherever any cranes have appeared, Asia, Europe, and here in North America.

Some other time I may add other crane stories, but today prefer a story that includes a cousin of the Crane, the Heron, who also is here in Michigan.  The Sandhill Crane and our own Blue Heron may not be the specific species in this Russian tale, but the story is a delightful look at the contrariness of courting.  I prefer it to television's attempt with The Bachelor.  Earlier on this blog we've had another article and three stories by or about Valery Carrick .  Those stories and today's tale come from his trio of Picture Tales from the Russian.  Today's offering is from the first volume and was translated by Nevill Forbes with Carrick's own humorous drawings.  Don't get hung up on the inter-species behavior, just enjoy this look at "true love" and its difficulties.  Oh heck, here's a site with lots of quotes about True Love and, if that's too sappy for you, let your cursor hover over the Topics button at the top of the page and go to others on love you prefer.

Fortunately my own "local" cranes each year seem to match this Wikipedia claim, "Cranes are perennially monogamous breeders, establishing long-term pair bonds that may last the lifetime of the birds." I can't tell the male from the female, but they clearly are more motivated in their search for food in the fields than by whose turn it is to be in charge.
Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
  • The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
               - David K. Brown -
               - Karen Chace -
               - Richard Martin -
               - Spirit of Trees -
           - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at and put in in the search box.  I recommend using the latest "snapshot" on November 2016
               - Tim Sheppard -
               -  World of Tales -

    You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  For an example of using the "Wayback Machine", list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is gone, but using the Wayback Machine you can still see it.  At the Wayback Machine I put in his site's address, then chose 2006 since it was a later year and clicked until I reached the Library at  

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A personal note

I managed to slice open my hand.  Yes, my dominant hand.  Yes, the same one that goes with the wrist I managed to break this past winter and also the winter before.

It's interesting seeing an actual vein.  Nearly half the day in an emergency room (glad it wasn't an artery!) and a little over half a dozen stitches later resewing the flap of skin down -- which might or might not be saved -- I really don't feel up to producing my blog this week.