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Friday, June 18, 2021

Holbrook - Why All Men Love the Moon - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

There's so much going on this weekend, Father's Day and the first nationally celebrated Juneteenth, but it all is affected by the weather.  The south of North and Central America is about to be hit by the first tropical storm, possibly hurricane, of the season.  A large part of the United States is being hit by record heat and drought.  Even places like Michigan has seen record heat this June even though it's nothing like weather west of us and our drought is also there, but not as devastating.  Climate refugees might want to remember Michigan's motto of "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you."

Today's story also goes by the name of "How the sun, moon, and wind went out to dinner" or a form of that.  I will give links to other versions after it.  

John D. Batten in Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs


Thunder and Lightning were going to give a feast. It was to be a most delightful banquet, for all the good things that could be imagined were to be brought from every corner of the world.

For many days before the feast these good things were coming. The birds flew up with what they could find in the cold air of the north and the warm air of the south. The fishes came from the east and from the west with what they could find in the cold water or in the warm water. As for what grew on the earth, there was no end to the luxuries that came every morning and every evening. Squirrels brought nuts, crows brought corn, the ants brought sweet things of many kinds. Food that was rich and rare came from India and Japan. The butterflies and the humming-birds were to arrange the flowers, the peacocks and the orioles promised to help make the place beautiful, and the waves and the brooks agreed to make their most charming music.

Thunder and Lightning were talking about whom to invite, and they questioned whether to ask the sun, the moon, and the wind. These three were children of the star mother.

"The star mother has been so kind to us that I suppose we ought to invite her children," said Thunder.

"The moon is charming, but the sun and the wind are rough and wild. If I were the star mother, I would keep them in a corner all day, and they should stay there all night, too, if they did not promise to be gentle," said Lightning.

"We must invite them," replied Thunder, with what sounded much like a little growl, "but it would be delightful if they would agree to stay away, all but the moon."

That is why the sun and wind were invited as well as the moon. When the invitation came, the two brothers said to their little sister, "You are too small to go to a feast, but perhaps they asked you because they were going to ask us."

"Star mother, I think I will stay at home," said the moon tearfully.

"No, little moon," replied the star mother; "go to the feast with the other children."

So the three children went to the feast, and the star mother waited for them to come home.

When they came, she asked, "What did you bring for me?" The hands of the sun were full of good things, but he said, "I brought only what I am going to eat myself," and he sat down in a corner with his back to the others, and went on eating.

"Did you bring anything for me?" she asked the wind.

"I brought some good things halfway home, and then I was weary of carrying them," answered the wind, "so I have eaten them."

"I should never have imagined that you would be so selfish," said the star mother sadly, and she asked the little moon, "My daughter, did you bring anything for me?"

"Yes, star mother," answered the little moon, and she gave her mother more good things than any one had ever seen in their home before. There were rare luxuries that the fishes and the birds had brought. There were rich colors that the peacocks and orioles had promised, and there was even some of the charming music that the waves and brooks had agreed to make.

The star mother praised the little maiden. Then she looked at her two boys. She was sad, for she knew that they must be punished for their selfishness. "Sun," said she, "you wish to turn your back on all, and your punishment shall be that when the warm days of summer have come, all men will turn their backs on you." To the wind she said, "Wind, you thought of no one but yourself. When the storm is coming and you are afraid and fly before it, no one shall think of you. All men shall close their doors against you and fasten them." Then to her little daughter she said, "My little moon, you were unselfish and thoughtful. You shall always be bright and beautiful, and men shall love you and praise you whenever they look upon your gentle, kindly face."

This is why men hide from the sun and the wind, but never from the moon.

Those illustrations come from the classic Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs and it is worth checking.  It does a nice simple job of telling the story.  I chose Florence Holbrook's version because I like the way she expands this simple story with the contributions of birds, fish, and animals.  Jacobs, in his notes says his source is the pioneering work by Miss Frere roughly a quarter of a century before in Old Deccan Days, or, Indian Fairy Legends current in Southern India, collected from oral tradition by M. FrereInitially I went to Kate Douglas Wiggin's Tales of Laughter, but was surprised and disappointed.  Not only does that anthology promise humor, Wiggin deserves being considered a standard author and editor.  I found her version felt preachy over the greed and its consequences.  Maybe after reading other versions, it wasn't any worse.  I do think it's worth pointing out our actions have consequences, including how people view us.  She does possibly a better job of pointing out the "pourquois" elements of why the sun and wind are as disliked as they are.  This is especially true as our current weather makes so many suffer.

If you want still other versions, William Patten in the first of his nine volume Junior Classics repeats Frere's telling.  It was also in two major early Twentieth Century readers, Blaisdell's Child Life, 2d Reader and Coe's Second Book of Stories.  I have each and use the books in my One Room School Teacher program as they were examples of some of the books that shaped our recent ancestors.  


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 -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
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.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell 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 now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    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!

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