Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Firebird

The Firebird is a beautiful creature from Slavic folklore with magical glowing feathers and gleaming crystal eyes. Its glow is so intense a single feather can illuminate a room. While singing, pearls drop from its beak. Such beauty has inspired many quests to capture the elusive bird, usually at the command of a king or father. It's a classic fairy tale containing a long difficult journey, impossible tasks, and magical helpers. The best known Firebird tale is called Ivan Tsarevich and the Grey Wolf. 


In that story, a Tsar has three sons, two of whom are lazy and selfish, and a third (Ivan) who is brave and dependable but so young he must beg permission to join the quest. The Tsar covets the Firebird, who snatched many pure golden apples from his orchard, and eluded capture save for one glowing feather. The magical grey wolf helper assists the youngest son, after guiltily eating Ivan's horse. Though along the way Ivan makes many mistakes (he's a bit of a slow learner), he ultimately gains not only the Firebird, but a fabulous horse with a golden mane and a princess named Helen the Beautiful. The deceitful older brothers are aptly punished by becoming a scullion and cowherd. The entire story can be found at the SurLaLune  website.  


The Firebird also appears in an animated Russian film called The Humpbacked Horse. It was released in the year 1947, being directed by Ivan Ivanov and written by Pyotr Tershov. There's an American version called The Magic Pony from the year 1977.

Igor Stravinsky composed a ballet called the Firebird. A clip can be seen on You Tube HERE.

1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying this blog. I love the fire-bird fable. I would really love a bird who dropped pearls when it sings.