Archive for May 20th, 2020

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Archetype by Margarita Engle

Is it true that nothing reveals more
about a person’s secret heart
than the adult memory of a favorite
childhood fairy tale?

I never understood all the fuss
about princesses poisoned
or rescued from dragons.
Hansel and Gretel seemed like a recitation
of the sorrowful evening news
a serial killer, the ovens, absent parents
a famine, crumbs…

Instead of magic beanstalks and man-eating giants
or wolves disguised as gentle grandmas
I chose the tale of a bird with a voice that could soothe
the melancholic spirit of an emperor
helpless despite his wealth and power.

Of all tales, only The Nightingale felt
like a story I knew before I was born
about Orpheus calming wild beasts with his lyre
King David’s harp easing Saul’s despair
Saint Francis with his curious flocks of birds
singing back and forth in a language of wishing
that even the wolf understood.


Date: 2005

By: Margarita Engle (1951- )