#FairytaleTuesday: The Nightingale and the Blindworm

Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index type 234: Other Animals and Objects
[CW: animal-on-animal violence]

So, this a weird one. This story was in the 1812 edition of The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm but was removed in later editions which made it really difficult to locate any information about it. I had to dig just to find the ATU Index classification for it. It’s originally from a French story that was published in 1808. As with many of these stories, it’s rather unpleasant and clearly it wasn’t very popular so I couldn’t locate any illustrations. To that end I decided to post the story in its entirety since it’s very short and just too patently awful to keep to myself.

     Once upon a time there lived a nightingale and a blindworm, each with one eye. For a long time they lived together peacefully and harmoniously in a house. However, one day the nightingale was invited to a wedding, and she said to the blindworm, “I’ve been invited to a wedding and don’t particularly want to go with one eye. Would you be so kind as to lend me yours? I’ll bring it back to you tomorrow.”

     The blindworm gave her the eye out of kindness of her heart. But when the nightingale came home the following day, she liked having two eyes in her head and being able to see on both sides. So she refused to return the borrowed eye to the blindworm. Then the blindworm swore that she would avenge herself on the nightingale’s children and the children of her children.

     “Well,” replied the nightingale, “see if you can find me. I’ll build my nest in the linden, so high, so high. You’ll never be able to find it, no matter how hard you try.”

     Ever since that time all the nightingales have had two eyes, and all the blindworms, none. But wherever the nightingale builds her nest, a blindworm lives beneath it in the bushes and constantly tries to crawl up the tree, pierce the eggs of her enemy, and drink them up.

Grimm, Jacob; Grimm, Wilhelm. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition (p. iii). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

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