Saturday, August 4, 2012

Meetings with a Troll


. . . [T]here passed a child of four, a small girl on a footpath over the fields, going home in the evening to Erl.  They looked at each other with round eyes.

"Hullo," said the child.

"Hullo, child of men," said the troll.

. . . "What are you?" said the child.

"A troll of Elfland," answered the troll.

 "So I thought," said the child.

"Where are you going, child of men?" the troll asked.

"To the houses," the child replied.

"We don't want to go there," said the troll.

"N-no," said the child.

"Come to Elfland," the troll said.

The child thought for a while.  Other children had gone, and the elves always sent a changeling in their place, so that nobody quite missed them and nobody really knew.  She thought awhile of the wonder and wildness of Elfland, and then of her own house.

"N-no," said the child.

"Why not?" said the troll.

"Mother made a jam roll this morning," said the child.  And she walked on gravely home.  Had it not been for that chance jam roll she had gone to Elfland.

"Jam!" said the troll contemptuously and thought of the tarns of Elfland, the great lily-leaves lying flat upon their solemn waters, the huge blue lilies towering into the elf-light above the green deep tarns: for jam this child had forsaken them!"

The Horns of Elfland, Ed Org



"What are you doing in men's fields?" said Orion.

"Playing," said Lurulu.

"What do you do in Elfland?"

"Watch time," said Lurulu.

"That would not amuse me," said Orion.

"You've never done it," said Lurulu.  "You cannot watch time in the fields of men."

"Why not?" asked Orion.

"It moves too fast."

Orion pondered awhile on this but could make nothing of it; because, never having one from the fields we know, he knew only one pace of time, and so had no menas of comparison.

"How many years have gone over you," asked the troll, "since we spoke in Erl?"

"Years?" said Orion.

"A hundred?" guessed the troll.

"Nearly twelve," said Orion.  "And you?"

"It is still to-day," said the troll."

These excerpts are taken from The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany.

Dunsany steers clear from some authors' tendency to want to tame Fairyland.  His Elfland is a perilous place, in an impersonal sort of way, like the weather.  And there is something sobering and profound about the human child's being saved by something so ordinary as a jam roll.



  1. I really want to read the whole thing now!!

    Have you read Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales?? They're amazing as well..and I only just discovered all of them.

    1. Yes! I have read some of them, and I am a big Oscar Wilde fan in general. It's funny, because we know him popular culture from his table talk, but it was through his stories that his true self most shines through.

      I need to put a link in the Resources to his things; thanks for reminding me.


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