The Fairy Tale of Pomphul: A Story of Spring
The heath still lay dry and abandoned, the lakes were frozen, the fields bare, and in the forest surrounding the three burial mounds over at Springdel1 the old forest giants stood guard, shrouded in white winter cloaks of hoar and sleet, as though they were old grey warriors from Valhalla.
Hymer2, the grim old Wintergiant, still ruled firmly and kept his daughter Gerda2, the young sleeping earth, captured in chains of ice. Both evening and morning he lit a magical circle of flaming fires around her so that no one would be able to approach her, and the people called these fires the afterglow and the red of dawn.
Froh2, the young god of the sun and spring, looked down from his heavenly window. There below lay the young slumbering beauty. Her arms glowed and cast their light on the white clouds. Then he was overcome by a great love and sent a white bird to Hymer’s garden. The bird flew over the flaming fires and sung a magical tune with which he woke the sleeper.
Froh saw how she awoke and roamed through her father’s court. Then he took his sword ‘Sunbeam’, jumped on his horse and rode to the Wintergiant’s dwelling. He sped through the flaming fire glow of the red dawn.
His steaming horse carried him to the gates of Gerda’s dwelling, where the animal stamped so that the ground shook.There Froh dismounted and let his horse graze.
At the gate sat an old man, blind in one eye and accompanied by two ferocious dogs, who barred his way. He conquered them with his shining sword.
Gerda herself opened the gate and invited the young god to come in for a hospitable drink. As he entered, the hall was filled with the young light of spring.
To win her love he offered her eleven golden apples of the eleven months, but Gerda told him: ‘Never will I take these apples as a token of love from a man, never will I live with you in the same hall.’
‘Then I will give you the nine-fold ring of light;’ but she answered: ‘In my father’s garden many treasures lie buried in the ground. I have no need for yours.’
‘Foolish child,’ spoke Froh, ‘what can you do with your treasures of hidden seed? If I don’t raise them up into golden grain, they will forever remain hidden.’
Then Gerda finally consented and a marriage feast was held.
The Wedding Feast
The flowers blossomed and butterflies came to greet the couple. It was as if the whole world celebrated. And all over the heath spring cheered.
The skies were filled with cheerful rumour and through the trees moved the airy, golden sound of wings. The old forest giants shook off their wintery cloaks and covered themselves in new, light-green finery.
On a wind-woven cloud a warm breath of air travelled over the mountains and the fields.
The cuckoo was heard at least a hundred times and thousands of warblers sung between the branches.
There was a wedding, a wedding so gay, so gay. And in the moonlit spring night a choir of nightingales sung in the Springdel. There the light-elves came with pattering feet all around the spring in the dale. From under the bushes, from between the heather; there they went on gossamer wings and whirled, whirled around and around, all around the spring. It was a cloud of waving wings. It was a shuffle of pattering feet, around and around. There a group of white elves whirled down and another, ever more and more, and now the old forest was filled with laughter, ‘round and ‘round. The animals bounced, the animals bounced, the elves danced in a circle around. Round and round the spring in the dale.
There was no end to the wedding-cheer. They danced and floated hand in hand and filled the air with laughter.
Then the cock crowed…and the fun was over. They rushed away and raced away under the bushes and into the hedge, into the heather and the foxberry.
When the light of dawn looked over the hills to see what was happening in the valley, all that remained was an acorn cap, the hat of one who had lost it.
This story and the footnotes were translated, and at times elaborated, by Eva Weggelaar from the Sagas of the Veluwe/Veluwsche Sagen, written by Gust van de Wall Perné and published in 1910 by Scheltens & Giltay.
1. Pomphul is a hill near Hoog Soeren, a village that is probably older than Apeldoorn and the former site of a settlement belonging to the earliest inhabitants of the Veluwe, as attested by the numerous Germanic burial mounds in the area. Legend has it that the spring of Pomphul is so old that Wodan himself might have created it. In later years a pump was built at the site of the spring.
Springdel, literally ‘Springdale’, is the old name of Pomphul (literally ‘Pumphill’) and according to Van De Wall Perné the site of a castle that once stood at the crossroads between the Echoput (Echowell), Apeldoorn, Assel and the Dassenberg (Badgermountain).
2. Hymer: Gymir, Gerda: Gerð, Froh: Freyr.
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