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Rumpelstiltskin

Written by: Anne Sexton | Biography
 | Quotes (127) |
 Inside many of us
is a small old man
who wants to get out.
No bigger than a two-year-old whom you'd call lamb chop yet this one is old and malformed.
His head is okay but the rest of him wasn't Sanforized? He is a monster of despair.
He is all decay.
He speaks up as tiny as an earphone with Truman's asexual voice: I am your dwarf.
I am the enemy within.
I am the boss of your dreams.
No.
I am not the law in your mind, the grandfather of watchfulness.
I am the law of your members, the kindred of blackness and impulse.
See.
Your hand shakes.
It is not palsy or booze.
It is your Doppelganger trying to get out.
Beware .
.
.
Beware .
.
.
There once was a miller with a daughter as lovely as a grape.
He told the king that she could spin gold out of common straw.
The king summoned the girl and locked her in a room full of straw and told her to spin it into gold or she would die like a criminal.
Poor grape with no one to pick.
Luscious and round and sleek.
Poor thing.
To die and never see Brooklyn.
She wept, of course, huge aquamarine tears.
The door opened and in popped a dwarf.
He was as ugly as a wart.
Little thing, what are you? she cried.
With his tiny no-sex voice he replied: I am a dwarf.
I have been exhibited on Bond Street and no child will ever call me Papa.
I have no private life.
If I'm in my cups the whole town knows by breakfast and no child will ever call me Papa I am eighteen inches high.
I am no bigger than a partridge.
I am your evil eye and no child will ever call me Papa.
Stop this Papa foolishness, she cried.
Can you perhaps spin straw into gold? Yes indeed, he said, that I can do.
He spun the straw into gold and she gave him her necklace as a small reward.
When the king saw what she had done he put her in a bigger room of straw and threatened death once more.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
Again he spun the straw into gold.
She gave him her ring as a small reward.
The king put her in an even bigger room but this time he promised to marry her if she succeeded.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
But she had nothing to give him.
Without a reward the dwarf would not spin.
He was on the scent of something bigger.
He was a regular bird dog.
Give me your first-born and I will spin.
She thought: Piffle! He is a silly little man.
And so she agreed.
So he did the trick.
Gold as good as Fort Knox.
The king married her and within a year a son was born.
He was like most new babies, as ugly as an artichoke but the queen thought him in pearl.
She gave him her dumb lactation, delicate, trembling, hidden, warm, etc.
And then the dwarf appeared to claim his prize.
Indeed! I have become a papa! cried the little man.
She offered him all the kingdom but he wanted only this - a living thing to call his own.
And being mortal who can blame him? The queen cried two pails of sea water.
She was as persistent as a Jehovah's Witness.
And the dwarf took pity.
He said: I will give you three days to guess my name and if you cannot do it I will collect your child.
The queen sent messengers throughout the land to find names of the most unusual sort.
When he appeared the next day she asked: Melchior? Balthazar? But each time the dwarf replied: No! No! That's not my name.
The next day she asked: Spindleshanks? Spiderlegs? But it was still no-no.
On the third day the messenger came back with a strange story.
He told her: As I came around the corner of the wood where the fox says good night to the hare I saw a little house with a fire burning in front of it.
Around that fire a ridiculous little man was leaping on one leg and singing: Today I bake.
Tomorrow I brew my beer.
The next day the queen's only child will be mine.
Not even the census taker knows that Rumpelstiltskin is my name .
.
.
The queen was delighted.
She had the name! Her breath blew bubbles.
When the dwarf returned she called out: Is your name by any chance Rumpelstiltskin? He cried: The devil told you that! He stamped his right foot into the ground and sank in up to his waist.
Then he tore himself in two.
Somewhat like a split broiler.
He laid his two sides down on the floor, one part soft as a woman, one part a barbed hook, one part papa, one part Doppelganger.



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