Eskimo Folk-Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in August 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Raven Who Wanted a Wife, The

A LITTLE sparrow was mourning for her husband who was lost. She was very fond of him, for he caught worms for her.

                As she sat there weeping, a raven came up to her and asked:

                "Why are you weeping?"

                "I am weeping for my husband, who is lost; I was fond of him, because he caught worms for me," said the sparrow.

                "It is not fitting for one to weep who can hop over high blades of grass," said the raven. "Take me for a husband; I have a fine high forehead, broad temples, a long beard and a big beak; you shall sleep under my wings, and I will give you lovely offal to eat."

                "I will not take you for a husband, for you have a high forehead, broad temples, a long beard and a big beak, and will give me offal to eat."

                So the raven flew away--flew off to seek a wife among the wild geese. And he was so lovesick that he could not sleep.

                When he came to the wild geese, they were about to fly away to other lands.

                Said the raven to two of the geese:

                "Seeing that a miserable sparrow has refused me, I will have you."

                "We are just getting ready to fly away," said the geese.

                "I will go too," said the raven.

                "But consider this: that none can go with us who cannot swim or rest upon the surface of the water. For there are no icebergs along the way we go."

                "It is nothing; I will sail through the air," said the raven.

                And the wild geese flew away, and the raven with them. But very soon he felt himself sinking from weariness and lack of sleep.

                "Something to rest on!" cried the raven, gasping. "Sit you down side by side." And his two wives sat down together on the water, while their comrades flew on.

                The raven sat down on them and fell asleep. But when his wives saw the other geese flying farther and farther away, they dropped that raven into the sea and flew off after them.

                "Something to rest on!" gasped the raven, as it fell into the water. And at last it went to the bottom and was drowned.

                And after a while, it broke up into little pieces, and its soul was turned into little "sea ravens." [1]


The particular source of this tale is Upernivik, North Greenland.


[1] A small black mollusc.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Raven Who Wanted a Wife, The
Tale Author/Editor: Rasmussen, Knud
Book Title: Eskimo Folk-Tales
Book Author/Editor: Rasmussen, Knud
Publisher: Gyldendal
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1921
Country of Origin: Greenland
Classification: unclassified

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