Melinama does Illustration Friday: "Trick or Treat"
If I were going trick-or-treating this year I would be a character from the "Laily Worm," which Bob and I are recording for our new cd ("We Did It! - Songs of people behaving badly"). It's Scottish, one of the oldest Child ballads, and survives only as a fragment.
(This painting depicts the four main characters - the Evil Stepmother, the Laily Worm, the Mackerel, and the Knight. Too bad my knight looks more like the guy in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Or maybe a fire hydrant.)
So anyway, this song opens with the Laily Worm addressing a knight who stumbles across the tree under which the Laily Worm hangs out. To paraphrase: "My awful stepmother turned me into this Laily Worm here, and turned my sister into a mackerel, and every Saturday the mackerel comes and combs my hair [sic] with a silver comb, and I've killed seven lords under this tree, and I'd kill you too if you weren't my father."
Hmm, I just realized I forgot to give my Laily Worm any hair.
So the lord goes to his wife and says, "Uh, where are my son and daughter that you sent away?" And she says, "Oh, they're off at court getting educated," and he says: "You're lying! I happen to know my son is the Laily Worm under that tree over yonder and my daughter is a mackerel."
So he makes the stepmother turn them back into their proper shapes and then he burns her to death. If you don't believe me, here is the original text.
Just a day or two ago, this song got mentioned at Snopes, under the heading Song lyrics that drive you nuts. Blatherskite wrote: "The Laily Worm and the Machrel of the Sea - the narrator is turned into a worm and his sister into a mackerel. And his sister comforts her brother by combing his hair with a silver comb. His sister... a mackerel... combs the worm's hair. I could accept a mythological worm having hair, and wanting it glossy and tangle-free, but still... mackerel."
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