Youth Without Old And Life Without Death

Dan Timotin (translator)

(Translated from Romanian folklore: Tinerețe fără bătrânețe și viață fără de moarte)

Petre Ispirescu was a Romanian editor, folklorist, printer and publicist. He is best known for his work as a gatherer of Romanian folk tales, recounting them with a remarkable talent. This particular story appeared in his collection ‘Legends and Tales of the Romanians’. Sadly, he passed away in the fall of 1887. Some time later Dan, who is supposed to be a mathematician but keeps trying to invent himself in alternate lives (in one of which he is a contributor to Aainanagar) translated the story.

Once upon a time, when pears grew in fir trees and flowers ate bees; when bears would cross their tails in fights, wolves would hug lambs and swore to be pals, while the flea would put a ninety-nine pound horseshoe and jump to the skies to catch stories; and the fly would write them on a wall, to make fun of us all.

Once upon a time there were a great king and queen, both young and beautiful. And wishing to have children, they did all that had to be done to this effect; they went to philosophers and magicians, who would look in the stars to see whether they would expect children – but to no avail. Eventually, hearing that in some nearby village there lived an old sage, the king asked for him; but the sage answered that whoever wished to see him must come to him. So the king and queen got up and moved, and taking with them some big nobles, soldiers, and servants, went to the old man’s home. Seeing them from a distance, the sage came to meet them, and said:

– Welcome to my place; but what did you come to learn, great king? For your wish will bring you great sadness.

– I did not come to ask you this, said the king, but whether you have some medicine to give us, in order to get children.

– I do have, answered the old man; but a single child is all you shall get. A charming prince will he grow up, and loving, but you will not enjoy his presence.

The king and the queen took the medicine and got back to the palace full of joy, and just a few days later the queen felt pregnant. All the kingdom and all the court and all the servants were full of happiness.

But before the time for delivery, the baby started to cry and cry, and no magician could appease him. The king promised him all goods of the world, but nothing seemed to make him stop his cries.

– Shut up, my dear, said the king, I will give you this or that kingdom; shut up, son, I will give you as wife this or that other king’s daughter, and lots of other things. Finally, seeing that there is no way to stop his cries, he said: shut up, my beloved, I will give you Youth without Old and Life without Death.

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