The bird that never dies

by Gail Emerson April 21, 2016

How can a bird live forever?

songbird coasters

The story goes ... The ghost of a Viking king sat on his grave, restless and forlorn. No tales had been told of his deeds, no song had been sung of his daring feats, and now he could find no peace. A bard came and heard his tales. He pulled out his harp and sung of the exploits of the Viking's youth and glory, so they should live on in the hearts of men. With this, the old King smiled, was bathed in light and disappeared into the air. As the final chord reverberated, suddenly, out of the bard's harp flew a small singing bird which flapped furiously into the air. It was the Bird of Folklore, who never dies.

Hans Christian Andersen's Bird of Folklore, or Bird of Popular Song depending on which translation you prefer, goes on to fly through the ages - from Vikings, to medieval maidens to Andersen's own time. This small bird brings spring to a cold winter, as it 'speaks to our innermost hearts, uplifts our thoughts'.

The bird is perhaps an amalgamation of all the songbirds, though the tale mentions the thrush's song - very apt as he is an imitator - the beauty of the goldfinch's call seems more apt. Although it's easier to imagine a tiny goldcrest, cheeky wren or blue tit popping out of a harp. 

Andersen, one of the modern masters of folklore, is uncharacteristically poetic in this tale which is clearly his attempt to explain the significance of folk and fairy tales. It emphasises the importance of a shared history and of re-interpreting that history for each generation. Folklore inspires the DM Collection designs heavily and by drawing on these myths and legends, I hope the DM Collection is making its own small contribution to keeping the Bird alive even now. 

Shop the DM Songbird Collection

Gail Emerson
Gail Emerson


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