…There is lots of real depth in this little story.
It is culled from the pages of, ‘Folk Tales of the British Isles’ and is full of that rare and ever dwindling commodity known as Folk Wisdom.
This re-telling then is necessarily based on the translation of Sean O’Sullivan who reports thirty-two other versions of the tale none of which, sadly, now appear to be freely available.
The tale fairly bristles with three-fold quandaries and displays an initial three-fold structure which ultimately, and to the apparent chagrin of the story-teller, shifts to four.
This inter-play between Form and Content can hardly be accidental.
Ostensibly an answer the riddle tale, as is the way with these things, it throws up more questions than it answers.
At the forefront of which are:
Why does Death curl around the hearth ?
Why does a tied sheep stand for Strength?
Why is Youth housed below stairs?
There are more, loads more…