Ernst Altien

 

The green children.

The legend about the green children  from Woolpit has - as mentioned in the intereview with Ernst Altien on www.youtube.com - played a decisive role for him in his understanding of himself. The legend of the green children is from the 12th century England and tells us about two kids, a boy and a girl, who were discovered in the fields without any kins or friends. The boy died shortly after they were found, and the girl grew up and lived a more normal life. They were both green when found, and they told strange stories about the place, they had been living in before.

The concept of coming out of nowhere and disappering again without a trace is also found in the story of Kasper Hauser from Germany and in other legends with the same theme, which can be seen as a parafrase of the human life, since we all are coming from nowhere and must leave everything, we ever had. The legend of the green children was retold by  Thomas Keightley in The Fairy Mythology, 1850,, pg. 281-283, and stands below. 

 

"'Another wonderful thing,' says Ralph of Coggeshall ,'happened in Suffolk, at St. Mary's of the Wolf-pits. A boy and his sister were found by the inhabitants of that place near the mouth of a pit which is there, who had the form of all their limbs like to those of other men, but they differed in the colour of their skin from all the people of our habitable world; for the whole surface of their skin was tinged of a green colour. No one could understand their speech. When they were brought as curiosities to the house of a certain knight, Sir Richard de Calne, at Wikes, they wept bitterly. Bread and other victuals were set before them, but they would touch none of them, though they were tormented by great hunger, as the girl afterwards acknowledged. At length, when some beans just cut, with their stalks, were brought into the house, they made signs, with great avidity, that they should be given to them. When they were brought, they opened the stalks instead of the pods, thinking the beans were in the hollow of them; but not finding them there, they began to weep anew. When those who were present saw this, they opened the pods, and showed them the naked beans. They fed on these with delight, and for a long time tasted no other food. The boy, however, was always languid and depressed, and he died within a short time.


The girl enjoyed continual good health; and becoming accustomed to various kinds of food, lost completely that green colour, and gradually recovered the sanguine habit of her entire body. She was afterwards regenerated by the laver of holy baptism, and lived for many years in the service of that knight (as I have frequently heard from him and his family), and was rather loose and wanton in her conduct. Being frequently asked about the people of her country, she asserted that the inhabitants, and all they had in that country, were of a green colour; and that they saw no sun, but enjoyed a degree of light like what is after sunset. Being asked how she came into this country with the aforesaid boy, she replied, that as they were following their flocks, they came to a certain cavern, on entering which they heard a delightful sound of bells; ravished by whose sweetness, they went for a long time wandering on through the cavern, until they came to its mouth. When they came out of it, they were struck senseless by the excessive light of the sun, and the unusual temperature of the air; and they thus lay for a long time. Being terrified by the noise of those who came on them, they wished to fly, but they could not find the entrance of the cavern before they were caught.'

 

 

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