Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Once upon a time never comes again ....

Once upon a time, there was a little Dutch boy who plugged a leak in a dike with his finger. Such is the story of, "Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates," a novel by Mary Mapes Dodge published in 1865. The wood cut illustration is of Hans and his sister, Gretel. Although this tale does not begin with the words, once upon a time, it is a good paradigm of the genre of story the phrase usually has been identified with over the years.

Have you ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered when and where the phrase, "once upon a time," originated?

I like it and I use it occasionally, so I decided to do a bit off "internet research" to learn the history of those four words. This is what Wikipedia has to "say" about the matter:

"Once upon a time" is a stock phrase used to introduce a narrative of past events, typically in fairy tales and folk tales. It has been used in some form since at least 1380 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) in storytelling in the English language and has opened many oral narratives since 1600. These stories often then end with "and they all lived happily ever after", or, originally, "happily until their deaths".

The phrase is particularly common in fairy tales for younger children, where it is almost always the opening line of a tale. It was commonly used in the original translations of the stories of Charles Perrault as a translation for the French "il était une fois", of Hans Christian Andersen as a translation for the Danish "der var engang", (literally "there was once"), the Brothers Grimm as a translation for the German "es war einmal" (literally "it was once") and Joseph Jacobs in English translations and fairy tales.

The phrase is also frequently used in such oral stories as retellings of myths, fables, folklore and children's literature.

That explanation is pretty much all-inclusive, so it would seem senseless for me adding anything else to it ....

My first recollection of the phrase is in the form of my mother reading "fairy tales" to me as a small child. There were many among my favorites, including, "Rapunzel," which was among those collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812, and, "The Princess and the Pea," written by Hans Christian Anderson and published in 1835. I am no longer sure what appealed to me about Rapunzel in the tower and her long hair, but I sort of assume I identified with the princess and her physical sensitivity.

Stories such as these were how my mother taught me to read and, I assume, the same is true that many mothers taught their children how to read using fairy tales. Quickly becoming a bona fide bibliophile, I continued to read these stories as I moved along immersed in the "fairy tale stage" of life .... and beyond. I can remember at some point collecting all my books which contained these types of stories and deciding to read each of them one last time before I gave them up .... and, that is what I did .... sort of ....

As for the music

Final verse of the song
"Once Upon a Time"

Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours; how happy we were then
But, somehow, once upon a time never comes again

Not long ago, I ran across a song entitled, "Once Upon a Time." Charles Strouse composed the melody and Lee Adams wrote the lyrics for the song, which was among the numbers in a 1962 Broadway musical play, "All American." As for the song, it might not fall into the category of "classic rock," but, all the same, I love it and I decided to include it here.

 A week from today is Valentine's Day and since it is doubtful I will post again between now and then, I will dedicate this song to Saint Valentine .... and to Geoffrey Chaucer, who in his poem, "Parlement of Foules," was the first to associate the day with romantic love .... and to all the young ladies who gave me a Valentine's Day card way, way back in elementary school.
Having listened to more than a dozen singers give the song a try, I settled on Vic Damone's recording as my favorite of it. His voice seems to be made to sing this song .... I think ....


Anita said...

ohh yeah we loooove fairy tales and old stories!!

All my memories from childhood includes those stories specially about Trolls..Remember ver y well how the norwegian farmes prevent me from going out after 6 evning for then the trolls came..they lived high upon my mountain and watched every thing I do..

Good post Fram!

I have just arised from bed and will have my morning coffe..Here its snowing cant see anything!!

I come back later to read it more intensly..btw the music is calming and nice..How can you the rocker -Fram like such things?Iam amazed!

Hearing such music is like coming home

ok see you in some hours or so


Kaya said...

"Once upon a time"... You did an interesting research, Fram on this phrase.

You also brought me in time when I was reading fairy tales. As a child I read only them.

I believe that we all came out of our favorite fairy tales, learning to dream and believing in our dreams.
And you are correct we were learning how to become readers, asking big questions and trying to find the answers.

Interesting post, Fram. And the song "Once Upon a Time" is beautiful and unforgettable.

Fram Actual said...

I have a recollection of a folktale of Norwegian origin, I think, about a troll who lived under a bridge and who liked to eat those who attempted to cross over it. Three billy goats outsmarted him, as the story went, and the troll either left the bridge or stopped accosting travelers. I guess it is wise for you to be careful when you go for walks in the woodlands, Anita, since I assume a troll or two or three still roam within the deep, dark forests.

Another inch of snow fell overnight for me, and more is expected overnight Thursday into Friday. Uffff .... and March, the snowiest month of all, is yet to make its appearance.

My musical tastes are not vast, but I do enjoy somewhat of a variety. This is not unusual. Jon Lord of Deep Purple liked to mix rock with classical and baroque forms, for instance, and Ritchie Blackmore, also of Deep Purple and later of Rainbow, also fused baroque with hard rock and created a rock/folk project.

I am glad you like the post, Anita, and I am pleased you found your way to it and left a comment for me. Thank you ....

Fram Actual said...

I am glad you enjoyed the post, Kaya, and that it stirred a few memories for you.

I always liked the words, "once upon a time," and probably actually use them with some frequency, but now they also always will have special meaning for me -- sort of a bond between me and those words, for lack of a better way of putting it: A sense of warmth, perhaps, whenever I read them or write them.

Fairy tales led the way and opened the door for me to read and to study mythology, religion and philosophy, through which I have discovered the writings of people like Will Durant and Joseph Campbell, who not only are a pleasure to read, but who offer answers to many of my questions about life and living. The world, for me, began with fairy tales ....

Yes, the song is beautiful and unforgettable. I also learned, through it, that I prefer the voice of Vic Damone to that of Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Robert Goulet and Andy Williams, to name a few.

Thank you, Kaya, for coming to visit me and for writing a comment for me.

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful post. Loved the way you dissected the phrase "once upon a time" and brought the music in. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Having had the opportunity to interview Allen Ginsberg a number of years ago, my sensory and a few other systems went on high alert when I saw your post, CiL. I read it and quickly decided I had best wait until I had (hopefully) a sound night of sleep before attempting to write a comment. I am out of practice engaging in serious literary thought and I need to revitalize my powers of comprehension.

As for my post, I think we all have a number of "once upon a time" moments/experiences in our lives, but, in the nature of romance, it is possible (even probable) we each only have one .... hence, the song is very appropriate to the phrase.

I am glad you ventured across the Atlantic Ocean to read my post, CiL .... thank you ....

Liplatus said...

Interesting topic of stories and fairy tales.
Grimlin's fairy tales are familiar.

Suomen kielellä Hannu ja Kerttu, Tuhkimo, Lumikki, Prinsessa Ruusunen, Punahilkka ja monia muita satuja.

Music beautiful, thank you very much.

Fram Actual said...

Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood and many other tales .... yes, Liplatus .... those and many, many others .... some of which begin with the words, "once upon a time," and all of them read to me and read by me many times when I was a small boy.

Yes, the song is very beautiful and the lyrics .... for me, at least .... are very true.

Thank you, Liplatus, for your journey here and for your words here. I truly appreciate them ....

Something special ....