- earthlLv 61 decade agoFavorite Answer
"Childe Rowland" is a fairy tale, the most popular version being by Joseph Jacobs in his English Folk and Fairy Tales, published in 1892, and written partly in verse and part in prose. It is said to be inspired by a Scottish ballad.
The story tells of how the four children of the Queen (by some accounts Guinevere), Rowland, his two older brothers, and his sister, Burd Ellen, were playing ball near a church. Rowland kicked the ball over the church and Burd Ellen went to retrieve it, inadvertently circling the church "widdershins", or opposite the way of the sun, and disappeared. Rowland went to the Warlock Merlin to ask what became of his sister and was told that she was taken to the Dark Tower by the King of Elfland, and only the boldest knight in Christendom could retrieve her.
The eldest brother decided he would make the journey, and was told what to do by Merlin. He did not return, and the middle brother followed, only to meet the same fate. Finally Childe Rowland went forth, having been given his father's sword, that never struck in vain, for protection. Merlin gave him his orders: he must chop off the head of anyone in Elfland who speaks to him until he sees his sister, and he must not eat or drink anything while in that realm. Rowland obeyed the orders, dispatching a horseherd, a cowherd, and a henwife, who would not tell him where his sister was. The henwife would only say he had to circle a hill three times widershins, and say each time "Open, door! open, door! And let me come in." Following the instructions, the a door opened in the hill and Rowland entered a great hall, where sat Burd Ellen, under the spell of the King of Elfland. She told him he should not have entered Elfland, for misfortune befell all who did, including their brothers who were prisoners in the Dark Tower, nearly dead.
- Anonymous1 decade ago