Fairytales communicate through beasts and wild creatures in order to explore common experiences. As old as literature itself, the articulate, anthropomorphized beasts portrayed in stories are a tradition of childhood. Fairytales with beasts and animal fables are traced to ancient Greece, India, and Egypt. Aesop used ants, crows, ravens, monkeys, donkeys, and lions to bring to light the foolishness of the human condition.
The world of “wild” romance within fairy tales is also extensive. Beastly bridegrooms can take the figure of animals that would be considered threatening, such as bears, wolves, pigs, and wait for it— warthogs. Yes, you read it correctly. Author Walter Crane chose such a creature as the basis of his rich illustrations for Beauty and the Beast.
The crux of the story is that the outward appearance conceals the inner man and a decisive moment will reverse the beast’s fate and restore him to his original, princely self.
Try It: Fairytale Beasts Poetry
Use your wildest imagination and build a beast with a backstory. Who is he (or she)? What happened to change their appearance? What needs to happen to return them to their original form? Is there romance involved? Describe the unusual features of your beast and write a poem about their life and the lessons learned.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here is a poem from Laura we enjoyed:
Fear a furry foe?
Maybe in the wild. Here, child:
hold a fuzzy friend.
Photo by Ronnie McDonald. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland