The Fisherman and His Wife has been one of my favorite fairy tales for as long as I can remember. The moment I saw the pin pictured above, I was reminded of the fish in the story. It stays on this jacket, and every time I wear it I say, "Fishye, Fishye in the sea..." I never did outgrow fairy tales. The version The Kids favored when they were little was the one by Wanda Gag, in which the man calling the fish says,
Manye, Manye, Timpie Tee,That version is still under copyright, but the story itself can be read online, including at this link.
Fishye, Fishye in the sea,
Ilsebill my wilful wife
Does not want my way of life.
This version begins:
The rest is here. It's not very long, but it's too long to copy into a blog post.The Fisherman and His Wife
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Once upon a time there were a fisherman and his wife who lived together in a filthy shack near the sea. Every day the fisherman went out fishing, and he fished, and he fished. Once he was sitting there fishing and looking into the clear water, and he sat, and he sat. Then his hook went to the bottom, deep down, and when he pulled it out, he had caught a large flounder.
Then the flounder said to him, "Listen, fisherman, I beg you to let me live. I am not an ordinary flounder, but an enchanted prince. How will it help you to kill me? I would not taste good to you. Put me back into the water, and let me swim."
"Well," said the man, "there's no need to say more. I can certainly let a fish swim away who knows how to talk."
With that he put it back into the clear water, and the flounder disappeared to the bottom, leaving a long trail of blood behind him.
Then the fisherman got up and went home to his wife in the filthy shack.
"Husband," said the woman, "didn't you catch anything today?"
"No," said the man. "I caught a flounder, but he told me that he was an enchanted prince, so I let him swim away."
"Didn't you ask for anything first?" said the woman.
"No," said the man. "What should I have asked for?"
"Oh," said the woman. "It is terrible living in this shack. It stinks and is filthy. You should have asked for a little cottage for us. Go back and call him. Tell him that we want to have a little cottage. He will surely give it to us."
"Oh," said the man. "Why should I go back there?"
"Look," said the woman, "you did catch him, and then you let him swim away. He will surely do this for us. Go right now."
The man did not want to go, but neither did he want to oppose his wife, so he went back to the sea.
When he arrived there it was no longer clear, but yellow and green. He stood there and said:
Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
My wife, my wife Ilsebill,
Wants not, wants not, what I will
The flounder swam up and said, "What does she want then?"
"Oh," said the man, "I did catch you, and now my wife says that I really should have asked for something. She doesn't want to live in a filthy shack any longer. She would like to have a cottage."
"Go home," said the flounder. "She already has it."
The man went home, and his wife was standing in the door of a cottage, and she said to him, "Come in. See, now isn't this much better?"
There was a little front yard, and a beautiful little parlor, and a bedroom where their bed was standing, and a kitchen, and a dining room. Everything was beautifully furnished and supplied with tin and brass utensils, just as it should be. And outside there was a little yard with chickens and ducks and a garden with vegetables and fruit.
"Look," said the woman. "Isn't this nice?"
"Yes," said the man. "This is quite enough. We can live here very well."
"We will think about that," said the woman.