The Juniper Tree – a Grimm tale

Part 1

A long, long time ago, a rich man loved his wife

But they had no children to complete their life.

In the front garden of their house stood a juniper;

One snowy day in winter, the wife cut her finger

While peeling an apple beneath the tree.

She said, ‘How happy I would be

If I could have a little child

As red as blood and as white as snow!’

The Juniper Tree Part 1 1

First came spring thaw, when meadows

Filled with flowers. Then summer came;

The aromatic juniper petals started to unfold

And the rich man’s wife discovered she was with child.

By autumn, she was sorrowful and afraid that she would die.

As she plucked red juniper berries, she began to cry

And begged her husband:

‘If I should die, please bury me

Underneath the juniper tree.’

Soon a bonny boy was born,

As white as snow and red as blood,

But his mother faded away and died.

The rich man buried her

Under the juniper,

Wept and mourned until his tears were dry

And then found himself another wife,

Who bore him a daughter, Margery,

Who she loved very much

While she detested her husband’s son.

This step-mother was very cruel;

She pushed, punched and pinched the boy, until he was afraid.

There was nowhere in the house he could safely play.

One day the step-mother went into her fruit store,

A heavy-lidded chest with a great, sharp, iron lock,

And her daughter asked her for an apple.

One for herself and one for her brother.

‘Yes,’ was the reply from her wicked mother,

‘When he comes home he shall have one too.’

When the little boy came to the door,

The wicked woman spoke in the sweetest tones:

‘Come in, my dear,

I have for you an apple here.’

The boy thought she was very kind,

Not realising what was on her mind

When she lifted the lid of the storage chest.

As the child reached in, she slammed the lid

So hard it chopped off his head.


© Kim M. Russell, 2016

The Juniper Tree Part 1 3

Images found on  Pinterest and


Part 2

Not knowing how to shirk the blame,

The wicked stepmother was afraid;

She searched for a handkerchief

To secure her stepson’s head

And then she sat him on a stool

As if he were not dead

Under the juniper tree

With an apple in his hand.

Running in from the garden

To find her mother by the fire

Stirring a pot, Margery enquired:

‘What’s wrong with my brother?

I asked him for the apple, mother,

That he’s holding in his hand.

But he did not say a word

And I do not understand.

He looks so pale and I am afraid.’

Her mother replied,

‘Fiddlesticks! Ask him again

And, if he gives no answer,

He’ll respond to pain.’

When Margery’s brother

Didn’t reply, she boxed his ear

And his head fell off –

She ran away in fear.

When her father came home to dinner

And asked for his little boy,

Margery wept bitterly and could not reply.

But the evil stepmother easily told a lie,

That he was visiting his uncle

Without saying good-bye.

Margery was sorry

For what she thought she’d done;

She took her best handkerchief,

Wrapped up her brothers’ bones

And buried them under the juniper tree,

Where a bird sat, singing merrily.

Images found on Pinterest

Part 3

When the bird’s song was over it flew away;

Gone too were the handkerchief and the boy

And pretty Margery smiled with joy.

It landed on the roof of a goldsmith’s house,

Singing: ‘My mother killed her little son;

My father thought me lost and gone;

But sister Margery pitied me

And laid me under the juniper tree.’

The goldsmith was fashioning a golden chain

And he asked the bird to sing again

In return for the chain, which it took in its claw

And into the sky the little bird soared,

Until it came to the shoemaker’s house.

Again the little bird sang its song

So sweetly the shoemaker sang along,

Rewarding the bird with a pair of red shoes.

The little bird flew to a nearby mill,

Where the sails turned clipper clapper.

It sang its song not one time but two

In return for a millstone, then off it flew

To Margery and her family,

Where it sat on top of the juniper tree

And sang: ‘My mother killed her little son;

My father thought me lost and gone;

But sister Margery pitied me

And laid me under the juniper tree.’

The father ran into the garden to marvel at the bird,

That dropped the chain around his neck without a single word.

The red shoes it dropped at Margery’s feet;

She put them on and danced in the street.

It dropped the millstone

On the mothers head

And she fell down dead.

The juniper tree burst into flame,

The little boy appeared again,

And they lived together happily

In the shade of the juniper tree.

The Juniper Tree Part 3

Warwick Goble – ”The Fairy Book”


© Kim M. Russell, 2016