"My dear sons," he said, "to whichever one of you is able to catch this firebird and bring it back alive,
I will give half of my kingdom now, and the other half when I die."
The three sons promised to do their best to catch the bird. The oldest son stood watch the first night,
but he fell asleep and the firebird made off with a number of apples. The next night, the second oldest
son camped out by the apple tree in hope of catching the bird but he, too, fell asleep,
and the firebird stole a few more apples.
The third night the youngest son, Ivan Tsarevich, guarded the tree. One hour went by,
then a second, and a third ... Ivan was sleepy but took his job seriously
and managed to stay awake. Suddenly the whole orchard lit up, as if a thousand
lights were shining on it - the firebird was making his entrance!
As the bird began to pluck golden apples off the tree one-by-one,
Ivan sneaked up and grabbed it by the tail. But the bird managed to
wriggle out of Ivan's grasp, leaving the youth with only a bright red tail feather.
The feather was so luminescent that if it were brought into a dark room, the room would glow,
as if illuminated by the setting sun.
The firebird never came back to the orchard after this, but the tsar was so enchanted by the glowing
feather that he sent his sons out again to find the bird and bring it back alive.
The two older sons, filled with envy that their younger brother was able to bring back a feather
from the bird, went off together on their search. Ivan left on his horse alone.
Ivan rode on and on until he reached a pillar standing in the middle of an open field. On the pillar
were the following words: "He who goes straight will be hungry and cold. He who passes to the
right will be safe, but his horse shall die. He who passes to the left will be killed,
but his horse will be safe." Choosing the lesser of three evils, Ivan decided to go to the
right and rode for three days.
Suddenly a gray wolf appeared out of nowhere and devoured the horse. For a long time, Ivan wept
and eventually continued his journey on foot. He walked for an entire day and became very tired.
The gray wolf suddenly appeared again. "I'm sorry I killed your horse," the wolf said,
"and making you go all this way by foot. But it was God's will. Jump on my back, though,
and I'll take you where you want to go!" Ivan, for some reason, began to trust the wolf now
and told the animal that he needed to find the firebird. He climbed on the wolf's back and they
sped off like a flash.
After a short while, they reached a stone wall. "Climb over that wall, Ivan, and you will find the
firebird sitting in a golden cage in a garden. Take the bird, but don't touch the cage or you will
Ivan did as the wolf instructed and had the bird in his hand, when he thought, Where am I going to
put the bird if I don't take his cage? So he went back to get the golden cage and the minute he
touched it, alarms went off and guards seized the lad. He was immediately taken to the tsar,
who was furious and demanded an explanation. "I'm the son of Tsar Vislav" Ivan said,
"and the firebird had been taking apples from my father's orchard every night. So he sent me to get the bird."
"Well, if you had just come and asked me, I would have given the bird to you," the tsar said.
"But now you have disgraced yourself by thievery. However, there is something that you can do
for me to redeem yourself. Go to the kingdom of Tsar Afron and bring back the horse with the
golden mane. If you do this, I will forgive you and you can have the firebird."
Ivan left the tsar and told the wolf everything that had happened. He said he was very sorry that
he had not listened to the wolf about not touching the golden cage.
"Well, what's done is done. Get up on my back and I will take you where you need to go," the wolf said.
Ivan got up on his back and the wolf took off like a bullet. It was hard to say whether it was a long time
or a short time, but eventually they reached the kingdom of Tsar Afron. When they stood before the royal stables,
the wolf told Ivan to take the horse with the golden mane, but not to touch the golden bridle hanging
on the wall. Ivan went in and started leading the horse out. Then all of a sudden he saw the magnificent
golden bridle. He was so attracted to it that he simply could not resist taking it.
But the second he touched it, alarms went off and stable boys came running to seize
the young man. They took him to Tsar Afron, who was furious and demanded an explanation.
Ivan told him the whole story.
"Well, if you had just come and asked me, I would have given the horse to you!
But now how will it look when I tell the whole kingdom what you've done? However,
to get your honor back, there is something that you can do for me.
Go to the Thrice Tenth Kingdom and bring back the princess Elena the Fair.
I want her, but I have not found a way to get her back here. If you do this,
I will pardon you and will give you the golden bridle."
Ivan left the palace in tears and told the gray wolf everything. He apologized
for again disobeying the wolf's instructions.
"Well, what's done is done. Get on my back and I'll take you where you need to
go," the wolf said. Ivan jumped on the wolf's back and off they went.
When they reached Elena's kingdom, the wolf told Ivan to wait by a green oak tree.
This time the wolf was going to do the job himself! When the princess was walking
in her garden, the wolf grabbed her and they hurried back to the tree, where Ivan
was waiting. Ivan climbed onto the wolf's back next to the beautiful princess and
they headed back to the kingdom of Tsar Afron.
As fate would have it, Ivan and the princess fell in love on the wolf's back.
Approaching the kingdom, Ivan was in tears. "My dear friend, the wolf, how can
I not grieve? Elena and I are in love and now I have to return her to
Tsar Afron, or else I will be held in disrepute throughout the kingdom."
"I have served you well," the wolf answered, "and I will help you again.
This is what I will do: I will transform myself into the princess and you can
take me to the tsar. He will think that I am Elena. Then, when you are riding
back in the open field on the horse with the golden mane, and when I am allowed
to go outside to walk with my ladies-in-waiting, think of me and I will appear."
Ivan liked the idea and, like magic, the wolf turned into the princess! Ivan led
him to the tsar, who was overjoyed at seeing who he thought was the princess.
Ivan was immediately given the horse with the golden mane and rode toward the
kingdom of Dolmat (secretly picking up the real princess where he had left her).
For several days, the two were so enchanted with each other that they completely
forgot about the gray wolf. Then, on the fourth day, Ivan thought
"What happened to my friend, the wolf?" It just so happened that this was the
first day that the wolf was permitted to leave the tsar's palace so he could
escape. And just as thoughts about the wolf entered Ivan's head, the wolf appeared
So the Ivan, the princess, the wolf and the golden-maned horse began their journey to
the kingdom of Dolmat. When they approached its border, Ivan said to the wolf,
"Listen, my dear friend, you have done much for me, but could you do one more
thing? I would love to have this golden-maned horse to bring back to my own kingdom.
Could you turn yourself into a horse, and we'll do the same thing we did with the last tsar?"
Poof! The wolf turned into a golden-maned horse. Ivan presented him to the tsar,
who was quite jubilant and they all sat down for a large feast which lasted two
full days! On the third day, the tsar gave the firebird to Ivan. Ivan then left
for the trip back home, picking up Elena and the real golden-maned horse along
the way. It wasn't long before the tsar went out riding with his new horse
(who, of course, was really the wolf). At an opportune time, the tsar was thrown
off his mount and all he saw after that was tail end of the wolf running off
into the distance!
With his speed, it didn't take the wolf long to catch Ivan and Elena the Fair.
They traveled together until they reached the place where the wolf had eaten Ivan's
first horse. "Now it's time to part," the wolf said. "You have a horse again and
I can't be of any more service to you." The wolf ran off and Ivan shed many tears
over the parting of his good friend and companion.
Ivan, the princess, the firebird and golden-maned horse headed home.
They were still many miles away from the kingdom when they stopped to rest.
They tied the horse to a tree and kept the bird beside them. If you remember,
the tsar's two older sons, Dmitriy and Vasiliy, had also been looking for the
firebird. They were returning to the kingdom themselves when they stumbled
upon the sleeping Ivan and Elena. They were quite charmed by the golden-maned
horse, the firebird, and Elena. Filled with envy, they decided to kill their
brother. Dmitriy took out his sword and thrust it into the body of Ivan.
Then they woke Elena, who saw the motionless body of her sweetheart and burst
into tears. "You might have been called honorable knights if you fought
and won a battle in an open field. But as it is, you killed someone who was
sleeping and defenseless. What kind of respect could you possibly deserve?"
The brothers paid no attention and rode back to their kingdom with their treasures,
including the lovely Elena. "One word of this to the tsar," they warned,
"and you won't live to see another day!"
The slain Ivan lay for exactly thirty days on the spot where his brothers had left him.
Then the gray wolf found him, recognizing the lad by his scent.
He wanted to help his friend, but he didn't know what to do. When he saw a mother crow
and her two babies circling and hungrily looking at Ivan, he waited until they landed
and grabbed one of the babies.
"Please don't harm my child," the crow pleaded. "He's done nothing to you."
"Then go to the Thrice Tenth Kingdom and bring me back some magical life-and-death water.
Your child will be safe if you do this," the wolf said. The crow agreed and flew off.
On the third day, the mother crow returned and brought two vials of water. Without warning,
the wolf ripped into the flesh of the young crow he was holding, and tore it in two.
Then he sprinkled some "water of death" on the young crow and the crow's wounds were healed.
Next he sprinkled some "water of life" on him, and the young crow came to life,
fluttered his wings, and flew off to his nest!
The wolf repeated the procedure with Ivan. Miraculously, the boy came to life, saying,
"Oh, how long I've slept!" "Yes," the wolf said, "and you would have slept much
longer had I not found you!" He told Ivan everything that had happened and that
today Ivan's brother Vasiliy was about to marry Elena the Fair. The wolf told
Ivan to climb on and in a flash they were off for the city.
Ivan arrived as the wedding feast was already in progress. Elena saw Ivan and
jumped up from the table. "There is my dear fiance, not this coward sitting
next to me!"
The tsar, confused at this turn of events, asked for an explanation and Elena
gladly told him everything. The tsar, quite naturally, was furious with the
brothers Dmitriy and Vasiliy and threw them in prison.
Ivan and Elena got married themselves and were so happy with each other that they never parted.
Narrative and translation: Copyright 1996, 1998, Andrew Stonebarger, Tradestone International
Jeremiah 3:22 "Return, you back sliding children and I will heal your backsliding."
"Indeed we do come to you, for you are the Lord our God.
Nothing escaped his sight,
as he walked tenderly through the snow
in a glade
he came upon it there,
a single rose of beauty
that had risen from beneath the snow.
As he trudged
through the snow, lonesome and weary
having no special place to go,
the rose was quitely waiting from the depths of the ground below.
Dare he proceed without caution,
and let the beauty
of the rose become the ruler within
but the rose was such a challenge,
he dare not pass it by,
for only her beauty was in the view from his eyes.
For the rose upon the snow,
was beauty that lay upon the ground.
Such tenderness within her,
soft petals all around,
the wolf was amazed
that in the snowy blanket
such a rose could be found.
He paced around the rose
waiting for his prey
to make a sound or movement
on that cold winter day,
then the wolf lay down beside her
upon the snowy ground.
His sense of protection was gathered all around.
His warmth surrounded her,
but the rose lay quietly within the blanket of snow
for bound by the roots beneath her
she had no place to go.
Beauty in the forest wild
reaching for the sun
she feared that her beauty
was soon to be outdone
for even with the warmth and protection
of the wolf
who laid beside her in the snow
the rose would not be able
to live beneath the snow.
But the wolf stayed beside her
through all the storms and wind
for the rose
had stirred something in his heart
and he felt warmth from deep within.
When the storms of winter passed and
warmth was in the ground,
the rose continued to grow
because of the warmth
from the wolf she had found.
His beauty lay within him and
his protection and in part
let the rose beneath the snow
gather winter warmth
from his heart.
Among the wilderness of imagination
this story has no end
because it is about love
that can only grow from deep within.
Be it a wolf and a rose in the snow
or two people that love each other
and need to say....
I love you with all my heart!
There have been times of plenty
We were content and serene,
Dangers few and far between.
We've also known much hunger
Ribs protruding from each side,
Mournfully we howled
When our starving cubs had died.
And then there was our first winter
Romping thru the glistening snow,
Tasting each crystal snowflake
Falling gently to and fro.
Ah my dear, sweet yellow eyes
I've known no greater love,
Without you, I am nothing
Our wild souls are one.
And now you lay there dying
Steel jaws upon your frame,
Life's blood slowly seeping
I whimper your sweet name.
Helpless, I watch you struggle
Chest heaving with labored breath,
Steel jaws clenching tighter
Winds whisper the song of death.
The blood has now stopped flowing
I know the time is near,
And you will forever leave me
My love, my life, my dear.
And now my world is silent
Your struggles now have ceased,
I lay my head upon you
And know you are at peace.
Perhaps your soul has lifted
To skies where eagles soar,
And there you'll greet your brothers
To run with them forever more.
And someday I shall find you
In the heaven's so far above,
And when our wild soul's unite
There'll be no greater love.