the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will your fingers.
Walk through the house.
However, if any creatures tell you that they hunger,
If they tell you that they are dirty,
If they cry to you that they hurt,
if you can, ease their pain.
From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood.
The deep well you walk past down to Winter's realm;
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face.
I will think no less of you.
Once through the garden you will be in the wood.
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the under-growth.
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman.
She may for something;
give it to her.
She will the way to the castle.
Inside it are three princesses.
Do not the youngest.
In the clearing beyond the castle
the twelve months sit about a fire,
warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may strawberries in December's frost.
Trust the wolves,
but do not them where you are going.
The river can be crossed by the ferry.
The ferry-man will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger,
he will be free to the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)
If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
that giants too soundly;
that witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
that dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
that hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.
Do not be jealous of your sister.
that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble from your lips
as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.
Remember your name.
Do not hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust those that you have helped
to you in their turn.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
When you come back,
the way you came.
Favors will be returned,
debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not ).
Ride the silver fish (you will not ).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).
There is a worm at the heart of the tower;
that is why it will not .
When you the little house,
the place your journey started,
you will it,
although it will seem much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path,
and through the garden gate
you never saw before but once.
And then home.
Or a home.