The Islands of Magic Legends, Folk and Fairy Tales from the Azores: The Islands of Magic: Legends, Folk and Fairy Tales from the Azores

Library of Alexandria, 1922

Some three-fourths of the distance between America and Europe there is a group of nine beautiful islands called the Azores which belong to Portugal. Their names are Flores, Corvo, Fayal, Pico, S. Jorge, Graciosa, Terceira, S. Miguel, and Santa Maria. Many people think them to be the mountain peaks of the submerged continent, Atlantis, which long ago was covered by the ocean.

There are ancient records which tell of Arabian caravels driven back by dangerous seas surrounding islands full of volcanoes. There are old pictures which portray seas of spouting geysers and flaming volcanic isles. In these regions islands had a habit of suddenly lifting themselves out of the ocean and then disappearing again from view. When the largest of the islands, S. Miguel or St. Michael as it is called in English, was mapped, two mountain peaks were marked where later only one could be discovered. Thus it was that the Azores gained their reputation. Islands full of volcanoes amid seas of spouting geysers could be nothing else but enchanted. And islands and mountain peaks which suddenly vanished away from one's sight! Surely the Azores must be the true land of magic.

"The day of folktales is departing from the Azores," said the wise woman. "Public schools came with the republic, and where books of printed stories enter folktales become confused and soon are lost."

"There is no originality among our islanders," complained the wise man of the islands. "They have told over and over again the stories of our mother country, Portugal, and they have made few variations."

However, when I spent December 1920 and January 1921 in the Azores in connection with research work for the Hispanic Society, I found that there were not only pleasant folktales there but even real fairies. They inhabit the wooded slopes of Monte Brasil on the island of Terceira. The fisher folk who visit the barren Ilheos de Cabras on the Bay of Angra know that there are fairies living in those rocky isles even yet when the boys and girls of the Azores are sailing away from them to seek their fortunes in America. Have they not often seen the fairy garments spread out upon the rocks in the bright sunshine?


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