Gold trail

On the trail of eternity

Der Eisenhans / the wild man - whole fairy tale text

3 Gold apples in the fairy tale "Der Eisenhans" (The Iron Man)

By on 24 March 2020

Eisenhans - the wild man

Der Eisenhans - whole fairy tale text

Der Eisenhans is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, which describes the hero's path to wholeness through the integration of shadows.(Wikipedia on the Brothers Grimm.)

Click here to go directly to the start of the fairy tale with interpretation and retelling:
The King and the Wild Man, introduction of the theme (7): The Unconscious
Go here:
Introduction to the fairy tale

Der Eisenhans (the wild man in the unconscious) 

The Forest of the King

Once upon a time there was a king who had a large forest near his castle; game of all kinds ran around in it. Hunters were always disappearing in the forest. Those who had gone into the forest never returned. That's why the king and his entourage avoided the forest.

The hunter and his dog

One day a hunter came and asked the king to be allowed to hunt in the forest. The king warned him, but the hunter would not be dissuaded and insisted that he was not afraid.
With the king's permission, he went into the forest. His dog quickly picked up a scent that led him to a dark pond in the middle of the forest.

The dark pond

As soon as he reached the spot, the hunter saw an arm reach out of the water, grab the dog and pull it into the depths. Undeterred, he returned to the castle and fetched three men with buckets. They scooped the water out of the pond.

The wild man, the iron man

A wild, hairy man emerged, brown all over his body. The hunters captured the man and brought him to the castle. There was great astonishment at the wild man, but the king had him put in an iron cage in his court and forbade him to open the door of the cage on pain of death. The queen herself had to keep the key.

From now on, everyone could go into the forest again with confidence.

To start the fairy tale, the fairy tale (interpretation and retelling of this episode):
The King and the Wild Man, introduction of the theme (7): The unconscious.

The Son and the Golden Ball (1: Awareness)

The King's Son and the Golden Ball

The king had a son of eight who was playing in the courtyard one day, and while he was playing, his golden ball rolled into the cage. The boy ran up and said, "Give me my ball!" - "No sooner," replied the man, "than you open the door for me." - No," said the boy, "I won't do that, the king has forbidden it," and he ran away.

The Ironman and the King's Son

The next day he came back and demanded his ball. The wild man said, "Open my door!" But the boy would not. On the third day, the king was out hunting, and the boy came again and said, "Even if I wanted to, I can't open the door, I don't have the key." The wild man said: "It's under your mother's pillow, you can get it there.

The Liberation of the Ironman on the Third Day

The boy, who wanted his ball back, threw all doubts to the wind and brought the key. The door opened with difficulty and the boy jammed his finger. When it was open, the wild man stepped out, gave him the golden ball and hurried away. The boy was frightened, he shouted and called after him: "Oh, wild man, don't go away, or I'll get a beating.

The Abduction of the King's Son and Mourning at the Royal Court

The iron man turned back, picked it up, put it on his neck and carried it away with quick steps into the forest. When the king came home, he noticed the empty cage and asked the queen how it had happened. She knew nothing about it, looked for the key, but it was gone.
She called the boy, but no one answered. The king sent men out to look for him in the field, but they did not find him. Then he could easily guess what had happened, and there was great mourning in the royal court.

About this episode of the fairy tale (interpretation and retelling):
Eisenhans and the King's Son (Eisenhans 1: the Golden Ball)

The Gold Well (2: Initiation)

In the dark forest

The wild man, having returned to the dark forest, put the boy down from his shoulders and said to him: "You will not see your father and mother again, but I will keep you with me, for you have freed me and I have pity on you. If thou wilt do all that I tell thee, it shall be well with thee. I have treasures and gold enough and more than anyone in the world."

The Gold Well

The iron man gave the boy a task: "You see, the fountain of gold is bright and clear as crystal, you must sit by it and take care that nothing falls into it, otherwise it will be polluted. Every evening I will come and see if you have obeyed my command." The boy sat down at the edge of the well, saw how sometimes a golden fish, sometimes a golden snake appeared in it, and was careful that nothing fell in.

The gilded finger

As he sat there, his finger hurt so badly that he involuntarily stuck it into the water. He quickly pulled it out again, but saw that it was all gold-plated, and no matter how hard he tried to wipe the gold off, it was all in vain. In the evening the iron man came back, looked at the boy and said, "What has happened to the well?" - "Nothing, nothing," he answered, holding his finger behind his back that he should not see it. But the man said, "You have dipped your finger in the water. This time it may go, but beware lest you drop something in again!"

The gilded hair

But on the second day, water got on his head due to carelessness and on the third day, when he wanted to look at his reflection in the water, all his hair fell into the gold pond. Eisenhans said: "You have failed the test and can no longer stay here.

Out into the world!

Go out into the world and you will find out what poverty is like. But because you do not have an evil heart and I mean well for you, I will allow you one thing. If you are in need, go to the forest and call: 'Ironman!', then I will come and help you. My power is great, greater than you think, and I have gold and silver in abundance."

About this episode of the fairy tale (interpretation and retelling):
The Gold Well (Eisenhans 2, Initiation)

Cinder Work in a Foreign Castle (3: Desert)

The foreign king

Kitchen work

Then the king's son left the forest and walked along paths that had been trodden and paths that had not been trodden, until at last he came to a great city. He came to a king's court. There the cook took him into service and said he could carry wood and water and sweep up the ashes.

Meeting the King

Once, when there was no one else available, the cook asked him to carry the food to the royal table, but as he did not want his golden hair to be seen, he kept his little hat on. This had never happened to the king before, and he said, "When you come to the royal table, you must take off your hat!" - "Alas, sir," he replied, "I cannot, I have a wicked grind (rash) on my head." Then the king sent for the cook, scolded him and asked how he could have taken such a boy into his service; he should chase him away at once. But the cook took pity on him and exchanged him for the gardener's boy.

The King's Daughter


Now the boy had to plant and water in the garden, hoe and dig and endure wind and bad weather. Once in summer, when he was working alone in the garden, the day was so hot that he took off his little hat and let the air cool him down.

Meeting the King's Daughter

As the sun shone on the hair, it glittered and flashed so that the rays fell into the king's daughter's bedroom and she jumped up to see what was there. Then she caught sight of the boy and called to him, "Boy, bring me a bouquet of flowers!"

He hurriedly put on his little hat, broke off wild flowers and tied them together. As he climbed the stairs, the gardener met him and said: "How can you bring the king's daughter a bouquet of bad flowers? Quickly fetch others and choose the most beautiful and rarest ones!" - "Oh no," replied the boy, "the wild ones smell stronger and will please her better."

Concealment of the true identity

When he came into her room, the king's daughter said: "Take off your little hat, it is not proper for you to keep it on in front of me." He answered again, "I must not, I have a grumpy head." But she reached for the little hat and pulled it off, and his golden hair rolled down on his shoulders so that it was magnificent to behold. He wanted to jump away, but she held him by the arm and gave him a handful of ducats.

The power, the gold and the children

He went away with it, but paid no attention to the gold, instead he brought it to the gardener and said: "I'll give it to your children, they can play with it. The next day the king's daughter called to him again to bring her a bunch of wild flowers, and when he entered with it, she immediately grabbed his little hat and wanted to take it away from him, but he held it tightly with both hands.

She gave him another handful of ducats, but he didn't want to keep them and gave them to the gardener to play with for his children. The third day was no different: she couldn't take away his little hat, and he didn't want her gold.

About this episode of the fairy tale (interpretation and retelling):
In the strange castle (Eisenhans 3, Desert)

Victory over the enemy (4: Success)


Not long after that, the country was overrun with war. The king gathered his people and did not know whether he could resist the enemy, who was superior and had a large army.


Then the gardener's boy said: "I have grown up and want to go to war with you; just give me a horse! The others laughed and said, "When we are gone, find one for yourself; we will leave one for you in the stable." When they were gone, he went into the stable and drew out the horse; it was lame in one foot, and limped hunkepuus, hunkepuus. Nevertheless, he sat up and rode away to the dark forest.


When he had come to the edge of it, he shouted 'Eisenhans' three times so loudly that it resounded through the trees. Immediately the wild man appeared and said, "What do you want?" - "I demand a strong steed, for I want to go to war." - "That you shall have, and more than you ask."

A warhorse and a whole army

Then the wild man went back into the forest, and it was not long before a groom came out of the forest and brought a steed, which snorted from its nostrils and could hardly be tamed. And behind them followed a band of warriors, all dressed in iron, their swords flashing in the sun. The young man handed over his three-legged horse to the groom, mounted the other and rode ahead of the crowd.

Victory over the enemy

When he approached the battlefield, a large part of the king's men had already fallen, and it did not take much for the rest to give way. Then the young man came rushing with his iron band, drove over the enemies like a thunderstorm and struck down everything that resisted him. They wanted to flee, but the young man sat on their necks and did not let go until there was not a man left.

Still concealed (modest)

But instead of returning to the king, he led his band by a roundabout route back to the forest and called out the iron man. "What do you want?" asked the wild man. "Take back your steed and your band, and give me back my three-legged horse!" Everything he asked for was done, and he rode home on his three-legged horse.

Who is the foreign knight?

When the king returned to his castle, his daughter went to meet him and wished him luck on his victory. "It is not I who have won the victory," he said, "but a foreign knight who came to my aid with his host." The daughter wanted to know who the foreign knight was, but the king did not know and said: "He has pursued the enemies and I have not seen him again".

Curiosity and tenacity of the king's daughter

The king's daughter asked the gardener about the boy, but he laughed and said, "He has just come home on his three-legged horse, and the others mocked and shouted, 'Here comes our Hunkepuus again'. They also asked, 'Behind what hedge have you been lying and sleeping?' But he said, 'I have done the best I could, and without me it would have gone badly.' Then he was laughed at even more."

On this episode of the fairy tale (interpretation and retelling):
Victory over the Enemy (Eisenhans 4: Service in Success)

3 Gold apples in the fairy tale "Der Eisenhans" (The Iron Man)

The King's Daughter and the Wounding (5: Trial by Fire)

Three days of festivities and three golden apples

The king said to his daughter: "I will have a great feast announced, which shall last three days, and you shall throw a golden apple. Perhaps the unknown one will come."

When the feast was announced, the young man went out to the forest and called the iron man. "What do you want?" he asked. "That I catch the golden apple of the king's daughter." - "It is as good as if you had it already," said Eisenhans, "you shall also have red armour to go with it and ride on a proud fox."

The red, the white and the black knight

When the day came, the youth sprang up, stood among the knights, and was recognised by none. The king's daughter came out and threw a golden apple to the knights, but none caught it but he alone; but as soon as he had it, he ran away.

On the second day, Eisenhans had equipped him as a white knight and given him a white horse. Again he caught the apple alone, but did not linger a moment, but chased away with it. The king was angry and said: "That is not allowed, he must appear before me and give his name." He gave orders that if the knight who had caught the apple made off again, he should be pursued, and if he did not return willingly, he should be cut and stabbed.

On the third day, he received a black suit of armour and a sable from the iron man and also caught the apple again.

The wounding by the king's men and the true identity of the hero

But as he chased away with it, the king's men pursued him, and one came so close to him that he wounded his leg with the point of his sword. However, he escaped from them; but his horse jumped so violently that the helmet fell off his head, and they could see that he had golden hair. They rode back and reported everything to the king.

For this episode of the fairy tale (interpretation and retelling):
The King's Daughter and the Wounding (Eisenhans 5, Trial by Fire)

Eisenhans and Three Kingdoms (6 and 7: Holy Wedding)

The King's Daughter Again

The next day the king's daughter asked the gardener about his boy. "He is working in the garden; the strange owl was also at the feast and only came back last night; he also showed my children three golden apples that he had won.

Before the King

The king summoned him before him, and he appeared with his little hat on his head again. But the king's daughter went up to him and took it off, and there fell his golden hair over his shoulders, and it was so beautiful that everyone was astonished. "Were you the knight who came to the feast every day, always in a different colour, and who caught the three golden apples?" asked the king.

Finally show your colours

"Yes," he replied, "and there are the apples," he took them out of his pocket and handed them to the king. "If you ask for more proof, you can see the wound your people inflicted on me when they pursued me. But I am also the knight who helped you to victory over your enemies." - "If you can do such deeds, you are no gardener's boy. Tell me, who is your father?" - "My father is a mighty king, and gold I have the abundance and as much as I ask."

Confess love

- "I see," said the king, "I owe you thanks, can I do you a favour?" - Yes," he answered, "you can do that; give me your daughter in marriage." Then the maiden laughed and said, "He is no trouble! But I have already seen by his golden hair that he is not a gardener's boy," then went and kissed him.

Wedding, the Ironman and Three Kingdoms

His father and mother came to the wedding and were in great joy, for they had already given up all hope of seeing their dear son again.
And as they sat at the wedding table, suddenly the music stopped, the doors opened, and a proud king entered with a large retinue. He went up to the young man, embraced him and said: "I am Ironman and was cursed into a wild man, but you have redeemed me. All the treasures I possess shall be yours."

About this episode of the fairy tale (interpretation and retelling):
Wedding and Three Kingdoms (Eisenhans 6 and 7: Wholeness)

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.


Subscribe to newsletter

We respect your email privacy

Subscribe to newsletter

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Goldspur will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.