1. Which country or countries do you think “the Northland” refers to?
2. What did Saint Peter ask the old lady for? What was the lady’s reaction?
3. How did he punish her?
4. How does the woodpecker get her food?
5. Do you think that the old lady would have been so ungenerous if she had known who Saint Peter really was? What would she have done then?
6. Is this a true story? Which part of this poem do you feel is the most important?
7. What is a legend? Why is this poem called a legend?
8. Write the story of ‘A Legend of the Northland’ in about ten sentences.
1. “The Northland” could refer to any extremely cold country in the Earth's north polar region, such as Greenland, the northern regions of Russia, Canada, Norway etc.
2. Saint Peter asked the old lady for one of her baked cakes to satisfy his hunger. The lady tried to bake a small cake for the saint.
3. He punished the lady by changing her into a woodpecker that built “as birds do” and gathered scanty food by boring in the “hard, dry wood” all day long.
4. The woodpecker gets her food by boring holes into trees.
5. No, the old lady would not have been so ungenerous if she had known who Saint Peter really was. Instead, she would have tried to please him with her cakes for the fulfilment of her greedy desires.
6. No, this not a true story; it is a legend.
I feel that the point in the story where the old lady is changed into a woodpecker is the most important. This is because the punishment meted out to the lady teaches us the value of generosity and charity.
7. A legend is an old traditional and popular story that is considered to be historical but its authenticity is not attested.
This poem is a “curious” and conventional story narrated to the children of the Northland. Besides that, the story's authenticity cannot be verified owing to the supernatural element present at the end of tale. Thus, the poem can be called a legend.
8. Once Saint Peter stopped by an old lady's cottage because he was feeling hungry and weak after the day's fasting. The lady was baking cakes on the hearth. When Saint Peter asked her for one of her cakes, she tried to make a tiny cake for him. But as it was baking, she found it too large to be given away. She tried baking two more times but even the smallest of cakes seemed too large to her. Such greedy behaviour of the lady annoyed the hungry saint. He cursed her saying that she was far too selfish to be a human, to have food, shelter and fire to keep her warm. Thus, she was transformed into a woodpecker. All her clothes except her scarlet cap were gone as she went up the chimney and flew out of the top. Every country schoolboy is said to have seen her in the forest, boring into the wood for food till date.