The Star-Wife….a folktale from South America.

There once was a young man who although considered ugly, had a warm and loving heart. The girls in the village judged him on his outward appearance and did not value what lay within. He worked in the fields growing potatoes high up on the mountainside, and at night he would sit alone and stare at the bright stars. They seemed alive and so close that he could almost reach out and touch them. Some nights he felt his heart was barren, turning to Stone, and tears fell coldly onto his cheeks.

One night, everything changed. He could not look at the stars. His heart felt empty and he buried his head in his hands. He was so very sad and alone. And then he felt it. The slightest touch on his shoulder. He looked up and saw a dazzling silver light coming from a woman standing before him. A woman so beautiful he could only stare wide-eyed.

The Star-Woman held out her hand and said, ‘Will you take me home? I wish to be your wife.’
The star people can see into people’s hearts and the young man had such a beautiful heart that the Star-Woman had fallen in love with him. The Star World is a land of ice, and the warmth of his heart had drawn her to him across the sky.

The young man reached out and took her hand. It was cold but it held his firmly and he led her down the twisting mountain path to his hut. His humble home was filled with the most amazing silver light and he was concerned as to what the neighbours would think and say.

So, the next day the Star-Wife wrapped her hair in a scarf and put on his mother’s old clothes. Her face and hands still shone with a bright silver light but she stayed in the hut cleaning and polishing. The young man went happily to work in the mornings and when he returned at night his hut was gleaming. His new wife was so very cold to touch, but he had enough warmth for them both. The young man had never felt so happy.

However, the Star-Woman was not happy. She longed for the dazzling brilliance of her world. The hut was dark and grubby and no matter how hard she scrubbed, dust would blow in from outside. The air in the hut sat heavily upon her shoulders and although she loved the heat of her husband’s heart, the warmth of his body gave her fever, and his mother’s old clothes caused her to itch and scratch.

The Star-Wife’s light shone less brightly and she began to lose her sparkle. She missed home and longed to wear her thin robes and walk in the cool of the night. The young man could not bear to see her like this, for he loved her with all his heart.

One night, the Star-Wife put on her bright clothes , and together they walked to the top of the mountain. She looked up at the stars and breathed in the coolness of the night.

‘Will you come?’ she asked.
‘Of course,’ he said.

She took his hand and they flew through the night towards the land of ice and snow. The young man shook with cold and the dazzling brightness of the ice world blinded him. The Star-Wife held him tightly but her coldness only caused him to shiver more violently. There was nothing she could do and with a sad heart she knew she had to take him back to the mountain.

Once back on his mountain the young man turned to his Star-Wife and said, ‘We must part. You can never be happy in my world, and I can not live in yours.’
‘I will stay because I love you,’ the Star-Woman said.
‘You must go because I love you,’ he said, and she looked into his generous heart and knew that he was right. She must go, for he could never be happy if she stayed.

At night the young man still sits on the mountain top and stares longingly at the stars. They seem so bright that he can almost reach out and touch them. Some nights silver tears sparkle coldly on his cheeks.


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to or
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2 Responses to The Star-Wife….a folktale from South America.

  1. Mr. G. says:

    Sad but beautiful. Maybe I should have said “sad and beautiful”, because most of the times there’s a ‘dazzling’ beauty in sad stories, both fictional and real.

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