A fairy tale about a woman named Rapunzel with long blonde hair. A knight in shining armor uses her hair to climb into the tower and set her free. Then they live happily ever after.

Also a song by Dave Matthews Band which is basically about sex.

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Once upon a time there lived a man and his wife who were very unhappy because they had no children. These good people had a little window at the back of their house, which looked into the most lovely garden, full of all manner of beautiful flowers and vegetables; but the garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to enter it, for it belonged to a witch of great power, who was feared by the whole world.

One day the woman stood at the window overlooking the garden, and saw there a bed full of the finest rampion: the leaves looked so fresh and green that she longed to eat them. The desire grew day by day, and just because she knew she couldn't possibly get any, she pined away and became quite pale and wretched. Then her husband grew alarmed and said:

"What ails you, dear wife?"

"Oh," she answered, "if I don't get some rampion to eat out of the garden behind the house, I know I shall die."

The man, who loved her dearly, thought to himself, "Come! rather than let your wife die you shall fetch her some rampion, no matter the cost." So at dusk he climbed over the wall into the witch's garden, and, hastily gathering a handful of rampion leaves, he returned with them to his wife. She made them into a salad, which tasted so good that her longing for the forbidden food was greater than ever. If she were to know any peace of mind, there was nothing for it but that her husband should climb over the garden wall again, and fetch her some more. So at dusk over he got, but when he reached the other side he drew back in terror, for there, standing before him, was the old witch.

"How dare you," she said, with a wrathful glance, "climb into my garden and steal my rampion like a common thief? You shall suffer for your foolhardiness."

"Oh!" he implored, "pardon my presumption; necessity alone drove me to the deed. My wife saw your rampion from her window, and conceived such a desire for it that she would certainly have died if her wish had not been gratified." Then the Witch's anger was a little appeased, and she said:

"If it's as you say, you may take as much rampion away with you as you like, but on one condition only -- that you give me the child your wife will shortly bring into the world. All shall go well with it, and I will look after it like a mother."

The man in his terror agreed to everything she asked, and as soon as the child was born the Witch appeared, and having given it the name of Rapunzel, which is the same as rampion, she carried it off with her.

Rapunzel was the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old the Witch shut her up in a tower, in the middle of a great wood, and the tower had neither stairs nor doors, only high up at the very top a small window. When the old Witch wanted to get in she stood underneath and called out:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your golden hair,"

for Rapunzel had wonderful long hair, and it was as fine as spun gold. Whenever she heard the Witch's voice she unloosed her plaits, and let her hair fall down out of the window about twenty yards below, and the old Witch climbed up by it.

After they had lived like this for a few years, it happened one day that a Prince was riding through the wood and passed by the tower. As he drew near it he heard someone singing so sweetly that he stood still spell-bound, and listened. It was Rapunzel in her loneliness trying to while away the time by letting her sweet voice ring out into the wood. The Prince longed to see the owner of the voice, but he sought in vain for a door in the tower. He rode home, but he was so haunted by the song he had heard that he returned every day to the wood and listened. One day, when he was standing thus behind a tree, he saw the old Witch approach and heard her call out:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your golden hair."

Then Rapunzel let down her plaits, and the Witch climbed up by them.

"So that's the staircase, is it?" said the Prince. "Then I too will climb it and try my luck."

So on the following day, at dusk, he went to the foot of the tower and cried:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your golden hair,"

and as soon as she had let it down the Prince climbed up.

At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man came in, for she had never seen one before; but the Prince spoke to her so kindly, and told her at once that his heart had been so touched by her singing, that he felt he should know no peace of mind till he had seen her. Very soon Rapunzel forgot her fear, and when he asked her to marry him she consented at once. "For," she thought, "he is young and handsome, and I'll certainly be happier with him than with the old Witch." So she put her hand in his and said:

"Yes, I will gladly go with you, only how am I to get down out of the tower? Every time you come to see me you must bring a skein of silk with you, and I will make a ladder of them, and when it is finished I will climb down by it, and you will take me away on your horse."

They arranged that till the ladder was ready, he was to come to her every evening, because the old woman was with her during the day. The old Witch, of course, knew nothing of what was going on, till one day Rapunzel, not thinking of what she was about, turned to the Witch and said:

"How is it, good mother, that you are so much harder to pull up than the young Prince? He is always with me in a moment."

"Oh! you wicked child," cried the Witch. "What is this I hear? I thought I had hidden you safely from the whole world, and in spite of it you have managed to deceive me."

In her wrath she seized Rapunzel's beautiful hair, wound it round and round her left hand, and then grasping a pair of scissors in her right, snip snap, off it came, and the beautiful plaits lay on the ground. And, worse than this, she was so hard-hearted that she took Rapunzel to a lonely desert place, and there left her to live in loneliness and misery.

But on the evening of the day in which she had driven poor Rapunzel away, the Witch fastened the plaits on to a hook in the window, and when the Prince came and called out:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your golden hair,"

she let them down, and the Prince climbed up as usual, but instead of his beloved Rapunzel he found the old Witch, who fixed her evil, glittering eyes on him, and cried mockingly:

"Ah, ah! you thought to find your lady love, but the pretty bird has flown and its song is dumb; the cat caught it, and will scratch out your eyes too. Rapunzel is lost to you for ever -- you will never see her more."

The Prince was beside himself with grief, and in his despair he jumped right down from the tower, and, though he escaped with his life, the thorns among which he fell pierced his eyes out. Then he wandered, blind and miserable, through the wood, eating nothing but roots and berries, and weeping and lamenting the loss of his lovely bride. So he wandered about for some years, as wretched and unhappy as he could well be, and at last he came to the desert place where Rapunzel was living. Of a sudden he heard a voice which seemed strangely familiar to him. He walked eagerly in the direction of the sound, and when he was quite close, Rapunzel recognised him and fell on his neck and wept. But two of her tears touched his eyes, and in a moment they became quite clear again, and he saw as well as he had ever done. Then he led her to his kingdom, where they were received and welcomed with great joy, and they lived happily ever after.

By The Brothers Grimm

This version specifically from Andrew Lang's Red Fairy Book.

One especially good modern rendition of Rapunzel is the one illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky won the Caldecott Medal in 1998 for its spectacular use of Renaissance art themes and styles.

This is an extract from a much longer story, part of the tale told for the infamous three-day novel contest a couple of weeks ago. This part is mostly told by our dashing hero, Henry, to his annoyingly smart-arse wife, Norah, as they sit on the top of the Warden's Tower in Krak des Chevaliers, in Syria.
"That," he said, "is the Tower of the Daughter of the King. The princess, also known as Rapunzel, was never locked up in a turret in a dank European forest, cooing at hunters. She was here."

"Oh," said Norah, taking a doubtful sip of Champion Cola. "You are going to tell me about this, aren't you?"

"Thought you'd never ask," he said, helping himself to another biscuit.

"Rapunzel was born in the castle, shortly after her father had arrived to take control of the garrison and protect the gap in the mountains for the Crusaders. Her mother had died in childbirth, as all beautiful young mothers do in stories. But the princess had never missed her mother, because she had never known her. She became a great favourite in the castle, and day after day, they would see her running through the stables and the kitchens, hunting rats with her terrier. She was a terrible tomboy, with a dirty face and scuffed and bloody knees from climbing over the great stone blocks that were being used to build up the walls and turn the castle into the greatest fortress in the East.

"She had contests with the archers, seeing who could spit further into the valley from the battlements. She drove the priests crazy, by swapping all the words around as she sang the psalms they taught her until they made rude rhymes. She swam in the moat, and dripped all over the thick rugs in her father's chambers."

"This," said Norah, "is not the same Rapunzel as the one I know."

"Oh, you know how stories change over time. No mother wanted to tell their children this story, and put rebellious ideas into their heads. So, the years passed, and Rapunzel grew and grew, and one day her father called her to his chamber and asked her to sit down. 'Daughter,' he said, 'you are not a child any more.'

"She hid her dirty fingernails by sitting on her hands, wondering if she was about to get a lecture for hiding the Knights' underpants. 'Oh,' she said, 'I suppose you think I should pay more attention to my lessons. My Latin's pretty good, you know.'

"Her father sighed, looking at how fast she was growing up, and how pretty she was becoming under all that grime. So very like her mother, he thought sadly. His voice became very stern. 'You are growing up, Rapunzel, and a young woman can not run freely around a castle full of soldiers and Knights. They are men. One day they will notice you are not just a charming nuisance under your feet. And then what will we do?'

"She shrugged. The only books in the castle were prayer books and manuals for building catapults. The only songs she heard were slightly bawdy comedies. She'd never heard tell of Romance and Trouble and Adventure, and didn't have a clue what he was talking about."

"Uh oh," said Norah, "she's not going to be happy at the next part, is she?"

Henry pouted at his wife. "Stop trying to guess ahead. You said you didn't know this story."

"Her father sighed, and told her that it was for her own good. He lead her up to one of the new towers, round and round the spiral stairs, and showed her the new chambers he had had built for her. 'You will have to stay here, Rapunzel, until we return to Europe, or Jerusalem.' She sat down on the silk eiderdown that was spread across the feather bed, and looked at her father. 'I am sorry,' he said, locking the heavy door behind him as he left.

"She was astonished, and her mouth flapped open and closed as every protest and question dried up in her confusion. 'Shit,' she said. 'I could understand going without supper for that trick with the underpants, but this is a little extreme.' She lay on the bed, staring at the stars painted onto the ceiling, and recited the name of every horse in the stables to stop herself from crying."

Henry crushed the thin can, and wrapped it into a plastic bag with the other rubbish from their picnic. "The years went by, and Rapunzel was stuck in the tower. Her hair grew long, and her muscles grew hard and lean, because she could not waste away like your usual delicate princess. Every day she walked clockwise for three hours, did some push ups, and walked anti-clockwise for three more. She pulled back the rug and played hopscotch on the stone flags, she bit her fingernails short and brushed the endless tangles from her long, long hair. The rest of the day she sat by the window, looking out across the countryside, watching the troops charging around in the open air, playing football.

"As the years flew by, she grew sadder and sadder. She had no company except the servant who brought her meals, took away her laundry and swept her high tower room. The servant was deaf, and dull, and impervious to Rapunzel's demands for news and stories. Finally, Rapunzel howled out of the window in despair. 'Won't somebody tell me a joke? I'm so bored.'

"A young squire was patrolling at the bottom of the tower and heard her voice.

He called up, 'Two lions were walking around the castle. One lion turned to the other and said, 'Quiet round here, isn't it?'"

"No he didn't!" objected Norah.

"You're right," said Henry. "He was a saucy young squire, with a fine crop of pimples, and it was a joke about a monk walking into a brothel. But that's far too obscene for your shell-like ears.

"Unlike you, Rapunzel laughed at the joke. The squire shrugged, and continued his rounds, thinking nothing of it. No one had told him that a beautiful young woman was locked into the tower above him. Everyone had forgotten the tomboy who had run through the castle kitchens and stables, hunting rats with her terrier. No one imagined that she was still here, growing up, miserable and alone in the tower.

"The next day, she called out again, 'Won't somebody tell me a joke? I'm so bored.' But no one heard her, and no one answered.

'That's it,' said Rapunzel. 'I am sick to death of rotting away in this tower.' She shredded her sheets into long strips, and knotted together, hanging them out of the window. Looking down, Rapunzel realised that it was too short. She'd break her neck jumping from the bottom of the bed linen rope. She hauled it in, and threw it on the floor in disgust.

"She kicked the walls and rattled the doors, and swore loudly. So she walked clockwise around her room for three hours, thinking. She did her push ups, thinking some more. She walked anti-clockwise around her room for another three hours, and was still no closer to an answer.

"She pulled back the rug and played hopscotch on the stone flags. She bit her fingernails short and brushed the endless tangles from her long, long hair. 'Ah ha!' she cried, examining the two thick plaits that fell to her ankles. She found the knife that the boring servant had left for her to cut her bread, and she sawed through her hair, cutting it close to her head, and sat down cross-legged on the floor to tie her long plaits onto the rope made from sheets.

"Rapunzel laughed as she tied it to the window frame, shimmied down. She planted her feet against the wall of the tower, and pushed with all her might. Holding the very end of her hair and bed linen rope, swung far out over the moat.

"Moments later she was dropping lightly onto her feet on the ramparts of the outer wall. She ran along the ledge, and vaulted onto the back of a horse who was idly grazing at the particularly fine patch of clover. He reared up in surprise, but she clamped her knees against his sides, and galloped him inside the castle, around the corners, down the stairs, and through the corridors.

"'Emergency!' she yelled at the guards as she galloped towards where they blocked the gate. 'Urgent message for the King!' They sprang aside, too well-trained to question the ragged-haired knight in long skirts.

"And so she galloped away from the castle, and from the tower, to find her fortune and her freedom."

"No prince?" asked Norah, "No kissing?"

"That's another story," said Henry, "for another day."

Rapunzel left her castle and moved to the city,
a high rise apartment her Uncle owned

It had a porch with a great view, but
most days she kept her windows
Choosing privacy over fresh air

On the rare occasions she stepped outside
She tried to pretend she heard
Rather than traffic, loud music and low flying jets

In those moments she closed her eyes
Remembering summer nights when the air was
When doves landed on her windowsill

Thus inspired, she let her hair down:
All fourteen stories

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