PERUONTO
Day 1, Tale #3 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow


Peruonto’s poor face had the look of a fowl,
with nose like a parrot and eyes like an owl.
His whole head was shaggy, his mouth like a deer
and bare, bandy legs like an old chanticleer.

Besides, he was lazy.  He managed to shirk
whatever was asked, if complying meant work.
When his mother begged, “Go to the forest for wood,”
Peruonto walked off just as slow as he could.

He came to a meadow where grasses were deep.
Out in the sun lay three youths, fast asleep.
Peruonto took pity.  With branches he made
an arbor above them to give them some shade.

The noise woke them up.  When they saw what he’d done
they exclaimed, “We are fairies.  A blessing you’ve won!
There’s a way that we have to reward men like you.
In the future whatever you wish will come true.”