PETROSINELLA
Day 2, Tale # 1 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow


A pregnant woman from her attic window could survey
a bed of luscious parsley, and she could not look away.
She wanted some.  She craved it so she thought that she would faint,
but an ogress owned the garden and she had to use restraint.

She waited.  When she saw the ogress take her cane and leave,
she slipped inside the garden fence in order to retrieve
a handful of the parsley.  This she did, and quickly fled.
The ogress smelled some trouble.  “Who’s been at my garden bed?

The thief will wish he’d never tried to swindle me!” she swore.
And now the pregnant woman craved the parsley even more.
She went again and yet again.  “It never will be missed.”
But then one day the ogress snarled and grabbed her by the wrist.

“Oh please,” the pregnant woman begged, “I did it for my child.
I feared the baby’s face with parsley marks would be defiled.”
“Too bad,” the ogress said.  “If I consent to set you free
you must promise, be it boy or girl, you’ll give the brat to me.”

To get away the pregnant woman promised that she would.
In time she bore a girl and hid her through her babyhood.
Petrosinella was her name which really fit her best
for a little mark of parsley could be seen upon her chest.