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


A king once had a daughter.  Cannetella was her name.
The taller that she grew the more unyielding she became.
“I will not,” she’d say.  And “No,” she’d say.  It drove her father wild
to have to try to deal with such a stubborn, willful child.

“Cannetella,” said her father, ”it is time for you to wed.”
“I will never,” she replied, ”allow a stranger in my bed.”
“But you must be married,” said the king.  “It’s what young women do.”
“I will stay here in the palace with the servants and with you.”

He insisted, he implored, but she continued to refuse.
Then, pretending to give in, she said, “But I’m the one who’ll choose.
I will marry any man who has no fault that I can find.”
There ensued a long procession of young men of every kind.

“He’s much too thin, he’s grossly fat, and no, his feet are small.
This one is dull, and that one has no elegance at all.”
Cannetella found a reason to dismiss each man in turn.
The king became impatient.  His regal voice was stern.

“You are making up excuses!”  “That’s not true,” his daughter said.
“I’ve decided that the man I wed must have a golden head.
And he’ll have golden teeth as well.”  She made this up because
she knew that no such creature could exist in nature’s laws.