PENTA WITH THE CHOPPED-OFF HANDS
Day 3, Tale #2 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow





The King of Dry Rock was alone.  His wife took sick and died.
He had a sister, Penta.  “Penta, you shall be my bride!
I know you.  We were born alike.  Why let a stranger in?” 
She first turned pale and then turned red.  ”You’d marry your own kin?

I’m sorry that you have the tongue to speak that shameful way,
and sorry that I have the ears to hear the words you say!”
She rushed into her room and slammed the door for good and all.
But when a month had passed once more she heard her brother call.

She went to him because there was a thing she had to know.
“What feature of me makes you long to have my body so?”
He said, “You’re beautiful, but it’s your hands that make me swoon.”
“Then wait right here,” she said, “and you will have my answer soon.”

“I’d rather lose my hands,” she thought, “than be my brother’s wife.”
She called a slave and told him, “Here are coins.  And here’s a knife.
Chop off my hands.”  He did so.  “Now, you put them on a plate
and take them to my brother with these words which I dictate: