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Pentamerone Day Three
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                                                                ROSELLA
                                                              Day 3, Tale 9
                                            retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow

The sultan was ill, he was mortally ill, 
and the doctors could not solve his case. 
When he kept on insisting, they wound up suggesting 
a cure that could never take place.

They said he must bathe, he must thoroughly bathe
in the blood of a prince young and strong.
So the sultan sent sailors to kidnap a prince 
who was boating. They brought him along.

His name was Paoluccio, the princely Paoluccio. 
The doctors were caught in a bind.
Sire, using his blood in his now seething state 
will do more harm than good, you will find.

You must first make him happy, contented and happy.
Let him live in your gardens for now.
Your daughter, Rosella, has magical powers.  
She will charm him to health.She knows how.

She looked at Paoluccio, the princely Paoluccio
and loved him at very first sight.
In the spring when the sultan was ready to kill him, 
she learned of his terrible plight.

Take this sword. It’s enchanted. The sword is enchanted.
Flee now or it might be too late. 
At the shore there’s a boat. Go on board. I will join you, 
but first I’ll make sure of our fate.

She wrote on a paper, a small piece of paper, 
a charm that would cause one to sleep.
Her mother, a witch, wore a dress with a pocket 
and that’s where she hid it, quite deep.

The sultaness slept, so profoundly she slept 
that no shaking could bring her around.
Rosella took jewels.Then she ran to the shore.  
They set sail and were off safe and sound.

The sultan roared, Missing! Our daughter is missing!  
Wake up, wife! but she slumbered on,
so they put her to bed. But removing her dress 
meant the charm on the paper was gone.

She’s run off with Paoluccio.The fiendish Paoluccio, 
she yelled, has committed this deed.
She ran to the shore where she chopped down a branch
which turned into a boat built for speed.

Rosella could see her, though none else could see her.
Paoluccio, she said, take the sword
and stand in the stern for my mother is coming
and we must not let her aboard.

When you hear the chains, hear a grapple and chains, 
strike at once and you’ll hit what you may.
Paoluccio did that and he struck at the witch 
whose two hands were cut cleanly away.

A curse on Rosella, my daughter Rosella, 
a curse on your head, the witch cried.
Your love will forget you as soon as he lands.
 He’ll forget, she exclaimed. Then she died,

and so did the sultan, the sickly old sultan.  
At last the young lovers were free.
When their boat reached the shore of the prince’s own land
he said, Love, you must wait here for me. 

I will go to fetch carriages, finery and carriages 
so that we will enter in style.
He left and forgot all about his Rosella. 
She stayed on the boat for a while.

Then she said, The excitement! In all the excitement
the curse was allowed to remain.
It’s my fault he’s forgotten. But now I’ll endeavor 
to counter that spell with my brain.

She took rooms in a palace, across from his palace, 
and soon all the court was aware
that a beautiful girl who seemed open to suitors 
had made her establishment there. 

They sent her love sonnets, bouquets and love sonnets.  
Each man tried to outdo his peer.
And the clever Rosella kept them wooing and panting, 
yet none of them ever got near.

At last she was ready. She said she was ready.  
She chose a young man of high rank
and said she’d receive him if he bought her clothing 
and put a good sum in her bank.

He gave her the money. He borrowed the money.  
That night she was lying in bed.
But before you can join me you must close the door.  
Be a darling and close it, she said.

He got up to close it. He tried hard to close it, 
but then it would open again.
All night it perplexed him until in the morning 
he left her, the saddest of men.

She next chose a baron, a well-to-do baron, 
and made the same promise to him.
He pawned all his jewels and went off to the tryst 
filled with eagerness up to the brim. 

Would you first snuff the candle? Do put out the candle.
Our love will be best without light.
He huffed and he puffed but the poor man was beaten.  
The candle burned ever more bright. 

He left her that morning, that unfulfilled morning, 
with taunts ringing loud in his ears.
Next night came the third one.To purchase Rosella 
he’d put himself into arrears.

I must comb my hair. Will you please comb my hair?  
Over there is my ivory comb.
Though he struggled all night, all the tangles got worse 
and he finally limped off back home.

At court men were talking, men always were talking, 
and this man revealed he’d been tricked.
Then the first and the second confessed how she’d duped them 
by making them think they’d been picked.

They went to the king, Paoluccio’s father the king.  
The girl must be made to repent.
The king said, Disgraceful!  He sent for Rosella, 
and she most obediently went.

You have cheated my courtiers, my innocent courtiers.  
You’re a prostitute. Pay what you owe.
What I did was for vengeance on one of your court 
who has injured me even more so.

This horrible person, this mendacious person, 
made vows which were false on his breath
though I saved him from slavery and from a sultan 
who wanted to put him to death.

He said that he loved me. He swore that he loved me, 
and now he’s forgotten I live.
Then tell me his name, said the king, and your actions 
are those I can clearly forgive.

All this time stood Paoluccio, the princely Paoluccio, 
as if he were made out of stone.
Though he heard what she said he did not recognize 
that the story she told was his own.

I will take off this ring. It’s a magical ring.  
Whoever it goes to is he.
She put the ring down and as if it had eyes 
it flew right to the prince instantly.

With the ring on his hand, on Paoluccio’s left hand, 
all his memories of her were returned.
I love you, Rosella, but can you forgive 
the profound reprobation I’ve earned?

You were under a curse, my mother’s last curse, 
but of course you had no way to know.
I not only forgive you but sympathize with you.  
Now kiss me and let the past go.

One thousand kisses, one thousand fond kisses, 
made up for time they had lost.
Then with the king’s blessing they married and feasted
for days, at extravagant cost.

She and Paoluccio the princely Paoluccio 
spent their days in complete wedded bliss.
And if you would learn about love and redemption
there’s no better story than this.

Copyright © 2019 Laura J. Bobrow. All rights reserved.