THE CROW
Day 4, Tale #9 of Giambattista Basile’s “Il Pentamerone”
retold in rhyme by Laura J. Bobrow
      




Milluccio was a king who was not often at the court.
More likely he’d be in the woods, for hunting was his sport.
One day in hot pursuit of prey he burst into a glade
and there in perfect isolation, standing in the shade,
he saw a piece of marble, white, with carmine intermixed,
and on its top a crow.  Milluccio stared as if transfixed.

“Never have I seen a sight more lovely in my life!
Oh, what I would not give to find such features in a wife:
skin as white as marble and two lips of carmine hue,
hair and eyebrows just as black as that crow’s feathers, too.”
In fact the stone possessed him.  He became a haunted soul.
The weight if his obsession soon began to take its toll.

His brother, Jennariello, saw him pale and deathly thin.
“Milluccio,” he asked, “what sort of quandary are you in?”
“Thanks for your concern,” replied the king, “but I alone
must seek a wife whose colors have the semblance of a stone.”
He related what had happened.  “There’s no hope,” Milluccio sighed.
Jennariello said, “I love you, brother.  I will find your bride.”

Jennariello fitted out a ship with silks and jewels and lace.
If she is to be found, he thought, then Cairo is the place.
Once there he met a man who held a falcon by the jess.
“I’ll buy that bird,” he said, “to ease my brother’s gloominess.”
Another man proffered a horse, a splendid handsome steed.
He bought that for his brother, too.  “He’ll ride it well, indeed.”