THE SEVEN LITTLE DOVES
Day 4, Tale #8 of Giambattista Basile’s "Il Pentamerone"
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
A woman each year had a baby
Seven years did her family grow.
Seven sons were her prize
and they varied in size
like Pan’s flute. Seven pipes in a row.
They had grown to young men when she told them
another was coming along.
“If it pleases you then
we are happy young men,
but eight sons is decidedly wrong.
We beg to inform you, dear Mother,
if it’s male we are going away.
Let us make it quite plain.
If a girl we’ll remain.
If a boy we’re not going to stay.”
Put a sign for us there in the window.
When we see it we’ll know it’s from you.
Well, the babe was a girl
but the nurse, in a whirl,
mixed the signs up as nurses will do.
So the brothers went forth through the forest.
till they came to the house of a ghoul
who abhorred womankind.
One had rendered him blind,
and he ate all he met as a rule.