THE FIVE SONS
Day 5, Tale #7 of Giambattista Basile’s
retold in narrative verse by Laura J. Bobrow
“Each man for himself,” said a father
to his five good-for-nothing young sons.
I love you, God knows, but as each of you grows
I can feed you no more, precious ones.
Go forth now and learn to do something.
Find a master who’ll teach you a trade.
Stay no more than a year. Then return to me here
and reveal what good progress you’ve made.”
They gathered again a year later.
While feasting they heard a bird sing.
The youngest said, “I’d better go back outside.
That bird has a message to bring.”
When the table was cleared each reported.
The eldest said, “I am a thief.”
None have my skill in purloining a till.
Of your treasures I’ll give you relief.”