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Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Tale of Tales Day Five

   a poetic rendition of

                                                             Day 5, Tale 2

The Magic Chest

    Gianni and Lisi, although they were kin
    were as different as brothers could be.
    Gianni was rich and a miser at heart.
    Would he lend you a farthing? Not he.

    Lisi was poor and with no help at home
    was compelled to go forth in his need,  
    and accordingly left to go wander the world
    to seek somewhere that he might succeed.

    He came to an inn on a cold, blustery night.
    His rags left him chilled to the bone.
    Twelve youths were assembled around a log fire.
    Come join us they said. You’re alone

    and you’re numb with the cold.  That is true,
    Lisi said as he snuggled up close to the flames.
    They started to talk in a genial way 
    but no mention was made of their names.

    And what do you think of this weather? asked one,
    a surly man at his right hand.
    Each month has its purpose, young Lisi replied,
    although mankind might not understand.

    When it snows in the winter we wish it were warm
    and in summer we beg for the rain.
    But Nature must follow its own given course
    and the seasons are meant to remain.

    The seeds would be lost and the harvest would fail
    if Nature was turned on its head.
    The bodies of men would soon sicken and die.
    Best to leave it to Nature instead.

    But what about March? It’s the month that were in
    and you cannot deny as a whole
    its rain, snow and hail, and its winds and its storms
    are sufficient to burden the soul.

    Why speak ill of a month which has blessings to give?
    Without it Spring could not appear,
    Lisi said. And the youths smiled and nodded their heads.
    They were the twelve months of the year.

    And March, who had spoken, was very much pleased.
    You’re a clever young man and you’re kind.
    Take this chest. It holds everything that you might want.
    Whatever you ask for you’ll find.

    Lisi thanked them. Next morning he set out again.
    It was snowing and he was ill clad.
    He opened the chest and he uttered a wish.
    It’s a litter that I wish I had.

    And no sooner said than a litter appeared 
    with four bearers to hold it on high.
    Take me home, Lisi said, and they trotted along.
    He was warm. He was perfectly dry.

    When time came to eat, Lisi asked for some food.
    A banquet emerged from the chest.
    And when it was night Lisi asked for a tent
    by a river wherein he might rest.

    He lay on a couch on a mattress of down.
    When he woke he requested new clothes.
    If I am to see my mean brother again
    I want envy to twitch at his nose.

    And it did. When Lisi arrived at their home,
    Gianni was stricken with awe.
    Tell me all, he demanded, that happened to you,
    where you were, who you met, what you saw.

    And Lisi told all, that is, practically all.
    He spoke of the youths at the inn
    and their gift of the chest. He neglected to say
    what their whole conversation had been.

    Gianni at once made his way to the inn.
    There the months sat in front of the fire.
    When asked abut March, Gianni made a wry mouth.
    It’s a month no sane man would desire.

    It’s accursed. The shepherds all hate it. In fact
    we’d be better off if it were gone.
    March, hearing those words, did not interrupt.
    He just listened as Gianni raved on.

    And then, in the morning, before Gianni left
    he said, Here is a present for you.
    He gave him a switch. Say ‘One hundred’ to it
    and you’ll get from it what you are due.

    When Gianni reached home he rushed into a room
    intending to ask for some gold.
    He held up the switch and said, Give me at once
    one hundred, as he had been told.

    The switch laid it on him, some blows to the head
    and some on his back and his thighs,
    and stop it would not until Lisi ran in.
    He’d been frightened to hear Gianni’s cries.

    By using his chest, he made the switch halt
    and stowed it away on a shelf.
    When he heard Gianni’s story, he said, Well of course
    you have no one to blame but yourself.

    You ought in the future to reign in your tongue.
    Speak unkindly and that’s what you get.
    But be of good cheer.Though you’ve been cruel to me
    we are brothers. I’ll stay with you yet.

    My gift is sufficient to keep us in wealth.
    You’re the master and I am your thrall,
    for, in fact, had you not forced me out of your house
    I’d have not found my fortune at all.

    I owe you a favor for what you have done.
    Gianni fell to his knees. From that day
    fortune smiled on the brothers who, even when irked,
    found it wise to have sweet words to say.