homeabouttestimonialspublicationsCDs poetry pagessculpture

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

​a poetic rendition of

                                                Day 5, Tale 8 

The Children in the Wood

A good man had a wife and, being sickly for a spell,
she died and left two children and a house to tend as well.
The girl and boy were young, and it was more than he could do. 
He said, My dears, I’ll bring another mother home for you.

Nennillo and Nennella were as sweet as they could be,
but the cruel woman he brought home disliked them instantly.
Have you brought me here to care for two such squalling brats as these?
I agreed to be your wife and not your servant, if you please.

Get them out or I will leave you! And the humble man agreed.
He prepared a basket filled with food and everything they’d need.
Next day he took them to the woods. Stay here and eat and play.
I have left a trail of ashes. Follow them to find your way.

He kissed them and he left them. For a while it was a lark,
but they began to worry as the woods were growing dark
so they walked the trail of ashes on their tiny little feet
and they got back home by sundown.They were just in time to eat.

Their stepmother was furious. I thought that they were gone.
I‘ll not stay here another day to be so put upon.
Stay, wife, the husband sighed. They are but children, can’t you see?
They’re a plague! And you must choose between. Will it be them or me?

He took them to the woods again. I’ve left a trail of bran.
If you’ve a need for anything I’ll help you if I can.
She hates you. But remember, no one loves you more than I.
And he turned away abruptly so they would not see him cry.

This time when they had tired of play and wanted to go back,
the birds had eaten all the bran. They could not find the track.
They wandered in the woods. Then they were frightened by the sounds
of trumpeters and horses’ hooves and baying of the hounds.

A prince had come to hunt. Nennillo cowered in a tree,  
but Nennella ran right through the woods until she reached the sea.
On the shore were pirates. Look at that! the captain roared.
He scooped her up and took her to his wife who was on board.

She accompanied the pirates while they sailed their ship around
until a mighty storm capsized the ship and all were drowned
excepting for Nennella. And she managed to survive
because a huge enchanted fish had swallowed her alive.

Inside the fish vast gardens and a mansion could be seen. 
She lived in it for years. And she was treated like a queen.
But meanwhile young Nennillo who had hidden in the tree
was surrounded by the hounds who could not reach him, luckily.

The prince rode up. He saw the boy, so pretty and so young.
Nennillo could not speak because the fright had glued his tongue.
The prince swung young Nennillo to the saddle and, with care,
he turned his horse around and trotted home to raise him there.

Nennillo learned the courtly arts. He learned to point a toe.
He learned to hunt and fish, and he showed talent in the throw.
He told a story well and he could sing the birds to shame.
He was the prince’s favorite, but he did not know his name.

Nennillo had no memory of what had gone before.
One day the prince and all his court were idling at the shore
when suddenly a giant fish came swimming from the south.
It put its head upon some rocks and opened up its mouth.

Nennella’s fish it was, but you already may have guessed.
From inside the fish the courtiers heard a strange request!
Nennella saw Nennillo, saw him through the fish’s eye.
She cried out to him, Brother! It’s Nennella. It is I!

Your task is done. Your table’s laid, but here I sit and sigh.
Brother, brother! Come and help me out or I will die.
The prince, when he heard brother cried so plaintively, inquired
if any had a sister who’d been lost or who’d expired.

Nennillo stopped and pondered. Childhood pictures were restored.
He thought he might have had a sister whom he once adored.
The prince said, Go, approach the fish and we will soon find out.
The great fish opened up its throat. Nennella stumbled out.

She stood upon the rocks as lovely as a nymph could be.
She called his name, Nennillo!  And the prince said, It is he.
I found him in the woods.   Oh yes, she said, that’s likely so.
Our father left us there. It was his wife who made us go.

Nennella told the details of the story that she knew,
of the wicked new stepmother and about the pirate, too.
She told about the fish. But when it happened, she’d been small,
so her father’s name and where they lived were lost beyond recall. 

The prince sent out an edict that: If any such there be
who lost two children in the woods, report at once to me.
Their father long ago had given up his girl and boy.
He thought they’d been devoured by wolves. He heard the news with joy.

He hastened to the palace and his wife went with him, too.
Her feelings were of less than joy. She hoped it wasn’t true.
The years of tears and horror when he couldn’t find their trace
were written in the craggy lines that etched the poor man’s face.

The prince first reprimanded him for letting his wife rule.
She’d made him send his jewels away. He’d acted like a fool.
Then he dressed him up in noble clothes and deeded him some land. 
And when he called the children forth their bliss was more than grand.

He arranged to have Nennella wed a handsome potentate.
And the daughter of a noble lord became Nennillo’s mate.
And that wicked, wicked woman? What of her? You well may ask.
She was rolled off down the mountain in an empty whiskey cask.