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

​a poetic rendition of
The Frame Story                                  

                                        Day Five, Tale 10

The Pitcher of Tears

A king once had a lovely daughter, Zoza was her name.
Her melancholy was intense, much to her father’s shame.
She never smiled or laughed. He tried with bold inventiveness 
to make her lift the corners of her lips, with no success.
At last the king instructed that before the palace gate
a fountain spewing oil be placed. Since passersby would hate
to have their garments spoiled, they’d hop and leap about, and some
would even fall. Though Zoza watched, she stayed depressed and glum.

A women sopping oil to fill a jar was seen one day.
A rascal threw a stone and all her oil was spilled away.
She hurled her curses at him, but he answered her in kind
so she, when sorely vexed and no more evil words could find,
turned round and raised her grimy skirts high up into the air
and showed to him (and Zoza, too) what hairy flesh was there.
Then Zoza laughed out loud, which caused the ugly hag to yell, 
Who’s that who dares to laugh at me? I lay on you this spell:

You’ll never find a husband unless you can rouse from death
the handsome prince,Tadeo, who has breathed his final breath
until a maiden manages to fill up with her tears
a pitcher hanging by his tomb. It has been there for years.
The challenge tickled Zoza’s pride, and so without a pause
she took some bread and money and set out upon her cause. 
She walked until she reached a home. A fairy lived within
who listened to her tale and said, I’ll help you to begin.

Walk farther to my sister who lives but a mile from here,
and take with you this walnut, but mind you hold it dear
to be opened only in a moment of the greatest need.
You’re brave and young and beautiful. I grant to you good speed.
Zoza reached the sister who admired her as well
and handed her a chestnut which she must keep in its shell
until, the fairy said, it seems that nothing else will do.
Then open it and see what fairy luck it holds for you.

Now take this letter to my sister fairy on your way
She’ll have for you a hazelnut. Be careful to obey
the warning she will give you. Only crack it open when
you have the direst need for it. Then, and only then.
Zoza found that fairy too. With blessings from them all, 
at last she reached the tomb which held Tadeo in its thrall.
Beside it hung the pitcher which she lifted with a groan
and cried into it every single sorrow she had known.

Her tears flowed swiftly down until, within a day or two,
she had almost filled the pitcher, just another inch would do.
But sleep then overtook her and she had to close her eyes.
When she awoke she found the pitcher gone, to her surprise.
A lowly girl, Lucia, had been watching. When she spied
poor Zoza fast asleep, she took the pitcher from her side
and cried in it the final tears. Tadeo came to stand
beside her. You’re my bride to be. He took her by the hand.

Poor Zoza watched them wander off. Now what was she to do?
But she still had her fairy gifts. She said, I am not through.
She found a room to rent that had a windowsill that faced
the room in which Tadeo and his lowly bride embraced. 
Lucia was a termagant, a veritable churl.
She said she’d kill the child she bore, be it a boy or girl,
unless Tadeo hastened to obey her every whim.
Tadeo had to do whatever task she asked of him.

First Zoza put her fairy walnut on the windowsill
and opened it. A tiny man emerged with voice so shrill
Lucia heard and wanted it. She ordered instantly,
Tadeo, get that singing man and bring him here to me.
A servant then was sent to ask the price, however large.
It’s not for sale, said Zoza. They may have it free of charge.
Tadeo wondered at this gift, though he was grateful, too.
She must be someone special. What a gracious thing to do!

Next Zoza put her chestnut on the sill, and out came then
a golden bird with tiny chicks. Lucia longed again
to have it hers. Immediately she ordered as before
that it be bought. But Zoza would not sell. She said once more,
The bird is not for sale, but I will give it to you free.
Tadeo saw the bird and thought, Who can this woman be?
Next Zoza seized the hazelnut and opened it. She knew
whatever prize it held was what Lucia wanted too.

A lady spinning gold came out. Lucia screamed, Oh my!
Give me that doll at once or else my unborn child will die.
It, too, is free, said Zoza, but this time Tadeo must
come here himself to claim it, or the gold will turn to dust.
Tadeo went most willingly and finally espied
a creature of such loveliness, in contrast to his bride,
his heart was filled with love for her. And yet what could be done?
He thanked her then and took the doll and left, a lonely one.

The doll within the hazelnut contained a little dart,
which, given to Lucia, would directly pierce her heart
and cause her to demand to hear ten stories every day, 
though why she so desired them she really could not say.
Accordingly ten women came instructed to regale
the lowly bride and tell her every day a different tale
for five straight days, which chore they did most willingly until,
when came the final day, the woman last to tell fell ill.

Lucia said there had to be a final tale, and yet
another woman teller would be difficult to get.
And so it was that Zoza was invited to fill in.
But I should let you know, she said, before I can begin
I cannot tell a made-up tale. The tale I tell is true.
Go on, Tadeo said, I’m sure that any tale will do. 
Lucia had a feeling of alarm which was confirmed
As Zoza told her tale. Lucia’s face grew pale. She squirmed. 

She would have stopped the tale but since, perforce, the fairy’s spell
compelled it to go on, she could but shake. She knew full well
the things that Zoza told them would unfailingly reveal
her part in the duplicity and her attempt to steal
the marriage to Tadeo, who began to realize
his actual intended bride was there before his eyes.
As Zoza told it all up to the time she fell asleep
his rage became apparent, and he could no longer keep

from shouting Take this whore away and bury her below,
but leave her head exposed so all that see her face can know
such is the fate of those who lie. To Zoza, Come, my dear.
Your trials have been won and you have nothing more to fear.
I’ll notify your father who can come to see us wed.
He must have suffered badly when he found that you had fled.
He’ll see that as my wife you’ll be as happy as a queen. 
There followed more rejoicing than the world has ever seen.