Illustration for Facetious Nights by E. R. Hughes

The Facetious Nights

Illustration for Facetious Nights by E. R. Hughes

The Facetious Nights

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Night the Eleventh:

THE shadowy night, nursing mother of the world's fatigues, had already fallen, and the wearied beasts and birds had gone to rest, when the gentle and amiable company of dames and cavaliers, putting aside all sombre thoughts, betook themselves to the accustomed meeting-place. Then, after the damsels had danced divers measures according to the rule of the assemblage, the vase was brought forth, and out of it, by chance, was first drawn the name of Fiordiana. Next came that of Lionora, then that of Diana, then that of Isabella, and lastly that of Vicenza.

When the instruments of musk had been brought and tuned, the Signora gave the word to Molino and the Trevisan to sing a canzonet, and these two without delay sang as follows:


The soft enchantment of your face,
Your beauty and your dainty grace,
Your eye, which neither coy nor bold,
Can work its roguish spell,
And, pretty thief, keep close in hold
My life, my death as well.

To lures like these I fall a prey,
They charm and bind me 'neath their sway,
And vanquished by their radiance quite
I willing own thy power,
And kiss my chains by day, by night,
Until my dying hour.

Lives there a man from pole to pole,
So base and churlish in his soul,
So barbarous and dour a wight,
Who, might he once be blest
To gaze upon your bosom bright,
Where love hath made his nest,

Would fail to turn from hot to cold,
Now chill with doubt, now overbold
With strong desire to call thee dear,
And yet be doubtful still,
If burning hope or chilling fear
Could wake the keenest thrill?

Whose breast, now soothed with love's delight,
Now vexed with doubts that burn and bite;
Would not each hour send forth anew
Its sighs their tale to tell -
Sighs which might soften and subdue
The lion fierce and fell?

Nor all impatient would implore
Both men and gods whom men adore,
The heaven, the earth, the shining stars,
The ocean deep and vast,
To end forthwith these cruel wars,
And give him peace at last?

This sweet and lovely song, sung by Molino and the Trevisan, pleased mightily the whole company. So strong was its pathetic charm that it brought certain soft tears from the eyes of a certain one towards whom it was especially directed. And then, in order to begin at once the story-telling for the evening, the Signora bade Fiordiana to commence, and the latter, having made her due salutation, told the story which follows.

Next: Night the Eleventh: First Fable

Straparola, Giovanni Francesco. The Facetious Nights by Straparola. W. G. Waters, translator. Jules Garnier and E. R. Hughes, illustrators. London: Privately Printed for Members of the Society of Bibliophiles, 1901. 4 volumes.

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