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 Twelfth:

THE blithe and watchful birds had now some time agone fled before the approaching shadows of night, and the bats, enemies of the sun and sacred to Proserpine, had come forth from their wonted dwellings in the caves of the rocks and were briskly wheeling their flight through the dusky air, when the honourable and courteous company of ladies and gentlemen, laying aside every troublesome and hurtful thought, took their way in merry wise to the accustomed place of meeting. When they had all seated themselves according to their due rank the Signora came for ward to meet them, and gave to each one a gracious salute. Then, after they had danced several measures, exchanging amorous talk the while, the Signora (since this was her pleasure) gave command that the vase of gold should be brought forth. Having put her hand therein, she drew out the names of five of the damsels. The first\of these was that of Lionora, the second that of Lodovica, the third that of Fiordiana, the fourth that of Vicenza, and the fifth that of Isabella. To these five, and to all the others as well, was granted licence to discourse with full liberty on any theme which might best accord with their humour, on the one condition alone that the fables they might tell should be shorter and more succinct than those of the preceding night. To this they, all together, and each one on her own behalf, agreed readily. Then, having made choice of the damsels whose duty it should be to relate the fables on this, the twelfth night, the Signora gave a sign to the Trevisan and to Molino that they should sing a canzonet, and these two, promptly obedient to her command, took up their instruments, and having tuned them, sang with graceful art the following song.


Since Time makes youth and ,grace and beauty vain,
And faster flies with every day,
Why tarry still my sorrow to allay?
For life and time together fade and fly,
And all our hopes are false and unavailing;
Vast our desire, but soon our days are fled.
Wherefore in deep despair I lie.
Too late I ah, cruel lot of mortals failing!
Remorse will come; then you will mourn me dead,
And blame your cruel words which worked my bane
Then pity now my amorous pain,
While yet your beauty shines, and I of love am fain.

The delightful song, sung so harmoniously by the Trevisan and Molino, pleased mightily the whole company, and everyone gave it praise loud and high. Then, as soon as the Signora perceived that all were silent, she directed Lionora, who had been chosen by lot to relate the first fable of the twelfth night, to begin her story-telling forthwith. Whereupon the damsel without delay began in this wise.

Next: Night the Twelfth: 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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