Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for the Myrtle Princess

Today's princess is brought to you from Italy by Giambattista Basile, who wrote the fairy tale collection Pentamerone in 1634. It's a delightful collection that contains many older versions of well-known fairy tales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

But today, we shall talk about the Myrtle Princess.

The first thing you will note if you read this story is that this girl is actually not a princess. I took a liberty with this choice. My mother told me this story countless times when I was little, over and over again, long before I ever discovered the written version, and she always calls it "Myrtle Princess" so this is how it is stuck in my head. Plus, in the end, she does marry a prince. If that counted for Princess and the Frog, it counts for me.

All in all, this story is pretty similar to the Apple Princess: A woman wishes for a child, and instead of giving birth to one, she gives birth to a sprig of myrtle. The prince, passing by, smells the sweet scent of the flowers, and begs the mother to let him take the flowerpot to the castle.

Just like the Apple Princess, Myrtle comes out of the flowers every night and walks around. Of course, eventually, she finds her way to the prince's bed. Jealous people might try to destroy their love, but all is well in the end.

The image of the Myrtle Princess lived vividly in my mind from the childhood stories. She is tiny, like a fairy, wears a pink dress and a crown of pink flowers. My grandmother used to have myrtle growing in flowerpots, and I remember sitting by, touching the silky petals carefully, and collecting the drops of sweet nectar in little syringes (I was not allowed to eat them, but that was the closest I ever got to feeling like a butterfly).

Myrtle Princess is a sweet story, if not particularly earth-shattering.

Let a new A to Z (or, rather, M to R) week begin!


  1. I don't know which I enjoy more -- the stories themselves your the way you write about them.

    Thank you.

  2. Very sweet! I can imagine the mother was frustrated as hell carrying her and given birth only for the prince to take her!

  3. I love the way you've described her. She's such a cute image in my mind. Except for the giving birth to a plant part. That's gotta be awkward. ;)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

  4. Still better off than the mother of the Watermelon Princess I guess...