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Friday 14 May 2021

The pleasure of the senses The little Sphinx struck

The little Sphinx struck

Author of the content

The little Sphinx struck is the riddle addressed to children sometimes told with surprising delicacy: three riddles of 1922 by Bruno Ferroni, through the form of a fairy tale, hide easily identifiable subjects, but which are the same as the three games already reported in the previous episode.

Beautiful, shiny, blond, / once upon a time there was a King
who ruled the world / right from head to foot.
Arising in the morning, without valets and ladies,
he went around slowly / throughout his realm!
He only came back in the evening / in the old apartment:
among the subjects there was / who was dissatisfied;
however, with the sky covered / or, worse !, if it rained,
each knew for sure / that the King was not seen.

Thin, a little hunchback, / the King had a daughter,
called Biancolina, / I don't know why! ...
Very sentimental, / he only went out at night
and it was ideal / of lovers in droves.
Growing up, plump / was already full and full,
when to bend quickly / his back was still seen:
fearing some scorn, / it was then that for several evenings,
even if he went around, / he didn't show up ...

In that old Court, / in the great blue hall,
there was a bright and strong / crowd of servants;
they were ladies all eyes, / bigger or smaller,
alone or gathered in groups, / distant or closer.
Some very saggy, / they knew how to spin:
others, more conspicuous, / remained to watch.
To the little princess / they kept company,
but the King, in the morning, / sent them away.

It is, of course, de the sun, Moon, the stars.

The Sphinx of the little ones is the title of a nice little volume of enigmas published in Brescia in 1960 (Ed. “La Scuola”) containing verses by Aldo Fulizio, a Venetian teacher who was also a highly appreciated translator of foreign classics.
The collection does not only include riddles, but also puzzle games, just like those for the greats that we will happen to say in the following; in these two that follow the first two lines they hide the first part, the other two hide the second. The numbers in brackets, of course, refer to the number of letters in the first and second word.

False diminutive (5/8)

It always lets itself be put under your feet,
then being beaten by a coward;
but in great pride you see it
scornfully roam the courtyard.

Vowel rejection (7/6)

He stands there for fun, rigid, impaled,
but at the first impact it wobbles and falls down;
so much good clear wine has dug
who laughs and jokes and no longer thinks.

For even younger readers there are riddles almost always composed in octagonal and all really easy to explain:

Come on, like good guys, guess what,
who that guy will ever be
what a dress is well in summer
and is he naked in winter?

What are the two boats,
a little tight and small,
that are not accustomed to the sea
but on land to navigate.
They both have a passenger
who take the path,
that they carry around the world
without ever going to the bottom.
They overtake each other
and I'm always in big business,
until evening, finally,
they rest happily.

Slowly the author seems to lead the children by the hand towards the most substantial puzzles, with examples in which even the metrics must adapt:

Lazy, but bullies
It must be said that they are really slow:
before their eyes they stand doing nothing
and even inconspicuous things
they know how to enlarge exaggeratedly.

Here are the solutions in order: heel / turkey; pin / tip; the tree; the boots; the glasses.

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