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In order to keep themselves alive, they ready at rest, the shepherd pulled the were both obliged to tend sheep. For flute out of his pocket and played on it a many long years they drove their flocks beautiful but sorrowful air. When he through field and forest and were full of had finished he saw that the shepherdess sorrow and longing. When spring had was weeping bitterly. "Why art thou once more broken forth on the earth, they weeping ?” he asked. “Alas,” answered both went out one day with their focks, she, "thus shone the full moon when I and as chance would have it, they drew played this air on the fute for the last near each other. They met in a valley, time, and the head of my beloved rose but did not recognize each other; yet they out of the water.” He looked at her, rejoiced that they were no longer so and it seemed as if a veil fell from his lonely. Henceforth they each day drove eyes, and he recognized his dear wife, and their Aocks to the same place; they did when she looked at him, and the moon not speak much, but they felt comforted. shone in his face she knew him also. They One evening when the full moon was embraced and kissed each other, and no shining in the sky, and the sheep were al- one need ask if they were happy.
LISABETTA AND THE POT OF BASIL
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), second only to Dante in medieval Italian literarure, rests his chief claim to immortality on the Decameron, published in 1353. According to the author's introduction, in the year 1348 a dreadful pestilence fell upon the city of Florence. Seven wellbred ladies and three gallant gentlemen withdrew to a rural castle where they solaced themselves for ten days, each being obligated to tell one story each day. These hundred tales represent humor, satire, melancholy, but chiefly wit, and many of the incidents related are beyond the pale of twentieth century propriety.
The influence of the Decameron on subsequent literature has been tremendous. Chaucer doubtlessly borrowed from it the idea of a framework for his Canterbury Tales; Shakespeare shows accquaintance with a number of the stories; and in modern literature many motifs may be traced to the masterpiece of the witty Italian. The story of Lisabetta and the Pot of Basil, which is the fifth tale of the fourth day, inspired Keats's poem "Isabella,” and John White Alexander's famous painting.
ELISA's tale being ended and somedele brothers had in one of their warehouses a commended of the king, Filomena was youth of Pisa, called Lorenzo, who did bidden to discourse, who, full of com- and ordered all their affairs and was very passion for the wretched Gerbino and his comely and agreeable of person; wheremistress, after a piteous sigh, began thus: fore, Lisabetta looking sundry times upon "My story, gracious ladies, will not treat him, it befell that he began strangely to of folk of so high condition as were those please her; of which Lorenzo taking note of whom Elisa hath told, yet peradven- at one time and another, he in like manture it will be no less pitiful; and what ner, leaving his other loves, began to turn brought me in mind of it was the men- his thoughts to her; and so went the aftion, a little before, of Messina, where fair, that, each being alike pleasing to the case befell.
the other, it was no great while before "There were then in Messina three taking assurance, they did that which each young brothers, merchants and left very of them most desired. rich by their father, who was a man of "Continuing on this wise and enjoySan Gimignano, and they had an only ing great pleasure and delight one of the sister, Lisabetta by name, a right fair other, they knew not how to do so and well-mannered maiden, whom, what- secretly but that, one night, Lisabetta, goever might have been the reason thereof, ing whereas Lorenzo lay, was, unknown they had not yet married. Now these to herself, seen of the eldest of her brothers, who, being a prudent youth, for and being at last fallen asleep, weeping, all the annoy it gave him to know this he appeared to her in a dream, pale and thing, being yet moved by more honorable all disordered, with clothes all rent and counsel, abode without sign or word till mouldered, and herseemed he bespoke the morning, revolving in himself various her thus: 'Harkye, Lisabetta; thou dost things anent the matter. The day being nought but call upon me, grieving for come, he recounted to his brothers that my long delay and cruelly impeaching me which he had seen the past night of Lisa- with thy tears. Know, therefore, that I betta and Lorenzo, and after long ad- may never more return to thee, for that, visement with them, determined (so that the last day thou sawest me, thy brothers neither to them nor to their sister should slew me.' Then, having discovered to any reproach ensue thereof) to pass the her the place where they had buried him, thing over in silence and feign to have he charged her no more call him nor exseen and known nothing thereof till such pect him and disappeared; whereupon she time as, without hurt or unease to them- awoke and giving faith to the vision, wept selves, they might avail to do away this bitterly. shame from their sight, ere it should go "In the morning, being risen and darfarther. In this mind abiding and de- ing not say aught to her brothers, she vising and laughing with Lorenzo as was determined to go to the place appointed their wont, it befell that one day, feigning and see if the thing were true, as it had to go forth the city, all three, a-pleasur-appeared to her in the dream. Accord ing, they carried him with them to a ingly, having leave to go somedele withvery lonely and remote place; and there, out the city for her disport, she betook the occasion offering, they slew him, herself thither, as quickliest she might, whilst he was off his guard, and buried in company of one who had been with him on such wise that none had knowl- them otherwhiles and knew all her af. edge of it; then, returning to Messina, fairs; and there, clearing away the dead they gave out that they had despatched leaves from the place, she dug whereas him somewhither for their occasions, the herseemed the earth was less hard. She which was the lightlier credited that they had not dug long before she found the were often used to send him abroad about body of her unhappy lover, yet nothing their business.
changed nor rotted, and thence knew “Lorenzo returning not and Lisabetta manifestly that her vision was true, often and instantly questioning her wherefore she was the most distressful of brothers of him, as one to whom the long women; yet, knowing that this was no delay was grievous, it befell one day, as place for lament, she would fain, an she she very urgently enquired of him, that but might, have borne away the whole one of them said to her, 'What meaneth body, to give it fitter burial; but, seeing this? What hast thou to do with Lor- that this might not be, she with a knife enzo, that thou askest thus often of him? did off the head from the body, as best An thou question of him more, we will she could, and wrapping it in a napkin, make thee such answer as thou deservest.' laid it in her maid's lap. Then, casting Wherefore the girl, sad and grieving and back the earth over the trunk, she defearful she knew not of what, abode parted thence, without being seen of any, without more asking; yet many a time and returned home, where, shutting heranights she piteously called him and self in her chamber with her lover's head, prayed him to come to her, and whiles she bewept it long and bitterly, insomuch with many tears she complained of his that she bathed it all with her tears, and long tarrying; and thus, without a mo- kissed it a thousand times in every part. ment's gladness, she abode expecting him Then, taking a great and goodly pot, of always, till one night, having sore la- those wherein they plant marioram or mented Lorenzo for that he returned not sweet basil, she sat the head therein, folded in a fair linen cloth, and covered ry away from her the pot, which she, missit with earth, in which she planted sundry ing, with the utmost instance many a time heads of right fair Basil of Salerno; nor
required, and for that it was not restored did she ever water these with other water to her, stinted not to weep and lament than that of her tears or rose or orange- till she fell sick; nor in her sickness did flower water. Moreover she took wont she ask aught other than the pot of basil. to sit still near the pot and to gaze The young
men marvelled greatly at this amorously upon it with all her desire, as continual asking and bethought them upon that which held her Lorenzo hid; therefore to see what was in this pot. and after she had a great while looked Accordingly, turning out the earth, they thereon, she would bend over it and fall found the cloth and therein the head, not to weeping so sore and so long that her yet so rotted but they might know it, by tears bathed all the basil, which, by dint the curled hair, to be that of Lorenzo. of long and assiduous tending, as well as At this they were mightily amazed and by reason of the fatness of the earth, pro- feared lest the thing should get wind; ceeding from the rotting head that was wherefore, burying the head, without therein, waxed passing fair and very word said, they privily departed Messina, sweet of savor.
having taken order how they should “The damsel, doing without cease after withdraw thence, and betook themselves this wise, was sundry times seen of her to Naples. The damsel, ceasing never neighbors, who to her brothers, marvelling from lamenting and still demanding her at her waste beauty and that her eyes pot, died, weeping; and so her ill-forseemed have fled forth her head (for weep- tuned love had end. But, after a while, ing), related this, saying, 'We have noted the thing being grown manifest unto that she doth every day after such a fash- many, there was one who made thereon ion.' The brothers, hearing and seeing this the song that is yet sung, to wit: and having once and again reproved her
Alack! ah, who can the ill Christian be, therefor, but without avail, let secretly car- That stole my pot away? etc.
THE PROVING OF ARTHUR
"The Proving of Arthur” is chosen from the Morte d'Arthur, a condensation of the medieval romantic cycle of King Arthur and his knights made by Sir Thomas Malory (dates unknown) about 1470 and printed by Caxton some fifteen years later. The first version of these legends was the twelfth-century work The History of the Britons, written in Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who in turn intimated a Breton source now unknown. With the wave of popularity which this latter book enjoyed came numerous interpolations and additions. It is through Malory's compilation, however, that the spirit of idealized chivalry has survived to influence such modern literature as Tennyson's Idylls of the King.
Then within two years king Uther in a horse-litter; for you shall never have fell sick of a great malady; and in the the better of your enemies but if your meanwhile his enemies usurped upon him, person be there, and then shall you have and did a great battle upon
and the victory.” So it was done as Merlin had slew many of his people. "Sir," said
. " devised, and they carried the king forth Merlin, "you may not lie so as you do, in a horse-litter, with a great host tofor you must to the field, though you ride wards his enemies. And at Saint Albans
there met with the king a great host of Uther Pendragon, legendary king of the the north; and that day Sir Ulfius and Britons, and father of Arthur.
Sir Brastias did great deeds of arms, and ?Famous magician of the Arthurian cycle. king Uther's men overcame the northern
battle, and slew many people, and put church of London (whether it were the remnant to fight; and then the king Paul's or not the French book maketh no returned to London, and made great joy mention) all the estates and lords were of his victory. And within a while after long or it was day in the church for to he was passing sore sick, so that three pray. And when matins and the first days and three nights he was speechless, mass was done, there was seen in the wherefore all the barons made great sor- churchyard, against the high altar, a great row, and asked Merlin what counsel were stone, four-square, like to a marble stone, best? “There is none other remedy," and in the midst thereof was an anvil of said Merlin, "but God will have his will; steel, a foot of height, and therein stuck but look ye that all his barons be before a fair sword, naked by the point, and lethim to-morrow, and God and I shall ters of gold were written about the sword make him to speak.” So on the morrow that said thus: "Whoso pulleth out this all the barons, with Merlin, came before sword of this stone and anvil is rightthe king; then Merlin said aloud unto wise king born of England." Then the king Uther, “Sir, shall your son Arthur! | people marvelled and told it to the archbe king after your days of this realm, with bishop.
bishop. "I command you," said the archall the appurtenances ?” Then Uther- bishop, “that you keep you within your pendragon turned him and said, in hear- church; and pray unto God still that ing of them all, “I give him God's bless- no man touch the sword till the high ing and mine, and bid him pray for my mass be all done." So when all the soul, and righteously and worshipfully masses were done, all the estates went that he claim the crown upon forfeiture for to behold the stone and the sword, and of my blessing." And therewith he when they saw the scripture, some asyielded up the ghost. And then he was sayed, such as would have been king; but interred as belonged unto a king; where- none might stir the sword, nor move it. fore Igraine, the queen, made great sor- "He is not yet here," said the archbishop, row, and all the barons. Then stood the
Then stood the "that shall achieve the sword, but doubt realm in great jeopardy a long while, for not God will make him to be known. every lord that was mighty of men made But this is my counsel," said the archhim strong, and many weened to have bishop, “that we let purvey ten knights
, been king. Then Merlin went to the men of good fame, and they to keep this Archbishop of Canterbury, and counselled sword.” And so it was ordained, and him to send for all the lords of the realm, then there was made a cry, that every and all the gentlemen of arms, that they man should assay that would for to win should come to London before Christmas, the sword. And, upon new year's day, upon pain of cursing; and for this cause, the barons let make a joust and tournathat as Jesus was born on that night, ment, that all knights that would joust that He would of His great mercy show and tourney there might play; and all this some miracle as He was come to be king was ordained for to keep the lords toof all mankind, for to show some miracle | gether, and the commons, for the archwho should be rightwise king of this bishop trusted that God would make him realm. So the archbishop, by the advice known that should win the sword. So, of Merlin, sent for all the lords and upon new year's day, when the service gentlemen of arms, that they should come was done, the barons rode to the field, by Christmas eve to London; and many some to joust, and some to tourney. And of them made them clean of their lives, so it happened that Sir Ector, that had that their prayer might be the more ac- great livelihood about London, rode to ceptable to God. So in the greatest
the jousts, and with him rode Sir Kave, 10n the advice of Merlin, Arthur had
his son, and young Arthur, that was his been brought up in the household of Sir Ec
nourished brother; and Sir Kaye was tor, unaware of his royal descent.
made knight at Allhallowmas afore. So
as they rode towards the jousts, Sir that shall be rightwise king of this land. Kaye had lost his sword, for he had left Now, let me see whether ye can put the it at his father's lodging; and so he sword there as it was, and pull it out prayed young Arthur to ride for his again.” “That is no mastery,” said Arsword. “I will with a good will,” said thur; and so he put it in the stone. ThereArthur, and rode fast after the sword; with Sir Ector assayed to pull out the and when he came home, the lady and all sword, and failed. were gone out to see the jousting. Then “Now assay you,” said Sir Ector to Sir was Arthur wrath, and said to himself, Kaye. And anon he pulled at the sword "I will ride to the churchyard and take with all his might, but it would not be. the sword with me that sticketh in the "Now shall ye assay,” said Sir Ector to stone, for my brother, Sir Kaye, shall Arthur. "With a
a good will,” said not be without a sword this day.” And Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And so, when he came to the churchyard, therewithal Sir Ector kneeled down to Arthur alighted, and tied his horse to the earth, and Sir Kaye also. "Alas!" the stile, and so went to the tent, and said Arthur, "mine own dear father, and found no knights there, for they were all my brother, why kneel you to me?” at the jousting; and so he handled the “Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is not so. sword by the handles, and lightly and I was never your father, nor of your fiercely he pulled it out of the stone, and blood, but I wot well that you are of an took his horse, and rode his way till he higher blood than I weened you were?” came to his brother, Sir Kaye, and de- And then Sir Ector told him all how he livered him the sword. And, as soon as was betaken him to nourish, and by whose Sir Kaye saw the sword, he wist well commandment, and by Merlin's deliverthat it was the sword of the stone; and
Then Arthur made gr so he rode to his father, Sir Ector, and when he understood that Sir Ector was said, "Sir, lo! here is the sword of the not his father. “Sir," said Sir Ector stone; wherefore I must be king of this unto Arthur, "will you be my good and land.” When Sir Ector beheld the gracious lord when you
king?" sword, he returned again, and came to “Else were I to blame,” said Arthur, "for the church, and there they alighted all you are the man in the world that I am three, and went into the church; and most beholden unto, and my good lady anon he made Sir Kaye to swear upon a and mother, your wife, that, as well as book how he came to that sword. "Sir,” | her own, hath fostered and kept me; and, şaid Sir Kaye, “by my brother, Arthur, if ever it be God's will that I be king, for he brought it to me.” “How gat as you say, ye shall desire of me what I you this sword ?” said Sir Ector to Ar- may do, and I shall not fail
God forthur. "Sir, I will tell you; when I came bid I should fail you.” “Sir,” said Sir
brother's sword I found no- Ector, “I will ask no more of you but body at home for to deliver me his sword; that you will make my son, your fostered and so I thought my brother, Sir Kaye, brother, Sir Kaye, seneschal of all your should not be swordless, and so I came lands." "That shall be done, sir," said thither eagerly, and pulled it out of the Arthur, "and more by the faith of my stone without any pain.” “Found ye any body, and that never man shall have that knights about this sword?” said Sir Ector. office but he while that he and I live.” "Nay,” said Arthur. “Now," said Sir
"Now," said Sir Therewithal they went unto the archEctor to Arthur, "I understand that you bishop, and told him how the sword was must be king of this land.” “Where- achieved, and by whom. And, upon the fore I?” said Arthur, "and for what twelfth day, all the barons came thither cause?" "Sir,” said Sir Ector, "for God for to assay to take the sword who that will have it so; for there should never no would assay. But there before them all man have drawn out this sword, but he there might none take it out but only