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In order to keep themselves alive, they ready at rest, the shepherd pulled the vere both obliged to tend sheep. For fute out of his pocket and played on it a nany long years they drove their flocks beautiful but sorrowful air. When he :hrough 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 flocks, 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 flocks 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 Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), second only to Dante in medieval Italian literacure, 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 all the annoy it gave him to know this thing, being yet moved by more honorable counsel, abode without sign or word till the morning, revolving in himself various things anent the matter. The day being come, he recounted to his brothers that which he had seen the past night of Lisabetta and Lorenzo, and after long advisement with them, determined (so that neither to them nor to their sister should any reproach ensue thereof) to pass the thing over in silence and feign to have seen and known nothing thereof till such time as, without hurt or unease to themselves, they might avail to do away this shame from their sight, ere it should go farther. In this mind abiding and devising and laughing with Lorenzo as was their wont, it befell that one day, feigning to go forth the city, all three, a-pleasuring, they carried him with them to a very lonely and remote place; and there, the occasion offering, they slew him, whilst he was off his guard, and buried him on such wise that none had knowledge of it; then, returning to Messina, they gave out that they had despatched him somewhither for their occasions, the which was the lightlier credited that they were often used to send him abroad about their business.
"Lorenzo returning not and Lisabetta often and instantly questioning her brothers of him, as one to whom the long delay was grievous, it befell one day, as she very urgently enquired of him, that one of them said to her, 'What meaneth this? What hast thou to do with Lorenzo, that thou askest thus often of him? An thou question of him more, we will make thee such answer as thou deservest.' Wherefore the girl, sad and grieving and fearful she knew not of what, abode without more asking; yet many a time anights she piteously called him and prayed him to come to her, and whiles with many tears she complained of his long tarrying; and thus, without a moment's gladness, she abode expecting him always, till one night, having sore lamented Lorenzo for that he returned not
and being at last fallen asleep, weeping, he appeared to her in a dream, pale and all disordered, with clothes all rent and mouldered, and herseemed he bespoke her thus: 'Harkye, Lisabetta; thou dost nought but call upon me, grieving for my long delay and cruelly impeaching me with thy tears. Know, therefore, that I may never more return to thee, for that, the last day thou sawest me, thy brothers slew me.' Then, having discovered to her the place where they had buried him, he charged her no more call him nor expect him and disappeared; whereupon she awoke and giving faith to the vision, wept bitterly.
"In the morning, being risen and daring not say aught to her brothers, she determined to go to the place appointed and see if the thing were true, as it had appeared to her in the dream. Accordingly, having leave to go somedele without the city for her disport, she betook herself thither, as quickliest she might, in company of one who had been with them otherwhiles and knew all her af. fairs; and there, clearing away the dead leaves from the place, she dug whereas herseemed the earth was less hard. She had not dug long before she found the body of her unhappy lover, yet nothing changed nor rotted, and thence knew manifestly that her vision was true, wherefore she was the most distressful of women; yet, knowing that this was no place for lament, she would fain, an she but might, have borne away the whole body, to give it fitter burial; but, seeing that this might not be, she with a knife did off the head from the body, as best she could, and wrapping it in a napkin, laid it in her maid's lap. Then, casting back the earth over the trunk, she departed thence, without being seen of any, and returned home, where, shutting herself in her chamber with her lover's head, she bewept it long and bitterly, insomuch that she bathed it all with her tears, and kissed it a thousand times in every part. Then, taking a great and goodly pot, of those wherein they plant marioram or sweet basil, she sat the head therein,
olded in a fair linen cloth, and covered ry away from her the pot, which she, miss: with earth, in which she planted sundry ing, with the utmost instance many a time eads of right fair Basil of Salerno; nor required, and for that it was not restored lid she ever water these with other water to her, stinted not to weep and lament han that of her tears or rose or orange- till she fell sick; nor in her sickness did lower water. Moreover she took wont she ask aught other than the pot of basil. o sit still near the pot and to gaze The young men marvelled greatly at this morously upon it with all her desire, as continual asking and bethought them ipon that which held her Lorenzo hid; therefore to see what was in this pot. ind after she had a great while looked Accordingly, turning out the earth, they hereon, she would bend over it and fall found the cloth and therein the head, not :0 weeping so sore and so long that her yet so rotted but they might know it, by ears 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 py 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 his men, 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 flight; 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. “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 "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 Kaye,
his son, and young Arthur, that was his 10n the advice of Merlin, Arthur had 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
; they rode towards the jousts, Sir that shall be rightwise king of this land. aye had lost his sword, for he had left Now, let me see whether ye can put the
at his father's lodging; and so he sword there as it was, and pull it out rayed young Arthur to ride for his again.'
again.” “That is no mastery,” said Arvord. "I will with a good will,” said and so he put it in the stone. Thererthur, and rode fast after the sword; with Sir Ector assayed to pull out the ad when he came home, the lady and all sword, and failed. 'ere gone out to see the jousting. Then "Now assay you,” said Sir Ector to Sir ras 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. le sword with me that sticketh in the “Now shall ye assay,” said Sir Ector to one, for my brother, Sir Kaye, shall Arthur. "With a good will, ” said ot be without a sword this day.” And Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And ), when he came to the churchyard, therewithal Sir Ector kneeled down to Irthur alighted, and tied his horse to the earth, and Sir Kaye also. "Alas!" he stile, and so went to the tent, and said Arthur, "mine own dear father, and ound no knights there, for they were all my brother, why kneel you to me?” t the jousting; and so he handled the "Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is not so. word by the handles, and lightly and I was never your father, nor of your ercely he pulled it out of the stone, and blood, but I wot well that you are of an ook his horse, and rode his way till he higher blood than I weened you were?” ame to his brother, Sir Kaye, and de- And then Sir Ector told him all how he ivered 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 deliverhat it was the sword of the stone; and
Then Arthur made great moan io he rode to his father, Sir Ector, and when he understood that Sir Ector was aid, “Sir, lo! here is the sword of the not his father. “Sir," said Sir Ector itone; 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
are 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, said 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 you ; God forthur. “Sir, I will tell you; when I came bid I should fail you.” “Sir,” said Sir home for my 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 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
But there before them all man have drawn out this sword, but he there might none take it out but only