[ 001 ] Dioneo's story, whereat the ladies laughed the less for shamefastness rather than for disrelish, being ended, the queen, taking note that the term of her sovereignty was come, rose to her feet, and took off the laurel wreath and set it graciously upon Elisa's head, saying: “ Madam, 'tis now your turn to bear sway. ” [ 002 ] The dignity accepted, Elisa followed in all respects the example of her predecessors: she first conferred with the seneschal, and directed him how meetly to order all things during the time of her sovereignty; which done to the satisfaction of the company: [ 003 ] “ Ofttimes, ” quoth she, “ have we heard how with bright sallies, and ready retorts, and sudden devices, not a few have known how to repugn with apt checks the bites of others, or to avert imminent perils; and because 'tis an excellent argument, and may be profitable, I ordain that to-morrow, God helping us, the following be the rule of our discourse; to wit, that it be of such as by some sprightly sally have repulsed an attack, or by some ready retort or device have avoided loss, peril or scorn. ” [ 004 ] The rule being heartily approved by all, the queen rose and dismissed them till supper-time. [ 005 ] So the honourable company, seeing the queen risen, rose all likewise, and as their wont was, betook them to their diversions as to each seemed best. [ 006 ] But when the cicalas had hushed their chirping, all were mustered again for supper; and having blithely feasted, they all addressed them to song and dance. [ 007 ] And the queen, while Emilia led a dance, called for a song from Dioneo, who at once came out with: Monna Aldruda, come perk up thy mood, a piece of glad tidings I bring thee. [ 008 ] Whereat all the ladies fell a laughing, and most of all the queen, who bade him give them no more of that, but sing another. [ 009 ] Quoth Dioneo: “ Madam, had I a tabret, I would sing: Up with your smock, Monna Lapa! or: Oh! the greensward under the olive! Or perchance you had liefer I should give you: Woe is me, the wave of the sea! But no tabret have I: wherefore choose which of these others you will have. Perchance you would like: Now hie thee to us forth, that so it may be cut, as May the fields about. ” [ 010 ] “ No, ” returned the queen, “ give us another. ” [ 011 ] “ Then, ” said Dioneo, “ I will sing: Monna Simona, embarrel, embarrel. Why, 'tis not the month of October. ” [ 012 ] “ Now a plague upon thee, ” said the queen, with a laugh; “ give us a proper song, wilt thou? for we will have none of these. ” [ 013 ] “ Never fear, Madam, ” replied Dioneo; “ only say which you prefer. I have more than a thousand songs by heart. Perhaps you would like: This my little covert, make I ne'er it overt; or: Gently, gently, husband mine; or: A hundred pounds were none too high a price for me a cock to buy. ” [ 014 ] The queen now shewed some offence, though the other ladies laughed, and: “ A truce to thy jesting, Dioneo, ” said she, “ and give us a proper song: else thou mayst prove the quality of my ire. ” [ 015 ] Whereupon Dioneo forthwith ceased his fooling, and sang on this wise:
[ 016 ] So ravishing a lightDoth from the fair eyes of my mistress moveAs keeps me slave to her and thee, O Love.
[ 017 ] A beam from those bright orbs did radiateThat flame that through mine own eyes to my breastDid whilom entrance gain.Thy majesty, O Love, thy might, how greatThey be, 'twas her fair face did manifest:Whereon to brood still fain,I felt thee take and chainEach sense, my soul enthralling on such wiseThat she alone henceforth evokes my sighs.
[ 018 ] Wherefore, O dear my Lord, myself I ownThy slave, and, all obedience, wait and yearn,Till thy might me console.Yet wot I not if it be throughly knownHow noble is the flame wherewith I burn,My loyalty how wholeTo her that doth controlEv'n in such sort my mind that shall I none,Nor would I, peace receive, save hers alone.
[ 019 ] And so I pray thee, sweet my Lord, that thouGive her to feel thy fire, and shew her plainHow grievous my disease.This service deign to render; for that nowThou seest me waste for love, and in the painDissolve me by degrees:And then the apt moment seizeMy cause to plead with her, as is but dueFrom thee to me, who fain with thee would sue.
[ 020 ] When Dioneo's silence shewed that his song was ended, the queen accorded it no stinted meed of praise; after which she caused not a few other songs to be sung. [ 021 ] Thus passed some part of the night; and then the queen, taking note that its freshness had vanquished the heat of the day, bade all go rest them, if they would, till the morning.← PreviousNext →