[ 001 ] What laughter this story drew from the ladies, who understood it better than Dioneo had wished, may be left to the imagination of the fair one that now laughs thereat. [ 002 ] However, as the stories were ended, and the sun now shone with a tempered radiance, the queen, witting that the end of her sovereignty was come, stood up and took off the crown, and set it on the head of Pamfilo, whom alone it now remained thus to honour; and said with a smile: “ My lord, 'tis a great burden that falls upon thee, seeing that thou, coming last, art bound to make good my shortcomings and those of my predecessors; which God give thee grace to accomplish, even as He has given me grace to make thee king. ” [ 003 ] With gladsome acknowledgment of the honour: “ I doubt not, ” replied Pamfilo, “ that, thanks to your noble qualities and those of my other subjects, I shall win even such praise as those that have borne sway before me. ” Then, following the example of his predecessors, he made all meet arrangements in concert with the seneschal: after which, he turned to the expectant ladies, and thus spoke: [ 004 ] “ Enamoured my ladies, Emilia, our queen of to-day, deeming it proper to allow you an interval of rest to recruit your powers, gave you license to discourse of such matters as should most commend themselves to each in turn; and as thereby you are now rested, I judge that 'tis meet to revert to our accustomed rule. Wherefore I ordain that for to-morrow you do each of you take thought how you may discourse of the ensuing theme: to wit, of such as in matters of love, or otherwise, have done something with liberality or magnificence. [ 005 ] By the telling, and (still more) by the doing of such things, your spirits will assuredly be duly attuned and animated to emprise high and noble; whereby our life, which cannot but be brief, seeing that 'tis enshrined in a mortal body, fame shall perpetuate in glory; which whoso serves not the belly, as do the beasts, must not only covet, but with all zeal seek after and labour to attain. ”
[ 006 ] The gay company having, one and all, approved the theme, rose at a word from their new king, and betook them to their wonted pastimes, and so, according as they severally had most lief, diverted them, [ 007 ] until they blithely reunited for supper, which being served with all due care and despatched, they rose up to dance, as they were wont, and when they had sung, perhaps, a thousand ditties, fitter to please by their words than by any excellence of musical art, the king bade Neifile sing one on her own account. And promptly and graciously, with voice clear and blithe, thus Neifile sang:
[ 008 ] In prime of maidenhood, and fair and feat'Mid spring's fresh foison chant I merrily:Thanks be to Love and to my fancies sweet.
[ 009 ] As o'er the grassy mead I, glancing, fare,I mark it white and yellow and vermeil dightWith flowers, the thorny rose, the lily white:And all alike to his face I compare,Who, loving, hath me ta'en, and me shall e'erHold bounden to his will, sith I am sheThat in his will findeth her joy complete.
[ 010 ] Whereof if so it be that I do findAny that I most like to him approve,That pluck I straight and kiss with words of love,Discovering all, as best I may, my mind;Yea, all my heart's desire; and then entwinedI set it in the chaplet daintily,And with my yellow tresses bind and pleat.
[ 011 ] And as mine eyes do drink in the delightWhich the flower yields them, even so my mind,Fired with his sweet love, doth such solace find,As he himself were present to the sight:But never word of mine discover mightThat which the flower's sweet smell awakes in me:Witness the true tale that my sighs repeat.
[ 012 ] For from my bosom gentle and hot they fly,Not like the gusty sighs that others heave,Whenas they languish and do sorely grieve;And to my love incontinent they hie:Whereof when he is ware, he, by and by,To meward hasting, cometh suddenly,When: “ Lest I faint, ” I cry, “ come, I entreat. ”
[ 013 ] The king and all the ladies did not a little commend Neifile's song; after which, as the night was far spent, the king bade all go to rest until the morrow.← PreviousNext →