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Giovanni Boccaccio - Decameron (Day the Twenty Second) lyrics

Here Beginneth the Third Day of the Decameron wherein Under the Governance of Neifile Is Discoursed of Such as Have by Dint of Diligence Acquired Some Much Desired Thing or Recovered Some Lost Good

The dawn from vermeil began to grow orange-tawny, at the approach of the sun, when on the Sunday the queen arose and caused all her company rise also. The seneschal had a great while before despatched to the place whither they were to go store of things needful and folk who should there make ready that which behoved, and seeing the queen now on the way, straightway let load everything else, as if the camp were raised thence, and with the household stuff and such of the servants as remained set out in rear of the ladies and gentlemen. The queen, then, with slow step, accompanied and followed by her ladies and the three young men and guided by the song of some score nightingales and other birds, took her way westward, by a little-used footpath, full of green herbs and flowers, which latter now all began to open for the coming sun, and chatting, jesting and laughing with her company, brought them a while before half tierce,[149] without having gone over two thousand paces, to a very fair and rich palace, somewhat upraised above the plain upon a little knoll. Here they entered and having gone all about and viewed the great saloons and the quaint and elegant chambers all throughly furnished with that which pertaineth thereunto, they mightily commended the place and accounted its lord magnificent. Then, going below and seeing the very spacious and cheerful court thereof, the cellars full of choicest wines and the very cool water that welled there in great abundance, they praised it yet more. Thence, as if desirous of repose, they betook themselves to sit in a gallery which commanded all the courtyard and was all full of flowers, such as the season afforded, and leafage, whereupon there came the careful seneschal and entertained and refreshed them with costliest confections and wines of choice. Thereafter, letting open to them a garden, all walled about, which coasted the palace, they entered therein and it seeming to them, at their entering, altogether[150] wonder-goodly, they addressed themselves more intently to view the particulars thereof. It had about it and athwart the middle very spacious alleys, all straight as arrows and embowered with trellises of vines, which made great show of bearing abundance of grapes that year and being then all in blossom, yielded so rare a savour about the garden, that, as it blent with the fragrance of many another sweet-smelling plant that there gave scent, themseemed they were among all the spiceries that ever grew in the Orient. The sides of these alleys were all in a manner walled about with roses, red and white, and jessamine, wherefore not only of a morning, but what while the sun was highest, one might go all about, untouched thereby, neath odoriferous and delightsome shade. What and how many and how orderly disposed were the plants that grew in that place, it were tedious to recount; suffice it that there is none goodly of those which may brook our air but was there in abundance. Amiddleward the garden (what was not less, but yet more commendable than aught else there) was a plat of very fine grass, so green that it seemed well nigh black, enamelled all with belike a thousand kinds of flowers and closed about with the greenest and lustiest of orange and citron trees, the which, bearing at once old fruits and new and flowers, not only afforded the eyes a pleasant shade, but were no less grateful to the smell. Midmost the grass-plat was a fountain of the whitest marble, enchased with wonder-goodly sculptures, and thence,—whether I know not from a natural or an artificial source,—there sprang, by a figure that stood on a column in its midst, so great a jet of water and so high towards the sky, whence not without a delectable sound it fell back into the wonder-limpid fount, that a mill might have wrought with less; the which after (I mean the water which overflowed the full basin) issued forth of the lawn by a hidden way, and coming to light therewithout, encompassed it all about by very goodly and curiously wroughten channels. Thence by like channels it ran through well nigh every part of the pleasance and was gathered again at the last in a place whereby it had issue from the fair garden and whence it descended, in the clearest of streams, towards the plain; but, ere it won thither, it turned two mills with exceeding power and to the no small vantage of the lord. The sight of this garden and its fair ordinance and the plants and the fountain, with the rivulets proceeding therefrom, so pleased the ladies and the three young men that they all of one accord avouched that, an Paradise might be created upon earth, they could not avail to conceive what form, other than that of this garden, might be given it nor what farther beauty might possibly be added thereunto. However, as they went most gladsomely thereabout, weaving them the goodliest garlands of the various leafage of the trees and hearkening the while to the carols of belike a score of different kinds of birds, that sang as if in rivalry one of other, they became aware of a delectable beauty, which, wonderstricken as they were with the other charms of the place, they had not yet noted; to wit, they found the garden full of maybe an hundred kinds of goodly creatures, and one showing them to other, they saw on one side rabbits issue, on another hares run; here lay kids and there fawns went grazing, and there was many another kind of harmless animal, each going about his pastime at his pleasure, as if tame; the which added unto them a yet greater pleasure than the others. After they had gone about their fill, viewing now this thing and now that, the queen let set the tables around the fair fountain and at her commandment, having first sung half a dozen canzonets and danced sundry dances, they sat down to meat. There, being right well and orderly served, after a very fair and sumptuous and tranquil fashion, with goodly and delicate viands, they waxed yet blither and arising thence, gave themselves anew to music-making and singing and dancing till it seemed good to the queen that those whom it pleased should betake themselves to sleep. Accordingly some went thither, whilst others, overcome with the beauty of the place, willed not to leave it, but, abiding there, addressed themselves, some to reading romances and some to playing chess or tables, whilst the others slept. But presently, the hour of none being past and the sleepers having arisen and refreshed their faces with cold water, they came all, at the queen's commandment, to the lawn hard by the fountain and there seating themselves, after the wonted fashion, waited to fall to story-telling upon the subject proposed by her. The first upon whom she laid this charge was Filostrato, who began on this wise:

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[149] i.e. half before (not half after) tierce or 7.30 a.m. Cf. the equivalent German idiom, halb acht, 7.30 (not 8.30) a.m.

[150] i.e. as a whole (tutto insieme).

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