How the ladies took Dioneo’s tale—which they perfectly understood—may be gauged by how much readers are laughing at it now. As the heat of the day diminishes, Emilia crowns Panfilo the company’s next sovereign, and he takes the theme of generous deeds performed either for love or for other reasons.
The Decameron deflects responsibility for Dioneo’s tale by refusing to show the brigata’s reactions to it. This suggests, in part, that the tale itself is too excessive to be brought under the moderate, moral sway of the brigata. It is also the last fabliau of The Decameron; while the tales of the final day will celebrate several forms of love, none of them will feature sex again. As the brigata turns towards the final day, Panfilo proposes the theme of generosity. In the prologue, Boccaccio claims the motivation for the book is to offer solace and pleasure to suffering ladies—essentially, to be generous with the wisdom he earned through his own painful love affair. The aristocracy of the Middle Ages was also heavily invested in the idea of “noblesse oblige”—that the wealthy and powerful owed generosity to those in their social circles and those who were less well off. Thus, the final day’s theme is fitting both in terms of the book’s aim and its focus on aristocratic narrators and characters.
And at the end of the meal, Neifile sings a song. The song’s persona celebrates its youth, which delights in early spring’s abundant flowers and the power of love. In the blossoms, she sees her lover’s face, so she kisses the flowers and weaves them into a garland for her hair. In this way, she can nearly conjure up the vision of her beloved before her eyes. But in his absence, she can only send him sighs, which she hopes will draw him to her so that she need not despair of his love.
Neifile’s song contains heavy references to the poetry of Dante Alighieri and Guido Cavalcanti and to the themes of the dolce stil novo school of poetry generally. It thus draws on and expresses one of Giovanni Boccaccio’s most important sources for The Decameron’s value system. The poem evokes the exuberance of youth and spring, both of which are associated with love. But, it ties the love between a man and a woman into the larger beauty and organization of nature, represented by the flower garlands that stand in for the beloved himself.