Fin’amors Quotes in The Decameron
Whereas men, if they are very wise, will always seek to love ladies of higher station than their own, women, if they are very discerning, will know how to guard against accepting the advances of a man who is of more exalted rank. For which reasons, and also because of the pleasure I feel at our having, through stories, begun to demonstrate the power of good repartee, I have been prompted to show you, fair ladies, in the story I have to tell, how through her good words and actions a gentlewoman avoided this pitfall and guided her suitor clear of its dangers.
Being an intelligent and judicious woman, she sent back a message to say that she was glad to have been singled out for this uniquely great favor, and that the king would be very welcome. She then began to wonder why such a great king should be calling upon her in her husband’s absence. Nor was she wrong in the conclusion that she reached, namely, that he was being drawn thither by the fame of her beauty. Nevertheless, with her habitual nobility of spirit she made ready to entertain him[.]
Sweet friend and master, dearest one of all, since you are wise you will readily acknowledge that men and women are remarkably frail, and that, for a variety of reasons, some are frailer than others. It is therefore right and proper that before an impartial judge, people of different social rank should not be punished equally for committing an identical sin. For nobody would, I think, deny that if a member of the poorer classes, obliged to earn a living through manual toil, were to surrender blindly to the promptings of love, he or she would be far more culpable than a rich and leisured lady who lacked none of the necessary means to gratify her tiniest whim.
The doctor was holding [Jacques] by the wrist, taking his pulse, when Jeannette […] entered the room in which the youth was laying. When he saw her coming in, the flames of passion flared up in the young man’s breast, and although he neither spoke nor moved, his pulse began to beat more strongly. The doctor noted this at once, but concealing his surprise, he remained silent, waiting to see how long his pulse would continue to beat so rapidly.
As soon as Jeannette left the room, the young man’s pulse returned to normal […] [The doctor] waited for a while, and then, still holding the patient by the wrist, he sent for Jeannette […] and no sooner did she enter the room than the youth’s pulse began to race all over again: and when she departed, it subsided.
Come, Love, the cause of all my joy,
Of all my hope and happiness,
Come let us sing together:
Not of love’s sighs and agony
But only of its jocundness
And its clear-burning ardour
In which I revel, joyfully,
As if thou were a god to me.
Love, the first day I felt thy fire
Thou sett’st before mine eyes a youth
Of such accomplishment
Whose able strength and keen desire
And bravery could none, in truth,
Find any complement.
With thee I sing, Lord Love, of this,
So much with him lies all my bliss.
The sight of this garden, and the perfection of its arrangement, with its shrubs, its streamlets, and the fountain from which they originated, gave so much pleasure … that they all began to maintain that if Paradise were constructed on earth, it was inconceivable that it could take any other form, nor could they imagine any way in which the garden’s beauty could possibly be enhanced … [And] the garden was liberally stocked with as many as a hundred different varieties of perfectly charming animals […] Here were some rabbits emerging from a warren, over there hares were running, elsewhere they could observe some deer lying on the ground, whilst in yet another place young fawns were grazing. And apart from these, they saw numerous harmless creatures of many other kinds, roaming about at leisure as though they were quite tame, all of which greatly added to their already considerable delight.
Dearest beloved, since I am yours and you alone have the power to fortify my soul with some vestige of hope as I languish in the fiery flames of love, I beseech you, as your most humble servant, to show me some mercy and mitigate the harshness you have been wont to display towards me in the past. Your compassion will console me, enabling me to claim that it is to your beauty that I owe, not only my love, but also my very life, which will assuredly fail unless your proud spirit yields to my entreaties, and then indeed people will be able to say that you have killed me. Now, leaving aside the fact that my death would not enhance your reputation, I believe, also, that your conscience would occasionally trouble you and you would be sorry for having been the cause of it.
On catching sight of this vision, Cimon stopped dead in his tracks, and […] began to stare at her, rapt in silent admiration, as though he had never before set eyes upon the female form. And deep within his uncouth breast, which despite a thousand promptings had remained closed to every vestige of refined sentiment, he sensed the awakening of a certain feeling which told his crude, uncultured mind that this girl was the loveliest object that any mortal being had ever seen […] Having suddenly been transformed from a country bumpkin into a connoisseur of beauty, he longed to be able to see her eyes, but they were closed in heavy slumber.
Leaving the house full of blood, tumult, tears, and sadness, they made their way unimpeded to the ship, keeping close together and carrying their spoils before them. Having handed the ladies aboard, Cimon and Lysimachus followed with their comrades just as the shore began to fill with men who were coming to the rescue of the two ladies. But they plied their oars with a will, and made good their escape.
When there was no longer any sound to be heard, Ricciardo climbed over a wall with the aid of a ladder, then climbed up to the side of the house by clinging with great difficulty to a series of stones projecting from the wall. At every moment of the ascent, he was in serious danger of falling, but in the end he reached the balcony unscathed, where he was silently received by the girl with very great rejoicing. After exchanging many kisses, they lay down together and for virtually the entire night they had delight and joy of one another, causing the nightingale to sing at frequent intervals.
He gave her a friendly greeting, which she acknowledged, then she began to stare at him, not because she found him the least bit attractive, but because she was fascinated by his odd appearance. Calandrino returned her gaze, and on seeing how beautiful she was, began to think of various excuses for not returning with the water to his companions. However, not knowing who she was, he was afraid to address her, and the girl, perceiving that he was still staring at her, mischievously rolled her eyes at him a couple of times, and fetched a few little sighs, so that Calandrino instantly fell in love with her and stood rooted to the spot till she was called inside by Filippo.
“What I want is this,” replied the lady, “In the month of January that is now approaching, I want a garden, somewhere near the town, that is full of green plants, flowers, and leafy trees, exactly as though it were the month of May. And if he fails to provide it, let him take good care never to send you or anyone else to me again. For if he should provoke me any further, I shall no longer keep this matter a secret as I have until now, but I shall seek to rid myself of his attentions by complaining to my husband and kinsfolk.
Love, ever since I fell in love
With him, you always granted me
More fear than courage; wherefore I
Could never show it openly
To him who takes away my breath,
And death is hard as I lie dying.
Perhaps he would not be displeased
If he were conscious of my sighing
And I could find the power to show
To him the measure of my woe.