Unit Three Section B


”The Intimations Kill Me”

In medieval times, troubadours, I or poet musicians, sang of love and noble acts, How does the speaker of this poem feel about love and his lady?

The intimations kill me
that my lady gives me
when her handsome eyes
are bright and full of love.

If I fail the closeness
and have no part of her
the intimations kill me / that my lady gives me
I shall go before her
hands folded like a beggar
the intimations kill me / that my lady gives me
to request that she
make consolation for me,
a soft kiss at least'.
The intimations kill me / that my lady gives me
When her handsome eyes / are bright and fall of love.

Her body's white as snow is
fallen upon ice
the intimations kill me / that my lady gives me
and her color is so fresh
as, in May, a rose
the intimations kill me / that my lady gives me.
Above her face the ashen gold o
f hair that pleases me
is softer and more lovely
than my words can say.
The intimations kill me / that my lady gives me
when her handsome eyes / are bright and full of love.

God has made no other
as beautiful as she is
the intimations kill me / that my lady gives me
nor will make another
and besides I love her
the intimations kill me / that my lady gives me
I love her for her straight and slender
body while I live,
and I shall die, believe it,
if I cannot have her love.

The intimations kill me
that my lady gives me
when her handsome eyes
are bright and full of love.
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. The line, "The intimations kill me," is repeated throughout this poem. Can you infer the meaning of "intimations" from the context of the verses? What "intimations" are "killing" the speaker?
2. How does the speaker feel about his lady? Use examples from the poem to support your answer.
3 .Is the speaker sure of the lady's feelings? What lines in the poem provide a clue?
4. What does the speaker's lady look like?
5. Do you think the speaker is serious when he tells what he might do if he cannot have the love of his lady? In your opinion, would most people in love behave in such a manner?

”Frederigo Falcon” from The Decameron
by Giovanni Boccaccio

The Decameron is a collection of one hundred tales written by Giovanni Boccaccio in 1353. In this tale, a noble gentleman learns the price of love and honor. What do others learn from his sacrifice?

It is now my turn to speak, dearest ladies, and I shall gladly do so with a tale similar in part to the one before, not only that you may know the power of your beauty over the gentle heart, but because you may learn yourselves to be givers of rewards when fitting, without allowing Fortune always to dispense them, since Fortune most often bestows them, not discreetly but lavishly.
You must know then that Coppo di Borghese Domenichi, who was and perhaps still is one of our fellow citizens, a man of great and revered authority in our days both from his manners and his virtues (far more than from nobility of blood), a most excellent person worthy of eternal fame, and in the fullness of his years delighted often to speak of past matters with his neighbours and other men. And this he could do better and more orderly and with a better memory and more ornate speech than anyone else.
Among other excellent things, he was wont to say that in the past there was in Florence a young man named Federigo, the son of Messer Flippo Alberighi, renowned above all other young gentlemen for his prowess in arms and his courtesy. Now, as most often happens to gentlemen, he fell in love with a lady named Monna Giovanna, in her time held to be one of the gayest and most beautiful women ever known in Florence. To win her love, he went to jousts and tourneys, made and gave feasts, and spent his money without stint. But she, no less chaste than beautiful, cared nothing for the things he did for her nor for him who did them.
Now as Federigo was spending far beyond his means and getting nothing in, as easfly happens, his wealth failed and he remained poor with nothing but a little farm, on whose produce he lived very penuriously, and one falcon which was among the best in the world. More in love than ever, but thinking he would never be able to live in the town anymore as he desired, he went to Campi where his farm was. There he spent his time hawking, asking nothing of anybody, and patiently endured his poverty.
Now while Federigo was in this extremity it happened one day that Monna Giovanna's husband fell ill, and seeing death come upon him, made his will. He was a very rich man and left his estate to a son who was already growing up. And then, since he had greatly loved Monna Giovanna, he made her his heir in case his son should die without legitimate children; and so died.
Monna Giovanna was now a widow, and as is customary with our women, she went with her son to spend the year in a country house she had near Federigo's farm. Now the boy happened to strike up a friendship with Federigo, and delighted in dogs and hawks. He often saw Federigo's falcon fly, and took such great delight in it that he very much wanted to have it, but did not dare ask for it, since he saw how much Federigo prized it.
While matters were in this state, the boy fell ill. His mother was very much grieved, as he was her only child and she loved him extremely. She spent the day beside him, trying to help him, and often asked him if there was anything he wanted, begging him to say so, for if it were possible to have it, she would try to get it for him. After she had many times made this offer, the boy said:
"Mother, if you can get me Federigo's falcon, I think I should soon be better."
The lady paused a little at this, and began to think what she should do. She knew that Federigo had loved her for a long time, and yet had never had one glance from her, and she said to herself:
"How can I send or go and ask for this falcon, which is, from what I hear, the best that ever flew, and moreover his support in fife? How can I be so thoughtless as to take this away from a gentleman who has no other pleasure left in life?"
Although she knew she was certain to have the bird for the asking, she remained in embarrassed thought, not knowing what to say, and did not answer her son. But at length love for her child got the upper hand and she determined that to please him in whatever way it might be, she would not send, but go herself for it and bring it back. So she said:
"Be comforted, my child, and try to get better somehow. I promise you that tomorrow morning I wfll go for it, and bring it to you."
The child was so delighted that he became a little better that same day. And on the morrow the lady took another woman to accompany her, and as if walking for exercise went to Federigo's cottage, and asked for him. Since it was not the weather for it, he had not been hawking for some days, and was in his garden employed in certain work there. When he heard that Monna Giovanna was asking for him at the door, he was greatly astonished, and ran there happily. When she saw him coming, she got up to greet him with womanly charm, and when Federigo had courteously saluted her, she said:
"How do you do, Federigo? I have come here to make amends for the damage you have suffered through me by loving me more than was needed. And in token of this, I intend to dine today familiarly with you and my companion here."
"Madonna," replied Federigo humbly, "I do not remember ever to have suffered any damage through you, but received so much good that if I was ever worth anything it was owing to your worth and the love I bore it. Your generous visit to me is so precious to me that I could spend again all that I have spent; but you have come to a poor host."
So saying, he modestly took her into his house, and from there to his garden. Since there was nobody else to remain in her company, he said:
"Madonna, since there is nobody else, this good woman, the wife of this workman, will keep you company, while I go to set the table."
Now, although his poverty was extreme, he had never before realised what necessity he had fallen into by his foolish extravagance in spending his wealth. But he repented of it that morning when he could find nothing with which to do honor to the lady, for love of whom he had entertained vast numbers of men in the past. In his anguish he cursed himself and his fortune and ran up and down like a man out his senses, unable to find money or anything to pawn. The hour was late and his desire to honor the lady extreme, yet he would not apply to anyone else, even to his own workman; when suddenly his eye fell upon his falcon, perched on a bar in the sitting room. Having no one to whom he could appeal, he took the bird, and finding it plump, decided it would be food worthy of such a lady. So, without further thought, he wrung its neck, made his little maid servant quickly pluck and prepare it, and put it on a spit to roast. He spread the table with the whitest napery, of which he had some left, and returned to the lady in the garden with a cheerful face, saying that the meal he had been able to prepare for her was ready.
The lady and her companion arose and went to table, and there together with Federigo, who served it with the greatest devotion, they ate the good falcon, not knowing what it was. They left the table and spent some time in cheerful conversation, and the lady, thinking the time bad now come to say what she had come for, spoke fairly to Federigo as follows:
"Federigo, when you remember your former life and my chastity, which no doubt you considered harshness and cruelty, I have no doubt that you will be surprised at my presumption when you hear what I have come here for chiefly. But if you had children, through whom you could know the power of parental love, I am certain that you would to some extent excuse me.
"But, as you have no child, I have one, and I cannot escape the common laws of mothers. Compelled by their power, I have come to ask you--against my will, and against all good manners and duty--for a gift, which I know is something especially dear to you, and reasonably so, because I know your straitened fortune has left you no other pleasure, no other recreation, no other consolation. This gift is your falcon, which has so fascinated my child that if I do not take it to him, I am afraid his present illness will grow so much worse that I may lose him. Therefore I beg you, not by the love you bear me (which holds you to nothing), but by your own nobleness, which has shown itself so much greater in all courteous usage than is wont in other men, that you will be pleased to give it me, so that through this gift I may be able to say that I have saved my child's life, and thus be ever under an obligation to you."
When Federigo heard the lady's request and knew that he could not serve her, because he had given her the bird to eat, he began to weep in her presence, for he could not speak a word. The lady at first thought that his grief came from having to part with his good falcon, rather than from anything else, and she was almost on the point of retraction. But she remained firm and waited for Federigo's reply after his lamentation. And he said:
"Madonna, ever since it has pleased God that I should set my love upon you, I have felt that Fortune has been contrary to me in many things, and have grieved for it. But they are all light in comparison with what she has done to me now, and I shall never be at peace with her again when I reflect that you came to my poor house, which you never deigned to visit when it was rich, and asked me for a little gift, and Fortune has so acted that I cannot give it to you. Why this cannot be, I will briefly tell you.
"When I heard that you in your graciousness desired to dine with me and I thought of your excellence and your worthiness, I thought it right and fitting to honor you with the best food I could obtain; so, remembering the falcon you ask me for and its value, I thought it a meal worthy of you, and today you had it roasted on the dish and set forth as best I could. But now I see that you wanted the bird in another form, it is such a grief to me that I cannot serve you that I think I shall never be at peace again."
And after saying this, he showed her the feathers and the feet and the beak of the bird in proof. When the lady heard and saw all this, she first blamed him for having killed such a falcon to make a meal for a woman; and then she inwardly commended his greatness of soul which no poverty could or would be able to abate. But, having lost all hope of obtaining the falcon, and thus perhaps the health of her son, she departed sadly and returned to the child. Now, either from disappointment at not having the falcon or because his sickness must inevitably have led to it, the child died, to the mother's extreme grief. Although she spent some time in tears and bitterness, yet, since she had been left very rich and was still young, her brothers often urged her to marry again. She did not want to do so, but as they kept on pressing her, she remembered the worthiness of Federigo and his last act of generosity, in killing such a falcon to do her honor.
"I will gladly submit to marriage when you please," she said to her brothers, "but if you want me to take a husband, I will take no man but Federigo degli Alberighi."
At this her brothers laughed at her, saying:
"Why, what are you talking about, you fool? Why do you want a man who hasn't a penny in the world?"
But she replied:
"Brothers, I know it is as you say, but I would rather have a man who needs money than money which needs a man."
Seeing her determination, the brothers, who knew Federigo's good qualities, did as she wanted, and gave her with all her wealth to him, in spite of his poverty. Federigo, finding that he had such a woman, whom he loved so much, with all her wealth to boot, as his wife, was more prudent with his money in the future, and ended his days with her in happiness and contentment.
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. How does Federigo lose all his money? What are the only earthly possessions he has left?
2 .Why does Monna go to Federigo to ask for his falcon? How does she feel about asking him for the falcon?
3. What does the falcon mean to Federigo? Why does he still kill the bird? What does this say about the kind of person Federigo is?
4. Why do you think Monna finally decides to marry Federigo? Do you think it was a wise decision on her part? Explain your answer.
5. Do you think there is a moral to this story? If so, what is it?

”The One-Legged Crane” from The Decameron
by Giovanni Boccaccio

In this tale from The Decameron, humor proves to be as valuable as intelligence. How does a dishonest servant escape punishment, and earn the admiration of his master?

Amorous ladies, although quick wits often provide speakers with useful and witty words, yet Fortune, which sometimes aids the timid, often puts words into their mouths which they would never have thought of in a calm moment. This I intend to show you by my tale.
As everyone of you must have heard and seen, Currado Gianfighazzi was always a noble citizen of our city, liberal and magnificent, leading a gentleman's life, continually delighting in dogs and hawks, and allowing his more serious affairs to slide. One day near Peretola his falcon brought down a crane, and finding it to be plump and young he sent it to his excellent cook, a Venetian named Chichibio, telling him to roast it for supper and see that it was well done.
Chichibio, who was a bit of a fool, prepared the crane, set it before the fire, and began to cook it carefully. When it was nearly done and giving off a most savory odor, there came into the kitchen a young peasant woman, named Brunetta, with whom Chichibio was very much in love. Smelling the odor of the bird and seeing it, she begged Chichibio to give her a leg of it. But he replied with a snatch of song:
"You won't get it from me, Donna Brunetta, you won't get it from me."
This made Donna Brunetta angry, and she said:
"God's faith, if you don't give it me, you'll never get anything you want from me."
In short, they had high words together. In the end Chichibio, not wanting to anger his ladylove, took off one of the crane's legs, and gave it to her. A little later the one--legged crane was served before Currado and his guests. Currado was astonished at the sight, sent for Chichibio, and asked him what had happened to the other leg of the crane. The lying Venetian replied:
"Sir, cranes only have one leg and one foot. "
"What the devil d'you mean," said Currado angrily, "by saying they have only one leg and foot? Did I never see a crane before?"
"It's as I say, Sir," Chichibio persisted, “and I'll show it to you in living birds whenever you wish."
Currado would not bandy further words from respect to his guests, but said:
"Since you promise to show me in living birds something I never saw or heard of, I shall be glad to see it tomorrow morning. But, by the body of Christ, if it turns out otherwise I'll have you tanned in such a way that you'll remember my name as long as you live."
When day appeared next morning, Currado, who had not been able to sleep for rage all night, got up still furious, and ordered his horses to be brought. He made Chichibio mount a pad, and took him in the direction of a river where cranes could always be seen at that time of day, saying:
"We'll soon see whether you were lying or not last night."
Chichibio, seeing that Currado was still angry and that he must try to prove his lie, which he had not the least idea how to do, rode alongside Currado in a state of consternation, and would willingly have fled if he had known how. But as he couldn't do that, he kept gazing round him and thought everything he saw was a crane with two legs. But when they came to the river, he happened to be the first to see a dozen cranes on the bank, all standing on one leg as they do when they are asleep. He quickly pointed them out to Currado, saying:
"Messer, you can see that what I said last evening is true, that cranes have only one leg and one foot; you have only to look at them over there."
"Wait," said Currado, "I’ll show you they have two."
And going up closer to them, he shouted: "Ho! Ho!" And at this the cranes put down their other legs and, after running a few steps, took to flight. Currado then turned to Chichibio, saying:
"Now, you glutton, what of it? D'you think they have two?"
In his dismay Chichibio, not knowing how the words came to him, replied: "Yes, messer, but you didn't shout 'ho! ho!' to the bird last night. If you had shouted, it would have put out the other leg and foot, as those did."
Currado was so pleased with this answer that all his anger was converted into merriment and laughter, and he said:
"Chichibio, you're right; I ought to have done so."
So with this quick and amusing answer Chichibio escaped punishment, and made his peace with his master.
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What does the speaker hope to prove by telling the story of "The One--Legged Crane"?
2. What distracts Chichibio while he is cooking the crane?
3. What convinces Chichibio to give in to Brunetta's demands? What does this tell you about Chichibio?
4. How does Chichibio "prove" that there was nothing wrong with the crane he had served to his master?