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Isabella or the Pot of Basil

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alyx murray

on 7 November 2014

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Transcript of Isabella or the Pot of Basil

stanzas XIX-XXI (19-21)
Isabella or the Pot of Basil
Isabella, or the Pot of Basil is a narrative poem adapted from a story in Boccaccio's 'Decameron' which tells the story of a young woman whose family intend to marry her to some high noble, but she falls for Lorenzo, one of her brothers employees. When the brothers learn of this they murder Lorenzo and bury his body. His ghost informs Isabella in a dream. She exhumes the body and buries the head in a pot of basil which she tends obsessively, while pining away.
Boccaccio
O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
Of thee we now should ask
forgiving boon
,
And of thy spicy
myrtles
as they blow,
And of thy
roses
amorous of the moon,
And of thy
lilies
, that do paler grow
Now they can no more hear thy
ghittern's
tune,
For venturing syllables that ill beseem
The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme
XIX
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
There is no other crime, no mad assail
To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
But it is done—succeed the verse or fail—
To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
To
stead thee
as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

XX
These brethren having found by many signs
What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
And how she lov’d him too, each unconfines
His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
That he, the servant of their trade
designs,
Should in their sister’s love be blithe and glad,
When ’twas their plan to coax her by degrees
To some high noble and his
olive-trees.

XXI
Alyx, Lauren & Billie-Jo
Keats thought the poem was 'weak sided with an amusing sober sadness and too much inexperience of life in it as it was only his view of Boccaccio's work.
asking for something more positive
This stanza is an artificial break within the story, as Keats then goes on to say the rest of the tragic story.
intertextuality
a sort of guitar
sensual language
floriography
flowers typically used in poetry and gothic literature
Keats wants to make it clear that he is not trying to surpass Boccaccio, but to give him currency amongst English-speaking people.
do you service.
similar to a eulogy
references wealth as olives are a large part of Italys wealth
To show that she was supposed to marry someone wealthy who owns olive-trees
Marxist reading - class struggles
discourse marker
Another discourse marker
possessive
segregation of class
references to other stories like Carter
like Carter
Possibly referencing either Isabella Jones or Fanny Brawne
Keats had an interest in the Middle Ages
In the time of the bubonic plague and Keats too was punished by disease
Keats died in Italy
Italian rhyme form - Ottava rima
Full transcript