Giovanni Boccaccio Questions and Answers

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What is the name of the poem about a girl whose brothers slay her lover and she keeps his head untill they discover it and flee? The story is: There's a woman who's in love with a man and her two brothers do not want her to marry him, so they kill him. Their sister keeps silent but, having discovered the body, keeps her beloved's head in a box. Her brothers discover the head and know that they have been discovered. When they knew it, at least one brother ran away. I really want to know the name of this story or please help. Thank you.

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The first one to write about Lisabetta's tragic love story in which she discovers that her brother's have slain her lover was the Medieval Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio. The story is contained in Boccaccio's long work Decameron and can be read in "Fourth Day, Novel V" online in Italian or English courtesy of Brown University. Then, in 1818, John Keats wrote his version from Boccaccio's poem and called it Isabella; or, the Pot of Basil available to read online at It was one of four "medieval" love stories that Keats wrote from 1818 to 1819 following the completion of Hyperion (written on a wager with Percy Bysshe Shelley); one of the four was "La Belle Dame sans Merci."

The story is that Lisabetta's (Isabella's) brothers slay the man she loves. She finds his body because of a revelation in a dream. Lisabetta can't carry the body so she cuts off his head, puts it in a large flower pot and grows a sweet basil plant atop it. Her brothers become distraught over her behavior thinking she has gone mad and they remove the basil plant to rid her of an unhealthy obsession. Lisabetta weeps all the more and, in suspicion of something sinister, they dump out the contents of the pot. Upon doing so, they recognize the dark, curly hair of Lisabetta's lover, realize their foul deed was discovered and both flee in alarm to Naples.

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