The Would-Be Queen (from Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron)


There once was down by misty waves

A grot in which she lay

The princess in her southern grave

Where waves doth gently play

Trav’lers passing by the headland

Soft ask, afraid to say

Why she, so fair, is now but sand

That blows around the bay


Her eyes were once of startling blue

Her hair of molten gold

She wore a dress that danced and flew

In ev’ry silken fold

Alas, the story doomed to tell

Since long-gone times of old

Her dress became a shell, wrapping

Wasted arms in its hold


Court ladies ling’ring by the hill

Oblige curious ears

“She dared love, he dared to kill

Now we bathe in her tears

The king sits lonely in his room

Listen close, and one hears

The ghostly creaking of his tomb -

Sighs from the would-be queen,”


The king yet nurses the glass bowl

From whence she took a sip

The toxic juice, like shadows, stole

Up to her crimson lip

She held her love’s heart to her cheek

Tears flowing with worship

She wept, “To love is never weak,”

Then away she soft slip’d


One day the rocky grot will cave

The travelers will find

Another road, another grave

To slowly, sadly wind

But today all talk of the heart

The eternal-held bind

From which she could not bear to part

Her lovely human mind


This poem is about: 
Our world
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