Category Archives: Love

Italy Love Poetry Shakespeare

The Episode of the Two Unhappy Lovers

Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet sometime in the 1590s, dramatising an Italian story already familiar in Elizabethan England. The original author was the Italian poet Luigi Da Porto (1485 -1529), who wrote the story at his villa near Vicenza. Da Porto’s Istoria novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti (‘Newly discovered story of two noble lovers’, 1524) was immediately popular when it was first published, and at least five versions of his book were published in Italy and France over the next thirty years. Da Porto’s novel arrived in England in the 1560s, via translations by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and William Painter in 1567. It is widely accepted that Brooke’s The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet was the primary source used by Shakespeare. In the introduction to his novel, Da Porto dedicates the story to ‘the most beautiful and graceful Lady Lucina Savorgnano’. This dedication reveals both the inspiration behind the now legendary story of the star-crossed lovers, and Da Porto’s own rather poignant and romantic attachment to Lucina herself:
After informing you some days ago that I wished to narrate a touching incident which happened at Verona, and, having heard the same story many times, the writing thereof seemed to be a debt of honour which I owe to you, not only that I should remain faithful to my word, but, being myself very unfortunate in my love affairs, the episode of the two unhappy lovers, of which this novel is full, does in a great measure resemble mine. And I dedicate this story to you all the more willingly, because you are acknowledged among the beautiful, the most beautiful, besides being the most prudent, and in reading it you will clearly perceive what great risks and what rash deeds lovers will commit in the name of love, and in some cases their follies lead them even to death itself. And I address myself all the more willingly to you because I have determined that this venture shall be my last, and after writing this for your sake, my literary work in this kind of art will cease.
And as you are esteemed the harbor of all my worth and every virtue, I pray you to shelter this frail bark of my brain. Although loaded with much ignorance, it has been impelled by love, and having hitherto navigated the less profound seas of poverty, and that she may now on reaching you be placed in more skillful hands and under a brighter star, steer on the same sea and with helm, oars and sails unhampered, achor herself firmly on your hospitable shores. Therefore, my lady, receive it in the spirit in which it was conceived. Peruse it carefully not only for its subject, which in my judgement is a most pitiful one, but also for the close bond of consanguinity and sweet friendship which exists between yourself and the author who now addresses you.
Frontispiece of Giulietta e Romeo (1530)
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Entertainment Love

The Fryer Well-fitted

This snippet is a little song, published anonymously between 1663 and 1674, with the subtitle: Pretty jest that once befell how a maid put a fryer to cool in the well: To a Merry tune. I have omitted most of the Fa la la las.

As I lay musing all alone
A pretty jest I thought upon
Then listen a while and I will you tell
Of a fryer that lov’d a bonny lass well.
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

He came to the maid when she went to bed
Desiring to have her Maiden-Head
But she denyed his desire
And told him that she feared Hell Fire:
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Hush (quoth the fryer) thou need’st not doubt
If thou were’st in Hell I could sing thee out
Then (quoth the maid) thou shalt have thy request
The fryer was as glad as a Fox in his nest
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

But one thing (quoth she) I do desire
Before you have what you require
Before that you shall do one thing
An angell in mony thou shall me bring
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Hush, quoth the fryer, we shall agree
No mony shall part my love and me
Before that I will see thee lack
I’ll pawn my Grey gown from my back
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The maid bethought her of a while
How the fryer she could beguile
While he was gone, the truth to tell,
She hung a cloth before the well
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The fryer came as his convenant was
With mony for his bonny Lasse
Good morrow fair maid, good morrow, quoth he
Here is the mony I promised thee
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

She thank’d the man and she took his mony
Now let us go to it, quoth he, sweet hunny
Oh stay, quoth she, some respite make
My father comes, he will me take
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Alas, quoth the fryer, where shall I run
To hide me till that he be gone
Behind the cloth run thou, quoth she
And there my father cannot thee see
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Behind the cloth the fryer crept
And into the well all the sudden he leapt
Alas, quoth he, I am in the well
No matter, quoth she, if thou wert in Hell
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Thou sayest thou couldst sing me out of Hell
Now I prithee, sing thyself out of the well
The fryer sang on with a pittiful sound
Oh help me out or I shall be drowned
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Aye true, quoth she, thy courage is cool’d
Quoth the fryer, I never was so fool’d
I never was served so before
Now take heed, quoth she, thou comes’t here no more
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Quoth he, for sweet Saint Francis sake
On this Disciple pitty take
Quoth she, Saint Francis never taught
His Schollars to tempt young maids to naught
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The fryer did entreat her still
That she would help him out of the well
She heard him make much pitteous moan
She helped him out and bid him be gone
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

Quoth he, shall I have my mony again
Which thou from me before-hand hast taken
Good sir, said she, there is no much matter
I’ll make you pay for fouling my water
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly

The fryer went all along the street
Dripping wet like a new washt sheepe
Both old and young commended the maid
That such a witty prank was plaid
Fa la la la la-tre-down-dilly &c

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