One day upon a topmost shelf
I found a precious prize indeed,
Which father used to read himself,
But did not want us boys to read;
A brown old book of certain age
(As type and binding seemed to show),
While on the spotted title-page
Appeared the name 'Boccaccio.'
I'd never heard that name before,
But in due season it became
To him who fondly brooded o'er
Those pages a belovèd name!
Adown the centuries I walked
Mid pastoral scenes and royal show;
With seigneurs and their dames I talked--
The crony of Boccaccio!
Those courtly knights and sprightly maids,
Who really seemed disposed to shine
In gallantries and escapades,
Anon became great friends of mine.
Yet was there sentiment with fun,
And oftentimes my tears would flow
At some quaint tale of valor done,
As told by my Boccaccio.
In boyish dreams I saw again
Bucolic belles and dames of court,
The princely youths and monkish men
Arrayed for sacrifice or sport.
Again I heard the nightingale
Sing as she sang those years ago
In his embowered Italian vale
To my revered Boccaccio.
And still I love that brown old book
I found upon the topmost shelf--
I love it so I let none look
Upon the treasure but myself!
And yet I have a strapping boy
Who (I have every cause to know)
Would to its full extent enjoy
The friendship of Boccaccio!
But boys are, oh! so different now
From what they were when I was one!
I fear my boy would not know how
To take that old raconteur's fun!
In your companionship, O friend,
I think it wise alone to go
Plucking the gracious fruits that bend
Wheree'er you lead, Boccaccio.
So rest you there upon the shelf,
Clad in your garb of faded brown;
Perhaps, sometime, my boy himself
Shall find you out and take you down.
Then may he feel the joy once more
That thrilled me, filled me years ago
When reverently I brooded o'er
The glories of Boccaccio!