Isabella, or The Pot of Basil

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A narrative poem by Keats, written 1818, published 1820.

The poem is based on a story in Boccaccio's Decameron. The worldly, ambitious brothers of Isabella intend that she shall marry a nobleman. When they discover her love for the humble Lorenzo they lure him away, murder him, and bury his body in a forest. His ghost then appears to Isabella and tells her where he is buried. She finds his body, severs the head, and places it in a pot with a plant of basil over it. Her brothers, observing how she cherishes the plant, steal the pot, discover the mouldering head, and fly, conscience‐striken, into banishment. Isabella mourns her loss, pines away, and dies.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

John Keats (1795—1821) poet

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