Egradment li antichi cavaler romanj

            davano fed a quisti annutii


"The ancient Romans had great faith in

such omens:" repeat from Canto 10.


And he put us under the chiefs,

   and the chiefs went back to their squadrons:

Bernardo Reggio, Nic Benzo, Giovan Nestorno,

Paulo Viterbo, Buardino of Brescia,

            Cetho Brandolino,

And Simone Malespina, Petracco Saint Archangelo,

Rioberto da Canossa,

And for the tenth Agniolo da Roma

            And that gay bird Piero della Bella,

And to the eleventh Roberto,


A nice rolling rhythm for a Homeric catalog...


And the papishes were three thousand on horses,

dilly cavalli tre milia,

and a thousand on foot,

And the Lord Sigismundo had but mille tre cento cavalli

And hardly 500 fanti (and one spingard),

And we beat the papishes and fought

them back through the tents

And he came up to the dyke again

And fought through the dyke-gate

And it went on from dawn to sunset

And we broke them and took their baggage

            and mille cinquecento cavalli

E li homini di Messire Sigimundo

non furono che mille trecento


A notable victory against a larger army.


And the Venetians sent in their compliments

And various and sundry sent in their compliments;

But we got it next August;

And Roberto got beaten at Fano,

And he went by ship to Tarentum,

I mean Sidg went to Tarentum

And he found 'em, the anti-Aragons,

            busted and weeping into their beards,

And they, the papishes, came up to the walls,

And that nick-nosed s.o.b. Feddy Urbino

Said: "Par che e fuor di questo...Sigis...mundo.""

"They say he dodders about the streets

"And can put his hand to neither one thing nor the other,"


An inaccurate rumor that Sigismundo had the plague.


And everywhere, keeping us at it.

And, thank God, they got the sickness outside

As we had the sickness inside,

And they had neither town nor castello

But dey got de mos' bloody rottenes' peace on us -


When the Pope's army finally won, the peace treaty

almost ruined Sigd, and Rimini.

Use of what seems NY -Italian dialect serves

to remind us of the decline from the

Rennaisance to the Mafia?


Quali lochi sono questi:

            Sogliano, Torrano and la Serra, Sbrigara, San Martino,

Ciola, Pondo, Spinello, Cigna and Buchio,

Prataline, Monte Cogruzzo,

            and the villa at Rufiano

Right up to the door-yard

And anything else the Revmo. Monsignore could remember.

And the water-rights on the Savio.

(And the salt heaps with the reed mats on them

            Gone long ago to the Venetians)

And when lame Novvy died, they got even Cesena.


Properties lost to Sigd [and Rimini] by the treaty

of Pius II.


And he wrote to young Piero:

            Send me a couple of huntin' dogs,

They may take my mind off it.

And one day he was sitting in the chiexa,

On a bit of cornice, a bit of stone grooved for a cornice,

Too narrow to fit his big beam,

            hunched up and noting what was done wrong,

And an old woman came in and giggled to see him

            sitting there in the dark

She nearly fell over him,

            And he thought:

Old Zuliano is finished,

If he's left anything we must see the kids get it,

Write that to Robert.

And Vanni must give that peasant a decent price for his horses,

Say that I will refund.


In old age and defeat, Sigd worries about

a debt to a peasant.....[from a document

unearthed in 1910]


And the writs run in Fano,

For the long room over the arches

Sub annulo piscatoris, palatium sea curiam OLIM de Malatestis.

Gone, and Cesena, Zezena d'''e b'''e colonne,

And the big diamond pawned in Venice,


Selling off jewels etc. to cope with loss of income.

OLIM de Malatestis ["once of the Malatestas"] will

recur as symbol of all tragic lost causes.


And he gone out into Morea,

Where they sent him to do in the Mo'ammdes,

With 5,000 against 25,000,

            and he nearly died out in Sparta,

Morea, Lakedaemon,

            and came back with no pep in him


Sig got a new job from the Venetians "to do in"

the Turks at Morea but, outnumbered, got

soundly defeated.


And we sit here.  I have sat here

            For forty thousand years,


Spookiest two lines in the whole damn poem,

and I will not spoil them with commentary.

Deal with them yourself.




And they trapped him down here in the marsh land,

            in '46 that was;

And the poor devils dying of cold, that was Rocca Sorano;


And a bit we haven't heard before:


And he said in his young youth:


che le donne, we will that they, le donne, go ornate,

As be their pleasure, for the city's glory thereby.


They say the Vatican got pissed off by Sig's pagan

Tempio, but maybe their grudge goes back to this.

Italian women were supposed to dress as ordained

by the priests.  Cf Taliban.


And Platina said afterward,

            when they jailed him

And the Accademia Romana,

For the singing to Zeus in the catacombs,

Yes, I saw him when he was down here

Ready to murder fatty Barbo, "Formosus,"

And they want to know what we talked about?

            "de litteris et de armis, praestantibusque ingeniis,

Both of ancient times and our own;  books, arms,

And of men of unusual genius,

Both of ancient times and our own, in short the usual subjects

Of conversation between intelligent men."


These lines find a sharp contrast in Baldy Bacon [Canto XII]

and an "exotic" echo in Kung fu Tse [Canto XIII]


And he with his luck gone out of him

64 lances in his company, and his pay 8,000 a year,

64 and no more, and he not to try to get any more

And all of it down on paper

sexaginta quatuor nec tentatur babere plures

But leave to keep 'em in Rimini

            i.e. to watch the Venetians.


Damn pity he didn't

            (i.e. get the knife into him)

Little fat squab "Formosus"

Barbo said "Call me Formosus"

But the conclave wouldn't have it

            and they called him Paolo Secondo.


And he left three horses at one gate

            And three horses at the other,

And Fatty received him

        with a guard of seven cardinals "whom he could trust."


Paul II, who succeeded Pius II, wanted the

name Formosus, the beautiful, but the curia

called him Paul. Sigd once tried to

assassinate him.


And the castelan of Montefiore wrote down,

"You'd better keep him out of the district.

"When he got back here from Sparta, the people

"Lit fires, and turned out yelling: 'PANDOLFO '!"


In the gloom, the gold gathers the light against it.   

    And one day he said:  Henry, you can have it,

On condition, you can have it: for four months

You'll stand any reasonable joke that I play on you.

And you can joke back

            provided you don't get too ornery.


The aged Sigd keeps his sense of humor, one

aspect of the hilaritas of the Gnostics...


And they'll put it all down in writing:

for a green cloak with silver brocade

Actum in Castro Sigismundo, presente Roberto de Valturibus

..sponte et ex certa Enricho de Aquabello.


The contract specifies details of the practical
joking contest, and with that poignant detail

the Rennaisance fades

out of the poem.....for a while.....