CANTO XXI

 

" Keep the peace, Borso!" 

 

Nic d'Este's advice to his son [see previous Canto.]

Borso tried; but the Italian states continued to

war on each other for a few centuries more.

 

Where are we?

 

Confusion......"The Cantos have the defects of any

record of struggle." [Ez.] The montage method caused

more consternation when EP pioneered it

than it does 80 years later.....Here he imitates the

reader's bafflement

 

" Keep on with the business,

                         That's made me,

" And the res publica didn't.

 

Cosima de Medici figured out that REAL power

belonged to the banks, not the "noble" families

who officially ruled the warring states.

 

" When I was broke, and a poor kid,

" They all knew me, all of these cittadini,

" And they all of them cut me dead, della gloria."

Intestate, 1429, leaving 178,221 florins di sugello,

As is said in Cosimo's red leather note book.  Di sugello.

And " with his credit emptied Venice of money " -

That was Cosimo -

" And Naples, and made them accept his peace."

 

Cosimo forces peace by manipulation of coin

and credit. Total contrast with other bankers in

the poem who forced war by similar tactics.

 

"Sovereignity inheres in the control of

coin and credit:" Ez, Selected Prose.

 

And he caught the young boy Ficino

And had him taught the greek language;

" With two ells of red cloth per person

I will make you", Cosimo speaking, "as many

Honest citizens as you desire."

 

Shaw thought the only difference between

the classes lay in vowel sounds [see Pygmalion];

Cosimo suggests it lies in how much they wear.

 

Col credito suo...

Napoli e Venezia di danari...

Costretti... Napoli e Venezia... a quella pace...

Or another time... oh well, pass it.

And Piero called in the credits,

(Diotisalvi was back of that)

And firms failed as far off as Avignon,

And Piero was like to be murdered,

And young Lauro came down ahead of him, in the road,

And said: Yes, father is coming.

 

Intestate, '69, in December, leaving me 237,989 florins,

As you will find in my big green account book

In carta di capretto;

And from '34 when I count it, to last year,

We paid out 600,000 and over,

That was for building taxes and charity.

Nic Uzano saw us coming.  Against it, honest,

And warned 'em.  They'd have murdered him,

And would Cosimo, but he bribed 'em;

And they did in Giuliano.  E difficile,

A Firenze difficile viver ricco

Senza aver lo stato.

" E non avendo stato Piccinino

" Doveva temerlo qualunque era in stato;"

And " that man sweated blood to put through that railway";

 

"That man" re-appears frequently as the pome rolls along:

Thadeus Coleman Pound, Ez's grandpa railroader,

bigamist and Populist Congresscritter.

 

" Could you ", wrote Mr. Jefferson,

" Find me a gardener

Who can play the french horn?

The bounds of American fortune

Will not admit the indulgence of a domestic band of

Musicians, yet I have thought that a passion for music

Might be reconciled with that economy which we are

Obliged to observe.  I retain among my domestic servants

A gardener, a weaver, a cabinet-maker, and a stone-cutter,

To which I would add a vigneron.  In a country like yours

(id est Burgundy) where music is cultivated and

Practiced by every class of men, I suppose there might

Be found persons of these trades who could perform on

The french horn, clarionet, or hautboy and bassoon, so

That one might have a band of two french horns, two

Clarionets, two hautboys and a bassoon, without enlarging

Their domestic expenses.  A certainty of employment for

Half a dozen years

              (affatiagandose per suo placer o non)

And at the end of that time, to find them, if they

Choose, a conveyance to their own country, might induce

Them to come here on reasonable wages.  Without meaning to

Give you trouble, perhaps it might be practicable for you

In your ordinary intercourse with your people to find out

Such men disposed to come to America.  Sobriety and good

Nature would be desirable parts of their characters"

                                                        June 1778 Montecello

 

Jefferson appears here to emphasize his "Rennaisance"

personality; hence, we hear first of his love of art.

His politics get treated later in Cantos 31 et seq

 

Jeff also here to represent the better part of

Odyssean individualism, the wusser part just recently

rejected in the chorus of the drowned sailors [Canto 20].

 

And in July I went up to Milan for Duke Galeaz

To sponsor his infant in baptism,

Albeit were others more worthy,

And took his wife a gold collar holding a diamond

That cost about 3000 ducats, on which account

That signor Galeaz Sforza Visconti has wished me

To stand sponsor to all of his children.

 

Another war without glory, and another peace without quiet.

 

And the Sultan sent him an assassin, his brother;

And the Soldan of Egypt, a lion;

And he begat one pope and one son and four daughters,

And an University, Pisa; (Lauro Medici)

And nearly went broke in his business,

And bought land in Siena and Pisa,

And made peace by his own talk in Naples.

And there was grass on the floor of the temple,

Or where the floor of it might have been;

              Gold fades in the gloom,

              Under the blue-black roof, Placidia's,

Of the exarchate; and we sit here

By the arena, les gradins...

And the palazzo, baseless, hangs there in the dawn

With low mist over the tide-mark;

And floats there  nel tramonto

With gold mist over the tide-mark.

The tesserae of the floor, and the patterns.

Fools making new shambles;

                            night over green ocean,

And the dry black of the night.

                            Night of the golden tiger,

And the dry flame in the air,

                            Voices of the procession,

Faint now, from below us,

And the sea with tin flash in the sun-dazzle,

                            Like dark wine in the shadows

" Wind between the sea and the mountains "

  The tree-spheres half dark against sea

                            half clear against sunset,

The sun's keel freighted with cloud,

And after that hour, dry darkness

Floating flame in the air, gonads in organdy,

Dry flamelet, a petal borne in the wind.

Gignetei kalon.

Impenetrable as the ignorance of old women.

In the dawn, as the fleet coming in after Actium,

Shore to the eastward, and altered,

And the old man sweeping leaves:

             " Damned to you Midas, Midas lacking a Pan! "

And now in the valley,

Valley under the day's edge:

             " Grow with the Pines of Ise;

" As the Nile swells with Inopos.

             " As the Nile falls with Inopos."

Phoibos, turris eburnea,

             ivory against cobalt,

And the boughs cut on the air,

The leaves cut on the air,

The hounds on the green slope by the hill,

              water still black in the shadow.

In the crisp air,

              the discontinuous gods;

Pallas, young owl in the cup of her hand,

And, by night, the stag runs, and the leopard,

Owl-eye amid pine boughs.

Moon on the palm-leaf,

                                       confusion;

Confusion, source of renewals;

Yellow wing, pale in the moon shaft,

Green wing, pale in the moon shaft,

White horn, pale in the moon shaft, and Titania

by the drinking hole,

             steps, cut in the basalt.

Danced there Athame, danced, and there Phaethusa

With colour in the vein,

Strong as with blood-drink, once,

With colour in the vein,

Red in the smoke-faint throat.  Dis caught her up.

 

And the old man went on there

             beating his mule with an asphodel.