Canto VIII


These fragments you have shelved (shored).


Paraphrase from Eliot's "Waste Land."

Both Ez and Tom felt European culture

only survived in "fragments" after World War I.

Eliot thought they cd be "shored" [rescued]

Ez worries they might only get "shelved" [preserved.]

Cf MAKE IT NEW theme from Emperor Ching later.


 "Slut!"  "Bitch!"  Truth and Calliope

Slanging each other sous les lauriers:


Who gets the laurel: fact [Truth] or the Muse

of Epic Poetry? Ez ain't sure. Cf opening

of Canto II: which Sordello "is" the "real"



That Alessandro was negroid. 


Alessando de Medici again, still more full of life

than 1919 London, bringing another fact

or rumor with him.


            And Malatesta


             Frater tamquam

Et compater carissime: tergo

                               ...hanni de




The hero of the next four Cantos appears as

part of a mostly ruined document....

sorta like the letter containing all history

found in the garbage dump in Finnegans Wake.


And suddenly Sigismundo speaks directly to us

in "his own words" of at least in Ez's invention

of a kind of English isomorphic to Sigd's

15 Century aristocrat/soldier Italian:


Equivalent to:

                               Giohanni of the Medici,


Letter received, and in the matter of our Messire Gianozio,

One from him also, sent on in form and with all due dispatch,

Having added your wishes and memoranda.

As to arranging peace between you and the King of Ragona,

So far as I am concerned, it wd.

Give me the greatest possible pleasure,

At any rate nothing wd. give me more pleasure

    or be more acceptable to me,

And I shd. like to be party to it, as was promised me,

            either as participant or adherent.

As for my service money,

Perhaps you and your father wd. draw it

And send it on to me as quickly as possible.


They all wrote with unction and

lubricating oil in those days

even when asking to be paid;

but Sigismundo will surprise us:


And tell the Maestro di pentore

that there can be no question of

His painting the walls for the moment,

As the mortar is not yet dry

And it wd. be merely work chucked away

                 (buttato via)

But I want it to be quite clear, that until the chapels are ready

I will arrange for him to paint something else

So that both he and I shall

Get as much enjoyment as possible from it,

And in order that he may enter my service

And also because you write me that he needs cash,

I want to arrange with him to give him so much per year

And to assure him that he will get the sum agreed on.

You may say that I will deposit security

For him wherever he likes.

And let me have a clear answer,

For I mean to give him good treatment

So that he may come to live the rest

Of his life in my lands -

Unless you put him off it -

And for this I mean to make due provision,

So that he can work as he likes,

Or waste his time as he likes

(affatigandose per suo piacere o no

non gli manchera la provixione mai)

                                               never lacking provision.


                 In campo Illus. Domini Venetorum die 7

                 aprilis 1449 contra Cremonam


Sigd wrote that age 32 after 19 years as a professional

soldier-for-hire [yeah, he started at 13];

his attitude toward artists much pleased Ez

and, as we shall shortly learn, wd please Kungfutse too


The money Sigd earned as killer-for-hire

went largely to creating the monument he

left behind, the  first Pagan temple built

in Itay in 1000 years, Tempio Malatesta


Pound's Voluntarist Economics differs from

Deterministic Economics in positing creative

leaps of intelligence as 'chaotic' factors


 . . . . . and because the aforesaid most illustrious

Duke of Milan

Is content and wills that the aforesaid Lord Sigismundo

Go into the service of the most magnificent commune

of the Florentines

For alliance defensive of the two states,

Therefore between the aforesaid Illustrious Sigismund

And the respectable man Agnolo della Stufa,

                        ambassador, sindic and procurator

Appointed by the ten of the baily, etc., the half

Of these 50,000 florins, free of attainder,

For 1400 cavalry and four hundred foot

To come into the terrene of the commune

                        or elsewhere in Tuscany

As please the ten of the Baily,

And to be himself there with them in the service

of the commune

With his horsemen and his footmen

                   (gente di cavollo e da pie) etc.

                   Aug. 5 1452, register of the Ten of the Baily.


Even in documents as "dusty" as this Ez helps us

see the meaning of the STYLE: these guys sure

wuz perlite even about minute details...

sorta like the Confucian rulers we'll meet later


From the forked rocks of Penna and Billi, on Carpegna

with the road leading under the cliff,

                        in the wind-shelter into Tuscany,

And the north road, toward the Marecchia

                        the mud-stretch full of cobbles.


Ez and Hemingway went over the scenes of Sigd's

most famous battles, with Hem explaining military

details to the Quaker-raised Ez. Soomehow,

the above Imagist impressonism emoiged



" Ye spirits who of olde were in this land

Each under Love, and shaken,

Go with your lutes, awaken

The summer within her mind,

Who hath not Helen for peer

                  Yseut nor Batsabe."


An early poem by Sigismundo; Ez stresses

the troubadour [Eleanor] influence.


With the interruption:


[always interruptions. Sigd lived that kind

of life....]


            Magnifico, compater et carissime

            (Johanni di Cosimo)

Venice has taken me on again

            At 7,000 a month, fiorini di Camera.

For 2,000 horse and four hundred footmen,

And it rains here by the gallon,

We have had to dig a new ditch.

In three or four days

I shall try to set up the bombards.


"I sing eternal war between light and mud"--Canto 73


Light and joy again:


Under the plumes, with the flakes and small wads of colour

Showering from the balconies

With the sheets spread from windows,

            with leaves and small branches pinned on them,

Arras hung from the railings; out of the dust,

With pheasant tails upright on their forelocks,

            The small white horses, the

Twelve girls riding in order, green satin in pannier'd habits;

Under the baldachino, silver'd with heavy stitches,

Bianca Visconti, with Sforza,

The peasant's son and the duchess,

To Rimini, and to the wars southward,

Boats drawn on the sand, red-orange sails in the creek's mouth,

For two days' pleasure, mostly "la pesca," fishing,

Di cui in the which he, Francesco, godeva molto.

            To the war southward

In which he, at that time, received an excellent hiding.


Best imagist outburst since Canto 2....


And the Greek emperor was in Florence

            (Ferrara having the pest)

And with him Gemisthus Plethon

Talking of the war about the temple at Delphos,

And of POSEIDON, concret Allgemeine,


Florence hosted a meeting between the Pope and

the Patriarch  of the Eastern Church, and there

Sigd met Gemisto Plethon, a neo-pagan

philosopher who profoundly impressed him.


Gemisto conceived "the sea" and/or the "sea-god"

as concrete abstractions, things you can experience

but still not totally concrete -- e.g. the sea

changes every nanosecond but Poiseiden, Lyr,

So-Shu, the concrete images of the sea

reveal a form behind the metamorphoses


Many commentators believe Gemisto's ideas

about seagods inspired the aquatic emphasis

of the Tempio Malatesta


And telling of how Plato went to Dionysius of Syracuse

Because he had observed that tyrants

Were most efficient in all that they set their hands to,

But he was unable to persuade Dionysius

To any amelioration.


I can't read this  without thinking about poor

idealistic Ez trying to sell his ideas to Mussolini.....

but we leap ahead to Sigd's chaotic & tragic

last years:


And in the gate at Ancona, between the foregate

And the main-gates

Sigismundo, ally, come through an enemy force,

To patch up some sort of treaty, passes one gate

And they shut it before they open the next gate, and he says:

"Now you have me,

           Caught lke a hen in a coop."

And the captain of the watch says: "Yes Messire Sigismundo,

But we want this town for ourselves."

            With the church against him, 


[for heresy and paganism]


With the Medici bank for itself,   

With wattle Sforza against him

Sforza Francesco, wattle-nose,

Who married him (Sigismundo) his (Francesco's)

Daughter in September,

Who stole Pesaro in October (as Broglio says "bestialmente"),

Who stood with the Venetians in November,

With the Milanese in December,

Sold Milan in November, stole Milan in December

Or something of that sort,

Commanded the Milanese in the spring,

the Venetians at midsummer,

The Milanese in the autumn,

And was Naples' ally in October,

            He, Sigismundo, templum aedificavit





In Romagna, teeming with cattle thieves,

            with the game lost in mid-channel,

And never quite lost till' 50,

            and never quite lost till the end, in Romagna,

So that Galeaz sold Pesaro "to get pay for his cattle."


And Poictiers, you know, Guillaume Poictiers,

            had brought the song up out of Spain

with the singers and viels.  But here they wanted a setting.

By Marecchia, where the water comes down over the cobbles

And Mastin had come to Verucchio,

            and the sword, Paolo il Bello's,

            caught in the arras

And, in Este's house, Parisina


For this tribe paid always,


She paid with more than money. Story

comes later.


and the house

Called also Atreides',

And the wind is still for a little

And the dusk rolled

            to one side a little

And he was twelve at the time, Sigismundo,

And no dues had been paid for three years,

And his elder brother gone pious;

And that year they fought in the streets,

And that year he got out to Cesena

            And brought back the levies,

And that year he crossed by night over Foglia, and...


Some consider Sigismundo one of the worst

monsters of the Rennaisance; some consider

him its most maligned hero. I think Ez

presents him as a case in the development

of Western Individualism

another heir of Odysseus

OUTSIDE Dante’s categories

a one man hell/purgatory/paradiso


But we have 3 more canti about him

coming at us


Truth or Calliope?

Which the slut, which the bitch?