Canto IX commentary

A strong Whitman influence here, emphasized by the
repeated “one year”: cf Walt’s “I hear…”
Where WW used these rhythms to celebrate the energy
and optimism of 19th Century U.S., Ez uses them
to record a lot of energetic war and treachery–
the world in which, and against which, Sigismundo
built his Temple:

One year floods rose,
One year they fought in the snows,
One year hail fell, breaking the trees and walls.
Down here in the marsh they trapped him
            in one year,
And he stood in the water up to his neck
            to keep the hounds off him,
And he floundered about in the marsh
            and came in after three days,
That was Astorre Manfredi of Faenza
            who worked the ambush
            and set the dogs off to find him,
In the marsh, down here under Mantua,
And he fought in Fano, in a street fight,
            and that was nearly the end of him;
And the Emperor came down and knighted us,
And they had a wooden castle set up for fiesta,
And one year Basinio went out into the courtyard
            Where the lists were, and the palisades
            had been set for the tourneys,
And he talked down the anti-Hellene,
            And there was an heir male to seignor,
            And Madame Ginevra died.
And he, Sigismundo, was Capitan for the Venetians.
And he had sold off small castles
            and built the great Rocca to his plan,
And he fought like ten devils at Monteluro
            and got nothing but the victory
And old Sforza bitched us at Pesaro;
            (sic) March the 16th:

The “narrative voice” seems that of a common
soldier who served under Sigismundo.
“fought like ten devils” “Sforza bitched us”:
we come closer to modern vernacular,
in contrast to the previous Canti.

“that Messire Alessandro Sforza
            is become lord of Pesaro
through the wangle of the Illus. Sgr. Mr. Fedricho d’Orbino
Who worked the wangle with Galeaz
            through the wiggling of Messer Francesco,
Who waggled it so that Galeaz should sell Pesaro
            to Alex and Fossembrone to Feddy;

Wangle, wangle, wiggle, waggle: a
snakey imagery…..

and he hadn’t the right to sell.
And this he did bestialmente; that is Sforza did bestialmente
as he had promised him, Sigismundo, per capitoli
            to see that he, Malatesta, should have Pesaro”
And this cut us off from our south half
            and finished our game, thus, in the beginning,
And he, Sigismundo, spoke his mind to Francesco
            and we drove them out of the Marches.

And the King o’ Ragona, Alphonse le roy d’Aragon,
            was the next nail in our coffin,
And all you can say is, anyway,
that he Sigismundo called a town council
And Valturio said “as well for a sheep as a lamb”
            and this change-over (haec traditio)
As old bladder said “rem eorum saluavit
Saved the Florentine state; and that, maybe, was something.
And “Florence our natural ally” as they said in the meeting
            for whatever that was worth afterward.
And he began building the TEMPIO,
            and Polixena, his second wife, died.
And the Venetians sent down an ambassador
And said “speak humanely,
But tell him it’s no time for raising his pay.”
And the Venetians sent down for an ambassador
            with three pages of secret instructions
To the effect:  Did he think the campaign was a joy-ride?
And old Wattle-wattle slipped into Milan
But he coun’t stand Sidg being as high with the Venetians
And he talked it over with Feddy; and Feddy said ” Pesaro”
And old Foscari wrote “Caro mio
“If we split with Francesco you can have it
“And we’ll help you in every way possible.”
            But Feddy offered it sooner.
And Sigismundo got up a few arches,
And stole that marble in Classe, “stole” that is,
Casus est talis:
            Foscari doge, to the prefect of Ravenna
“Why, what, which, thunder, damnation????”

Casus est talis:

Casus est talis: That’s it, that’s the way it is.
Cf: Nec Spe Nec Metu [neither hope nor fear]
in Canto III.

            Filippo, commendatary of the abbazia
Of Sant Apollinaire Classe, Cardinal of Bologna
That he did one night (quandam nocte) sell to the
Illmo. Do., Do. Sigismund Malatesta
Lord of Arimininum, marble, porphyry, serpentine,
Whose men, Sigismundo’s, came with more than an hundred
two wheeled ox carts and deported, for the beautifying
of the tempio where was Santa Maria in Trivio
Where men, Sigismundo’s, came with more than an hundred
two wheeled ox carts and deported, for the beautifying’
of the tempio where was Santa Maria in Trivio
Where the same are now on the walls.  Four hundred
ducats to be paid back to the abbazia by the said swindling
Cardinal or his heirs.
            grnnh! rrnnh, pthg.
wheels, plaustra, oxen under night-shield,

Very cinematic: the grunts unite the Cardinal
and the oxen.

And on the 13th of August: Aloysius Purtheo,
The next abbot, to Sigismundo, receipt for 200 ducats
Corn-salve for the damage done in that scurry.

And there was the row about that German-Burgundian female

Sigismundo was accused of raping her so violently that
she died. Historians tend to reject this, but the
Inquisition included it among the 100-or-so
charges of which they found him guilty.
In a letter EP describes the charges as
“‘shrouded in  mystery’ or rather lies”

And it was his messianic year, Poliorcetes,
            but he was being a bit too POLUMETIS

polymetis: “many-minded”; many-sided; well-rounded–
a stock Homeric tag for Odysseus, in case the reader hasn’t already noticed the Odysseus/Malatesta

And the Venetians wouldn’t give him six months vacation.

And he went down to the old brick heap of Pesaro
            and waited for Feddy
And Feddy finally said “I am coming!…
            …to help Alessandro.”
And he said: “This time Mister Feddy has done it.”
He said: “Broglio, I’m the goat.  This time
            Mr. Feddy has done it (m’l’ha calata).”
And he’d lost his job with the Venetians,
And the stone didn’t come in from Istria:
And we sent men to the silk war;
And Wattle never paid up on the nail
            Though we signed on with Milan and Florence;
And he set up the bombards in muck down by Vada
            where nobody else could have set ’em
            and he took the wood out of the bombs
            and made ’em of two scoops of metal
And the jobs getting smaller and smaller,
            Until he signed on with Siena;
            And that time they grabbed his post-bag.
And what was it, anyhow?
            Pitigliano, a man with a ten acre lot,
Two lumps of tufa,
            and they’d taken his pasture land from him,
And Sidg had got back their horses,
            and he had two big lumps of tufa
            with six hundred pigs in the basements.
And the poor devils were dying of cold.
And this is what they found  in the post-bag:

By analogy with “Found Art” one can consider these
documents a “found ideogram.” They exemplify
Sigismundo Malatesta’s polymetis, and the mad
chaotic creative vortex in which he lived:

                        Ex Arimino die xxii Decembris
     “Magnifice ac potens domine, mi singularissime
“I advise yr. Lordship how
“I have been with master Alwidge who
“has shown me the design of the nave that goes in the middle,
“of the church and the design for the roof and…”
“Magnifico exso.  Signor Mio
“Sence to-day I am recommanded that I have to tel you my
“father’s opinium that he has shode to Mr. Genare about the
“valts of the cherch…etc…
  “Giovane of the Master alwise P. S.  I think it advisabl that
“I shud go to rome to talk to mister Albert so as I can no
“what he thinks about it rite.

Ez finds the right kinda English for each Italian voice….


Illustre signor mio, Messire Battista…”

“First: Ten slabs best red, seven by 15, by one third,
“Eight columns 15 by three and one third
            etc… with carriage, danars 151
  “Madame Isotta has had me write today about St. Galeazzo’s
“daughter.  The man who said young pullets make thin
“soup, knew what he was talking about.  We went to see the
“girl the other day. for all the good that did, and she denied
“the whole matter and kept her end up without losing her
“temper.  I think Madame Ixotta very nearly exhausted the
“matter.  Mi pare che avea decto hogni chossia.  All the
“children are well.  Where you are everyone is pleased and
“happy because of your taking the chateau here we are the
“reverse as you might say drifting without a rudder.  Madame
“Lucrezia has probably, or should have, written to you, I
“suppose you have the letter by now.  Everyone wants to be
“remembered to you.                     21 Dec.  D. de M.”

Ixotta degli Atti, Sigisundo’s longtime mistress and third
wife, here dealing with another of his mistresses.
War, temple-building and multiple mistresses…polymetis indeed.

“…sagramoro to put up the derricks.  There is a supply of
“beams at…”
  “Messire Malatesta is well and asks for you every day.  He
“is so much pleased with his pony, It wd. take me a month
“to write you all the fun he gets out of that pony.  I want to
“again remind you to write to Georgio Rambottom or to his
“boss to fix up that wall to the little garden that madame Isotta
“uses, for it is all flat on the ground now as I have already told
“him a lot of times, for all the good that does, so I am writing
“to your lordship in the matter I have done all that I can, for
“all the good that does as noboddy hear can do anything
“without you.
                “your faithful
                                            LUNARDA DA PALLA.
                                                20 Dec. 1454.”

Siggy even had time to be a good father/while
still supervising the Tempio from a distance.

“…gone over it with all the foremen and engineers.  And
“about the silver for the small medal…”

Magnifice ac potens
            “because the walls of…”

Malatesta de Malatestis ad Magnificum Dominum Patremque

“Exso. Dno. et Dno. sin Dno. Sigismundum Pandolfi Filium
            “malatestis Capitan General

“Magnificent and Exalted Lord and Father in especial my
“lord with due recommendation:  your letter has been pre-
“sented to me by Gentilino da Gradara and with it the bay
“pony (ronzino baictino) the which you have sent me, and
“which appears in my eyes a fine caparison’s charger, upon
“which I intend to learn all there is to know about riding, in
“consideration of yr. paternal affection for which I thank
“your excellency thus briefly and pray you continue to hold
“me in this esteem notifying you by the bearer of this that
“we are all in good health, as I hope and desire your Exct.
“Lordship is also: with continued remembrance I remain
            “Your son and servant
                            MALATESTA DE MALATESTIS.
            Given in Rimini, this the 22nd day of December
                                    anno domini 1454
                            (in the sixth year of his age)

Damn well-written for a 6-year-old; but then Sigismundo
led his first army at age 13…

  “Unfitting as it is that I should offer counsels to Hannibal…”

”     Magnifice ac potens domine, domine mi singularissime,
“humili recomendatione premissa etc.  This to advise your
“Mgt. Ldshp. how the second load of Veronese marble has
“finally got here, after being held up at Ferrara with no end
“of fuss and botheration, the whole of it having been then
  “I learned how it happened, and it has cost a few florins to
“get back the said load which had been seized for the skipper’s
“debt and defalcation; he having fled when the lighter was
“seized.  But that Yr. Mgt. Ldshp. may not lose the moneys
“paid out on his account I have had the lighter brought here
“and am holding it, against his arrival.  If not we still have
“the lighter.
  “As soon as the Xmas fetes are over I will have the stone
“chapel; first because the heavy frosts wd. certainly spoil
“the job; secondly because the aliofants aren’t yet here and
“and one can’t get the measurements for the cornice to the columns
“that are to rest on the aliofants.
  “They are doing the stairs to your room in the castle… I
“have had Messire Antonio degli Atti’s court paved and the
“stone benches put in it.
  “Ottavian is illuminating the bull.  I mean the bull for
“the chapel.  All the stone-cutters are waiting for spring
“weather to start work again.
  “the tomb is all done except part of the lid, and as soon as
“Messire Agostino gets back from Cesena I will see that he
“finishes it, ever recommending me to yr. Mgt. Ldshp.
                                             “believe me yr. faithful
                                              PETRUS GENARIIS.”

That’s what they found in the post-bag
And some more of it to the effect that
            he “lived and ruled”

Again, the theme of fragments, shelved [or shored]

et amava perdutamente Ixotta degli Atti
e “ne fu degna
            “constans in proposito
Placuit oculis principis
pulchra aspectu
populo grata (Italiaeque decus)

“And he loved Ixotta degli Atti to distraction, and
she deserved it; she that he loved to look upon,
and she pleased the people and was the ornament
of Italy”
The Temple has his initial, S, intertwined with hers, I,
all over the walls. Every naked Venus has her face.

“and built a temple so full of pagan works”
            i. e. Sigismund
and in the style of “Past ruin’d Latium”
The filigree hiding the gothic,
            with a touch of rhetoric in the whole
And the old sarcophagi,
            such as lie smothered in grass, by San Vitale.

In Canto 10 the Inquisition has more to say
about this pagan Temple and its maker…..

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