Ezra Pound





Sestina: Altaforte

LOQUITUR: 
En Bertrans de Born. 
       Dante Alighieri put this man in hell for that he was a 
       stirrer up of strife. 
       Eccovi! 
       Judge ye! 
       Have I dug him up again? 
The scene is at his castle, Altaforte. "Papiols" is his jongleur. 
"The Leopard," the device of Richard Coeur de Lion.

I
Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace. 
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music! 
I have no life save when the swords clash. 
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing 
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson, 
Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing. 

II
In hot summer have I great rejoicing 
When the tempests kill the earth's foul peace, 
And the lightnings from black heav'n flash crimson, 
And the fierce thunders roar me their music 
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing, 
And through all the riven skies God's swords clash. 

III
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash! 
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing, 
Spiked breast to spiked breast opposing! 
Better one hour's stour than a year's peace 
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music! 
Bah! there's no wine like the blood's crimson! 

IV
And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson. 
And I watch his spears through the dark clash 
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing 
And pries wide my mouth with fast music 
When I see him so scorn and defy peace, 
His lone might 'gainst all darkness opposing. 

V
The man who fears war and squats opposing 
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson 
But is fit only to rot in womanish peace 
Far from where worth's won and the swords clash 
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing; 
Yea, I fill all the air with my music. 

VI
Papiols, Papiols, to the music! 
There's no sound like to swords swords opposing, 
No cry like the battle's rejoicing 
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson 
And our charges 'gainst "The Leopard's" rush clash. 
May God damn for ever all who cry "Peace!" 

VII
And let the music of the swords make them crimson! 
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash! 
Hell blot black for always the thought "Peace!"