sestina: altaforte

Altaforte --Ezra Pound

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 howls 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!”                – Ezra Pound