Be ruled by me and have a care othe crowd:
This way, while fresh folk go and get their gaze:
Ill tell you like a book and save your shins.
Fie, what a roaring day weve had! Whose fault?
Lorenzo in Lucina,heres a church
To hold a crowd at need, accommodate
All comers from the Corso! If this crush
Make not its priests ashamed of what they show
For temple-room, dont prick them to draw purse (10)
And down with bricks and mortar, eke us out
The beggarly transept with its bit of apse
Into a decent space for Christian ease,
Why, to-days lucky pearl is cast to swine.
Listen and estimate the luck theyve had!
(The right man, and I hold him.)
They laid both bodies in the church, this morn
The first thing, on the chancel two steps up,
Behind the little marble balustrade; (20)
Disposed them, Pietro the old murdered fool
To the right of the altar, and his wretched wife
On the other side. In trying to count stabs,
People supposed Violante showed the most,
Till somebody explained us that mistake;
His wounds had been dealt out indifferent where,
But she took all her stabbings in the face,
Since punished thus solely for honours sake,
Honoris causâ, thats the proper term.
A delicacy there is, our gallants hold, (30)
When you avenge your honour and only then,
That you disfigure the subject, fray the face,
Not just take life and end, in clownish guise.
It was Violante gave the first offence,
Got therefore the conspicuous punishment:
While Pietro, who helped merely, his, mere death
Answered the purpose, so his face went free.
We fancied even, free as you please, that face
Showed itself still intolerably wronged;
Was wrinkled over with resentment yet, (40)
Nor calm at all, as murdered faces use,
Once the worst ended: an indignant air
O the head there was tis said the body turned
Round and away, rolled from Violantes side
Where they had laid it loving-husband-like.
If so, if corpses can be sensitive,
Why did not he roll right down altar-step.
Roll on through nave, roll fairly out of church,
Deprive Lorenzo of the spectacle,
Pay back thus the succession of affronts (50)
Whereto this church had served as theatre?
For see: at that same altar where he lies,
To that same inch of step, was brought the babe
For blessing after baptism, and there styled
Pompilia, and a string of names beside,
By his bad wife, some seventeen years ago,
Who purchased her simply to palm on him,
Flatter his dotage and defraud the heirs.
Wait awhile! Also to this very step
Did this Violante, twelve years afterward, (60)
Bring, the mock-mother, that child-cheat full-grown,
Pompilia in pursuance of her plot.
And there brave God and man a second time
By linking a new victim to the lie.
There, having made a match unknown to him,
She, still unknown to Pietro, tied the knot
Which nothing cuts except this kind of knife;
Yes, made her daughter, as the girl was held,
Marry a man, and honest man beside,
And man of birth to boot,clandestinely (70)
Because of this, because of that, because
O the devils will to work his worst for once,
Confident she could top her part at need
And, when her husband must be told in turn,
Ply the wifes trade, play off the sexs trick
And, alternating worry with quiet qualms,
Bravado with submissiveness, quick fool
Her Pietro into patience: so it proved.
Ay, tis four years since man and wife they grew,
This Guido Franceschini and this same (80)
Pompilia, foolishly thought, falsely declared
A Comparini and the couples child:
Just at this altar where, beneath the piece
Of Master Guido Reni, Christ on cross,
Second to nought observable in Rome,
That couple lie now, murdered yestereve.
Even the blind can see a providence here.
A multitude has flocked and filled the church,
Coming and going, coming back again, (90)
Till to count crazed one. Rome was at the show.
People climbed up the columns, fought for spikes
O the chapel-rail to perch themselves upon,
Jumped over and so broke the wooden work
Painted like porphyry to deceive the eye;
Serve the priests right! The organ-loft was crammed,
Women were fainting, no few fights ensued,
In short, it was a show repaid your pains:
For, though their room was scant undoubtedly,
Yet they did manage matters, to be just, (100)
A little at this Lorenzo. Body ome!
I saw a body exposed once... never mind!
Enough that here the bodies had their due.
No stinginess in wax, a row all round,
And one big taper at each head and foot.
Saw, threw their eyes up, crossed themselves, gave place
To pressure from behind, since all the world
Knew the old pair, could talk the tragedy
Over from first to last: Pompilia too, (110)
Those who had known herwhat twas worth to them!
Guidos acquaintance was in less request;
The Count had lounged somewhat too long in Rome,
Made himself cheap; with him were hand and glove
Barbers and blear-eyed, as the ancient sings.
Also he is alive and like to be:
Had he considerately died,aha!
I jostled Luca Cini on his staff,
Mute in the midst, the whole man one amaze,
Staring amain and crossing brow and breast. (120)
How now? asked I. Tis seventy years, quoth he,
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