Has failed to lubricate their path in life,
Why, the Pope picks the first ripe fruit that falls
And gracious puts it in the vermins way. (120)
Pietro could never save a dollar? Straight
He must be subsidised at our expense:
And for his wifethe harmless household sheep
One ought not to see harassed in her age
Judge, by the way she bore adversity,
O the patient nature you ask pity for!
How long, now, would the roughest marketman,
Handling the creatures huddled to the knife,
Harass a mutton ere she made a mouth
Or menaced biting? Yet the poor sheep here, (130)
Violante, the old innocent burgess-wife,
In her first difficulty showed great teeth
Fit to crunch up and swallow a good round crime.
She meditates the tenure of the Trust,
Fidei commissum is the lawyer-phrase,
These funds that only want an heir to take
Goes oer the gamut o the creditors cry
By semitones from whine to snarl high up
And growl down low, one scale in sundry keys,
Pauses with a little compunction for the face (140)
Of Pietro frustrate of its ancient cheer,
Never a bottle now for friend at need,
Comes to a stop on her own frittered lace
And neighbourly condolences thereat,
Then makes her mind up, sees the thing to do:
And so, deliberately snaps house-book clasp,
Posts off to vespers, missal beneath arm,
Passes the proper San Lorenzo by,
Dives down a little lane to the left, is lost
In a labyrinth of dwellings best unnamed, (150)
Selects a certain blind one, black at base,
Blinking at top,the sign of we know what,
One candle in a casement set to wink
Streetward, do service to no shrine inside,
Mounts thither by the filthy flight of stairs,
Holding the cord by the wall, to the tip-top,
Gropes for the door i the dark, ajar of course,
Raps, opens, enters in: up starts a thing
Naked as needs beWhat, you rogue, tis you?
Back,how can I have taken a farthing yet? (160)
Mercy on me, poor sinner that I am!
Heres why, I took you for Madonnas self
With all that sudden swirl of silk i the place!
What may your pleasure be, my bonny dame?
Your Excellency supplies aught left obscure?
One of those women that abound in Rome,
Whose needs oblige them eke out one poor trade
By another vile one: her ostensible work
Was washing clothes, out in the open air
At the cistern by Citorio; but true trade (170)
Whispering to idlers when they stopped and praised
The ancles she let liberally shine
In kneeling at the slab by the fountain-side,
That there was plenty more to criticise
At home, that eve, i the house where candle blinked
Decorously above, and all was done
I the holy fear of God and cheap beside.
Violante, now, had seen this woman wash,
Noticed and envied her propitious shape,
Tracked her home to her house- top, noted too, (180)
And now was come to tempt her and propose
A bargain far more shameful than the first
Which trafficked her virginity away
For a melon and three pauls at twelve years old.
Five minutes talk with this poor child of Eve,
Struck was the bargain, business at an end
Then, six months hence, that person whom you trust,
Comes, fetches whatsoever babe it be;
I keep the price and secret, you the babe,
Paying beside for mass to make all straight: (190)
Meantime, I pouch the earnest-money-piece.
Violante, triumphing in a flourish of fire
From her own brain, self-lit by such success,
Gains church in time for the Magnificat
And gives forth My reproof is taken away,
And blessed shall mankind proclaim me now,
So that the officiating priest turns round
To see who proffers the obstreperous praise:
Then home to Pietro, the enraptured-much (200)
But puzzled-more when told the wondrous news
How orisons and works of charity,
(Beside that pair of pinners and a coif,
Birthday surprise last Wednesday was five weeks)
Had borne fruit in the Autumn of his life,
They, or the Orvieto in a double dose.
Anyhow, she must keep house next six months,
Lie on the settle, avoid the three-legged stool,
And, chiefly, not be crossed in wish or whim,
And the result was like to be an heir. (210)
He found himself the sire indeed of this
Francesca Vittoria Pompilia and the rest
O the names whereby he sealed her his next day.
A crime complete in its way is here, I hope?
Lies to God, lies to man, every way lies
To nature and civility and the mode:
Flat robbery of the proper heirs thus foiled
O the due succession,and, what followed thence,
Robbery of God, through the confessors ear (220)
Debarred the most noteworthy incident
When all else done and undone twelve- month through
Was put in evidence at Easter-time.
All other peccadillos!but this one
To the priest who comes next day to dine with us?
Twere inexpedient; decency forbade.
Compute her capability of crime
By this authentic instance? Black hard cold
Crime like a stone you kick up with your foot (230)
I the middle of a field?
But now, a question,how long does it lie,
The bad and barren bit of stuff you kick,
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