De Contemptu Mundi       

 
How strange it would have seemed to Cosimo Il Vecchio,

That humanistic hard-mouthed merchant-banker,

Who founded the fortunes of the Medici

Upon the pilgrim riches of the Papacy -

He, the Papal money-lender,

He, the maestro di camera of the Council of Florence,

Courtly out-of-sight all-watching impresario,

When Greek and Latin for a short while came together -

How strange it would have seemed to him,

Ensconced in his rusticated palace,

Meditating on his banks in all the kingly cities,

Contemplating the ambitious Cardinals,

Who borrowed sequins in their millions

When they thought they might be Pope;

How strange he would have found it -

He, who told his wife

When she asked why he rested with his eyes closed:

‘I am accustoming them to death’ -

How strange it would have seemed

Had he known

That we -

That much-spoken-of posterity,

Whom the Florentines,

Though hardly he,

Were eager to adore -

That we

Remember him mostly

Because he gave a scarlet gown

To the sculptor, Donatello,

Who wore it once

And then no more.

 

Strange -

Strange -

Strange are the causes of renown.