The Gattamelata I (Padua)


See, this tensed energy
balanced on its awkward podium,
how in the soaring, contorted limbs,
that bulge like bronze fortresses,
you sense the horse’s revolt
against the stirrups,

while the head, sharp and unyielding,
fiercer than any enraged cloud,
would, at the slightest
loosening of the bite,
charge to the very edge of the high cliff,
to the ocean’s hoarse, unreasonable call.

But the taut man above,
with the self-assurance of
one who would conquer,
gathers up all this bellowing rage
into his equine brow.
For he is like a pole
about which a savage light grows tame,

and seated in his saddle,
he conjures purposes for those things
still without language.

See, in the joining of these two,
the horse is welded as a planet to its star,
and becomes an infinite road,
and an empire rising
beneath the hand’s firm hold.

The Gattamelata II (Padua)


In his arrogance, he saddles the horse
beneath the cruelty of his reason,
and deigns to ride.
He cannot let meadows be meadows,
and places smoothed stones on them,
walls and towers,

towns which he calls beautiful,
where he hoards precious things,
vases in the shape of girls and boys,
amulets that ward off death.

And he imagines a sky with eyes,
and in its terrible gaze
grows proud and secretive all at once,
and builds bronze equestrian statues
for the sentinel clouds.
But the sky is sky, and the bronze is bronze,

while the horse burdened by the man
walks in laboured circles
for the finery of the bored crowds.