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Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

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S’i’ fosseCharles Bernstein
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after Cecco Angiolieri (Siena, c.1260-1312)

If I were fire, the world’d burn;
   if I were wind, there’d be tempests at ev’ry turn;
   if I were water, watch earth drown;
   if I were God, I’d smash it all to worms.
If I were Pope, to hell with moral compass,
   the christians’d all be flung into a stinkin’ rumpus;
   if I were ’mperor, what’d you see?
   everybody’s heads rolling round me.
If I were death, I’d go straight for my father;
   if I were life, I’d run fast from that bastard:
   likewise, don’t you know it?, from mother.
If I were Cecco, likes I am ’n’ was,
   I’d chase young, pretty fuzz:
   crips and hags, I’d leave to you, putz.

S’i’ fosse foco, ardere’ il mondo;
   s’i’ fosse vento, lo tempestarei;
   s’i’ fosse acqua, i’ l’annegherei;
   s’i’ fosse Dio, mandereil’en profondo.
S’i’ fosse papa, serei allor giocondo,
   ché tutti cristïani embrigarei;
   s’i’ fosse ’mperator, sa’ che farei?
   a tutti mozzarei lo capo a tondo.
S’i’ fosse morte, andarei da mio padre;
   s’i’ fosse vita, fuggirei da lui:
   similemente faria da mi’ madre.
S’i’ fosse Cecco, com’i’ sono e fui,
   torrei le donne giovani e leggiadre:
   le vecchie e laide lasserei altrui.

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