Siena's perennial quarrel with itself -
who can plumb this curious errancy?
Before the tumultuous horseplay
in the Campo, bells of Sunto, Martinella

(foghorn, swallow). A solemn parade
of captains, guilds, contrade, humbler
towns, ecstatic kids, to the Spedale -
where they mime a Palio-masquerade

for those too old or ill to see the race.
The little carroccio (triumphal car)
bears the four elders of the Biccherna,
the trumpets, and the object of the chase -

the palio. A silken banner, painted
with a figure of the Virgin. The drone
of the Sunto echoes her Ascension to
the Throne of Heaven, beside her anointed

Son; the iron in the Mangia tower reaches
through city walls, through thunderclouds
of August overhead. To whistling crowds
of contemptuous kinfolk she beseeches,

Peace. A whole more that its fractious
parts. Hobo Francesco hears it rustle
in frittering almond leaves, the tussle
of gutter sparrows. A racehorse

dumps in the cathedral; the Sienese
take it for good luck. Poets bicker
over the body of the Word (a wicker
basket in the Amazon - a breeze).

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