He Jests Concerning His Poverty|
- Bartolomeo di Sant' Angelo (13th Century)
(Translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti [1828-1882])
I am so passing rich in poverty
That I could furnish forth Paris and Rome,
Pisa and Padua and Byzantium,
Venice and Lucca, Florence and Forli;
For I possess in actual specie,
Of nihil and of nothing a great sum;
And unto this my hoard whole shiploads come,
What between nought and zero, annually.
In gold and precious jewels I have got
A hundred ciphers' worth, all roundly writ;
And therewithal am free to feast my friend.
Because I need not be afraid to spend,
Nor doubt the safety of my wealth a whit:-
No thief will ever steal thereof, God wot.
cipher = zero
wot = know
The above poem can be found for example in:
Van Doren, Mark, ed. An Anthology of World Poetry.
New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1936.