If I were fire, I’d burn the world down;
If I were wind, I’d rip the world to shreds;
If I were water, I’d drown the whole damned thing;
If I were God, I’d send it off to hell.
If I were the Pope, I’d be a happy man,
And I would screw the Christians for their money;
If I were the Emperor, guess what?
You’d see a lot of heads flying around.
If I were Death, I’d go visit my father;
If I were Life, he would see my back,
And about my mother-the same routine!
If I were Cecco-I’ve been him and I am-
I’d take the handsome women, the spirited ones too,
And leave all the stale and embittered ones for you.
_[translated by Robert Bly]_
Cecco Angiolieri, born in 1260, was an Italian poet to whom some 150 sonnets have been attributed. These sonnets were influenced by the goliardic tradition and the tradition of poesia giocosa. The sonnet “Si fosse foco, arderei ‘l mondo” is one of his more familiar poems.
Robert Bly is a celebrated poet and translator. Author of over 30 books of poetry, including _The Night Abraham Called to the Stars_ (HarperCollins, 2001); _Snowbanks North of the House_ (1999); _What Have I Ever Lost by Dying?: Collected Prose Poems_ (1992); _Loving a Woman in Two Worlds_ (1987); _Mirabai Versions_ (1984); _This Body is Made of Camphor and Gopherwood_ (1977); and _The Light Around the Body_ (1967), which won the National Book Award. (from www.poets.org)