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PotW #181
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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.