Marco Polo was a trader
To his country.

He traded sundry
Items from the Orient,
'Cuz that was where -- more and more -- he went.

Marco's favorite was a cheese grater
He had found wholesale in Beijing,
But he didn't have anything
To grate the cheese over...
Finally, one October,
From the prow of a junk,
He hearkened to a Buddhist monk
Who was in the midst of speaking sooth
And passing along some nuggets of truth:

"If ever you should find your karma gone,
Journey many miles to Messina,
Boil up a pot of semolina,
And sprinkle on some grated parmesan."
(This dogma was pronounced in Mandarin,
Which Marco Polo was most fluent in.)

So, dipping linguini in a boiling bath,
Marco strode upon the Eightfold Noble Path
Of Wheat and Yeast...
'Til (little by little) he
Brought back to Italy
Pasta from the East.


In the fourteenth century, just as before,
Nations had the habit of going to war,
But somehow between the circling of vultures
Came eventual flowering of cultures.

It took months and months and months,
But finally there was a Renaissance:
Since Popes and Medicis were drenched in moola,
The Renaissance came to the Italian peninsula.
Even common folk got some smarts
During this breakthrough of the arts.

The heroes of Boccaccio
Were macho.

The Madonnas of Raphael
Were depicted au naturel.

The Humanism of Petrarch
Took antiquity out of the dark.

The Prince by Machiavelli
Went for the soft underbelly.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling of Michelangelo
Illuminated every woman and man below.

And Leonardo: with his talent it was a cinch he
Could do the work of a da Vinci.

It was proof that people have entitlement
To at least one Age of Enlightenment.