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To care about his asthma: it's the life!" 171 But there my triumph's straw-fire flared and funked;
Their betters took their turn to see and say:
The Prior and the learned pulled a face
And stopped all that in no time. "Howl
what's heref Quite from the mark of painting, bless us all! Faces, arms, legs, and bodies like the true As much as pea and pea! it's devil's-game! Your business is not to catch men with show, With homage to the perishable clay, 180 But lift them over it, ignore it all, Make them forget there's such a thing as flesh. Your business is to paint the souls of men— Man's soul, and it's a fire, smoke . . . no, it's
not . . .
It's vapour done up like a new-born babe— (In that shape when you die it leaves your mouth")
It's . . . well, what matters talking, it's the soul!
Give us no more of body than shows soul! Here's Giotto,** with his Saint a-praising God, That sets us praising,—why not stop with him! Why put all thoughts of praise out of our
head 191 With wonder at lines, colours, and what notf Paint the soul, never mind the legs and arms! Rub all out, try at it a second time. Oh, that white smallish female with the
She's just my niece . . . Herodias,!"* I would say,—
Who went and danced and got men's heads cut off!
Have it all out!" Xow, is this sense, I a*kf
When what you put for yellow's simply black,
is Frequently represented so In early paintings, e. g.. In the "Triumph of Death." ascribed to On agna, In the Campo Santo of Pisa.
n Som'times called "the father of modern Italian art"; he flourished at the beginning of the 14th century.
is It was not Herodlas, but her daughter, Salome, who danced before Herod and obtained the head of John the Baptist. See Matthew, 14.
You can't discover if it means hope, fear, 210
Or say there's beauty with no soul at all—
have missed, Within yourself, when you return him thanks. "Rub all out!" Well, well, there's my life, in
short, 221 And so the thing has gone on ever since. I'm grown a man no doubt, I've broken
You should not take a fellow eight years old
Are peeping o'er my shoulder as I work,
You're not of the true painters, great and old;
Ton Veep your mistr . . . manners, and I'll
stick to mine! I'm not the third, then: bless us, they must
know! 240 Don't you think they 're the likeliest to know, They with their Latin f So, I swallow my rage, Clench my teeth, suck my lips in tight, and
To please them—sometimes do and sometimes don't;
For, doing most, there's pretty sure to come
Death for us all, and his own life for each!)
over, 2S0 The world and life's too big to pass for a
And I do these wild things in sheer despite,
i« Fra Angellco (1387-1415), who painted In the •arller manner; famous for his paintings of nneels. Cp. what Buskin says, p. 084.
i: Lorenzo Monaco, another contemporary painter.
And play the fooleries you catch me at,
May they or may n't theyf all I want's the thing
Settled forever one way. As it is, 260
You tell too many lies and hurt yourself;
You don't like what you only like too much,
You do like what, if given you at your word,
You find abundantly detestable.
For me, I think I speak as I was taught;
I always see the garden and God there
A-making man's wife: and, my lesson learned.
The value and significance of flesh,
I can't unlearn ten minutes afterwards.
You understand me: I'm a beast, I know. 270 But see, now—why, I see as certainly As that the morning-star 's about to shine, What will hap some day. We've a youngster here
Comes to our convent, studies what I do,
They call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talk—
judge! 280 You speak no Latin more than I, belike; However, you 're my man, you 've seen the
■—The beauty and the wonder and the power, The .shapes of things, tueir colours, lights and shades,
1'hauges, surprises,—and God made it all!
isTomniaso Guldl, better known as Masacclo G. e.
Tommnsaccio. "Careless Tom"), the great pioneer of the Renaissance period, and the mister of Fllippo I.ippl, not the pupil.
There's no advantage! you mast beat her. then.''
For, don't you mark! we're made so that we love 300
First when we see them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor eared to see; And so they are better, painted—better to us. Which is the same thing. Art was given for that;
God uses us to help each other so, Lending our minds out. Have you noticed, now,
Your cullion's hanging face? A bit of chalk. And trust me but you should, though! How much more,
If I drew higher things with the same truth!
Xor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.
"Ay, but you don't so instigate to prayer!*' Strikes in the Prior: "when your meaning *s plain
It does not say to folk—remember matins.
A bell to chime the hour with, does as well.
I ask a brother: "Hugely," he returns—
The pious people have so eased their own 330
—That is—you '11 not mistake an idle word Spoke in a huff by a poor monk. God wot, Tasting the air this spicy night which turns
in A Christian martyr of the 3d century who ws«
roasted alive on a gridiron, or iron chair, in A town near Florence.
Tlio unaccustomed head like (.'hiauti'-1 wine! Oh, the church knows! don't misreport me, now!
It 'a natural a poor monk out of bounds
then go, see Something in Sant' Ambrogio's!23 Bless the
They want a cast o' my office.24 I shall paint
Saint John,2* because he saves the Florentines. Saint Ambrose, who puts down in black anil white
The convent's friends and gives them a long .lay,
And Job, I must have hiin there past mistake,
Scoured at their devotion, up shall come 3«0
Back I shrink—what is this I see and hear>
—Addresses the celestial presence, '' nay-
there draw— His camel-hair2" jnake up a painting-brush ? | We come to brother Lippo for all that, Jste perfeeit opus!"-1 So, all smile— I shuffle sideways with my blushing face Under the cover of a hundred wings
2! A famous vineyard region near Florence.
it Civlng them money.
2S St. Ambrose's, a Florentine convent.
24 A stroke of my skill.
ir< The patron saint of Florence.
:« Si.** p»ge 41 iMtittheir, lit, 4). .
m In prrfrrit npttn ("This Is he who made it"l Is the Inscription on a scroll In the painting described, indicating the portrait of t.lppl.
Thrown like a spread of kirtles when you're
And so all's saved for mo, and for the church
lights! 3!>0 The street 's hushed, and 1 know my own way
Don't fear me! There 's the gray beginning. Zooks!
UP AT A VILLA—DOWN IX THE CITY
(AS DISTINGUISHED BY AX ITALIAN PERSON OF QUALITY)
Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare,
The house for me, no doubt, were :i house in
the city-square; Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the
Something to see. by Bacchus, something to hear, at least!
There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast;
While up at a villa one lives. I maintain it, no more than a beast.
Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull
.fust on a mountain-edge as bare as the creature's skull,
Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull!
—i scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned wool. 10
But the city, oh the city—the square with the
houses! Why, They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's
something to take the eye! Houses in four straight lines, not a single front
You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by;
Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets high;
And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly.
What of a villa f Though winter be over in
March by rights, 'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have
withered well off the heights: You've the brown ploughed land before, where
the oxen steam and wheeze, And the hills over smoked behind by the faint
gray olive-trees. 20
Is it better in May, I ask youf You've summer all at once;
In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns,
'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce
risen three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out
its great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the
children to pick and sell.
Is it ever hot in the square? There 's a
fountain to spout and splash! In the shade it sings and springs: in the shin"
such foambows flash On the horses with curling fish-tails, that
prance and paddle and pash Bound the lady atop in her conch—fifty gazers
do not abash, Though all that she wears is some weeds round
her waist in a sort of sash. 30
All the year long at the villa, nothing to see
though you linger, Except yon cypress that points like death's
lean lifted forefinger. .Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix i' the
corn and mingle, Or thrin the stinking hemp till the stalks of it
seem a-tingle. Late August or early September, the stunning
cicala is shrill, And the bees keep their tiresome whine round |
the resinous firs on the hill. Enough of the seasons,— I spare you the months
of the fever and chill.
Ere you open your eyes in the city, the blessed
church-bells begin: No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence
You get the pick of the news, ami it costs you never a pin. 40
By and by there's the travelling doctor give* pills, lets blood, draws teeth:
Or the Pulcinelloi-trumpet breaks up the market beneath.
At the post-office such a scene-picture—the new
play, piping hot! l Knsllsh "Punch" (Punch find Judy show).
And a notice how, only this morning, three
liberal thieves were shot.2 Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly
And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the Duke's!
Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and-so,
Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome, and Cicero.
"And moreover," (the sonnet goes rhyming.) '' the skirts of Saint Paul has reached.
Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he preached.'' M
Noon strikes,—here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and smart
With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her heart!
Bangtchang-whang goes the drum, tootle-tetootle the fife;
No keeping one's haunches still: it's the greatest pleasure in life.
But bless you, it 's dear—it 's dear! fowls,
wine, at double the rate. They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and
what oil pays passing the gate It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa
for me, not the city!
Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still—
ah, the pity, the pity! Look, two and two go the priests, then the
monks with cowls and sandals. And the penitents dressed in white shirts.
a-holding the yellow candles; 6° One, he carries a flag up straight, and another
a cross with handles, And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for
the better prevention of scandals: Baiigultang-trhany goes the drum, tootle-te
tootle the fife. Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such
pleasure in life!
Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did you speak to him againf
2 There Is subtle Irony In making this soulless civilian l>etray his childish contempt for the literal or republican party.
* Once, in a bookstore, Browning; overheard some one mention the fact that he had once seen Shelley. Browning was a youthful admirer of Shelley, having received from certain volumes of hi m and Keats—a chance-found "eaelc-feathcr." as It were.—snme of his earliest inspiration. On Keats, sec the next poem.
But you were living before that,
And also you are living after; Ami the memory I started at—
My starting moves your laughter!
I crossed a moor, with a name of its own
Vet a hand's breadth of it shines alone
For there I picked up on the heather
A moulted feather, an eagle-feat her I
Stand still, true poet that you are! t
Some night you '11 fail us; when afnr
Knew you, and named a star!
My star, God's glow-worm! Why extend
Yet locks you safe from end to end
Of this dark world, unless he needs you,
Just saves your light to spend! 10
His clenched hand shall unclose at last,
My poet holds the future fast,
Their present for this past.
That day the earth's feast-master's brow
'' Others give best at first, but thou
Keep'st the good wine till now!" 20
Meantime, I'll draw you as you stand,
I '11 say—a fisher, on the sand
By Tyre the old, with ocean-plunder,
A netful, brought to land.
Who has not heard how Tyrian shells
t This poet Is not necessarily Keats, but Keats Is a type of the great man who, missing popularity in his own life, dies obscurely— like the ancient obscure discovprer of the murex. the fish whose precious purple dyes made the fortune of many a mere trader or artisan who came after him. (Without Intimating for a moment that Tennyson was a mere artisan. It may be freely acknowledged that much of his popularity. In which at this time. 185!>, he quite exceeded Browning, was due to qualities which he derived from Keats.) i
Whereof one drop worked miracles,
And each bystander of them all
How depths of blue sublimed some palls
—To get which, pricked a king's ambition;
Worth sceptre, crown and ball.*
Yet there 's the dye, in that rough mesh,
Live whelks, each lip's beard dripping fresh,
Through foam the rock-weeds thresh. 40
Enough to furnish Solomon
Such hangings for his cedar-house,
That, when gold-robed he took the throne
Might swear his presence shone.
Most like the centre-spike of gold
Which burns deep in the bluebell's womb
What time, with ardours manifold,
Drunken and overbold. 60
Mere conchs! not fit for warp or woof!
Till cunning come to pound anil squeeze And clarify,—refine to proof
The liquor filtered by degrees, While the world stands aloof.
And there's the extract, flasked and fine,
And priced and salable at last! And Hobbs, Nobbs, Stokes and Nokes combine
To paint the future from the past,
Hobbs hints blue,—straight he turtle eats:
Xokes outdares Stokes in azure feats,—
What porridge had John Keatst
AX OLD STORY.
It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad: The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had, A year ago on this very day.
1 Th» Rvrlan Aphrodite.
2 coronation robe
s The golden orb borne with the sceptre as emblem of sovereignty.
4 The 8otm of ftnlomnu. v, I.
5 I, e.. aspire to the aristocracy.
•The poem Is purely dramatic, not historical.