Imágenes de página

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
A fine way to paint soul, by painting body
So ill, the eye can't stop there, must go fur-
ther 200
And can't fare worse! Thus, yellow does for

When what you put for yellow's simply black,
And any sort of meaning looks intense
When all beside itself means and looks naught.
Why can't a painter lift each foot in turn,
Left foot and right foot, go a double step,
Make his flesh liker and his soul more like,
Both in their ordert Take the prettiest face,
The Prior's niece . . . patron-saint—is it so

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
Sorrow or joyf won't beauty go with these?
Suppose I've made her eyes all right and blue,
Can't I take breath and try to add life's flash,
And then add soul and heighten them three-

Or say there's beauty with no soul at all—
(I never saw it—put the case the same—)
If you get simple beauty and naught else,
You get about the best thing God invents:
That's somewhat: and you '11 find the soul you

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
And make him swear to never kiss the girls.
I'm my own master, paint now as I please—
Having a friend, you see, in the Corner-house!
Lord, it's fast holding by the rings in front—
Those great rings serve more purposes than just
To plant a flag in, or tie up a horse! 230
And yet the old schooling sticks, the old grave

Are peeping o'er my shoulder as I work,
The heads shake still—'' It's art's decline, my

You're not of the true painters, great and old;
Brother Angelico's" the man, you'll find;
Brother Lorenzo" stands his single peer:
Fag on at flesh, you'll never make the third!"
Flower o' the pine,

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
A turn, some warm eve finds me at my saints—
A laugh, a cry, the business of the world—
(Flower o' the peach,

Death for us all, and his own life for each!)
And my whole soul revolves, the cup runs

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,
Jn pure rage! The old mill-bone, out at grass
After hard years, throws up his stiff heels so,
Although the miller does not preach to him
The only good of grass is to make chaff.
What would men have? Do they like grass
or no—

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,
Slouches and stares and lets no atom drop:
His name is Guidiis—he '11 not mind the

They call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talk—
He picks my practice up—he '11 paint apace.
I hope so—though I never live so long,
I know what's sure to follow. You be

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!
—For what? Do you feel thankful, ay or no.
For this fair town's face, yonder river's line,
The mountain round it and the sky above,
Much more the figures of man, woman, child,
These are the frame to? What's it all about?290
To be passed over, despised? or dwelt upon,
Wondered at? oh, this last of course!—you say.
But why not do as well as say,—paint these
Just as they are, careless what comes of it?
God's works—paint any one, and count it crime
To let a truth slip. Don't object, '' His works
Are here already; nature is complete:;
Suppose you reproduce her—(which you can't)

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!
That were to take the Prior's pulpit-place, 310
Interpret God to all of you! Oh, oh,
It makes me mad to see what men shall do
And we in our graves! This world 's no blot
for us,

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.
Or, mind you fast next Friday!'' Why, for this,
What need of art at all? A skull and bones, 320
Two bits of stick nailed crosswise, or, what's

A bell to chime the hour with, does as well.
I painted a Saint Laurence" six months since
At Prato,2<> splashed the fresco in fine style:
"How looks my painting, now the scaffold 's

I ask a brother: "Hugely," he returns—
"Already not one phiz of your three slaves
Who turn the Deacon off his toasted side.
But 's scratched and prodded to our heart "s

The pious people have so eased their own 330
With coming to say prayers there in a rage:
We get on fast to see the bricks beneath.
Expect another job this time next year.
For pity and religion grow i' the crowd—
Your painting serves its purpose!" Hang the

—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
Should have his apt word to excuse himself:
And harken how I plot to make amends.
I have bethought me: I shall paint a piece
. . . There 's for you!22 Give me six months,

then go, see Something in Sant' Ambrogio's!23 Bless the


They want a cast o' my office.24 I shall paint
Gnd in the midst, Madonna and her babe.
Ringed by a bowery, flowery angel-brood,
Lilies and vestments and white faces, sweet 350
As puff on puff of grated orris-root
When ladies crowd to Church at mid-summer.
And then i' the front, of course a saint or

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,
The man of Uz (and Us without the z,
Painters who need his patience). Well, all

Scoured at their devotion, up shall come 3«0
Out of a corner when you least expect,
As one by a dark stair into a great light.
Music and talking, who but Lippo! 1! —
Mazed, motionless, and moonstruck—I'm the

Back I shrink—what is this I see and hear>
I, caught up with my monk's-things by mistake.
My old serge gown and rope that goes all round,
I, in this presence, this pure eompany!
Where 's a hole, where 's a corner for escape?
Then steps a sweet angelic slip of a thing 370
Forward, puts out a soft palm—"Not so

—Addresses the celestial presence, '' nay-
He made you and devised you, after all,
Though he 's none of you! Could Saint Job.::

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
gay 380
And play hot cockles, all the doors being shut,
Till, wholly unexpected, in there pops
The hothead husband! Thus I scuttle off
To some safe bench behind, not letting go
The palm of her, the little lily thing
That spoke the good word for me in the nick,
Like the Prior's niece . . . Saint Lucy, I
would say,

And so all's saved for mo, and for the church
A pretty picture gained. Go. six months hence!
Your hand, sir, and good-by: no lights, no

lights! 3!>0 The street 's hushed, and 1 know my own way


Don't fear me! There 's the gray beginning. Zooks!



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

window there!

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

rattles in:

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

of rebukes,

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 he stop and speak to yon,

And did you speak to him againf
How strange it seems and new!

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
And a certain use in the world no doubt.

Vet a hand's breadth of it shines alone
'Mid the blank miles round about:

For there I picked up on the heather
And there 1 put inside my breast

A moulted feather, an eagle-feat her I
Well, 1 forget the rest.


Stand still, true poet that you are! t
I know you; let me try and draw you.

Some night you '11 fail us; when afnr
You rise, remember one man saw you,

Knew you, and named a star!

My star, God's glow-worm! Why extend
That loving hand of his which leads you,

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,
i know, and let out all the beauty:

My poet holds the future fast,
Accepts the coming ages' duty,

Their present for this past.

That day the earth's feast-master's brow
Shall clear, to God the chalice raising;

'' Others give best at first, but thou
Forever set'st our table praising,

Keep'st the good wine till now!" 20

Meantime, I'll draw you as you stand,
With few or none to watch and wonder:

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
Enclosed the blue, that dye of dyes

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 coloured like Astarte's1 eyes
Raw silk the merchant sellsf 30

And each bystander of them all
Could criticise, and quote tradition

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,
The sea lias only just o'er-whispered!

Live whelks, each lip's beard dripping fresh,
As if they still the water's lisp heard

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
In that abyss of blue, the Spouse*

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,
The bee goes singing to her groom,

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,
Put blue into their line.5 60

Hobbs hints blue,—straight he turtle eats:
Nobbs prints blue,—claret crowns his cup:

Xokes outdares Stokes in azure feats,—
Both gorge. Who fished the murex up?

What porridge had John Keatst



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.

« AnteriorContinuar »