Tuesday, December 29, 2015


“There is nothing more frustrating, and sometimes frightening, than feeling pain and not being able to describe or explain it to someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical pain or emotional pain. When we can’t find the right words to explain our painful experiences to others, we often feel alone and scared. Some of us may even feel anger or rage or act out. Eventually, man“There is nothing more frustrating, and sometimes frightening, than feeling pain and not being able to describe or explain it to someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical pain or emotional pain. When we can’t find the right words to explain our painful experiences to others, we often feel alone and scared. Some of us may even feel anger or rage or act out. Eventually, many of us shut down and either live silently with the pain, or in cases where we can’t, accept someone else’s definition of what we are feeling simply out of the desperate need to find some remedy.”            
— Brene Brown 


“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.”

— Ludwig Wittgenstein


“It depends entirely on me
what I look at, where I am
and what I do to my soul.”
— Jonas Mekas


“I dwell with a strangely aching heart …”
Robert Frost, from “Ghost House”


He cannot grow old, for he has never been young; he cannot become young, for he has already grown old; in a sense he cannot die, for indeed he has not lived; in a sense he cannot live, for indeed he is already dead.”
— Søren Kierkegaard, The Unhappiest One

ars poetica

"I wait gluttonously for God."
~Arthur Rimbaud, Bad Blood, A Season In Hell

Saturday, July 11, 2015

ars poetica

A Slumber did my Spirit Seal
By William Wordsworth 1770–1850 

A slumber did my spirit seal;
         I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
         The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
         She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,
         With rocks, and stones, and trees.

ars poetica

By William Shakespeare 1564–1616
When daisies pied and violets blue
   And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
   Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
   And merry larks are plowmen’s clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
   And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

ars poetica

We Are Seven
By William Wordsworth

———A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
—Her beauty made me glad.

“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”
“How many? Seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me.

“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.

“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.”

“You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.”

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”

“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.”

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
The little Maid replied,
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
And they are side by side.

“My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

“And often after sun-set, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

“The first that dies was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

“So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

“And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side.”

“How many are you, then,” said I,
“If they two are in heaven?”
Quick was the little Maid’s reply,
“O Master! we are seven.”

“But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!”
’Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”

ars poetica


2chan.net [ExRare]
Though that Men do Call it Dotage
By Henry VIII, King of England

Though that men do call it dotage,
Who loveth not wanteth courage;

And whosoever may love get,
From Venus sure he must it fet

Or else from her which is her heir,
And she to him must seem most fair.

With eye and mind doth both agree.
There is no boot: there must it be.

The eye doth look and represent,
But mind afformeth with full consent.

Thus am I fixed without grudge:
Mine eye with heart doth me so judge.

Love maintaineth all noble courage.
Who love disdaineth is all of the village:

Such lovers—though they take pain—
It were pity they should obtain,

For often times where they do sue
They hinder lovers that would be true.

For whoso loveth should love but once.
Change whoso will, I will be none.

Friday, July 10, 2015

ars poetica

If Spirits Walk
By Sophie Jewett

“I have heard (but not believed) the spirits of the dead
May walk again.”
Winter’s Tale

If spirits walk, Love, when the night climbs slow   
The slant footpath where we were wont to go,   
      Be sure that I shall take the self-same way   
      To the hill-crest, and shoreward, down the gray,   
Sheer, gravelled slope, where vetches straggling grow.
Look for me not when gusts of winter blow,   
When at thy pane beat hands of sleet and snow;
   I would not come thy dear eyes to affray,
               If spirits walk.
But when, in June, the pines are whispering low,   
And when their breath plays with thy bright hair so
      As some one's fingers once were used to play—
      That hour when birds leave song, and children pray,
Keep the old tryst, sweetheart, and thou shalt know   
               If spirits walk.

ars poetica

Early Wi-Fi System…
The Silver Swan
By Orlando Gibbons 1583–1625

The silver swan, who living had no note,
When death approached, unlocked her silent throat;
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:
“Farewell, all joys; Oh death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.”

ars poetica

Love and Death
By Lord Byron (George Gordon)

I watched thee when the foe was at our side,
   Ready to strike at him—or thee and me,
Were safety hopeless—rather than divide
   Aught with one loved save love and liberty.
I watched thee on the breakers, when the rock,
   Received our prow, and all was storm and fear,
And bade thee cling to me through every shock;
   This arm would be thy bark, or breast thy bier.
I watched thee when the fever glazed thine eyes,
   Yielding my couch and stretched me on the ground
When overworn with watching, ne’er to rise
   From thence if thou an early grave hadst found.
The earthquake came, and rocked the quivering wall,
   And men and nature reeled as if with wine.
Whom did I seek around the tottering hall?
   For thee. Whose safety first provide for? Thine.
And when convulsive throes denied my breath
   The faintest utterance to my fading thought,
To thee—to thee—e’en in the gasp of death
   My spirit turned, oh! oftener than it ought.
Thus much and more; and yet thou lov’st me not,
   And never wilt! Love dwells not in our will.
Nor can I blame thee, though it be my lot
   To strongly, wrongly, vainly love thee still.

ars poetica

Dolores (Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs)
By Algernon Charles Swinburne

Cold eyelids that hide like a jewel
      Hard eyes that grow soft for an hour;
The heavy white limbs, and the cruel
      Red mouth like a venomous flower;
When these are gone by with their glories,
      What shall rest of thee then, what remain,
O mystic and sombre Dolores,
      Our Lady of Pain?
Seven sorrows the priests give their Virgin;
      But thy sins, which are seventy times seven,
Seven ages would fail thee to purge in,
      And then they would haunt thee in heaven:
Fierce midnights and famishing morrows,
      And the loves that complete and control
All the joys of the flesh, all the sorrows
      That wear out the soul.
O garment not golden but gilded,
      O garden where all men may dwell,
O tower not of ivory, but builded
      By hands that reach heaven from hell;
O mystical rose of the mire,
      O house not of gold but of gain,
O house of unquenchable fire,
      Our Lady of Pain!
O lips full of lust and of laughter,
      Curled snakes that are fed from my breast,
Bite hard, lest remembrance come after
      And press with new lips where you pressed.
For my heart too springs up at the pressure,
      Mine eyelids too moisten and burn;
Ah, feed me and fill me with pleasure,
      Ere pain come in turn.
In yesterday's reach and to-morrow's,
      Out of sight though they lie of to-day,
There have been and there yet shall be sorrows
      That smite not and bite not in play.
The life and the love thou despisest,
      These hurt us indeed, and in vain,
O wise among women, and wisest,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Who gave thee thy wisdom? what stories
      That stung thee, what visions that smote?
Wert thou pure and a maiden, Dolores,
      When desire took thee first by the throat?
What bud was the shell of a blossom
      That all men may smell to and pluck?
What milk fed thee first at what bosom?
      What sins gave thee suck?
We shift and bedeck and bedrape us,
      Thou art noble and nude and antique;
Libitina thy mother, Priapus
      Thy father, a Tuscan and Greek.
We play with light loves in the portal,
      And wince and relent and refrain;
Loves die, and we know thee immortal,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Fruits fail and love dies and time ranges;
      Thou art fed with perpetual breath,
And alive after infinite changes,
      And fresh from the kisses of death;
Of languors rekindled and rallied,
      Of barren delights and unclean,
Things monstrous and fruitless, a pallid
      And poisonous queen.
Could you hurt me, sweet lips, though I hurt you?
      Men touch them, and change in a trice
The lilies and languors of virtue
      For the raptures and roses of vice;
Those lie where thy foot on the floor is,
      These crown and caress thee and chain,
O splendid and sterile Dolores,
      Our Lady of Pain.
There are sins it may be to discover,
      There are deeds it may be to delight.
What new work wilt thou find for thy lover,
      What new passions for daytime or night?
What spells that they know not a word of
      Whose lives are as leaves overblown?
What tortures undreamt of, unheard of,
      Unwritten, unknown?
Ah beautiful passionate body
      That never has ached with a heart!
On thy mouth though the kisses are bloody,
      Though they sting till it shudder and smart,
More kind than the love we adore is,
      They hurt not the heart or the brain,
O bitter and tender Dolores,
      Our Lady of Pain.
As our kisses relax and redouble,
      From the lips and the foam and the fangs
Shall no new sin be born for men's trouble,
      No dream of impossible pangs?
With the sweet of the sins of old ages
      Wilt thou satiate thy soul as of yore?
Too sweet is the rind, say the sages,
      Too bitter the core.
Hast thou told all thy secrets the last time,
      And bared all thy beauties to one?
Ah, where shall we go then for pastime,
      If the worst that can be has been done?
But sweet as the rind was the core is;
      We are fain of thee still, we are fain,
O sanguine and subtle Dolores,
      Our Lady of Pain.
By the hunger of change and emotion,
      By the thirst of unbearable things,
By despair, the twin-born of devotion,
      By the pleasure that winces and stings,
The delight that consumes the desire,
      The desire that outruns the delight,
By the cruelty deaf as a fire
      And blind as the night,
By the ravenous teeth that have smitten
      Through the kisses that blossom and bud,
By the lips intertwisted and bitten
      Till the foam has a savour of blood,
By the pulse as it rises and falters,
      By the hands as they slacken and strain,
I adjure thee, respond from thine altars,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Wilt thou smile as a woman disdaining
      The light fire in the veins of a boy?
But he comes to thee sad, without feigning,
      Who has wearied of sorrow and joy;
Less careful of labour and glory
      Than the elders whose hair has uncurled:
And young, but with fancies as hoary
      And grey as the world.
I have passed from the outermost portal
      To the shrine where a sin is a prayer;
What care though the service be mortal?
      O our Lady of Torture, what care?
All thine the last wine that I pour is,
      The last in the chalice we drain,
O fierce and luxurious Dolores,
      Our Lady of Pain.
All thine the new wine of desire,
      The fruit of four lips as they clung
Till the hair and the eyelids took fire,
      The foam of a serpentine tongue,
The froth of the serpents of pleasure,
      More salt than the foam of the sea,
Now felt as a flame, now at leisure
      As wine shed for me.
Ah thy people, thy children, thy chosen,
      Marked cross from the womb and perverse!
They have found out the secret to cozen
      The gods that constrain us and curse;
They alone, they are wise, and none other;
      Give me place, even me, in their train,
O my sister, my spouse, and my mother,
      Our Lady of Pain.
For the crown of our life as it closes
      Is darkness, the fruit thereof dust;
No thorns go as deep as a rose's,
      And love is more cruel than lust.
Time turns the old days to derision,
      Our loves into corpses or wives;
And marriage and death and division
      Make barren our lives.
And pale from the past we draw nigh thee,
      And satiate with comfortless hours;
And we know thee, how all men belie thee,
      And we gather the fruit of thy flowers;
The passion that slays and recovers,
      The pangs and the kisses that rain
On the lips and the limbs of thy lovers,
      Our Lady of Pain.
The desire of thy furious embraces
      Is more than the wisdom of years,
On the blossom though blood lie in traces,
      Though the foliage be sodden with tears.
For the lords in whose keeping the door is
      That opens on all who draw breath
Gave the cypress to love, my Dolores,
      The myrtle to death.
And they laughed, changing hands in the measure,
      And they mixed and made peace after strife;
Pain melted in tears, and was pleasure;
      Death tingled with blood, and was life.
Like lovers they melted and tingled,
      In the dusk of thine innermost fane;
In the darkness they murmured and mingled,
      Our Lady of Pain.
In a twilight where virtues are vices,
      In thy chapels, unknown of the sun,
To a tune that enthralls and entices,
      They were wed, and the twain were as one.
For the tune from thine altar hath sounded
      Since God bade the world's work begin,
And the fume of thine incense abounded,
      To sweeten the sin.
Love listens, and paler than ashes,
      Through his curls as the crown on them slips,
Lifts languid wet eyelids and lashes,
      And laughs with insatiable lips.
Thou shalt hush him with heavy caresses,
      With music that scares the profane;
Thou shalt darken his eyes with thy tresses,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Thou shalt blind his bright eyes though he wrestle,
      Thou shalt chain his light limbs though he strive;
In his lips all thy serpents shall nestle,
      In his hands all thy cruelties thrive.
In the daytime thy voice shall go through him,
      In his dreams he shall feel thee and ache;
Thou shalt kindle by night and subdue him
      Asleep and awake.
Thou shalt touch and make redder his roses
      With juice not of fruit nor of bud;
When the sense in the spirit reposes,
      Thou shalt quicken the soul through the blood.
Thine, thine the one grace we implore is,
      Who would live and not languish or feign,
O sleepless and deadly Dolores,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Dost thou dream, in a respite of slumber,
      In a lull of the fires of thy life,
Of the days without name, without number,
      When thy will stung the world into strife;
When, a goddess, the pulse of thy passion
      Smote kings as they revelled in Rome;
And they hailed thee re-risen, O Thalassian,
      Foam-white, from the foam?
When thy lips had such lovers to flatter;
      When the city lay red from thy rods,
And thine hands were as arrows to scatter
      The children of change and their gods;
When the blood of thy foemen made fervent
      A sand never moist from the main,
As one smote them, their lord and thy servant,
      Our Lady of Pain.
On sands by the storm never shaken,
      Nor wet from the washing of tides;
Nor by foam of the waves overtaken,
      Nor winds that the thunder bestrides;
But red from the print of thy paces,
      Made smooth for the world and its lords,
Ringed round with a flame of fair faces,
      And splendid with swords.
There the gladiator, pale for thy pleasure,
      Drew bitter and perilous breath;
There torments laid hold on the treasure
      Of limbs too delicious for death;
When thy gardens were lit with live torches;
      When the world was a steed for thy rein;
When the nations lay prone in thy porches,
      Our Lady of Pain.
When, with flame all around him aspirant,
      Stood flushed, as a harp-player stands,
The implacable beautiful tyrant,
      Rose-crowned, having death in his hands;
And a sound as the sound of loud water
      Smote far through the flight of the fires,
And mixed with the lightning of slaughter
      A thunder of lyres.
Dost thou dream of what was and no more is,
      The old kingdoms of earth and the kings?
Dost thou hunger for these things, Dolores,
      For these, in a world of new things?
But thy bosom no fasts could emaciate,
      No hunger compel to complain
Those lips that no bloodshed could satiate,
      Our Lady of Pain.
As of old when the world's heart was lighter,
      Through thy garments the grace of thee glows,
The white wealth of thy body made whiter
      By the blushes of amorous blows,
And seamed with sharp lips and fierce fingers,
      And branded by kisses that bruise;
When all shall be gone that now lingers,
      Ah, what shall we lose?
Thou wert fair in the fearless old fashion,
      And thy limbs are as melodies yet,
And move to the music of passion
      With lithe and lascivious regret.
What ailed us, O gods, to desert you
      For creeds that refuse and restrain?
Come down and redeem us from virtue,
      Our Lady of Pain.
All shrines that were Vestal are flameless,
      But the flame has not fallen from this;
Though obscure be the god, and though nameless
      The eyes and the hair that we kiss;
Low fires that love sits by and forges
      Fresh heads for his arrows and thine;
Hair loosened and soiled in mid orgies
      With kisses and wine.
Thy skin changes country and colour,
      And shrivels or swells to a snake's.
Let it brighten and bloat and grow duller,
      We know it, the flames and the flakes,
Red brands on it smitten and bitten,
      Round skies where a star is a stain,
And the leaves with thy litanies written,
      Our Lady of Pain.
On thy bosom though many a kiss be,
      There are none such as knew it of old.
Was it Alciphron once or Arisbe,
      Male ringlets or feminine gold,
That thy lips met with under the statue,
      Whence a look shot out sharp after thieves
From the eyes of the garden-god at you
      Across the fig-leaves?
Then still, through dry seasons and moister,
      One god had a wreath to his shrine;
Then love was the pearl of his oyster,
      And Venus rose red out of wine.
We have all done amiss, choosing rather
      Such loves as the wise gods disdain;
Intercede for us thou with thy father,
      Our Lady of Pain.
In spring he had crowns of his garden,
      Red corn in the heat of the year,
Then hoary green olives that harden
      When the grape-blossom freezes with fear;
And milk-budded myrtles with Venus
      And vine-leaves with Bacchus he trod;
And ye said, "We have seen, he hath seen us,
      A visible God."
What broke off the garlands that girt you?
      What sundered you spirit and clay?
Weak sins yet alive are as virtue
      To the strength of the sins of that day.
For dried is the blood of thy lover,
      Ipsithilla, contracted the vein;
Cry aloud, "Will he rise and recover,
      Our Lady of Pain?"
Cry aloud; for the old world is broken:
      Cry out; for the Phrygian is priest,
And rears not the bountiful token
      And spreads not the fatherly feast.
From the midmost of Ida, from shady
      Recesses that murmur at morn,
They have brought and baptized her, Our Lady,
      A goddess new-born.
And the chaplets of old are above us,
      And the oyster-bed teems out of reach;
Old poets outsing and outlove us,
      And Catullus makes mouths at our speech.
Who shall kiss, in thy father's own city,
      With such lips as he sang with, again?
Intercede for us all of thy pity,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Out of Dindymus heavily laden
      Her lions draw bound and unfed
A mother, a mortal, a maiden,
      A queen over death and the dead.
She is cold, and her habit is lowly,
      Her temple of branches and sods;
Most fruitful and virginal, holy,
      A mother of gods.
She hath wasted with fire thine high places,
      She hath hidden and marred and made sad
The fair limbs of the Loves, the fair faces
      Of gods that were goodly and glad.
She slays, and her hands are not bloody;
      She moves as a moon in the wane,
White-robed, and thy raiment is ruddy,
      Our Lady of Pain.
They shall pass and their places be taken,
      The gods and the priests that are pure.
They shall pass, and shalt thou not be shaken?
      They shall perish, and shalt thou endure?
Death laughs, breathing close and relentless
      In the nostrils and eyelids of lust,
With a pinch in his fingers of scentless
      And delicate dust.
But the worm shall revive thee with kisses;
      Thou shalt change and transmute as a god,
As the rod to a serpent that hisses,
      As the serpent again to a rod.
Thy life shall not cease though thou doff it;
      Thou shalt live until evil be slain,
And good shall die first, said thy prophet,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Did he lie? did he laugh? does he know it,
      Now he lies out of reach, out of breath,
Thy prophet, thy preacher, thy poet,
      Sin's child by incestuous Death?
Did he find out in fire at his waking,
      Or discern as his eyelids lost light,
When the bands of the body were breaking
      And all came in sight?
Who has known all the evil before us,
      Or the tyrannous secrets of time?
Though we match not the dead men that bore us
      At a song, at a kiss, at a crime —
Though the heathen outface and outlive us,
      And our lives and our longings are twain —
Ah, forgive us our virtues, forgive us,
      Our Lady of Pain.
Who are we that embalm and embrace thee
      With spices and savours of song?
What is time, that his children should face thee?
      What am I, that my lips do thee wrong?
I could hurt thee — but pain would delight thee;
      Or caress thee — but love would repel;
And the lovers whose lips would excite thee
      Are serpents in hell.
Who now shall content thee as they did,
      Thy lovers, when temples were built
And the hair of the sacrifice braided
      And the blood of the sacrifice spilt,
In Lampsacus fervent with faces,
      In Aphaca red from thy reign,
Who embraced thee with awful embraces,
      Our Lady of Pain?
Where are they, Cotytto or Venus,
      Astarte or Ashtaroth, where?
Do their hands as we touch come between us?
      Is the breath of them hot in thy hair?
From their lips have thy lips taken fever,
      With the blood of their bodies grown red?
Hast thou left upon earth a believer
      If these men are dead?
They were purple of raiment and golden,
      Filled full of thee, fiery with wine,
Thy lovers, in haunts unbeholden,
      In marvellous chambers of thine.
They are fled, and their footprints escape us,
      Who appraise thee, adore, and abstain,
O daughter of Death and Priapus,
      Our Lady of Pain.
What ails us to fear overmeasure,
      To praise thee with timorous breath,
O mistress and mother of pleasure,
      The one thing as certain as death?
We shall change as the things that we cherish,
      Shall fade as they faded before,
As foam upon water shall perish,
      As sand upon shore.
We shall know what the darkness discovers,
      If the grave-pit be shallow or deep;
And our fathers of old, and our lovers,
      We shall know if they sleep not or sleep.
We shall see whether hell be not heaven,
      Find out whether tares be not grain,
And the joys of thee seventy times seven,
      Our Lady of Pain.

ars poetica

Andrea del Sarto
By Robert Browning
But do not let us quarrel any more,
No, my Lucrezia; bear with me for once:
Sit down and all shall happen as you wish.
You turn your face, but does it bring your heart?
I'll work then for your friend's friend, never fear,
Treat his own subject after his own way,
Fix his own time, accept too his own price,
And shut the money into this small hand
When next it takes mine. Will it? tenderly?
Oh, I'll content him,—but to-morrow, Love!
I often am much wearier than you think,
This evening more than usual, and it seems
As if—forgive now—should you let me sit
Here by the window with your hand in mine
And look a half-hour forth on Fiesole,
Both of one mind, as married people use,
Quietly, quietly the evening through,
I might get up to-morrow to my work
Cheerful and fresh as ever. Let us try.
To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this!
Your soft hand is a woman of itself,
And mine the man's bared breast she curls inside.
Don't count the time lost, neither; you must serve
For each of the five pictures we require:
It saves a model. So! keep looking so—
My serpentining beauty, rounds on rounds!
—How could you ever prick those perfect ears,
Even to put the pearl there! oh, so sweet—
My face, my moon, my everybody's moon,
Which everybody looks on and calls his,
And, I suppose, is looked on by in turn,
While she looks—no one's: very dear, no less.
You smile? why, there's my picture ready made,
There's what we painters call our harmony!
A common greyness silvers everything,—
All in a twilight, you and I alike
—You, at the point of your first pride in me
(That's gone you know),—but I, at every point;
My youth, my hope, my art, being all toned down
To yonder sober pleasant Fiesole.
There's the bell clinking from the chapel-top;
That length of convent-wall across the way
Holds the trees safer, huddled more inside;
The last monk leaves the garden; days decrease,
And autumn grows, autumn in everything.
Eh? the whole seems to fall into a shape
As if I saw alike my work and self
And all that I was born to be and do,
A twilight-piece. Love, we are in God's hand.
How strange now, looks the life he makes us lead;
So free we seem, so fettered fast we are!
I feel he laid the fetter: let it lie!
This chamber for example—turn your head—
All that's behind us! You don't understand
Nor care to understand about my art,
But you can hear at least when people speak:
And that cartoon, the second from the door
—It is the thing, Love! so such things should be—
Behold Madonna!—I am bold to say.
   I can do with my pencil what I know,
What I see, what at bottom of my heart
I wish for, if I ever wish so deep—
Do easily, too—when I say, perfectly,
I do not boast, perhaps: yourself are judge,
Who listened to the Legate's talk last week,
And just as much they used to say in France.
At any rate 'tis easy, all of it!
No sketches first, no studies, that's long past:
I do what many dream of, all their lives,
—Dream? strive to do, and agonize to do,
And fail in doing. I could count twenty such
On twice your fingers, and not leave this town,
Who strive—you don't know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,—
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter)—so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.
There burns a truer light of God in them,
In their vexed beating stuffed and stopped-up brain,
Heart, or whate'er else, than goes on to prompt
This low-pulsed forthright craftsman's hand of mine.
Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know,
Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me,
Enter and take their place there sure enough,
Though they come back and cannot tell the world.
My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here.
The sudden blood of these men! at a word—
Praise them, it boils, or blame them, it boils too.
I, painting from myself and to myself,
Know what I do, am unmoved by men's blame
Or their praise either. Somebody remarks
Morello's outline there is wrongly traced,
His hue mistaken; what of that? or else,
Rightly traced and well ordered; what of that?
Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?
Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for? All is silver-grey,
Placid and perfect with my art: the worse!
I know both what I want and what might gain,
And yet how profitless to know, to sigh
"Had I been two, another and myself,
"Our head would have o'erlooked the world!" No doubt.
Yonder's a work now, of that famous youth
The Urbinate who died five years ago.
('Tis copied, George Vasari sent it me.)
Well, I can fancy how he did it all,
Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see,
Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him,
Above and through his art—for it gives way;
That arm is wrongly put—and there again—
A fault to pardon in the drawing's lines,
Its body, so to speak: its soul is right,
He means right—that, a child may understand.
Still, what an arm! and I could alter it:
But all the play, the insight and the stretch—
(Out of me, out of me! And wherefore out?
Had you enjoined them on me, given me soul,
We might have risen to Rafael, I and you!
Nay, Love, you did give all I asked, I think—
More than I merit, yes, by many times.
But had you—oh, with the same perfect brow,
And perfect eyes, and more than perfect mouth,
And the low voice my soul hears, as a bird
The fowler's pipe, and follows to the snare —
Had you, with these the same, but brought a mind!
Some women do so. Had the mouth there urged
"God and the glory! never care for gain.
"The present by the future, what is that?
"Live for fame, side by side with Agnolo!
"Rafael is waiting: up to God, all three!"
I might have done it for you. So it seems:
Perhaps not. All is as God over-rules.
Beside, incentives come from the soul's self;
The rest avail not. Why do I need you?
What wife had Rafael, or has Agnolo?
In this world, who can do a thing, will not;
And who would do it, cannot, I perceive:
Yet the will's somewhat—somewhat, too, the power—
And thus we half-men struggle. At the end,
God, I conclude, compensates, punishes.
'Tis safer for me, if the award be strict,
That I am something underrated here,
Poor this long while, despised, to speak the truth.
I dared not, do you know, leave home all day,
For fear of chancing on the Paris lords.
The best is when they pass and look aside;
But they speak sometimes; I must bear it all.
Well may they speak! That Francis, that first time,
And that long festal year at Fontainebleau!
I surely then could sometimes leave the ground,
Put on the glory, Rafael's daily wear,
In that humane great monarch's golden look,—
One finger in his beard or twisted curl
Over his mouth's good mark that made the smile,
One arm about my shoulder, round my neck,
The jingle of his gold chain in my ear,
I painting proudly with his breath on me,
All his court round him, seeing with his eyes,
Such frank French eyes, and such a fire of souls
Profuse, my hand kept plying by those hearts,—
And, best of all, this, this, this face beyond,
This in the background, waiting on my work,
To crown the issue with a last reward!
A good time, was it not, my kingly days?
And had you not grown restless... but I know—
'Tis done and past: 'twas right, my instinct said:
Too live the life grew, golden and not grey,
And I'm the weak-eyed bat no sun should tempt
Out of the grange whose four walls make his world.
How could it end in any other way?
You called me, and I came home to your heart.
The triumph was—to reach and stay there; since
I reached it ere the triumph, what is lost?
Let my hands frame your face in your hair's gold,
You beautiful Lucrezia that are mine!
"Rafael did this, Andrea painted that;
"The Roman's is the better when you pray,
"But still the other's Virgin was his wife—"
Men will excuse me. I am glad to judge
Both pictures in your presence; clearer grows
My better fortune, I resolve to think.
For, do you know, Lucrezia, as God lives,
Said one day Agnolo, his very self,
To Rafael . . . I have known it all these years . . .
(When the young man was flaming out his thoughts
Upon a palace-wall for Rome to see,
Too lifted up in heart because of it)
"Friend, there's a certain sorry little scrub
"Goes up and down our Florence, none cares how,
"Who, were he set to plan and execute
"As you are, pricked on by your popes and kings,
"Would bring the sweat into that brow of yours!"
To Rafael's!—And indeed the arm is wrong.
I hardly dare . . . yet, only you to see,
Give the chalk here—quick, thus, the line should go!
Ay, but the soul! he's Rafael! rub it out!
Still, all I care for, if he spoke the truth,
(What he? why, who but Michel Agnolo?
Do you forget already words like those?)
If really there was such a chance, so lost,—
Is, whether you're—not grateful—but more pleased.
Well, let me think so. And you smile indeed!
This hour has been an hour! Another smile?
If you would sit thus by me every night
I should work better, do you comprehend?
I mean that I should earn more, give you more.
See, it is settled dusk now; there's a star;
Morello's gone, the watch-lights show the wall,
The cue-owls speak the name we call them by.
Come from the window, love,—come in, at last,
Inside the melancholy little house
We built to be so gay with. God is just.
King Francis may forgive me: oft at nights
When I look up from painting, eyes tired out,
The walls become illumined, brick from brick
Distinct, instead of mortar, fierce bright gold,
That gold of his I did cement them with!
Let us but love each other. Must you go?
That Cousin here again? he waits outside?
Must see you—you, and not with me? Those loans?
More gaming debts to pay? you smiled for that?
Well, let smiles buy me! have you more to spend?
While hand and eye and something of a heart
Are left me, work's my ware, and what's it worth?
I'll pay my fancy. Only let me sit
The grey remainder of the evening out,
Idle, you call it, and muse perfectly
How I could paint, were I but back in France,
One picture, just one more—the Virgin's face,
Not yours this time! I want you at my side
To hear them—that is, Michel Agnolo—
Judge all I do and tell you of its worth.
Will you? To-morrow, satisfy your friend.
I take the subjects for his corridor,
Finish the portrait out of hand—there, there,
And throw him in another thing or two
If he demurs; the whole should prove enough
To pay for this same Cousin's freak. Beside,
What's better and what's all I care about,
Get you the thirteen scudi for the ruff!
Love, does that please you? Ah, but what does he,
The Cousin! what does he to please you more?
I am grown peaceful as old age to-night.
I regret little, I would change still less.
Since there my past life lies, why alter it?
The very wrong to Francis!—it is true
I took his coin, was tempted and complied,
And built this house and sinned, and all is said.
My father and my mother died of want.
Well, had I riches of my own? you see
How one gets rich! Let each one bear his lot.
They were born poor, lived poor, and poor they died:
And I have laboured somewhat in my time
And not been paid profusely. Some good son
Paint my two hundred pictures—let him try!
No doubt, there's something strikes a balance. Yes,
You loved me quite enough. it seems to-night.
This must suffice me here. What would one have?
In heaven, perhaps, new chances, one more chance—
Four great walls in the New Jerusalem,
Meted on each side by the angel's reed,
For Leonard, Rafael, Agnolo and me
To cover—the three first without a wife,
While I have mine! So—still they overcome
Because there's still Lucrezia,—as I choose.
Again the Cousin's whistle! Go, my Love.