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The Prior and the learned pulled a face
And stopped all that in no time. “How? what's

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,
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 .

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 With wonder at lines, colours, and what not? 192 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 breasts, She's just my niece . . . Herodias, I would

say, Who went and danced and got men's heads cut off ! Have it all out!” Now, is this sense, I ask? A fine way to paint soul, by painting body So ill, the eye can't stop there, must go further And can't fare worse! Thus, yellow does for

white 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 order? Take the prettiest face, The Prior's niece .. patron-saint — is it so

pretty You can't discover if it means hope, fear, Sorrow or joy? 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

fold? 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'll find the soul you

have missed, Within yourself, when you return him thanks. “Rub all out!” Well, well, there's my life,

in short,

And so the thing has gone on ever since.
I'm grown a man no doubt, I've broken bounds:
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 eyes
Are peeping o'er my shoulder as I work,
The heads shake still — “It's art's decline, my

son !
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,
You keep your mistr ... manners, and I'll

stick to mine! I'm not the third, then: bless us, they must

know ! Don't you think they're the likeliest to know, They with their Latin? So, I swallow my rage, Clench my teeth, suck my lips in tight, and paint To please them sometimes do and sometimes

don't; For, doing most, there's pretty sure to come

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 !) 249 And my whole soul revolves, the cup runs over, The world and life's too big to pass for a dream, And I do these wild things in sheer despite, And play the fooleries you catch me at, In pure rage! The old mill-horse, 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





May they or mayn't they? all I want's the thing Settled forever one way. As it is,

200 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.

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What need of art at all? A skull and bones, 320 Two bits of stick nailed crosswise, or, what's

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

down?" 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 con

tent, 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

fools !

As that the morning-star's about to shine,
What will hap some day. We've a youngster

Comes to our convent, studies what I do,
Slouches and stares and lets no atom drop:
His name is Guidi – he'll not mind the monks
They call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talk-
He picks my practice up — he'll paint apace,
I hope so though I never live so long,
I know what's sure to follow. You be judge !
You speak no Latin more than I, belike; 281
However, you're my man, you've seen the world

The beauty and the wonder and the power, The shapes of things, their colours, lights and

shades, Changes, 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? To be passed over, despised ? or dwelt upon, 291 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) There's no advantage ! you must beat her, then.” For, don't you mark? we're made so that we love First when we see them painted, things we have passed

301 Perhaps a hundred times nor cared 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

– That is — you'll not mistake an idle word Spoke in a huff by a poor monk, God wot, Tasting the air this spicy night which turns The unaccustomed head like Chianti wine ! Oh, the church knows ! don't misreport me, now! It's natural a poor monk out of bounds 341 Should have his apt word to excuse himself: And hearken how I plot to make amends. I have bethought me: I shall paint a piece .. There's for you! Give me six months,

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

! nuns! They want a cast o' my office. I shall paint God 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 midsummer. And then i' the front, of course a saint or two — Saint John, because he saves the Florentines, Saint Ambrose, who puts down in black and white The convent's friends and gives them a long day, And Job, I must have him there past mistake, The man of Uz (and Us without the z, Painters who need his patience). Well, all these Secured at their devotion, up shall come 360 Out of a corner when you least expect, As one by a dark stair into a great light, Music and talking, who but Lippo! I! Mazed, motionless, and moonstruck — I'm the

man ! 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,

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,

Nor 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


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I, in this presence, this pure company!
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 fast !”
- Addresses the celestial presence, “nay-
He made you and devised you, after all,
Though he's none of you! Could Saint John

there draw
His camel-hair make up a painting-brush?
We come to brother Lippo for all that,
Iste perfecit opus/" So, all smile –
I shuffle sideways with my blushing face
Under the cover of a hundred wings

Thrown like a spread of kirtles when you're gay
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 me, and for the church A pretty picture gained. Go, six months hence ! Your hand, sir, and good-by: no lights, no lights!

390 The street's hushed, and I know my own way

back, Don't fear me! There's the grey beginning.



Shrewd was that snatch from out the corner

South He graced his carrion with, God curse the same! Yet still my niche is not so cramped but thence One sees the pulpit o' the epistle-side, And somewhat of the choir, those silent seats, And up into the aëry dome where live The angels, and a sunbeam's sure to lurk: And I shall fill my slab of basalt there, And 'neath my tabernacle take my rest, With those nine columns round me, two and two, The odd one at my feet where Anselm stands: Peach-blossom marble all, the rare, the ripe As fresh-poured red wine of a mighty pulse. 30

- Old Gandolf with his paltry onion-stone, Put me where I may look at him! True peach, Rosy and flawless: how I earned the prize! Draw close: that conflagration of my church What then? So much was saved if aught

were missed! My sons, ye would not be my death? Go dig The white-grape vineyard where the oil-press

stood, Drop water gently till the surface sink, And if ye find ... Ah God, I know not, I! ... Bedded in store of rotten fig-leaves soft, And corded up in a tight olive-frail, Some lump, ah God, of lapis lazuli, Big as a Jew's head cut off at the nape, Blue as a vein o'er the Madonna's breast Sons, all have I bequeathed you, villas, all, That brave Frascati villa with its bath, So, let the blue lump poise between my knees, Like God the Father's globe on both his hands Ye worship in the Jesu Church so gay, For Gandolf shall not choose but see and burst! Swift as a weaver's shuttle fleet our years: 51 Man goeth to the grave, and where is he? Did I say basalt for my slab, sons? Black 'Twas ever antique-black I meant! How else Shall ye contrast my frieze to come beneath? The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, Saint Praxed in a glory, and one Pan

60 Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off, And Moses with the tables ... but I know Ye mark me not! What do they whisper thee, Child of my bowels, Anselm ? Ah, ye hope To revel down my villas while I gasp Bricked o'er with beggar's mouldy travertine Which Gandolf from his tomb-top chuckles at ! Nay, boys, ye love me — all of jasper, then! 'Tis jasper ye stand pledged to, lest I grieve My bath must needs be left behind, alas!



Rome, 15

Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity !
Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back?
Nephews — sons mine ... ah God, I know not!

She, men would have to be your mother once,
Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was!
What's done is done, and she is dead beside,
Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since,
And as she died so must we die ourselves,
And thence ye may perceive the world's a dream.
Life, how and what is it? As here I lie
In this state-chamber, dying by degrees,
Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask
“Do I live, am I dead?Peace, peace seems

all. Saint Praxed's ever was the church for peace; And so, about this tomb of mine. I fought With tooth and nail to save my niche, ye know: - Old Gandolf cozened me, despite my care;




TO E. B. B.

London, September, 1855


There they are, my fifty men and women
Naming me the fifty poems finished !
Take them, Love, the book and me together;
Where the heart lies, let the brain lie also.


Rafael made a century of sonnets,
Made and wrote them in a certain volume
Dinted with the silver-pointed pencil
Else he only used to draw Madonnas:
These, the world might view - but one, the

Who that one, you ask? Your heart instructs you.
Did she live and love it all her lifetime?
Did she drop, his lady of the sonnets,
Die, and let it drop beside her pillow
Where it lay in place of Rafael's glory,
Rafael's cheek so duteous and so loving -
Cheek, the world was wont to hail a painter's,
Rafael's cheek, her love had turned a poet's?

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One block, pure green as a pistachio-nut,
There's plenty jasper somewhere in the world –
And have I not Saint Praxed's ear to pray
Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts,
And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs?

That's if ye carve my epitaph aright,
Choice Latin, picked phrase, Tully's every word,
No gaudy ware like Gandolf's second line
Tully, my masters? Ulpian serves his need!
And then how I shall lie through centuries, 80
And hear the blessed mutter of the mass,
And see God made and eaten all day long,
And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste
Good strong, thick, stupefying incense-smoke !
For as I lie here, hours of the dead night,
Dying in state and by such slow degrees,
I fold my arms as if they clasped a crook,
And stretch my feet forth straight as stone can point,
And let the bedclothes, for a mortcloth, drop
Into great laps and folds of sculptor's-work: 90
And as yon tapers dwindle, and strange thoughts
Grow, with a certain humming in my ears,
About the life before I lived this life,
And this life too, popes, cardinals and priests,
Saint Praxed at his sermon on the mount,
Your tall pale mother with her talking eyes,
And new-found agate urns as fresh as day,
And marble's language, Latin pure, discreet,

Aha, ELUCESCEBAT quoth our friend?
No Tully, said I, Ulpian at the best!
Evil and brief hath been my pilgrimage.
All lapis, all, sons! Else I give the Pope
My villas! Will ye ever eat my heart?
Ever your eyes were as a lizard's quick,
They glitter like your mother's for my soul,
Or ye would heighten my impoverished frieze,
Piece out its starved design, and fill my vase
With grapes, and add a visor and a Term,
And to the tripod ye would tie a lynx
That in his struggle throws the thyrsus down,
To comfort me on my entablature
Whereon I am to lie till I must ask
“Do I live, am I dead?” There, leave me, there !
For ye have stabbed me with ingratitude
To death — ye wish it — God, ye wish it! Stone -
Gritstone, a-crumble ! Clammy squares which

As if the corpse they keep were oozing through
And no more la pis to delight the world!
Well, go! I bless ye. Fewer tapers there,
But in a row: and, going, turn your backs

- Ay, like departing altar-ministrants,
And leave me in my church, the church for peace,
That I may watch at leisure if he leers
Old Gandolf — at me, from his onion-stone,
As still he envied me, so fair she was !


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I 20

Dante once prepared to paint an angel:
Whom to please? You whisper “Beatrice."
While he mused and traced it and retraced it,
(Peradventure with a pen corroded
Still by drops of that hot ink he dipped for,

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When, his left-hand i' the hair o' the wicked,
Back he held the brow and pricked its stigma,
Bit into the live man's flesh for parchment,
Loosed him, laughed to see the writing rankle, 40
Let the wretch go festering through Florence)
Dante, who loved well because he hated,
Hated wickedness that hinders loving,
Dante standing, studying his angel,
In there broke the folk of his Inferno.
Says he

“Certain people of importance" (Such he gave his daily dreadful line to) “Entered and would seize, forsooth, the poet." Says the poet — “Then I stopped my paint



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When they wiped their mouths and went their

journey, Throwing him for thanks — “But drought was

pleasant." Thus old memories mar the actual triumph; Thus the doing savours of disrelish; Thus achievement lacks a gracious somewhat; O'er-importuned brows becloud the mandate, Carelessness or consciousness — the gesture. For he bears an ancient wrong about him, Sees and knows again those phalanxed faces, Hears, yet one time more, the 'customed prel

ude“How shouldst thou. of all men, smite, and

save us ?” Guesses what is like to prove the sequel “Egypt's flesh-pots — nay, the drought was


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You and I will never see that picture.
While he mused on love and Beatrice,
While he softened o'er his outlined angel,
In they broke, those "people of importance:”
We and Bice bear the loss forever.



Oh, the crowd must have emphatic warrant! Theirs, the Sinai-forehead's cloven brilliance, Right-arm's rod-sweep, tongue's imperial fiat. Never dares the man put off the prophet.



What of Rafael's sonnets, Dante's picture? This: no artist lives and loves, that longs

not Once, and only once, and for one only, (Ah, the prize !) to find his love a language Fit and fair and simple and sufficient Using nature that's an art to others, Not, this one time, art that's turned his

nature. Ay, of all the artists living, loving, None but would forego his proper dowry, Does he paint? he fain would write a poem, Does he write ? he fain would paint a picture, Put to proof art alien to the artist's, Once, and only once, and for one only, So to be the man and leave the artist, Gain the man's joy, miss the artist's sorrow.

Did he love one face from out the thousands, 100
(Were she Jethro's daughter, white and wifely,
Were she but the Æthiopian bondslave,)
He would envy yon dumb patient camel,
Keeping a reserve of scanty water
Meant to save his own life in the desert;
Ready in the desert to deliver
(Kneeling down to let his breast be opened)
Hoard and life together for his mistress.




Wherefore? Heaven's gift takes earth's abate

ment! He who smites the rock and spreads the

water, Bidding drink and live a crowd beneath him, Even he, the minute makes immortal,

I shall never, in the years remaining,
Paint you pictures, no, nor carve you statues,
Make you music that should all-express me; un
So it seems: I stand on my attainment.
This of verse alone, one life allows me;
Verse and nothing else have I to give you.
Other heights in other lives, God willing:
All the gifts from all the heights, your own,


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