Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Poems. (Privately Printed.): A Proof (partial), Princeton/Troxell (copy 2)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of publication: 1869 September 13
Printer: Strangeways and Walden

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

Image of page [unpaginated] page: [unpaginated]
Manuscript Addition: [DGR], 1828-1882/Poems. (Privately printed)./[London, Strangeways and Walden, 1869]/A Proofs/September 12, 1869/ Copy 2. Provenance: Joseph/Knight; A. L. Knight; Jerome/ Kern.
Editorial Description: A cover page carrying the library's description of the materials, hand printed.
Note: Pages i-ii not in this proof.
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[Most of these poems were written between 1847

and 1853; and are here printed, if not without

revision, yet generally much in their original

state. They are a few among a good many

then written, but of the others I have now no

complete copies. The ‘Sonnets and Songs’

are chiefly more recent work.]
D. G. R. 1869.
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Sig. B

  • The blessed damozel leaned out
  • From the gold bar of Heaven;
  • Her eyes were deeper than the depth
  • Of waters stilled at even;
  • She had three lilies in her hand,
  • And the stars in her hair were seven.
  • Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
  • No wrought flowers did adorn,
  • But a white rose of Mary's gift,
  • 10 For service meetly worn;
  • And her hair lying down her back
  • Was yellow like ripe corn.
  • Herseemed she scarce had been a day
  • One of God's choristers;
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  • The wonder was not yet quite gone
  • From that still look of hers;
  • Albeit, to them she left, her day
  • Had counted as ten years.
  • ( To one, it is ten years of years.
  • 20 . . . Yet now, and in this place,
  • Surely she leaned o'er me—her hair
  • Fell all about my face. . . .
  • Nothing: the autumn fall of leaves.
  • The whole year sets apace.)
  • It was the rampart of God's house
  • That she was standing on;
  • By God built over the sheer depth
  • The which is Space begun;
  • So high, that looking downward thence
  • 30 She scarce could see the sun.
  • It lies in Heaven, across the flood
  • Of ether, as a bridge.
  • Beneath, the tides of day and night
  • With flame and darkness ridge
  • The void, as low as where this earth
  • Spins like a fretful midge.
  • She scarcely heard her sweet new friends;
  • Amid their loving games
  • Softly they spake among themselves
  • 40 Their virginal chaste names;
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  • And the souls mounting up to God
  • Went by her like thin flames.
  • And still she bowed above the vast
  • Waste sea of worlds that swarm;
  • Until her bosom must have made
  • The bar she leaned on warm,
  • And the lilies lay as if asleep
  • Along her bended arm.
  • From the fixed place of Heaven she saw
  • 50 Time like a pulse shake fierce
  • Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove
  • Within the gulf to pierce
  • Its path; and now she spoke as when
  • The stars sang in their spheres.
  • The sun was gone now; the curled moon
  • Was like a little feather
  • Fluttering far down the gulf; and now
  • She spoke through the still weather.
  • Her voice was like the voice the stars
  • 60 Had when they sang together.
  • ‘I wish that he were come to me,
  • For he will come,’ she said.
  • ‘Have I not prayed in Heaven?—on earth,
  • Lord, Lord, has he not pray'd?
  • Are not two prayers a perfect strength?
  • And shall I feel afraid?
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  • ‘When round his head the aureole clings,
  • And he is clothed in white,
  • I'll take his hand and go with him
  • 70 To the deep wells of light;
  • We will step down as to a stream,
  • And bathe there in God's sight.
  • ‘We two will stand beside that shrine,
  • Occult, withheld, untrod,
  • Whose lamps are stirred continually
  • With prayer sent up to God;
  • And see our old prayers, granted, melt
  • Each like a little cloud.
  • ‘We two will lie i' the shadow of
  • 80 That living mystic tree
  • Within whose secret growth the Dove
  • Is sometimes felt to be,
  • While every leaf that his plumes touch
  • Saith his name audibly.
  • ‘And I myself will teach to him,
  • I myself, lying so,
  • The songs I sing here; which his voice
  • Shall pause in, hushed and slow,
  • And find some knowledge at each pause,
  • 90 Or some new thing to know.’
  • ( Ah Sweet! Just now, in that bird's song,
  • Strove not her accents there,
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  • Fain to be hearkened? When those bells
  • Possessed the midday air,
  • Was she not stepping to my side
  • Down all the trembling stair?)
  • ‘We two,’ she said, ‘will seek the groves
  • Where the lady Mary is,
  • With her five handmaidens, whose names
  • 100 Are five sweet symphonies,
  • Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,
  • Margaret and Rosalys.
  • ‘Circlewise sit they, with bound locks
  • And foreheads garlanded;
  • Into the fine cloth white like flame
  • Weaving the golden thread,
  • To fashion the birth-robes for them
  • Who are just born, being dead.
  • ‘He shall fear, haply, and be dumb:
  • 110 Then will I lay my cheek
  • To his, and tell about our love,
  • Not once abashed or weak:
  • And the dear Mother will approve
  • My pride, and let me speak.
  • ‘Herself shall bring us, hand in hand,
  • To Him round whom all souls
  • Kneel, the clear-ranged unnumbered heads
  • Bowed with their aureoles:
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  • And angels meeting us shall sing
  • 120 To their citherns and citoles.
  • ‘There will I ask of Christ the Lord
  • Thus much for him and me:—
  • Only to live as once on earth
  • With Love,—only to be,
  • As then awhile, for ever now
  • Together, I and he.’
  • She gazed and listened and then said,
  • Less sad of speech than mild,—
  • ‘All this is when he comes.’ She ceased.
  • 130 The light thrilled towards her, fill'd
  • With angels in strong level flight.
  • Her eyes prayed, and she smil'd.
  • ( I saw her smile). But soon their path
  • Was vague in distant spheres:
  • And then she cast her arms along
  • The golden barriers,
  • And laid her face between her hands,
  • And wept. ( I heard her tears.)
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  • Master of the murmuring courts
  • Where the shapes of sleep convene!—
  • When among thy dim resorts
  • This my soul in dreams hath been,
  • What of her whom it hath seen?
  • No reports
  • From those jealous courts I glean.
  • Vapourous, unaccountable,
  • Low they stand, unknown to light,
  • 10Hollow like a breathing shell.
  • Ah! that in those halls I might
  • Choose a dream for my delight!
  • I know well
  • What her sleep should tell to-night.
  • There the dreams are multitudes:
  • Some whose bouyance waits not sleep,
  • Deep within the August woods;
  • Some that hum while rest may steep
  • Weary labour laid a-heap:
  • 20 Interludes,
  • Some, of grievous moods that weep.
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  • Thence are youth's warm fancies: there
  • Women thrill with whisperings
  • Valleys full of plaintive air;
  • There breathe perfumes; there in rings
  • Whirl the foam-bewildered springs;
  • Siren there
  • Winds her dizzy hair and sings.
  • Thence the one dream mutually
  • 30 Dreamed in bridal unison,
  • Less than waking ecstasy;
  • Half-formed visions that make moan
  • In the house of birth alone;
  • And what we
  • At death's wicket see, unknown.
  • But for mine own sleep, it lies
  • In one gracious form's control,
  • Fair with honorable eyes,
  • Lamps of an auspicious soul:
  • 40 O their glance is loftiest dole,
  • Sweet and wise,
  • Wherein Love descries his goal.
  • Reft of her, my dreams are all
  • Clammy trance that fears the sky:
  • Changing footpaths shift and fall;
  • From polluted coverts nigh,
  • Miserable phantoms sigh;
  • Quakes the pall,
  • And the funeral goes by.
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  • 50As, since man waxed deathly wise,
  • Secret somewhere on this earth
  • Unpermitted Eden lies,—
  • Thus within the world's wide girth
  • Hides she from my spirit's dearth,—
  • Paradise
  • Of a love that cries for birth.
  • Master, it is soothly said
  • That, as echoes of man's speech
  • Far in secret clefts are made,
  • 60 So do all men's bodies reach
  • Shadows o'er thy sunken beach,—
  • Shape or shade
  • In those halls pourtrayed of each?
  • Ah! might I, by thy good grace
  • Groping in the windy stair,
  • (Darkness and the breath of space
  • Like loud waters everywhere,)
  • Meeting mine own image there
  • Face to face,
  • 70 Send it from that place to her!
  • Nay, not I; but oh! do thou,
  • Master, from thy shadowkind
  • Call my body's phantom now:
  • Bid it bear its face declin'd
  • Till its flight her slumbers find,
  • And her brow
  • Feel its presence bow like wind.
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  • Where in groves the gracile Spring
  • Trembles, with mute orison
  • 80Confidently strengthening,
  • Water's voice and wind's as one
  • Shed an echo in the sun,
  • Soft as Spring,
  • Master, bid it sing and moan.
  • Song shall tell how glad and strong
  • Is the night she soothes alway;
  • Moan shall grieve with that parched tongue
  • Of the brazen hours of day:
  • Sounds as of the springtide they,
  • 90 Moan and song,
  • While the chill months long for May.
  • Not the prayers which with all leave
  • The world's fluent woes prefer,—
  • Not the praise the world doth give,
  • Dulcet fulsome whisperer;—
  • Let it yield man's love to her,
  • And achieve
  • Strength that shall not grieve or err.
  • Wheresoe'er my sleep befall,
  • 100 Both at night-watch, (let it say,)
  • And where round the sundial
  • The reluctant hours of day,
  • Heartless, hopeless of their way,
  • Rest and call;—
  • There her glance doth fall and stay.
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Note: This is a duplicate proof page.
  • Where in groves the gracile Spring
  • Trembles, with mute orison
  • Confidently strengthening,
  • Water's voice and wind's as one
  • Shed an echo in the sun,
  • Soft as Spring,
  • Master, bid it sing and moan.
  • Song shall tell how glad and strong
  • Is the night she soothes alway;
  • 10Moan shall grieve with that parched tongue
  • Of the brazen hours of day:
  • Sounds as of the springtide they,
  • Moan and song,
  • While the chill months long for May.
  • Not the prayers which with all leave
  • The world's fluent woes prefer,—
  • Not the praise the world doth give,
  • Dulcet fulsome whisperer;—
  • Let it yield man's love to her,
  • 20 And achieve
  • Strength that shall not grieve or err.
  • Wheresoe'er my sleep befall,
  • Both at night-watch, (let it say,)
  • And where round the sundial
  • The reluctant hours of day,
  • Heartless, hopeless of their way,
  • Rest and call;—
  • There her glance doth fall and stay.
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  • Suddenly her face is there:
  • So do mounting vapours wreathe
  • Subtle-scented transports where
  • The black firwood sets its teeth.
  • 110 Part the boughs and look beneath,—
  • Lilies share
  • Secret waters there, and breathe.
  • Master, bid my shadow bend
  • Whispering thus till birth of light,
  • Lest new shapes that sleep may send
  • Scatter all its work to flight;—
  • Master, master of the night,
  • Bid it spend
  • Speech, song, prayer, and end aright.
  • 120Yet, ah me! if at her head
  • There another phantom lean
  • Murmuring o'er the fragrant bed,—
  • Ah! and if my spirit's queen
  • Smile those alien prayers between,—
  • Ah! poor shade!
  • Shall it strive, or fade unseen?
  • Like a vapour wan and mute,
  • Like a flame, so let it pass;
  • One low sigh across her lute,
  • 130 One dull breath against her glass;
  • And to my sad soul, alas!
  • One salute
  • Cold as when death's foot shall pass.
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  • How should love's own messenger
  • Strive with love and be love's foe?
  • Master, nay! If thus in her,
  • Sleep a wedded heart should show,—
  • Silent let mine image go,
  • Its old share
  • 140 Of thy sunken air to know.
  • Then, too, let all hopes of mine,
  • All vain hopes by night and day,
  • Master, at thy summoning sign
  • Rise up pallid and obey.
  • Dreams, if this is thus, were they:—
  • Be they thine,
  • And to dreamland pine away.
  • (So, when some lost legion lies
  • Ambushed where no help appears,—
  • 150All night long their unseen eyes
  • Watching for the growth of spears,—
  • Like their ghosts, when morning nears,
  • Dumb they rise,
  • Ready without sighs or tears.)
  • Yet from old time, life, not death,
  • Master, in thy rule is rife:
  • Lo! through thee, with mingling breath,
  • Adam woke beside his wife.
  • O Love bring me so, for strife,
  • 160 Force and faith,
  • Bring me so not death but life!
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  • Yea, to Love himself is pour'd
  • This frail song of hope and fear.
  • Thou art Love, of one accord
  • With kind Sleep to bring her here,
  • Still-eyed, deep-eyed, ah how dear!
  • Master, Lord,
  • In her name implor'd, O hear!
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Note: Pages 15-34 not in this proof.
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Editorial Description: Someone has written a small 30 just above the first stanza on the proof page.
Note: Lines 1-145 presumably appear on preceeding omitted pages
  • His bloodied banner crossed his mouth
  • Where he had kissed her name.
  • ‘O east, and west, and north, and south,
  • Fair flew my web, for shame,
  • 150 To guide Death's aim!’
  • The tints were shredded from his shield
  • Where he had kissed her face.
  • ‘Oh, of all gifts that I could yield,
  • Death only keeps its place,
  • My gift and grace!’
  • Then stepped a damsel to her side,
  • And spake, and needs must weep:
  • ‘For his sake, lady, if he died,
  • He prayed of thee to keep
  • 160 This staff and scrip.’
  • That night they hung above her bed,
  • Till morning wet with tears.
  • Year after year above her head
  • Her bed his token wears,
  • Five years, ten years.
  • That night the passion of her grief
  • Shook them as there they hung.
  • Each year the wind that shed the leaf
  • Shook them and in its tongue
  • 170 A message flung.
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  • And she would wake with a clear mind
  • That letters writ to calm
  • Her soul lay in the scrip; and find
  • Only a torpid balm
  • And dust of palm.
  • They shook far off with palace sport
  • When joust and dance were rife;
  • And the hunt shook them from the court;
  • For hers, in peace or strife,
  • 180 Was a Queen's life.
  • A Queen's death now: as now they shake
  • To chaunts in chapel dim,—
  • Hung where she sleeps, not seen to wake,
  • (Carved lovely white and slim),
  • With them by him.
  • Stand up to-day, still armed, with her,
  • Good knight, before His brow
  • Who then as now was here and there,
  • Who had in mind thy vow
  • 190 Then even as now.
  • The lists are set in Heaven to-day,
  • The bright pavilions shine;
  • Fair hangs thy shield, and none gainsay;
  • The trumpets sound in sign
  • That she is thine.
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  • Not tithed with days' and years' decease
  • He pays thy wage He owed,
  • But with imperishable peace
  • Here in His own abode,
  • 200 Thy jealous God.
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Note: Pages 38-48 not in this proof.
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Sig. E
  • ‘O have you seen the Stratton flood
  • That's great with rain to-day?
  • It runs beneath your wall, Lord Sands,
  • Full of the new-mown hay.
  • ‘I led your hounds to Hutton bank
  • To bathe at early morn:
  • They got their bath by Borrowbrake
  • Above the standing corn.’
  • Out from the castle-stair Lord Sands
  • 10 Looked up the western lea;
  • The rook was grieving on her nest,
  • The flood was round her tree.
  • Over the castle-wall Lord Sands
  • Looked down the eastern hill:
  • The stakes swam free among the boats,
  • The flood was rising still.
  • ‘What's yonder far below that lies
  • So white against the slope?’
  • ‘O it's a sail o' your bonny barks
  • 20 The waters have washed up.
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  • ‘But I have never a sail so white,
  • And the water's not yet there.’
  • ‘O it's the swans o' your bonny lake
  • The rising flood doth scare.’
  • ‘The swans they would not hold so still,
  • So high they would not win.’
  • ‘O it's Joyce my wife has spread her smock
  • And fears to fetch it in.’
  • ‘Nay, knave, it's neither sail nor swans,
  • 30 Nor aught that you can say;
  • For though your wife might leave her smock,
  • Herself she'd bring away.’
  • Lord Sands has passed the turret-stair,
  • The court, and yard, and all;
  • The kine were in the byre that day,
  • The nags were in the stall.
  • Lord Sands has won the weltering slope
  • Whereon the white shape lay:
  • The clouds were still above the hill,
  • 40 And the shape was still as they.
  • Oh pleasant is the gaze of life
  • And sad death's sightless head;
  • But awful are the living eyes
  • In the face of one thought dead.
  • ‘O Jean! and is it me, thy love,
  • Thy ghost has come to seek?’
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  • ‘But I have never a sail so white,
  • And the water's not yet there.’
  • ‘O it's the swans o' your bonny lake
  • The rising flood doth scare.’
  • ‘The swans they would not hold so still,
  • So high they would not win.’
  • ‘O it's Joyce my wife has spread her smock
  • And fears to fetch it in.’
  • ‘Nay, knave, it's neither sail nor swans,
  • 10 Nor aught that you can say;
  • For though your wife might leave her smock,
  • Herself she'd bring away.’
  • Lord Sands has passed the turret-stair,
  • The court, and yard, and all;
  • The kine were in the byre that day,
  • The nags were in the stall.
  • Lord Sands has won the weltering slope
  • Whereon the white shape lay:
  • The clouds were still above the hill,
  • 20 And the shape was still as they.
  • Oh pleasant is the gaze of life
  • And sad death's sightless head;
  • But awful are the living eyes
  • In the face of one thought dead.
  • ‘O Jean! and is it me, thy love,
  • Thy ghost has come to seek?’
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  • ‘Nay, wait another hour, Lord Sands,
  • And then my ghost shall speak.’
  • A moment stood he as a stone,
  • 50 Then grovelled to his knee.
  • ‘O Jean, O Jean my love, O love,
  • Rise up and come with me!’
  • ‘O once before you bade me come,
  • And it's here you have brought me!
  • ‘O many's the sweet word of love
  • You've spoken oft to me;
  • But all that I have from you to-day
  • Is the rain on my body.
  • ‘And many are the gifts of love
  • 60 You've promised oft to me;
  • But the gift of yours I keep to-day
  • Is the babe in my body.
  • ‘O it's not in any earthly bed
  • That first my babe I'll see;
  • For I have brought my body here
  • That the flood may cover me.’
  • His face was close against her face,
  • His hands of hers were fain:
  • O her wet cheeks were hot with tears,
  • 70 Her wet hands cold with rain.
  • ‘Now keep you well, my brother Hugh,—
  • You told me she was dead!
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  • As wan as your towers be to-day,
  • To-morrow they'll be red.
  • ‘Look down, look down, my false mother,
  • That bade me not to grieve:
  • You'll look up when our marriage fires
  • Are lit to-morrow eve.
  • ‘O more than one and more than two
  • 80 The sorrow of this shall see:
  • But it's to-morrow, love, for them,—
  • To-day's for thee and me.’
  • He's drawn her face between his hands
  • And her pale mouth to his:
  • No bird that was so still that day
  • Chirps sweeter than his kiss.
  • He's ta'en her by the short girdle
  • And by the dripping sleeve:
  • ‘Go fetch Sir Jock my mother's priest,—
  • 90 You'll ask of him no leave.
  • ‘O it's yet ten minutes to the kirk
  • And ten for the marriage-rite;
  • And kirk and castle and castle-lands
  • Shall be our babe's to-night.’
  • ‘The flood's in the kirkyard, Lord Sands,
  • And round the belfry-stair.’
  • ‘I bade ye fetch the priest,’ he said,
  • Myself shall bring him there.
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  • ‘It's for the lilt of wedding bells
  • 100 We'll have the rain to pour,
  • And for the clink of bridle-reins
  • The plashing of the oar.’
  • Beneath them on the nether hill
  • A boat was floating wide:
  • Lord Sands swam out and caught the oars
  • And backed to the hill-side.
  • He's wrapped her in a green mantle,
  • And set her softly in.
  • And ‘Oh!’ she said, ‘lie still, my babe,
  • 110 It's out you must not win!’
  • But woe was with the bonny priest
  • When the water splashed his chin.
  • The first strokes that the oars struck
  • Were over the broad leas;
  • The next strokes that the oars struck
  • They pushed beneath the trees;
  • The last stroke that the oars struck,
  • The good boat's head was met,
  • And there the door of the kirkyard
  • 120 Stood like a ferry-gate.
  • He's set his hand upon the bar
  • And lightly leaped within:
  • He's lifted her to his left shoulder,
  • Her knees beside his chin.
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  • The flood was on the graves knee-deep,
  • As still the rain came down;
  • And when the foot-stone made him slip,
  • He held by the head-stone.
  • The empty boat thrawed i' the wind,
  • 130 Against the postern tied.
  • ‘Hold still, you've brought my love with me,
  • You shall take back my bride.’
  • And ‘Oh!’ she said, ‘on men's shoulders
  • I well had thought to wend,
  • And well to travel with a priest,
  • But not to have cared or kend.
  • ‘And oh!’ she said, ‘it's well this way
  • That I thought to have fared,—
  • Not to have lighted at the kirk
  • 140 But stopped in the kirkyard.
  • ‘For it's oh and oh I prayed to God,
  • Whose rest I hoped to win,
  • That when to-night at your board-head
  • You'd bid the feast begin,
  • This water past your window-sill
  • Might bear my body in.’
  • Now make the white bed warm and soft
  • And greet the merry morn.
  • The night the mother should have died
  • 150 The young son shall be born.
Note: Pages 55-125 not in this proof.
Note: The missing pages 124-127 of this proof contained the half title for this new section of the volume as well as the first three of the sonnets
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Editorial Description: The page number is cancelled and number 132 written in.


By Giorgione.

( In the Louvre.)
  • Water, for anguish of the solstice:—nay,
  • But dip the vessel slowly,—nay, but lean
  • And mark how at its verge the wave sighs in
  • Reluctant. Hush! Beyond all depth away
  • The heat lies silent at the brink of day:
  • Now trails the hand upon the viol-string
  • That sobs, and the brown faces cease to sing,
  • Sad with the whole of pleasure. Her eyes stray
  • In sunset; from her mouth the pipe doth creep
  • 10 And leaves it pouting; shadowed here, the grass
  • Is cool against her naked side. Let be:—
  • Do not now speak unto her, lest she weep,
  • Nor name this ever. Be it as it was,—
  • Life touching lips with Immortality.
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Editorial Description: The page number is cancelled and number 133 written in.


By Andrea Mantegna.

( In the Louvre.)
  • Scarcely, I think; yet it indeed may be
  • The meaning reached him, when this music rang
  • Clear through his frame, a sweet possessive pang,
  • And he beheld these rocks and that ridged sea.
  • But I believe that, leaning tow'rds them, he
  • Just felt their hair carried across his face
  • As each girl passed him; nor gave ear to trace
  • How many feet; nor bent assuredly
  • His eyes from the blind fixedness of thought
  • 10 To know the dancers. It is bitter glad
  • Even unto tears. Its meaning filleth it,
  • A secret of the wells of Life: to wit:—
  • The heart's each pulse shall keep the sense it had
  • With all, though the mind's labour run to nought.
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Editorial Description: The page number is cancelled and number 134 written in.


By Ingres.

( Two Sonnets.)
  • A remote sky, prolonged to the sea's brim:
  • One rock-point standing buffeted alone,
  • Vexed at its base with a foul beast unknown,
  • Hell-spurge of geomaunt and teraphim:
  • A knight, and a winged creature bearing him,
  • Reared at the rock: a woman fettered there,
  • Leaning into the hollow with loose hair
  • And throat let back and heartsick trail of limb.
  • The sky is harsh, and the sea shrewd and salt:
  • 10 Under his lord the griffin-horse ramps blind
  • With rigid wings and tail. The spear's lithe stem
  • Thrills in the roaring of those jaws: behind,
  • That evil length of body chafes at fault.
  • She doth not hear nor see—she knows of them.
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  • Clench thine eyes now,—'tis the last instant, girl:
  • Draw in thy senses, set thy knees, and take
  • One breath for all: thy life is keen awake,—
  • Thou mayst not swoon. Was that the scattered whirl
  • Of its foam drenched thee?—or the waves that curl
  • And split, bleak spray wherein thy temples ache?
  • Or was it his the champion's blood to flake
  • Thy flesh?—or thine own blood's anointing, girl?
  • Now, silence: for the sea's is such a sound
  • 10 As irks not silence; and except the sea,
  • All now is still. Now the dead thing doth cease
  • To writhe, and drifts. He turns to her: and she,
  • Cast from the jaws of Death, remains there, bound,
  • Again a woman in her nakedness.
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Sig. N

( For a Picture.)
  • Of Adam's first wife, Lilith, it is told
  • (The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)
  • That, ere the snake's, her sweet tongue could deceive,
  • And her enchanted hair was the first gold.
  • And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
  • And, subtly of herself contemplative,
  • Draws men to watch the bright net she can weave,
  • Till heart and body and life are in its hold.
  • The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where
  • 10 Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent
  • And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?
  • Lo! as that youth's eyes burned at thine, so went
  • Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent,
  • And round his heart one strangling golden hair.
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Note: Pages 133-135 not in this proof.
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( Three Sonnets.)
  • Eat thou and drink; to-morrow thou shalt die.
  • Surely the earth, that's wise being very old,
  • Needs not our help. Then loose me, love, and hold
  • Thy sultry hair up from my face; that I
  • May pour for thee this yellow wine, brim-high,
  • Till round the glass thy fingers glow like gold.
  • We'll hear no hours: thy song, while hours are toll'd,
  • Shall leap, as fountains veil the changing sky.
  • A jest! Conceive! Why, there are really those,
  • 10 My own high-bosomed lady, who increase
  • Vain gold, vain lore, in reach of our true wealth!
  • Eleven long days they toil: upon the twelfth
  • They die not,—never having lived,—but cease;
  • And round their narrow lips the mould falls close.
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  • Watch thou and fear; to-morrow thou shalt die.
  • Or art thou sure thou shalt have time for death?
  • Is not the day which God's word promiseth
  • To come man knows not when? In yonder sky,
  • Now while we speak, the sun sets forth: Can I
  • Or thou assure him of his goal? God's breath
  • Perchance even at this moment quickeneth
  • The air to a flame; till spirits, always nigh
  • Though screened and hid, shall walk the daylight here.
  • 10 And dost thou prate of that which man shall do?
  • Canst thou, who hast but plagues, presume to be
  • Glad in his gladness that comes after thee?
  • Will his strength slay thy worm in Hell? Go to:
  • Cover thy countenance, and watch, and fear.
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  • Think thou and act; to-morrow thou shalt die.
  • Stretching thyself i' the sun upon the shore,
  • Thou say'st: ‘Man's measured path is all gone o'er:
  • Up all his years, steeply, with pant and sigh,
  • Man clomb until he touched the truth; and I,
  • Even I, am he whom it was destined for.’
  • How should this be? Art thou then so much more
  • Than they who sowed, that thou shouldst reap thereby?
  • Nay, come up hither. From this wave-washed mound
  • 10 Unto the horizon-brim look thou with me;
  • Then reach on with thy thought till it be drown'd.
  • Miles and miles distant though the horizon be,
  • And though thy thought sail leagues and leagues beyond,—
  • Still, leagues beyond those leagues, there is more sea.
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  • ‘Rivolsimi in quel lato
  • Là onde venia la voce,
  • E parvemi una luce
  • Che lucea quanto stella:
  • La mia mente era quella.’
Bonaggiunta Urbiciani, (1250.)
Before any knowledge of painting was brought to

Florence, there were already painters in Lucca, and Pisa,

and Arezzo, who feared God and loved the art. The

workmen from Greece, whose trade it was to sell their own

works in Italy and teach Italians to imitate them, had

already found, in rivals of the soil, a skill that could forestall

their lessons and cheapen their crucifixes and addolorate,

more years than is supposed before the art came at all into

Florence. The pre-eminence to which Cimabue was raised

at once by his contemporaries, and which he still retains to

a wide extent even in the modern mind, is to be accounted

for, partly by the circumstances under which he arose, and

partly by that extraordinary purpose of fortune born with the

lives of some few, and through which it is not a little thing

for any who went before, if they are even remembered as

the shadows of the coming of such an one, and the voices

which prepared his way in the wilderness. It is thus, almost
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exclusively, that the painters of whom I speak are now

known. They have left little, and but little heed is taken of

that which men hold to have been surpassed; it is gone like

time gone,—a track of dust and dead leaves that merely led

to the fountain.
Nevertheless, of very late years and in very rare in-

stances, some signs of a better understanding have become

manifest. A case in point is that of the triptych and two

cruciform pictures at Dresden, by Chiaro di Messer Bello

dell' Erma, to which the eloquent pamphlet of Dr. Aemmster

has at length succeeded in attracting the students. There

is another still more solemn and beautiful work, now proved

to be by the same hand, in the Pitti gallery at Florence.

It is the one to which my narrative will relate.

This Chiaro dell' Erma was a young man of very

honorable family in Arezzo; where, conceiving art almost,

for himself, and loving it deeply, he endeavoured from

early boyhood towards the imitation of any objects offered

in nature. The extreme longing after a visible embodiment

of his thoughts strengthened as his years increased, more

even than his sinews or the blood of his life; until he would

feel faint in sunsets and at the sight of stately persons.

When he had lived nineteen years, he heard of the famous

Giunta Pisano; and, feeling much of admiration, with per-

haps a little of that envy which youth always feels until it

has learned to measure success by time and opportunity, he
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determined that he would seek out Giunta, and, if possible,

become his pupil.
Having arrived in Pisa, he clothed himself in humble

apparel, being unwilling that any other thing than the desire

he had for knowledge should be his plea with the great

painter; and then, leaving his baggage at a house of enter-

tainment, he took his way along the street, asking whom he

met for the lodging of Giunta. It soon chanced that one of

that city, conceiving him to be a stranger and poor, took

him into his house and refreshed him; afterwards directing

him on his way.
When he was brought to speech of Giunta, he said

merely that he was a student, and that nothing in the world

was so much at his heart as to become that which he had

heard told of him with whom he was speaking. He was

received with courtesy and consideration, and soon stood

among the works of the famous artist. But the forms he saw

there were lifeless and incomplete; and a sudden exultation

possessed him as he said within himself, ‘I am the master

of this man.’ The blood came at first into his face, but the

next moment he was quite pale and fell to trembling. He

was able, however to conceal his emotion; speaking very

little to Giunta, but when he took his leave, thanking him

After this, Chiaro's first resolve was, that he would work

out thoroughly some of his thoughts, and let the world

know him. But the lesson which he had now learned, of

how small a greatness might win fame, and how little there

was to strive against, served to make him torpid, and ren-
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dered his exertions less continual. Also Pisa was a larger

and more luxurious city than Arezzo; and when, in his

walks, he saw the great gardens laid out for pleasure, and

the beautiful women who passed to and fro, and heard the

music that was in the groves of the city at evening, he was

taken with wonder that he had never claimed his share of

the inheritance of those years in which his youth was cast.

And women loved Chiaro; for, in despite of the burthen of

study, he was well-favoured and very manly in his walking;

and, seeing his face in front, there was a glory upon it, as

upon the face of one who feels a light round his hair.
So he put thought from him, and partook of his life.

But, one night, being in a certain company of ladies, a

gentleman that was there with him began to speak of the

paintings of a youth named Bonaventura, which he had seen

in Lucca; adding that Giunta Pisano might now look for a

rival. When Chiaro heard this, the lamps shook before

him, and the music beat in his ears. He rose up, alleging

a sudden sickness, and went out of that house with his teeth

set. And, being again within his room, he wrote up over

the door the name of Bonaventura, that it might stop him

when he would go out.
He now took to work diligently, not returning to Arezzo,

but remaining in Pisa, that no day more might be lost; only

living entirely to himself. Sometimes, after nightfall, he

would walk abroad in the most solitary places he could find;

hardly feeling the ground under him, because of the thoughts

of the day which held him in fever.
The lodging Chiaro had chosen was in a house that
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looked upon gardens fast by the Church of San Petronio. It

was here, and at this time, that he painted the Dresden

pictures; as also, in all likelihood, the one—inferior in

merit, but certainly his—which is now at Munich. For the

most part he was calm and regular in his manner of study;

though often he would remain at work through the whole of

a day, not resting once so long as the light lasted; flushed,

and with the hair from his face. Or, at times, when he

could not paint, he would sit for hours in thought of all the

greatness the world had known from of old; until he was

weak with yearning, like one who gazes upon a path of

He continued in this patient endeavour for about three

years, at the end of which his name was spoken throughout

all Tuscany. As his fame waxed, he began to be employed,

besides easel-pictures, upon wall-paintings; but I believe

that no traces remain to us of any of these latter. He

is said to have painted in the Duomo; and D'Agincourt

mentions having seen some portions of a picture by him

which originally had its place above the high altar in the

Church of the Certosa; but which, at the time he saw it,

being very dilapidated, had been hewn out of the wall, and

was preserved in the stores of the convent. Before the

period of Dr. Aemmster's researches, however, it had been

entirely destroyed.
Chiaro was now famous. It was for the race of fame

that he had girded up his loins; and he had not paused

until fame was reached; yet now, in taking breath, he found

that the weight was still at his heart. The years of his
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labour had fallen from him, and his life was still in its first

painful desire.
With all that Chiaro had done during these three years,

and even before with the studies of his early youth, there

had always been a feeling of worship and service. It was

the peace-offering that he made to God and to his own soul

for the eager selfishness of his aim. There was earth, indeed,

upon the hem of his raiment; but this was of the heaven,

heavenly. He had seasons when he could endure to think

of no other feature of his hope than this. Sometimes it had

even seemed to him to behold that day when his mistress

—his mystical lady (now hardly in her ninth year, but whose

smile at meeting had already lighted on his soul,)—even

she, his own gracious Italian Art—should pass, through the

sun that never sets, into the circle of the shadow of the tree

of life, and be seen of God and found good: and then it had

seemed to him that he, with many who, since his coming,

had joined the band of whom he was one (for, in his dream,

the body he had worn on earth had been dead an hundred

years), were permitted to gather round the blessed maiden,

and to worship with her through all ages and ages of ages,

saying, Holy, holy, holy. This thing he had seen with the

eyes of his spirit; and in this thing had trusted, believing

that it would surely come to pass.
But now, (being at length led to inquire closely into

himself,) even as, in the pursuit of fame, the unrest abiding

after attainment had proved to him that he had misinterpreted

the craving of his own spirit—so also, now that he would

willingly have fallen back on devotion, he became aware
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Sig. P
that much of that reverence which he had mistaken for faith

had been no more than the worship of beauty. Therefore,

after certain days passed in perplexity, Chiaro said within

himself, ‘My life and my will are yet before me: I will

take another aim to my life.’
From that moment Chiaro set a watch on his soul, and

put his hand to no other works but only to such as had for

their end the presentment of some moral greatness that

should influence the beholder: and to this end, he multiplied

abstractions, and forgot the beauty and passion of the world.

So the people ceased to throng about his pictures as hereto-

fore; and, when they were carried through town and town

to their destination, they were no longer delayed by the

crowds eager to gaze and admire: and no prayers or offer-

ings were brought to them on their path, as to his Madonnas,

and his Saints, and his Holy Children, wrought for the sake

of the life he saw in the faces that he loved. Only the critical

audience remained to him; and these, in default of more

worthy matter, would have turned their scrutiny on a puppet

or a mantle. Meanwhile, he had no more of fever upon

him; but was calm and pale each day in all that he did

and in his goings in and out. The works he produced

at this time have perished—in all likelihood, not unjustly.

It is said (and we may easily believe it), that, though

more laboured than his former pictures, they were cold

and unemphatic; bearing marked out upon them, the

measure of that boundary to which they were made to

And the weight was still close at Chiaro's heart: but he
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held in his breath, never resting (for he was afraid), and

would not know it.
Now it happened, within these days, that there fell a

great feast in Pisa, for holy matters: and each man left his

occupation; and all the guilds and companies of the city

were got together for games and rejoicings. And there were

scarcely any that stayed in the houses, except ladies who

lay or sat along their balconies between open windows which

let the breeze beat through the rooms and over the spread

tables from end to end. And the golden cloths that their

arms lay upon drew all eyes upward to see their beauty;

and the day was long; and every hour of the day was bright

with the sun.
So Chiaro's model, when he awoke that morning on the

hot pavement of the Piazza Nunziata, and saw the hurry of

people that passed him, got up and went along with them;

and Chiaro waited for him in vain.
For the whole of that morning, the music was in Chiaro's

room from the Church close at hand; and he could hear

the sounds that the crowd made in the streets; hushed only

at long intervals while the processions for the feast-day

chanted in going under his windows. Also, more than once,

there was a high clamour from the meeting of factious

persons: for the ladies of both leagues were looking down;

and he who encountered his enemy could not choose but

draw upon him. Chiaro waited a long time idle; and then

knew that his model was gone elsewhere. When at his

work, he was blind and deaf to all else; but he feared

sloth: for then his stealthy thoughts would begin to beat
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round and round him, seeking a point for attack. He now

rose, therefore, and went to the window. It was within a

short space of noon; and underneath him a throng of people

was coming out through the porch of San Petronio.
The two greatest houses of the feud in Pisa had filled

the church for that mass. The first to leave had been the

Gherghiotti; who, stopping on the threshold, had fallen

back in ranks along each side of the archway: so that now,

in passing outward, the Marotoli had to walk between two

files of men whom they hated, and whose fathers had hated

theirs. All the chiefs were there and their whole adherence;

and each knew the name of each. Every man of the Maro-

toli, as he came forth and saw his foes, laid back his hood

and gazed about him, to show the badge upon the close cap

that held his hair. And of the Gherghiotti there were some

who tightened their girdles; and some shrilled and threw

up their wrists scornfully, as who flies a falcon; for that was

the crest of their house.
On the walls within the entry were a number of tall,

narrow pictures, presenting a moral allegory of Peace, which

Chiaro had painted that year for the Church. The Gher-

ghiotti stood with their backs to these frescoes; and among

them Golzo Ninuccio, the youngest noble of the faction,

called by the people Golaghiotta, for his debased life. This

youth had remained for some while talking listlessly to his

fellows, though with his sleepy sunken eyes fixed on them

who passed: but now, seeing that no man jostled another,

he drew the long silver shoe off his foot and struck the dust

out of it on the cloak of him who was going by, asking him
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how far the tides rose at Viderza. And he said so because

it was three months since, at that place, the Gherghiotti had

beaten the Marotoli to the sands, and held them there while

the sea came in; whereby many had been drowned. And,

when he had spoken, at once the whole archway was daz-

zling with the light of confused swords; and they who had

left turned back; and they who were still behind made

haste to come forth: and there was so much blood cast up

the walls on a sudden, that it ran in long streams down

Chiaro's paintings.
Chiaro turned himself from the window; for the light

felt dry between his lids, and he could not look. He sat

down, and heard the noise of contention driven out of the

church-porch and a great way through the streets; and soon

there was a deep murmur that heaved and waxed from the

other side of the city, where those of both parties were

gathering to join in the tumult.
Chiaro sat with his face in his open hands. Once again

he had wished to set his foot on a place that looked green

and fertile; and once again it seemed to him that the thin

rank mask was about to spread away, and that this time the

chill of the water must leave leprosy in his flesh. The light

still swam in his head, and bewildered him at first; but

when he knew his thoughts, they were these:—
‘Fame failed me: faith failed me: and now this also,—

the hope that I nourished in this my generation of men,—

shall pass from me, and leave my feet and my hands

groping. Yet because of this are my feet become slow and

my hands thin. I am as one who, through the whole night,
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holding his way diligently, hath smitten the steel unto the

flint, to lead some whom he knew darkling; who hath kept

his eyes always on the sparks that himself made, lest they

should fail; and who, towards dawn, turning to bid them

that he had guided God speed, sees the wet grass untrodden

except of his own feet. I am as the last hour of the day,

whose chimes are a perfect number; whom the next fol-

loweth not, nor light ensueth from him; but in the same

darkness is the old order begun afresh. Men say, “This is

not God nor man; he is not as we are, neither above us:

let him sit beneath us, for we are many.” Where I write

Peace, in that spot is the drawing of swords, and there men's

footprints are red. When I would sow, another harvest is

ripe. Nay, it is much worse with me than thus much. Am

I not as a cloth drawn before the light, that the looker may

not be blinded; but which sheweth thereby the grain of its

own coarseness; so that the light seems defiled, and men

say, “We will not walk by it.” Wherefore through me they

shall be doubly accursed, seeing that through me they reject

the light. May one be a devil and not know it?’
As Chiaro was in these thoughts, the fever encroached

slowly on his veins, till he could sit no longer and would

have risen; but suddenly he found awe within him, and

held his head bowed, without stirring. The warmth of the

air was not shaken; but there seemed a pulse in the light,

and a living freshness, like rain. The silence was a painful

music, that made the blood ache in his temples; and he

lifted his face and his deep eyes.
A woman was present in his room, clad to the hands
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and feet with a green and grey raiment, fashioned to that

time. It seemed that the first thoughts he had ever known

were given him as at first from her eyes, and he knew her

hair to be the golden veil through which he beheld his

dreams. Though her hands were joined, her face was not

lifted, but set forward; and though the gaze was austere, yet

her mouth was supreme in gentleness. And as he looked,

Chiaro's spirit appeared abashed of its own intimate

presence, and his lips shook with the thrill of tears; it

seemed such a bitter while till the spirit might be indeed

She did not move closer towards him, but he felt her to

be as much with him as his breath. He was like one who,

scaling a great steepness, hears his own voice echoed in

some place much higher than he can see, and the name of

which is not known to him. As the woman stood, her

speech was with Chiaro: not, as it were, from her mouth or

in his ears; but distinctly between them.
‘I am an image, Chiaro, of thine own soul within thee.

See me, and know me as I am. Thou sayest that fame has

failed thee, and faith failed thee; but because at least thou

hast not laid thy life unto riches, therefore, though thus late,

I am suffered to come into thy knowledge. Fame sufficed

not, for that thou didst seek fame: seek thine own con-

science (not thy mind's conscience, but thine heart's), and

all shall approve and suffice. For Fame, in noble soils, is a

fruit of the Spring: but not therefore should it be said:

“Lo! my garden that I planted is barren: the crocus is

here, but the lily is dead in the dry ground, and shall not
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lift the earth that covers it: therefore I will fling my garden

together, and give it unto the builders.” Take heed rather

that thou trouble not the wise secret earth; for in the mould

that thou throwest up shall the first tender growth lie to

waste; which else had been made strong in its season.

Yea, and even if the year fall past in all its months, and the

soil be indeed, to thee, peevish and incapable, and though

thou indeed gather all thy harvest, and it suffice for others,

and thou remain vexed with emptiness; and others drink of

thy streams, and the drouth rasp thy throat;—let it be

enough that these have found the feast good, and thanked

the giver: remembering that, when the winter is striven

through, there is another year, whose wind is meek, and

whose sun fulfilleth all.’
While he heard, Chiaro went slowly on his knees. It

was not to her that spoke, for the speech seemed within

him and his own. The air brooded in sunshine, and though

the turmoil was great outside, the air within was at peace.

But when he looked in her eyes, he wept. And she came

to him, and cast her hair over him, and took her hands

about his forehead, and spoke again:—
‘Thou hast said,’ she continued, gently, ‘that faith failed

thee. This cannot be. Either thou hadst it not, or thou

hast it. But who bade thee strike the point betwixt love

and faith? Wouldst thou sift the warm breeze from the

sun that quickens it? Who bade thee turn upon God and

say: “Behold, my offering is of earth, and not worthy: thy

fire comes not upon it: therefore, though I slay not my

brother whom thou acceptest, I will depart before thou
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smite me.” Why shouldst thou rise up and tell God He is

not content? Had He, of his warrant, certified so to thee?

Be not nice to seek out division; but possess thy love in

sufficiency: assuredly this is faith, for the heart must believe

first. What He hath set in thine heart to do, that do thou;

and even though thou do it without thought of Him, it shall

be well done; it is this sacrifice that He asketh of thee, and

his flame is upon it for a sign. Think not of Him; but

of his love and thy love. For God is no morbid exactor:

He hath no hand to bow beneath, nor a foot, that thou

shouldst kiss it.’
And Chiaro held silence, and wept into her hair which

covered his face; and the salt tears that he shed ran through

her hair upon his lips; and he tasted the bitterness of

Then the fair woman, that was his soul, spoke again to

him, saying:—
‘And for this thy last purpose, and for those unprofit-

able truths of thy teaching,—thine heart hath already put

them away, and it needs not that I lay my bidding upon

thee. How is it that thou, a man, wouldst say coldly to the

mind what God hath said to the heart warmly? Thy will

was honest and wholesome; but look well lest this also be

folly,—to say, “I, in doing this, do strengthen God among

men.” When at any time hath He cried unto thee, saying,

“My son, lend Me thy shoulder, for I fall?” Deemest thou

that the men who enter God's temple in malice, to the

provoking of blood, and neither for his love nor for his

wrath will abate their purpose,—shall afterwards stand with
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thee in the porch, midway between Him and themselves, to

give ear unto thy thin voice, which merely the fall of their

visors can drown, and to see thy hands, stretched feebly,

tremble among their swords? Give thou to God no more

than He asketh of thee; but to man also, that which is man's.

In all that thou doest, work from thine own heart, simply; for

his heart is as thine, when thine is wise and humble; and

he shall have understanding of thee. One drop of rain is

as another, and the sun's prism in all: and shalt thou not

be as he, whose lives are the breath of One? Only by

making thyself his equal can he learn to hold communion

with thee, and at last own thee above him. Not till thou

lean over the water shalt thou see thine image therein:

stand erect, and it shall slope from thy feet and be lost.

Know that there is but this means whereby thou mayest

serve God with man:—Set thine hand and thy soul to

serve man with God.’
And when she that spoke had said these words within

Chiaro's spirit, she left his side quietly, and stood up as he

had first seen her: with her fingers laid together, and her

eyes steadfast, and with the breadth of her long dress

covering her feet on the floor. And, speaking again, she

‘Chiaro, servant of God, take now thine Art unto thee,

and paint me thus, as I am, to know me: weak, as I am,

and in the weeds of this time; only with eyes which seek

out labour, and with a faith, not learned, yet jealous of

prayer. Do this; so shall thy soul stand before thee always,

and perplex thee no more.’
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And Chiaro did as she bade him. While he worked,

his face grew solemn with knowledge: and before the

shadows had turned, his work was done. Having finished,

he lay back where he sat, and was asleep immediately: for

the growth of that strong sunset was heavy about him, and

he felt weak and haggard; like one just come out of a dusk,

hollow country, bewildered with echoes, where he had lost

himself, and who has not slept for many days and nights.

And when she saw him lie back, the beautiful woman came

to him, and sat at his head, gazing, and quieted his sleep

with her voice.
The tumult of the factions had endured all that day

through all Pisa, though Chiaro had not heard it: and the

last service of that feast was a mass sung at midnight from

the windows of all the churches for the many dead who lay

about the city, and who had to be buried before morning,

because of the extreme heats.

In the spring of 1847, I was at Florence. Such as were

there at the same time with myself—those, at least, to

whom Art is something,—will certainly recollect how many

rooms of the Pitti Gallery were closed through that season,

in order that some of the pictures they contained might be

examined and repaired without the necessity of removal.

The hall, the staircases, and the vast central suite of apart-

ments, were the only accessible portions; and in these such

paintings as they could admit from the sealed penetralia
Image of page 163 page: 163
Note: Typo: in paragraph 38, the word “the” is repeated unnecessarily in the phrase “mirrored in the the reclaimed surface”
were profanely huddled together, without respect of dates,

schools, or persons.
I fear that, through this interdict, I may have missed

seeing many of the best pictures. I do not mean only the

most talked of: for these, as they were restored, generally

found their way somehow into the open rooms, owing to the

clamours raised by the students; and I remember how old

Ercoli's, the curator's, spectacles used to be mirrored in the

the reclaimed surface, as he leaned mysteriously over these

works with some of the visitors, to scrutinize and elucidate.
One picture that I saw that spring, I shall not easily

forget. It was among those, I believe, brought from the

other rooms, and had been hung, obviously out of all

chronology, immediately beneath that head by Raphael so

long known as the ‘Berrettino,’ and now said to be the

portrait of Cecco Ciulli.
The picture I speak of is a small one, and represents

merely the figure of a woman, clad to the hands and feet

with a green and grey raiment, chaste and early in its

fashion, but exceedingly simple. She is standing: her

hands are held together lightly, and her eyes set earnestly

The face and hands in this picture, though wrought

with great delicacy, have the appearance of being painted

at once, in a single sitting: the drapery is unfinished. As

soon as I saw the figure, it drew an awe upon me, like

water in shadow. I shall not attempt to describe it more

than I have already done; for the most absorbing wonder

of it was its literality. You knew that figure, when painted,
Image of page 164 page: 164
had been seen; yet it was not a thing to be seen of men.

This language will appear ridiculous to such as have never

looked on the work; and it may be even to some among

those who have. On examining it closely, I perceived in

one corner of the canvass the words Manus Animam pinxit,

and the date 1239.
I turned to my Catalogue, but that was useless, for the

pictures were all displaced. I then stepped up to the

Cavaliere Ercoli, who was in the room at the moment,

and asked him regarding the subject and authorship of the

painting. He treated the matter, I thought, somewhat

slightingly, and said that he could show me the reference

in the Catalogue, which he had compiled. This, when

found, was not of much value, as it merely said, ‘Schizzo

d'autore incerto,’ adding the inscription.* I could willingly

have prolonged my inquiry, in the hope that it might some-

how lead to some result; but I had disturbed the curator

from certain yards of Guido, and he was not communicative.

I went back therefore, and stood before the picture till it

grew dusk.
The next day I was there again; but this time a circle

of students was round the spot, all copying the ‘Berrettino’.
Transcribed Footnote (page 164):

* I should here say, that in the latest catalogues (owing, as in

cases before mentioned, to the zeal and enthusiasm of Dr. Aemmster),

this, and several other pictures, have been more competently entered.

The work in question is now placed in the Sala Sessagona, a room

I did not see—under the number 161. It is described as ‘Figura

mistica di Chiaro dell' Erma,’ and there is a brief notice of the

author appended.

Image of page 165 page: 165
I contrived, however, to find a place whence I could see my

picture, and where I seemed to be in nobody's way. For

some minutes I remained undisturbed; and then I heard,

in an English voice: ‘Might I beg of you, sir, to stand a

little more to this side, as you interrupt my view.’
I felt vexed, for, standing where he asked me, a glare

struck on the picture from the windows, and I could not see

it. However, the request was reasonably made, and from a

countryman; so I complied, and turning away, stood by

his easel. I knew it was not worth while; yet I referred in

some way to the work underneath the one he was copying.

He did not laugh, but he smiled as we do in England:

Very odd, is it not?’ said he.
The other students near us were all continental; and

seeing an Englishman select an Englishman to speak with,

conceived, I suppose, that he could understand no language

but his own. They had evidently been noticing the interest

which the little picture appeared to excite in me.
One of them, an Italian, said something to another who

stood next to him. He spoke with a Genoese accent, and

I lost the sense in the villanous dialect. ‘Che so?’ re-

plied the other, lifting his eyebrows towards the figure;

‘roba mistica: 'st' Inglesi son matti sul misticismo: somiglia

alle nebbie di là. Li fa pensare alla patria,
  • “e intenerisce il core
  • Lo dì ch' han detto ai dolci amici adio.”’
‘La notte, vuoi dire,’ said a third.
There was a general laugh. My compatriot was evi-
Image of page 166 page: 166
dently a novice in the language, and did not take in what

was said. I remained silent, being amused.
‘Et toi donc?’ said he who had quoted Dante, turning

to a student, whose birthplace was unmistakable, even had

he been addressed in any other language: ‘que dis-tu de ce

‘Moi?’ returned the Frenchman, standing back from his

easel, and looking at me and at the figure, quite politely,

though with an evident reservation: ‘Je dis, mon cher, que

c'est une spécialité dont je me fiche pas mal. Je tiens que

quand on ne comprend pas une chose, c'est qu' elle ne

signifie rien.’
My reader thinks possibly that the French student was

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