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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 !” Nodoubt.
Yonder 's a work now, of that famous youth
The Urbinate who died five years ago.
('T is 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.
For me, 't is safer, 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-
'T is done and past; 't was 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 have ended there; then, if
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)
6 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,
6 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 hear
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