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“ But lift them over it, ignore it all, “ Make them forget there 's such a thing as flesh. “ Your business is to paint the souls of men“ Man's soul, and it 's a fire, smoke . no, it's not .. “ It 's vapour done up like a new-born babe“ (In that shape when you die it leaves your mouth) It's
well, what matters talking, it 's the soul ! “ Give us no more of body than shows soul ! “ Here's Giotto, with his Saint a-praising God, “ That sets us praising,—why not stop with him ?
Why put all thoughts of praise out of our head “ With wonder at lines, colours, and what not? “ 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 nought. 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
Can't I take breath'and try to add life's flash,
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 pleaseHaving a friend, you see, in the Corner-house! Lord, it's fast holding by the rings in frontThose great rings serve more purposes than just To plant a flag in, or tie up a horse ! 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 Angeiico'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 ;
throws 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 noMay they or may n't they? all I want 's the thing Settled for ever one way. As it is, You tell too many lies and hurt yourself : You don't like what you only like too much, You do like what, if given you at your word, You find abundantly detestable. For me, I think I speak as I was taught I always see the garden, and God there A-making man's wife : and, my lesson learned, The value and significance of flesh, I can't unlearn ten minutes afterwards.
You understand me: I'm a beast, I know. But see, now—why, I see as certainly As that the morning-star 's about to shine, What will hap some day. We've a youngster here Comes to our convent, studies what I do,
Slouches and stares and lets no atom drop: His name is Guidi—he 'll not mind the monksThey call him Hulking Tom, he lets them talkHe 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; 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, 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 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,
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 content, “The pious people have so eased their own “ 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
—That is—you 'll not mistake an idle word Spoke in a nuff by a poor monk, Got wot