• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Dedication
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Introduction
 Casa guidi windows
 The dance
 Old pictures in Florence
 Fra Lippo Lippi
 Andrea del Sarto
 The statue and the bust
 The ring and the book: Book I
 One word more
 Index
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: Florence in the poetry of the Brownings
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00075578/00001
 Material Information
Title: Florence in the poetry of the Brownings being a selection of the poems of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning which have to do with the history the scenery and the art of Florence
Physical Description: xii, 13-230 p. : front., plates, ports. ;
Language: English
Creator: Browning, Robert, 1812-1889
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861
McMahan, Anna Benneson ( ed )
Publisher: A.C. McClurg & Co.
Place of Publication: Chicago
Publication Date: 1904
 Subjects
Subject: Poetry of places -- Italy -- Florence   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Poetry -- Florence (Italy)   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: edited by Anna Benneson McMahan; with over sixty full-page illustrations from photographs.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00075578
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00358992
lccn - 04029668

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
    Half Title
        Page iii
    Frontispiece
        Page iv
    Title Page
        Page v
        Page vi
    Dedication
        Page vii
    Table of Contents
        Page viii
    List of Illustrations
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Introduction
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    Casa guidi windows
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 24a
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 26a
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 28a
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 30a
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 32a
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        Page 34
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        Page 38a
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        Page 40a
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        Page 92a
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        Page 94a
        Page 95
        Page 96
    The dance
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 100a
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 102a
    Old pictures in Florence
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 106a
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 108a
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        Page 116a
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    Fra Lippo Lippi
        Page 119
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    Andrea del Sarto
        Page 135
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        Page 142
        Page 142a
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 144a
        Page 145
        Page 146
    The statue and the bust
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 150a
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 152a
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        Page 156
        Page 156a
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 158a
        Page 159
        Page 160
    The ring and the book: Book I
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 164a
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        Page 166
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    One word more
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 218a
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 224a
        Page 225
        Page 226
    Index
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
    Back Cover
        Page 231
        Page 232
    Spine
        Page 233
Full Text

FLRNEI N I, POT
SF THmmONI














McMA.HAN^^












UNIVERSITY
OF FLORIDA
LIBRARY


- ----i-r---r~-~ r--------------- ------~----- ~- ~ --- --


Irr













Florence in the Poetry of
the Brownings





CASA GUIDI. Home of
Robert and Elizabeth Bar-
rett Browning from 1847
to 1861. Corner of Via
Maggio and Via Mazzetta.


I heard last night a little child go singing
'Neath Casa Guidi windows, by the church."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 22.
" I stepped out on the narrow terrace, built
Over the street and opposite the church,
And paced its lozenge-brickwork sprinkled cool."
The Ring and the Book, p. 181.







Florence
in the

Poetry of the Brownings

Being a Selection of the Poems of
ROBERT AND ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
Which have to do with the History, the Scenery
and the Art of Florence

Edited by
Anna Benneson McMahan

With over Sixty Full-page Illustrations
from Photographs











Chicago
A. C. MCCLURG & Co.
1904

























COPYRIGHT

A. C. McCLu&RG & Co.

1904

Published October 5, 1904


With four exceptions, the photographs reproduced in this work are
from the atelier of the Brothers Alinari, Florence, and are used by
special arrangement with their approval and consent. The "Casa
Guidi," the "Carmine Cloister," and the "Book-Stall in Piazza San
Lorenzo" are by Miss Una McMahan; the "Piazza and Church of
San Lorenzo" is by Manelli, Florence.


THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.






















ANNIE HOWELL ANNIS
LOVER OF FLORENCE
AND OF
BROWNING


171380
















CONTENTS

PAGE
INTRODUCTION ... .. .. .... 13

BY ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

CASA GUIDI WINDOWS . . . 21
THE DANCE . . 99

BY ROBERT BROWNING

OLD PICTURES IN FLORENCE . .. 105
FRA LIPPO LIPPr ... . . 121
ANDREA DEL SARTO .... . . 137
THE STATUE AND THE BUST . . 149
THE RING AND THE BOOK. BOOK I ... ... 163
ONE WORD MORE .... . .. 217
















ILLUSTRATIONS


Casa Guidi Windows . Frontispiece
Bridges of the Arno .. .To face page 24
Monument to Giuliano de' Medici . .,, ,, 26
New Sacristy of San Lorenzo
Monument to Lorenzo de' Medici .... .. ,, ,, 28
New Sacristy of San Lorenzo
Martyrdom of Savonarola. .. .. 30
Museum of San Marco
Statue of Savonarola . . .,, ,, 32
Palazzo Vecchio
Cell of Savonarola . . ,, ,, 34
Museum of San Marco
Church of Santa Maria Novella ... .. ,, ,, 36
Fresco of Inferno, by Andrea Orcagna ,, ,, 38
Strozzi Chapel of Santa Maria Novella


Madonna . .
Rucellai Chapel of Santa Maria Novella
Crucifixion, by Margheritone . ..
Church of Santa Croce
Portrait of Fra Angelico . .
Academy of Fine Arts
The Pitti Palace .
Loggia dei Lanzi .
Monument to Dante .
Church of Santa Croce
[ ix]


S40

,, 42

S44


S46
,, 48
.50







ILLUSTRATIONS


Fresco of Dante . . .. Toface page 52
Bargello Chapel
Gate of San Niccolb . . .,, ,, 54
Gate of San Gallo .............,, ,, 56
Bust of Brutus . . .,, ,, 58
Bargello
Piazza in the Cascine . .. ... ..,, ,, 60
View of Florence .. ......... ,, ,, 62
Campanile, with Cathedral and Baptistry ,, ,, 66
Portrait of Michel Angelo ....... ..,, ,, 68
Uffizi Gallery
Portrait of Raphael Sanzio . ..,, ,, 72
Uffizi Gallery
Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci . .,, ,, 74
Uffizi Gallery
Statue of Niobe .... . .. ,, ,, 80
Uffizi Gallery
The Dying Alexander .. .. ,, ,, 84
Uffizi Gallery
Portraits of Cimabue, Giotto, and Taddeo Gaddi ,, ,, 88
Spanish Chapel of Santa Maria Novella
Statue of Niecola Pisano . . ,, 92
Portico of Uffizi
Portrait of Ghiberti . ,, ,, 94
Palazzo Vecchio
Portrait of Ghirlandajo .... ,, ,, 100
Santa Maria Novella
Portrait of Botticelli . .. .. ,, ,, 102
Uffizi Gallery
Portrait of Filippino Lippi . .,, ,, 106
Uffizi Gallery
Coronation of the Virgin, by Lorenzo Monaco ,, ,, 108
Uffizi Gallery
[x]







ILLUSTRATIONS


Madonna and Saints, by Baldovinetti .
Uffizi Gallery
Church of San Spirito .. ....
The Cloisters of the Carmine .. ...
Portrait of Cosimo the Elder, by Pontormo
Uffizi Gallery
St. Jerome, by Fra Filippo Lippi .
Academy of Fine Arts
Church of the Carmine . .
Group of Angels, by Giotto . .
Medici Chapel in Santa Croce
Portrait of Masaccio . .
Brancacci Chapel in Church of the Carmine
The Tribute Money, by Masaccio .
Brancacci Chapel in Church of the Carmine
Coronation of the Virgin, by Filippo Lippi
Academy of Fine Arts
Portrait of Filippo Lippi . .
Academy of Fine Arts
Portrait of Andrea del Sarto and his Wife
Pitti Gallery
View of Fiesole . .
Madonna, by Andrea del Sarto . .
Pitti Gallery
Palace Riccardi-Mannelli . .
Piazza dell' Annunziata
Villa Petraja . .
Statue of Ferdinand I. de' Medici .
Piazza dell' Annunziata
Piazza and Church of San Lorenzo .. ..
Book-stall in Piazza San Lorenzo .
Riccardi Palace . ...
[xi]


To face page 112


,, ,,


- ,,


,, 124


S126
,, ,, 130

,, ,, 132


S,, ,, 134

S,, ,, 138


S,, ,, 142


S,, ,, 144

S,, ,, 150
,, 152


S,, ,, 156


,, 158
,, 164







ILLUSTRATIONS


Interior of San Lorenzo .
Strozzi Palace .
Piazza Santa Trinith .
Bridge of Santa Trinith
Porta Romana .
Mrs. Browning's Tomb
Protestant Cemetery
Donna Velata .
Pitti Gallery
Madonna del Granduca
Pitti Gallery
San Miniato ..
Galileo's Tower .
The Protestant Cemetery .
Piazza Donatello


. To face page 176
,, 180
.. ,, 184
,, 188
,, ,, 194
,, 200

. ,, 206

. ,, 210


. ,, 212
. ,, 218
. ,, 224


[xii ]













Introduction


SLTHOUGH English poets by birth, the city of
A Florence, in Italy, was the home of Robert and
Elizabeth Barrett Browning during the fifteen
years of their wedded life. For both, this was a period
not only of supreme happiness but of continual literary
production, most of which was profoundly and essentially
influenced by Italian conditions and Italian atmosphere.
The most distinctively lyrical poetry of Robert Browning
belongs almost entirely to these years; whoever would
see him as a singer, in distinction from the dramatist of
his earlier period or the philosophical and religious poet of
his later life, must turn to the poems written during this
time of "life, love, and Italy." To both poets the history,
the scenery, the art of Florence, was a continual inspira-
tion; poems and correspondence alike show the supreme
place it held in their affections. "The most beautiful
of the cities devised by man," says Mrs. Browning, in one
of her letters; "completing Florence as Florence Italy,"
says Robert Browning, speaking of the campanile of the
cathedral.
Mrs. Browning's life-long interest in Italian politics
and in popular liberty are too well known to need further
[ 13 ]






INTRODUCTION


exposition; but the large part played by the local color
of the city, the multitude of allusions to the churches,
the piazzas, the pictures, the statues, the traditions of
Florence can be understood fully only by a somewhat
intimate knowledge of the city.
The same is true of many of Robert Browning's poems.
For example, his Old Pictures in Florence" is counted
among the most obscure of his shorter poems; but it is
obscure only because it assumes a larger amount of infor-
mation in the history of art than most readers possess.
It is true that nearly every line has some allusion to an
artist or an art-principle more or less unknown; but there
is no obscurity either of thought or expression when we
are once as well informed as Browning presupposes us all
to be. Doubtless it was a mistake on his part. Himself
living among these things, which were a part of his daily
walk and thought, it was unwise to assume an equal amount
of interest and knowledge on the part of his reader. But
the error is both complimentary and inspiring. Visiting
Florence, one of the first ambitions of a lover of Browning
is to go about with "Old Pictures in Florence," and other
poems, as a guide-book to some of the things best worth
seeing. But even such a person finds no small difficulty
in locating the special picture, or statue, or scene. This
book is an attempt to aid him and also the still larger
number of persons who may never see the city itself.
The poems of the Brownings already have been annotated
ably and sufficiently as far as words can serve; the pres-
ent work aims to set before the eye pictures of the places
[ 14 ]






INTRODUCTION


or persons mentioned, so that each reader may see Flor-
ence for himself as nearly as possible as the two poets saw
it, may approach, as closely as ever is possible to an out-
sider, the sources of poetical inspiration.
Indeed, both poets at times seem to have invited us
into the inner sanctuary of their minds, by stating dis-
tinctly the circumstances which led to poetical creation.
Mrs. Browning tells how she heard a little child go sing-
ing underneath her windows, and how with it came the
thought how
"the heart of Italy must beat
While such a voice had leave to rise serene
'Twixt church and palace of a Florence street."

Hence the poem, "Casa Guidi Windows."
Nor is there in all literature so painstaking an effort on
the part of any writer to reveal precisely all the stages of
the birth and growth of a poem, as that made by Brown-
ing in the first book of "The Ring and the Book." He
tells the time and the place where he found, and the price
that he paid for, a certain square old yellow book picked
out from amid the promiscuous rubbish of an old book-
stall; how the story of it appealed to him from the very
moment he laid hands upon it, and how, absorbed in the
reading, he took his unconscious way through the familiar
streets, finishing it just as he reached the doorway, where
the black begins with the first stone-slab of the staircase
cold" an unmistakable description of the dreary en-
trance to Casa Guidi. It was the night after, he goes on
to tell us, "as I trod the terrace and breathed the beauty
[ 15 ]






INTRODUCTION


and the fearfulness of night," that the tragic piece acted
itself over again, and he saw with his own eyes and heard
as if speaking with their own voices all the long-dead per-
sonages of the story, listened to their mutual accusations
and to the defences of each for his own share in it. How
such revelations come to the poetic soul no man will ever
be able really to communicate to another; but along all
the list of writers who have attempted it, from Aristotle to
Matthew Arnold, is there anywhere a better description
of the nature of poetic inspiration than these passages
from "The Ring and the Book" ? -
I fused my live soul and that inert stuff
Before attempting smitheraft."
"The life in me abolished the death of things,
Deep calling unto deep."

Or this, of the rapture felt by the poet in the act of
creation: -
"The Book! I turn its medicinable leaves
In London now till, as in Florence erst,
A spirit laughs and leaps through every limb,
And lights my eye, and lifts me by the hair,
Letting me have my will again with these.
How title I the dead, alive once more?"

It was four years before the poem was fully wrought
out and published in London; but the whole conception
of "The Ring and the Book" was practically complete at
the close of those twenty-four hours which the author has
described so minutely. The scene of the story itself lies
chiefly in Rome and Arezzo, but the vivid picture of the
[ 16 ]






INTRODUCTION


surroundings and atmosphere on that memorable June day,
the matchless description of the kindling of the poetic fire
belong solely to Florence. Shortly after occurred the death
of Mrs. Browning, the breaking up of the home, and
Mr. Browning's departure from the city, to which he never
afterwards returned.
No effort has been made to correct what many will re-
gard as misapprehensions on the part of the poets. What
is known as the "new criticism" denies that Cimabue
painted the Madonna in Santa Maria Novella," and gives
it to Duccio; the picture called "Andrea del Sarto and his
Wife, Painted by himself," is taken away from Andrea and
ascribed to an unknown artist of the Venetian school, and
the portraits are considered to be two unknown persons.
Whether right or wrong, no critical conclusion can ever
destroy the charm of the poem called Andrea del Sarto."
By whatever name we call the picture, to whatever artist
we assign it, the story which Browning read between the
lines of the two faces looking out from the canvas is no
less eloquent, the monologue no less dramatically expres-
sive of that type of artist who just misses his place among
the very greatest by reason of his lack of spiritual power
and grace. For years, hundreds of persons daily had
passed unmoved before this picture in the Pitti Gallery;
one day the man of supreme dramatic imagination, the
poet, paused, and to him the lips seemed to move and the
heart to throb with a tale of love and woe and resigned
despair. Since that time there are none who read the
poem who do not wish to see the picture itself, or, fail-
2 [ 17 ]







INTRODUCTION


ing in that, some reproduction of it. With "Fra Lippo
Lippi" and other poems the case is the same.
To such persons is offered this book--a selection of
those poems of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
which have to do with Florence, in the belief that
with these two great poets as guides they will see with
a new vision some of the old glories of the fair city of
the Arno.
A. B. McM.
FLORENCE, ITALY, 1904.


[ 18 ]
















CASA GUIDI WINDOWS











FLORENCE in the

POE'7R Y BR OONINGS


CASA GUIDI WINDOWS

A POEM, IN TWO PARTS

HIS poem contains the impressions of the writer
Supon events in Tuscany of which she was a wit-
ness. "From a window," the critic may demur.
She bows to the objection in the very title of her work.
No continuous narrative nor exposition of political phi-
losophy is attempted by her. It is a simple story of
personal impressions, whose only value is in the intensity
with which they were received, as proving her warm
affection for a beautiful and unfortunate country, and
the sincerity with which they are related, as indicating
her own good faith and freedom from partisanship.
Of the two parts of this poem, the first was written
nearly three years ago; while the second resumes the
actual situation of 1851. The discrepancy between the
two parts is a sufficient guaranty to the public of
the truthfulness of the writer, who, though she certainly
escaped the epidemic "falling sickness" of enthusiasm
for Pio Nono, takes shame upon herself that she believed,
like a woman, some royal oaths, and lost sight of the
[ 21 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


probable consequences of some obvious popular defects.
If the discrepancy should be painful to the reader, let
him understand that to the writer it has been more so.
But such discrepancies we are called upon to accept at
every hour by the conditions of our nature, bmli'.,. the
interval between aspiration and performance, between
faith and disillusion, between hope and fact.
0 trusted broken prophecy,
0 richest fortune sourly cross,
Born for the future, to the future lost!"

Nay, not lost to the future in this case. The future of
Italy shall not be disinherited.
Florence, 1851.


part Ont

I HEARD last night a little child go singing
'Neath Casa Guidi windows, by the church,
0 bella liberty, 0 bella!" stringing
The same words still on notes, he went in search
So high for, you concluded the up-springing
Of such a nimble bird to sky from perch
Must leave the whole bush in a tremble green,
And that the heart of Italy must beat,
While such a voice had leave to rise serene
'Twixt church and palace of a Florence street:
A little child, too, who not long had been
By mother's finger steadied on his feet,
And still "0 bella liberty" he sang.
[ 22 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Then I thought, musing, of the innumerous
Sweet songs which still for Italy outrang
From older singers' lips, who sang not thus
Exultingly and purely, yet, with pang
Fast sheathed in music, touched the heart of us
So finely, that the pity scarcely pained.
I thought how Filicaja led on others,
Bewailers for their Italy enchained,
And how they call her childless among mothers,
Widow of empires, ay, and scarce refrained
Cursing her beauty to her face, as brothers
Might a shamed sister's, Had she been less fair,
She were less wretched," how, evoking so
From congregated wrong and heaped despair
Of men and women writhing under blow,
Harrowed and hideous in a filthy lair,
Some personating image wherein woe
Was wrapt in beauty from offending much,
They called it Cybele, or Niobe,
Or laid it corpse-like on a bier for such,
Where all the world might drop for Italy
Those cadenced tears which burn not where they
touch, -
Juliet of nations, canst thou die as we ?
And was the violet crown that crowned thy head
So over-large, though new buds made it rough,
It slipped down, and across thine eyelids dead,
O sweet, fair Juliet ?" Of such songs enough,
Too many of such complaints! Behold, instead,
[ 28 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Void at Verona, Juliet's marble trough;
As void as that is, are all images
Men set between themselves and actual wrong
To catch the weight of pity, meet the stress
Of conscience; since 't is easier to gaze long
On mournful masks and sad effigies
Than on real, live, weak creatures crushed by strong.

For me, who stand in Italy to-day
Where worthier poets stood and sang before,
I kiss their footsteps, yet their words gainsay.
I can but muse in hope upon this shore
Of golden Arno as it shoots away
Through Florence' heart beneath her bridges four,-
Bent bridges seeming to strain off like bows,
And tremble while the arrowy undertide
Shoots on, and cleaves the marble as it goes,
And strikes up palace-walls on either side,
And froths the cornice out in glittering rows,
With doors and windows quaintly multiplied,
And terrace-sweeps, and gazers upon all,
By whom if flower or kerchief were thrown out
From any lattice there, the same would fall
Into the river underneath, no doubt,
It runs so close and fast twixtt wall and wall.
How beautiful! The mountains from without
In silence listen for the word said next.
What word will men say, here where Giotto planted
1 They show at Verona, as the tomb of Juliet, an empty trough of stone.
[ 24 ]




PONTE VECCHIO and
other bridges across the
Arno.


Golden Arno as it shoots away
Through Florence' heart beneath her bridges four."
-CPa Guidi Windows, p. 24.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


His campanile like an unperplext
Fine question heavenward, touching the things granted
A noble people, who, being greatly vext
In act, in aspiration keep undaunted ?
What word will God say ? Michels Night and Day
And Dawn and Twilight wait in marble scorn,
Like dogs upon a dunghill, couched on clay
From whence the Medicean stamp's outworn,
The final putting-off of all such sway
By all such hands, and freeing of the unborn
In Florence and the great world outside Florence.
Three hundred years his patient statues wait
In that small chapel of the dim St. Lawrence:
Day's eyes are breaking bold and passionate
Over his shoulder, and will flash abhorrence
On darkness, and with level looks meet fate,
When once loose from that marble film of theirs;
The Night has wild dreams in her sleep, the Dawn
Is haggard as the sleepless, Twilight wears
A sort of horror; as the veil withdrawn
'Twixt the artist's soul and works had left them heirs
Of speechless thoughts which would not quail nor fawn,
Of angers and contempts, of hope and love:
For not without a meaning did he place
The princely Urbino on the seat above
With everlasting shadow on his face,
While the slow dawns and twilights disapprove
The ashes of his long-extinguished race
Which never more shall clog the feet of men.
[ 25 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


I do believe, divinest Angelo,
That winter-hour in Via Larga, when
They bade thee build a statue up in snow,1
And straight that marvel of thine art again
Dissolved beneath the sun's Italian glow,
Thine eyes, dilated with the plastic passion,
Thawing, too, in drops of wounded manhood, since,
To mock alike thine art and indignation,
Laughed at the palace-window the new prince, -
(" Aha this genius needs for exaltation,
When all's said, and however the proud may wince,
A little marble from our princely mines! ")
I do believe that hour thou laughedst too
For the whole sad world, and for thy Florentines,
After those few tears, which were only few !
That as, beneath the sun, the grand white lines
Of thy snow-statue trembled and withdrew, -
The head, erect as Jove's, being palsied first,
The eyelids flattened, the full brow turned blank,
The right hand, raised but now as if it curst,
Dropt, a mere snowball (till the people sank
Their voices, though a louder laughter burst
From the royal window) thou couldst proudly thank
God and the prince for promise and presage,
And laugh the laugh back, I think verily,
Thine eyes being purged by tears of righteous rage
To read a wrong into a prophecy,

1 This mocking task was set by Pietro, the unworthy successor of
Lorenzo the Magnificent.
[26]







M ICHEL ANGELO'S monument
to Giuliano de' Medici in the New
Sacristy of Church of San Lorenzo,
with statues of Day and Night.


Michel's Night and Day
And Daown and Twilight wait in marble scorn."
-Casa Guidi Windows, p. 25.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


And measure a true great man's heritage
Against a mere great duke's posterity.
I think thy soul said then, I do not need
A princedom and its quarries, after all;
For if I write, paint, carve a word, indeed,
On book, or board, or dust, on floor or wall,
The same is kept of God, who taketh heed
That not a letter of the meaning fall
Or ere it touch and teach his world's deep heart,
Outlasting, therefore, all your lordships, sir !
So keep your stone, beseech you, for your part,
To cover up your grave-place, and refer
The proper titles: I live by my art.
The thought I threw into this snow shall stir
This gazing people when their gaze is done;
And the tradition of your act and mine,
When all the snow is melted in the sun,
Shall gather up for unborn men a sign
Of what is the true princedom; ay, and none
Shall laugh that day, except the drunk with wine.

Amen, great Angelo the day's at hand.
If many laugh not on it, shall we weep ?
Much more we must not, let us understand.
Through rhymers sonneteering in their sleep,
And archaists mumbling dry bones up the land,
And sketches lauding ruined towns a-heap, -
Through all that drowsy hum of voices smooth,
The hopeful bird mounts carolling from brake,
[ 27]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


The hopeful child, with leaps to catch his growth,
Sings open-eyed for liberty's sweet sake;
And I, a singer also from my youth,
Prefer to sing with these who are awake,
With birds, with babes, with men who will not fear
The baptism of the holy morning dew
(And many of such wakers now are here,
Complete in their anointed manhood, who
Will greatly dare, and greatlier persevere),
Than join those old thin voices with my new,
And sigh for Italy with some safe sigh
Cooped up in music twixtt an oh and ah:
Nay, hand in hand with that young child will I
Go singing rather, Bella liberty,"
Than, with those poets, croon the dead, or cry
" Se tu men bellafossi, Italia "

"Less wretched if less fair." Perhaps a truth
Is so far plain in this, that Italy,
Long trammelled with the purple of her youth
Against her age's ripe activity,
Sits still upon her tombs, without death's ruth,
But also without life's brave energy.
"Now tell us what is Italy ?" men ask;
And others answer, Virgil, Cicero,
Catullus, Ceasar." What beside, to task
The memory closer ? Why, Boccaccio,
Dante, Petrarca," and if still the flask
Appears to yield its wine by drops too slow, -
[ 28 ]





M ICHEL ANGELO'S monument
to Lorenzo de' Medici in the New
Sacristyof Church of San Lorenzo,
with statues of Evening and Dawn.


" Three hundred years his patient statues wait
In that small chapel of the dim St. Lawrence."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 25.







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Angelo, Raffael, Pergolese," all
Whose strong hearts beat through stone, or charged again
The paints with fire of souls electrical,
Or broke up heaven for music. What more then ?
Why, then, no more. The chaplet's last beads fall
In naming the last saintship within ken,
And, after that, none prayeth in the land.
Alas I this Italy has too long swept
Heroic ashes up for hour-glass sand;
Of her own past, impassioned nympholept!
Consenting to be nailed here by the hand
To the very bay-tree under which she stept
A queen of old, and plucked a leafy branch;
And, licensing the world too long indeed
To use her broad phylacteries to stanch
And stop her bloody lips, she takes no heed
How one clear word would draw an avalanche
Of living sons around her to succeed
The vanished generations. Can she count
These oil-eaters with large, live, mobile mouths
Agape for macaroni, in the amount
Of consecrated heroes of her south's
Bright rosary ? The pitcher at the fount,
The gift of gods, being broken, she much loathes
To let the ground-leaves of the place confer
A natural bowl. So henceforth she would seem
No nation, but the poet's pensioner,
With alms from every land of song and dream,
While aye her pipers sadly pipe of her
[ 29j







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Until their proper breaths, in that extreme
Of sighing, split the reed on which they played;
Of which, no more. But never say No more "
To Italy's life Her memories undismayed
Still argue "evermore"; her graves implore
Her future to be strong, and not afraid;
Her very statues send their looks before.

We do not serve the dead: the past is past.
God lives, and lifts his glorious mornings up
Before the eyes of men awake at last,
Who put away the meats they used to sup,
And down upon the dust of earth outcast
The dregs remaining of the ancient cup,
Then turned to wakeful prayer and worthy act.
The dead, upon their awful vantage ground,
The sun not in their faces, shall abstract
No more our strength: we will not be discrowned
As guardians of their crowns, nor deign transact
A barter of the present, for a sound
Of good so counted in the foregone days.
O dead ye shall no longer cling to us
With rigid hands of desiccating praise,
And drag us backward by the garment thus,
To stand and laud you in long-drawn virelays.
We will not henceforth be oblivious
Of our own lives, because ye lived before,
Nor of our acts, because ye acted well.
We thank you that ye first unlatched the door,
[ 30 ]







PICTURE of Martyrdom of
Savonarola by an unknown
but nearly contemporary
painter; now in Palazzo
Corsini.


" Savonarola's soul went out in fire
Upon our Grand-duke's piazza."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 31.







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


But will not make it inaccessible
By thankings on the threshold any more.
We hurry onward to extinguish hell
With our fresh souls, our younger hope, and God's
Maturity of purpose. Soon shall we
Die also, and, that then our periods
Of life may round themselves to memory
As smoothly as on our graves the burial-sods,
We now must look to it to excel as ye,
And bear our age as far, unlimited
By the last mind-mark; so, to be invoked
By future generations, as their dead.

'T is true, that, when the dust of death has choked
A great man's voice, the common words he said
Turn oracles, the common thoughts he yoked
Like horses, draw like griffins: this is true
And acceptable. I, too, should desire,
When men make record with the flowers they strew,
"Savonarola's soul went out in fire
Upon our Grand-duke's piazza, and burned through
A moment first, or ere he did expire,
The veil betwixt the right and wrong, and showed
How near God sate and judged the judges there," -
Upon the self-same pavement over-strewed
To cast my violets with as reverent care,
And prove that all the winters which have snowed
Cannot snow out the scent from stones and air,
Of a sincere man's virtues. This was he,
[ 31 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Savonarola, who, while Peter sank
With his whole boat-load, called courageously,
"Wake Christ, wake Christ!" who, having tried the
tank
Of old church-waters used for baptistry
Ere Luther came to spill them, swore they stank;
Who also by a princely death-bed cried,
"Loose Florence, or God will not loose thy soul!"
Then fell back the Magnificent, and died
Beneath the star-look shooting from the cowl,
Which turned to wormwood-bitterness the wide
Deep sea of his ambitions. It were foul
To grudge Savonarola and the rest
Their violets : rather pay them quick and fresh.
The emphasis of death makes manifest
The eloquence of action in our flesh;
And men who living were but dimly guessed,
When once free from their life's entangled mesh,
Show their full length in graves, or oft indeed
Exaggerate their stature, in the flat,
To noble admirations which exceed
Most nobly, yet will calculate in that
But accurately. We who are the seed
Of buried creatures, if we turned and spat
Upon our antecedents, we were vile.
Bring violets rather. If these had not walked
Their furlong, could we hope to walk our mile ?
Therefore bring violets. Yet if we, self-balked,
Stand still a-strewing violets all the while,
[ 32 1





STATUE of Savonarola
in the Great Hall of
the Palazzo Vecchio.


This was he,
Savonarola the star-look shooting from the cowl."
Casa Guidi Windows, pp. 31, 32.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


These moved in vain, of whom we have vainly talked.
So rise up henceforth with a cheerful smile,
And, having strewn the violets, reap the corn,
And, having reaped and garnered, bring the plough
And draw new furrows neathh the healthy morn,
And plant the great Hereafter in this Now.

Of old 't was so. How step by step was worn,
As each man gained on each securely how
Each by his own strength sought his own Ideal,-
The ultimate Perfection leaning bright
From out the sun and stars to bless the leal
And earnest search of all for Fair and Right
Through doubtful forms by earth accounted real!
Because old Jubal blew into delight
The souls of men with clear-piped melodies,
If youthful Asaph were content at most
To draw from Jubal's grave, with listening eyes,
Traditionary music's floating ghost
Into the grass-grown silence, were it wise ?
And was't not wiser, Jubal's breath being lost,
That Miriam clashed her cymbals to surprise
The sun between her white arms flung apart,
With new glad golden sounds? that David's strings
O'erflowed his hand with music from his heart ?
So harmony grows full from many springs,
And happy accident turns holy art.

You enter, in your Florence wanderings,
The Church of St. Maria Novella. Pass
3 [ 33 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


The left stair, where at plague-time Machiavel
Saw one with set fair face as in a glass,
Dressed out against the fear of death and hell,
Rustling her silks in pauses of the mass
To keep the thought off how her husband fell,
When she left home, stark dead across her feet,-
The stair leads up to what the Orgagnas save
Of Dante's demons; you in passing it
Ascend the right stair from the farther nave
To muse in a small chapel scarcely lit
By Cimabue's Virgin. Bright and brave,
That picture was accounted, mark, of old:
A king stood bare before its sovran grace,
A reverent people shouted to behold
The picture, not the king; and even the place
Containing such a miracle grew bold,
Named the Glad Borgo from that beauteous face
Which thrilled the artist after work to think
His own ideal Mary-smile should stand
So very near him, he, within the brink
Of all that glory, let in by his hand
With too divine a rashness! Yet none shrink
Who come to gaze here now; albeit 't was planned
Sublimely in the thought's simplicity.
The Lady, throned in empyreal state,
Minds only the young Babe upon her knee,
While sidelong angels bear the royal weight,
Prostrated meekly, smiling tenderly
Oblivion of their wings; the child threat
[ 34 ]










ELL of Savonarola in San Marco.


" The emphasis of death makes manifest
The eloquence of action in our flesh."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 32.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Stretching its hand like God. If any should,
Because of some stiff draperies and loose joints,
Gaze scorn down from the heights of Raffaelhood
On Cimabue's picture, Heaven anoints
The head of no such critic, and his blood
The poet's curse strikes full on, and appoints
To ague and cold spasms forevermore.
A noble picture! worthy of the shout
Wherewith along the streets the people bore
Its cherub-faces which the sun threw out
Until they stooped, and entered the church-door.
Yet rightly was young Giotto talked about,
Whom Cimabue found among the sheep,1
And knew, as gods know gods, and carried home
To paint the things he had painted, with a deep
And fuller insight, and so overcome
His Chapel-Lady with a heavenlier sweep
Of light; for thus we mount into the sum
Of great things known or acted. I hold, too,
That Cimabue smiled upon the lad
At the first stroke which passed what he could do,
Or else his Virgin's smile had never had
Such sweetness in't. All great men who foreknew
Their heirs in art, for art's sake have been glad,
And bent their old white heads as if uncrowned,

1 How Cimabue found Giotto, the shepherd-boy, sketching a ram of his
flock upon a stone, is prettily told by Vasari, who also relates that the
elder artist Margheritone died "infastidito" of the successes of the new
school.
[ 35]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Fanatics of their pure ideals still
Far more than of their triumphs, which were found
With some less vehement struggle of the will.
If old Margheritone trembled, swooned,
And died despairing at the open sill
Of other men's achievements (who achieved
By loving art beyond the master) he
Was old Margheritone, and conceived
Never, at first youth and most ecstasy,
A Virgin like that dream of one, which heaved
The death-sigh from his heart. If wistfully
Margheritone sickened at the smell
Of Cimabue's laurel, let him go !
For Cimabue stood up very well
In spite of Giotto's, and Angelico
The artist-saint kept smiling in his cell
The smile with which he welcomed the sweet slow
Inbreak of angels (whitening through the dim
That he might paint them) while the sudden sense
Of Raffael's future was revealed to him
By force of his own fair work's competence.
The same blue waters where the dolphins swim
Suggest the tritons. Through the blue immense
Strike out, all swimmers cling not in the way
Of one another, so to sink, but learn
The strong man's impulse, catch the freshening spray
He throws up in his motions, and discern
By his clear westering eye, the time of day.
Thou, God, hast set us worthy gifts to earn
[ 36 ]




CHURCH of Santa Maria
Novella architecture of
13th and 15th centuries.


'" You enter, in your Florence wanderings,
The Church of St. Maria Novella."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 33.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Besides thy heaven and thee and when I say
There's room here for the weakest man alive
To live and die, there's room, too, I repeat,
For all the strongest to live well, and strive
Their own way by their individual heat,
Like some new bee-swarm leaving the old hive,
Despite the wax which tempts so violet-sweet.
Then let the living live, the dead retain
Their grave-cold flowers though honor's best supplied
By bringing actions to prove theirs not vain.

Cold graves, we say? it shall be testified
That living men who burn in heart and brain,
Without the dead were colder. If we tried
To sink the past beneath our feet, be sure
The future would not stand. Precipitate
This old roof from the shrine, and, insecure,
The nesting swallows fly off, mate from mate.
How scant the gardens, if the graves were fewer!
The tall green poplars grew no longer straight
Whose tops not looked to Troy. Would any fight
For Athens, and not swear by Marathon ?
Who dared build temples, without tombs in sight ?
Or live, without some dead man's benison ?
Or seek truth, hope for good, and strive for right,
If, looking up, he saw not in the sun
Some angel of the martyrs all day long
Standing and waiting? Your last rhythm will need
Your earliest keynote. Could I sing this song,
[ 37 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


If my dead masters had not taken heed
To help the heavens and earth to make me strong,
As the wind ever will find out some reed,
And touch it to such issues as belong
To such a frail thing ? None may grudge the dead
Libations from full cups. Unless we choose
To look back to the hills behind us spread,
The plains before us sadden and confuse:
If orphaned, we are disinherited.

I would but turn these lachrymals to use,
And pour fresh oil in from the olive-grove,
To furnish them as new lamps. Shall I say
What made my heart beat with exulting love
A few days back ? -
The day was such a day
As Florence owes the sun. The sky above,
Its weight upon the mountains seemed to lay,
And palpitate in glory, like a dove
Who has flown too fast, full-hearted take away
The image! for the heart of man beat higher
That day in Florence, flooding all her streets
And piazzas with a tumult and desire.
The people, with accumulated heats,
And faces turned one way, as if one fire
Both drew and flushed them, left their ancient beats,
And went up toward the palace-Pitti wall
To thank their Grand-duke, who, not quite of course,
Had graciously permitted, at their call,
[ 38]








ANDREA ORCAGNA'S fresco of
Dante's Inferno in the Strozzi
Chapel of Santa Maria Novella.


" The stair leads up to what the Orgagnas save
Of Dante's demons."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 34.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


The citizens to use their civic force
To guard their civic homes. So, one and all,
The Tuscan cities streamed up to the source
Of this new good at Florence, taking it
As good so far, presageful of more good,-
The first torch of Italian freedom, lit
To toss in the next tiger's face who should
Approach too near them in a greedy fit,-
The first pulse of an even flow of blood
To prove the level of Italian veins
Towards rights perceived and granted. How we gazed
From Casa Guidi windows, while, in trains
Of orderly procession banners raised,
And intermittent bursts of martial strains
Which died upon the shout, as if amazed
By gladness beyond music -they passed on!
The Magistracy, with insignia, passed,
And all the people shouted in the sun,
And all the thousand windows which had cast
A ripple of silks in blue and scarlet down,
(As if the houses overflowed at last,)
Seemed growing larger with fair heads and eyes.
The Lawyers passed, and still arose the shout,
And hands broke from the windows to surprise
Those grave, calm brows with bay-tree leaves thrown out.
The Priesthood passed, the friars with worldly-wise
Keen, sidelong glances from their beards about
The street to see who shouted; many a monk
Who takes a long rope in the waist was there:
[ 89 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Whereat the popular exultation drunk
With indrawn vivas the whole sunny air,
While through the murmuring windows rose and sunk
A cloud of kerchiefed hands, The Church makes fair
Her welcome in the new Pope's name." Ensued
The black sign of the "Martyrs (name no name,
But count the graves in silence). Next were viewed
The Artists; next the Trades; and after came
The People, flag and sign, and rights as good, -
And very loud the shout was for that same
Motto, I popolo." IL POPOLO,-
The word means dukedom, empire, majesty,
And kings in such an hour might read it so.
And next, with banners, each in his degree,
Deputed representatives a-row
Of every separate state of Tuscany :
Siena's she-wolf, bristling on the fold
Of the first flag, preceded Pisa's hare;
And Massa's lion floated calm in gold,
Pienza's following with his silver stare;
Arezzo's steed pranced clear from bridle-hold,-
And well might shout our Florence, greeting there
These, and more brethren. Last, the world had sent
The various children of her teeming flanks-
Greeks, English, French as if to a parliament
Of lovers of her Italy in ranks,
Each bearing its land's symbol reverent;
At which the stones seemed breaking into thanks,
And rattling up the sky, such sounds in proof
[ 40 ]








M ADONNA in Rucellai Chapel
of Santa Maria Novella.


" Ascend the riqht stair from the farther nave
To muse in a small chapel scarcely lit
By Cimabue's Virgin."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 34.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Arose, the very house-walls seemed to bend;
The very windows, up from door to roof,
Flashed out a rapture of bright heads, to mend
With passionate looks the gesture's whirling off
A hurricane of leaves. Three hours did end
While all these passed; and ever, in the crowd,
Rude men, unconscious of the tears that kept
Their beards moist, shouted; some few laughed aloud,
And none asked any why they laughed and wept:
Friends kissed each other's cheeks, and foes long
vowed
More warmly did it; two-months babies leapt
Right upward in their mother's arms, whose black,
Wide, glittering eyes looked elsewhere; lovers pressed
Each before either, neither glancing back;
And peasant maidens smoothly 'tired and tressed
Forgot to finger on their throats the slack
Great pearl-strings; while old blind men would not
rest,
But pattered with their staves, and slid their shoes
Along the stones, and smiled as if they saw.
O Heaven, I think that day had noble use
Among God's days So near stood Right and Law,
Both mutually forborne! Law would not bruise,
Nor Right deny; and each in reverent awe
Honored the other. And if, nevertheless,
That good day's sun delivered to the vines
No charta, and the liberal Duke's excess
Did scarce exceed a Guelf's or Ghibelline's
[ 41 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


* In any special actual righteousness
Of what that day he granted, still the signs
Are good and full of promise, we must say,
When multitudes approach their kings with prayers,
And kings concede their people's right to pray,
Both in one sunshine. Griefs are not despairs,
So uttered; nor can royal claims dismay
When men from humble homes and ducal chairs,
Hate wrong together. It was well to view
Those banners ruffled in a ruler's face
Inscribed, "Live, freedom, union, and all true
Brave patriots who are aided by God's grace!"
Nor was it ill when Leopoldo drew
His little children to the window-place
He stood in at the Pitti to suggest
They, too, should govern as the people willed.
What a cry rose then! Some, who saw the best,
Declared his eyes filled up and overfilled
With good, warm human tears, which unrepressed
Ran down. I like his face : the forehead's build
Has no capacious genius, yet perhaps
Sufficient comprehension; mild and sad,
And careful nobly, not with care that wraps
Self-loving hearts, to stifle and make mad,
But careful with the care that shuns a lapse
Of faith and duty; studious not to add
A burden in the gathering of a gain.
And so, God save the Duke, I say with those
Who that day shouted it; and, while dukes reign,
[ 42 ]







M/ARGHERITONE'S Crucifixion
with Madonna and St. John. In
Church of Santa Croce.


"He
Was old Margheritone, and conceived
Never, at first youth and most ecstasy,
A Virgin like that dream of one, which heaved
The death-sigh from his heart."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 36.
Jargheritone of Arezzo,
.. a poor glimmering Crucifixion."
Old Pictures in Florence, pp. 114, 115.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


May all wear in the visible overflows
Of spirit such a look of careful pain!
For God must love it better than repose.

And all the people who went up to let
Their hearts out to that Duke, as has been told -
Where guess ye that the living people met,
Kept tryst, formed ranks, chose leaders, first unrolled
Their banners ?
In the Loggia ? where is set
Cellini's godlike Perseus, bronze or gold,
(How name the metal, when the statue flings
Its soul so in your eyes ?) with brow and sword
Superbly calm, as all opposing things,
Slain with the Gorgon, were no more abhorred
Since ended ?
No, the people sought no wings
From Perseus in the Loggia, nor implored
An inspiration in the place beside
From that dim bust of Brutus, jagged and grand,
Where Buonarroti passionately tried
From out the close-clenched marble to demand
The head of Rome's sublimest homicide,
Then dropt the quivering mallet from his hand,
Despairing he could find no model-stuff
Of Brutus in all Florence, where he found
The. gods and gladiators thick enough.
Nor there the people chose still holier ground:
The people, who are simple, blind, and rough,
[ 43 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Know their own angels, after looking round.
Whom chose they then ? where met they ?

On the stone
Called Dante's, a plain flat stone scarce discerned
From others in the pavement, whereupon
He used to bring his quiet chair out, turned
To Brunelleschi's church, and pour alone
The lava of his spirit when it burned:
It is not cold to-day. O passionate
Poor Dante, who, a banished Florentine,
Didst sit austere at banquets of the great,
And muse upon this far-off stone of thine,
And think how oft some passer used to wait
A moment, in the golden day's decline,
With Good-night, dearest Dante well, good-night!
I muse now, Dante, and think verily,
Though chapelled in the by-way, out of sight,
Ravenna's bones would thrill with ecstasy,
Couldst know thy favorite stone's elected right
As tryst-place for thy Tuscans to foresee
Their earliest chartas from. Good-night, good-morn,
Henceforward, Dante! now my soul is sure
That thine is better comforted of scorn,
And looks down earthward in complete cure
Than when, in Santa Croce Church forlorn
Of any corpse, the architect and hewer
Did pile the empty marbles as thy tomb.
For now thou art no longer exiled, now
[ 44 ]







ARLO DOLCI'S portrait of
Fra Angelico in the Academy
of Fine Arts.


Angelico
The artist saint kept smiling in his cell."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 36.

A scrap of Fra Angelico's."
Old Pictures in Florence, p. 114.

" Brother Angelico's the man, you 'll find."
-Fra Lippo Lippi, p. 129.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Best honored: we salute thee who art come
Back to the old stone with a softer brow
Than Giotto drew upon the wall, for some
Good lovers of our age to track and plough
Their way to, through time's ordures stratified,
And startle broad awake into the dull
Bargello chamber: now thou 'rt milder-eyed, -
Now Beatrix may leap up glad to cull
Thy first smile, even in heaven and at her side,
Like that which, nine years old, looked beautiful
At May-game. What do I say ? I only meant
That tender Dante loved his Florence well,
While Florence, now, to love him is content;
And mark ye, that the piercingest sweet smell
Of love's dear incense by the living sent
To find the dead is not accessible
To lazy livers, no narcotic, not
Swung in a censer to a sleepy tune,
But trod out in the morning air by hot,
Quick spirits who tread firm to ends foreshown,
And use the name of greatness unforgot,
To meditate what greatness may be done.
For Dante sits in heaven, and ye stand here,
And more remains for doing, all must feel,
Than trysting on his stone from year to year
To shift processions, civic toe to heel,
The town's thanks to the Pitti. Are ye freer
For what was felt that day ? A chariot-wheel
May spin fast, yet the chariot never roll;
[ 45 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


But if that day suggested something good,
And bettered, with one purpose, soul by soul-
Better means freer. A land's brotherhood
Is most puissant: men, upon the whole,
kre what they can be; nations, what they would.

Will, therefore, to be strong, thou Italy!
Will to be noble! Austrian Metternich
Can fix no yoke, unless the neck agree;
And thine is like the lion's when the thick
Dews shudder from it, and no man would be
The stroker of his mane, much less would prick
His nostril with a reed. When nations roar
Like lions, who shall tame them, and defraud
Of the due pasture by the river-shore ?
Roar, therefore! shake your dew-laps dry abroad:
The amphitheatre with open door
Leads back upon the benches who applaud
The last spear-thruster.

Yet the heavens forbid
That we should call on passion to confront
The brutal with the brutal, and, amid
This ripening world, suggest a lion-hunt
And lion's vengeance for the wrongs men did
And do now, though the spears are getting blunt.
We only call, because the sight and proof
Of lion-strength hurts nothing; and to show
A lion-heart, and measure paw with hoof,
[ 46 ]





PITTI Palace, now the Royal
Residence at Florence.


A imI


* F' "


" The people went up toward the palace-Pitti wall
To thank their Grand-duke."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 38.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Helps something, even, and will instruct a foe,
As well as the onslaught, how to stand aloof:
Or else the world gets past the mere brute blow,
Or given or taken. Children use the fist
Until they are of age to use the brain;
And so we needed Cesars to assist
Man's justice, and Napoleons to explain
God's counsel, when a point was nearly missed,
Until our generations should attain
Christ's stature nearer. Not that we, alas I
Attain already; but a single inch
Will raise to look down on the swordsman's pass,
As knightly Roland on the coward's flinch:
And, after chloroform and ether-gas,
We find out slowly what the bee and finch
Have ready found, through Nature's lamp in each, -
How to our races we may justify
Our individual claims, and, as we reach
Our own grapes, bend the top vines to supply
The children's uses, how to fill a breach
With olive-branches, how to quench a lie
With truth, and smite a foe upon the cheek
With Christ's most conquering kiss. Why, these are
things
Worth a great nation's finding, to prove weak
The "glorious arms of military kings.
And so, with wide embrace, my England, seek
To stifle the bad heat and flickerings
Of this world's false and nearly expended fire.
[ 47 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Draw palpitating arrows to the wood,
And twang abroad thy high hopes and thy higher
Resolves from that most virtuous altitude,
Till nations shall unconsciously aspire
By looking up to thee, and learn that good
And glory are not different. Announce law
By freedom; exalt chivalry by peace;
Instruct how clear, calm eyes can overawe,
And how pure hands, stretched simply to release
A bond-slave, will not need a sword to draw
To be held dreadful. O my England, crease
Thy purple with no alien agonies,
No struggles toward encroachment, no vile war !
Disband thy captains, change thy victories;
Be henceforth prosperous, as the angels are,
Helping, not humbling.

Drums and battle-cries
Go out in music of the morning-star;
And soon we shall have thinkers in the place
Of fighters, each found able as a man
To strike electric influence through a race,
Unstayed by city-wall and barbican.
The poet shall look grander in the face
Than even of old (when he of Greece began
To sing "that Achillean wrath which slew
So many heroes "), seeing he shall treat
The deeds of souls heroic toward the true,
The oracles of life, previsions sweet
[ 48





TOGGIA dei Lanzi in
the Piazza Signoria.


The people sought no wings
From Perseus in the Loggia."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 43.







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


And awful, like divine swans gliding through
White arms of Ledas, which will leave the heat
Of their escaping godship to endue
The human medium with a heavenly flush.
Meanwhile, in this same Italy we want
Not popular passion, to arise and crush,
But popular conscience, which may covenant
For what it knows. Concede without a blush,
To grant the civic guard is not to grant
The civic spirit, living and awake:
Those lappets on your shoulders, citizens,
Your eyes strain after sideways till they ache
(While still, in admirations and amens,
The crowd comes up on festa-days to take
The great sight in) are not intelligence,
Not courage even: alas! if not the sign
Of something very noble, they are nought;
For every day ye dress your sallow kine
With fringes down their cheeks, though unbesought
They loll their heavy heads, and drag the wine,
And bear the wooden yoke as they were taught
The first day. What ye want is light; indeed
Not sunlight (ye may well look up surprised
To those unfathomable heavens that feed
Your purple hills), but God's light organized
In some high soul crowned capable to lead
The conscious people, conscious and advised;
For, if we lift a people like mere clay,
It falls the same. We want thee, 0 unfound
4 [ 49 ]







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


And sovran teacher if thy beard be gray
Or black, we bid thee rise up from the ground,
And speak the word God giveth thee to say,
Inspiring into all this people round,
Instead of passion, thought, which pioneers
All generous passion, purifies from sin,
And strikes the hour for. Rise up, teacher here 's
A crowd to make a nation best begin
By making each a man, till all be peers
Of earth's true patriots and pure martyrs in
Knowing and daring. Best unbar the doors
Which Peter's heirs kept locked so overdose
They only let the mice across the floors,
While every churchman dangles, as he goes,
The great key at his girdle, and abhors
In Christ's name meekly. Open wide the house,
Concede the entrance with Christ's liberal mind,
And set the tables with his wine and bread.
What! Commune in both kinds ?" In every kind -
Wine, wafer, love, hope, truth, unlimited,
Nothing kept back. For, when a man is blind
To starlight, will he see the rose is red ?
A bondsman shivering at a Jesuit's foot -
"Va me& culp& -is not like to stand
A freedman at a despot's, and dispute
His titles by the balance in his hand,
Weighing them "suo jure." Tend the root,
If careful of the branches, and expand
The inner souls of men before you strive
For civic heroes.
[ 50]










ONUMENT to Dante (buried
at Ravenna) in Church of
Santa Croce.


LATBC A"L


DAJM2TI ALIGHEM0
NUMWN I


The architect and hewer
Did pile the empty marbles as thy tomb."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 44.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


But the teacher, where?
From all these crowded faces, all alive,
Eyes, of their own lids flashing themselves bare,
And brows that with a mobile life contrive
A deeper shadow, may we in no wise dare
To put a finger out, and touch a man,
And cry, This is the leader" ? What, all these !
Broad heads, black eyes, yet not a soul that ran
From God down with a message? all, to please
The donna waving measures with her fan,
And not the judgment-angel on his knees,
(The trumpet just an inch off from his lips,)
Who, when he breathes next, will put out the sun?

Yet mankind's self were foundered in eclipse,
If lacking doers, with great works to be done;
And lo, the startled earth already dips
Back into light; a better day's begun;
And soon this leader, teacher, will stand plain,
And build the golden pipes and synthesize
This people-organ for a holy strain.
We hold this hope, and still in all these eyes
Go sounding for the deep look which shall drain
Suffused thought into channelled enterprise.
Where is the teacher? What now may he do
Who shall do greatly? Doth he gird his waist
With a monk's rope, like Luther? or pursue
The goat, like Tell? or dry his nets in haste,
Like Masaniello when the sky was blue?
[ 51 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Keep house, like other peasants, with inlaced
Bare brawny arms about a favorite child,
And meditative looks beyond the door
(But not to mark the kidling's teeth have filed
The green shoots of his vine which last year bore
Full twenty bunches), or on triple-piled
Throne-velvets sit at ease to bless the poor,
Like other pontiffs, in the Poorest's name?
The old tiara keeps itself aslope
Upon his steady brows, which, all the same,
Bend mildly to permit the people's hope?

Whatever hand shall grasp this oriflamme
Whatever man (last peasant or first pope
Seeking to free his country) shall appear,
Teach, lead, strike fire into the masses, fill
These empty bladders with fine air, insphere
These wills into a unity of will,
And make of Italy a nation dear
And blessed be that man! the heavens shall kill
No leaf the earth lets grow for him, and Death
Shall cast him back upon the lap of Life
To live more surely in a clarion-breath
Of hero-music. Brutus with the knife,
Rienzi with the fasces, throb beneath
Rome's stones,- and more who threw away joy's fife
Like Pallas, that the beauty of their souls
Might ever shine untroubled and entire:
But if it can be true that he who rolls
[ 52 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


The Church's thunders will reserve her fire
For only light,- from eucharistic bowls
Will pour new life for nations that expire,
And rend the scarlet of his papal vest
To gird the weak loins of his countrymen, -
I hold that he surpasses all the rest
Of Romans, heroes, patriots; and that when
He sat down on the throne, he dispossessed
The first graves of some glory. See again,
This country-saving is a glorious thing !
And if a common man achieved it? Well.
Say, a rich man did? Excellent. A king?
That grows sublime? A priest? Improbable.
A pope ? Ah, there we stop, and cannot bring
Our faith up to the leap, with history's bell
So heavy round the neck of it, albeit
We fain would grant the possibility
For thy sake, Pio Nono!

Stretch thy feet
In that case: I will kiss them reverently
As any pilgrim to the papal seat:
And, such proved possible, thy throne to me
Shall seem as holy a place as Pellico's
Venetian dungeon, or as Spielberg's grate,
At which the Lombard woman hung the rose
Of her sweet soul by its own dewy weight,
To feel the dungeon round her sunshine close,
And, pining so, died early, yet too late
[ 53 ]







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


For what she suffered. Yea, I will not choose
Betwixt thy throne, Pope Pius, and the spot
Marked red forever, spite of rains and dews,
Where two fell riddled by the Austrian's shot, -
The brothers Bandiera, who accuse,
With one same mother-voice and face (that what
They speak may be invincible) the sins
Of earth's tormentors before God the just,
Until the unconscious thunder-bolt begins
To loosen in his grasp.

And yet we must
Beware, and mark the natural kiths and kins
Of circumstance and office, and distrust
The rich man reasoning in a poor man's hut,
The poet who neglects pure truth to prove
Statistic fact, the child who leaves a rut
For a smoother road, the priest who vows his glove
Exhales no grace, the prince who walks afoot,
The woman who has sworn she will not love,
And this Ninth Pius in Seventh Gregory's chair,
With Andrea Doria's forehead.

Count what goes
To making up a pope, before he wear
That triple crown. We pass the world-wide throes
Which went to make the popedom, the despair
Of free men, good men, wise men; the dread shows
Of women's faces, by the fagot's flash
Tossed out, to the minutest stir and throb
[ 54 ]







ATE of San Niccol6
(14th century).


" And Petrarch looks no more from Niccol&
Toward dear Arezzo, 'twixt the acacia trees."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 60.


z-L







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


0' the white lips; the least tremble of a lash,
To glut the red stare of a licensed mob;
The short mad cries down oubliettes, and plash
So horribly far off; priests trained to rob,
And kings, that, like encouraged nightmares, sate
On nations' hearts most heavily distressed
With monstrous sights and apothegms of fate-
We pass these things, because "the times" are prest
With necessary charges of the weight
Of all this sin, and "Calvin, for the rest,
Made bold to burn Servetus. Ah, men err!"--
And so do churches! which is all we mean
To bring to proof in any register
Of theological fat kine and lean:
So drive them back into the pens! refer
Old sins (with pourpoint, "quotha" and "I ween")
Entirely to the old times, the old times;
Nor ever ask why this preponderant
Infallible pure Church could set her chimes
Most loudly then, just then, most jubilant,
Precisely then, when mankind stood in crimes
Full heart-deep, and Heaven's judgments were not scant.
Inquire still less what signifies a church
Of perfect inspiration and pure laws
Who burns the first man with a brimstone-torch,
And grinds the second, bone by bone, because
The times, forsooth, are used to rack and scorch !
What is a holy Church unless she awes
The times down from their sins ? Did Christ select
[ 55 ]







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Such amiable times to come and teach
Love to, and mercy? The whole world were wrecked
If every mere great man, who lives to reach
A little leaf of popular respect,
Attained not simply by some special breach
In the age's customs, by some precedence
In thought and act, which, having proved him higher
Than those he lived with, proved his competence
In helping them to wonder and aspire.

My words are guiltless of the bigot's sense.
My soul has fire to mingle with the fire
Of all these souls, within or out of doors
Of Rome's church or another. I believe
In one Priest, and one temple, with its floors
Of shining jasper gloomed at morn and eve
By countless knees of earnest auditors,
And crystal walls too lucid to perceive,
That none may take the measure of the place
And say, So far the porphyry, then the flint;
To this mark mercy goes, and there ends grace,"
Though still the permeable crystals hint
At some white starry distance, bathed in space.
I feel how Nature's ice-crusts keep the dint
Of undersprings of silent Deity.
I hold the articulated gospels which
Show Christ among us crucified on tree.
I love all who love truth, if poor or rich
In what they have won of truth possessively.
[ 56 ]




GATE of San Gallo, built in 1330,
and adorned with frescoes by
Ghirlandajo. Dante's property
lay beyond.


"Nor Dante from Gate Gallo looks."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 60.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS

No altars, and no hands defiled with pitch,
Shall scare me off; but I will pray and eat
With all these, taking leave to choose my ewers,
And say at last, "Your visible churches cheat
Their inward types; and, if a church assures
Of standing without failure and defeat,
The same both fails and lies."

To leave which lures
Of wider subject through past years, behold,
We come back from the popedom to the pope,
To ponder what he must be, ere we are bold
For what he may be, with our heavy hope
To trust upon his soul. So, fold by fold,
Explore this mummy in the priestly cope,
Transmitted through the darks of time, to catch
The man within the wrappage, and discern
How he, an honest man, upon the watch
Full fifty years for what a man may learn,
Contrived to get just there; with what a snatch
Of old-world oboli he had to earn
The passage through; with what a drowsy sop,
To drench the busy barkings of his brain;
What ghosts of pale tradition, wreathed with hop
'Gainst wakeful thought, he had to entertain
For heavenly visions; and consent to stop
The clock at noon, and let the hour remain
(Without vain windings-up) inviolate
Against all chimings from the belfry. Lo,
[ 57]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


From every given pope you must abate,
Albeit you love him, some things good, you know
Which every given heretic you hate,
Assumes for his, as being plainly so.
A pope must hold by popes a little, yes,
By councils, from Nicaea up to Trent, -
By hierocratic empire, more or less
Irresponsible to men, he must resent
Each man's particular conscience, and repress
Inquiry, meditation, argument,
As tyrants faction. Also, he must not
Love truth too dangerously, but prefer
"The interests of the Church (because a blot
Is better than a rent, in miniver);
Submit to see the people swallow hot
Husk-porridge, which his chartered churchmen stir
Quoting the only true God's epigraph,
"Feed my lambs, Peter! must consent to sit
Attesting with his pastoral ring and staff
To such a picture of our Lady, hit
Off well by artist-angels (though not half
As fair as Giotto would have painted it);
To such a vial, where a dead man's blood
Runs yearly warm beneath a churchman's finger;
To such a holy house of stone and wood,
Whereof a cloud of angels was the bringer
From Bethlehem to Loreto. Were it good
For any pope on earth to be a flinger
Of stones against these high-niched counterfeits ?
[ 58 ]





UNFINISHED bust of
Brutus by Michel Angelo
in Bargello.


" Where Buonarroti passionately tried
From out the close-clenched marble to demand
The head of Rome's sublimest homicide."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 43.

Straight his plastic hand
Fell back before his prophet-soul, and left
A fragment, a maimed Brutus."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 87.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Apostates only are iconoclasts.
He dares not say, while this false thing abets
That true thing, "This is false." He keeps his fasts
And prayers, as prayer and fast were silver frets
To change a note upon a string that lasts,
And make a lie a virtue. Now, if he
Did more than this, higher hoped, and braver dared,
I think he were a pope in jeopardy,
Or no pope rather, for his truth had barred
The vaulting of his life; and certainly,
If he do only this, mankind's regard
Moves on from him at once to seek some new
Teacher and leader. He is good and great
According to the deeds a pope can do;
Most liberal, save those bonds; affectionate,
As princes may be, and, as priests are, true,
But only the Ninth Pius after eight,
When all's praised most. At best and hopefullest,
He's pope: we want a man His heart beats warm;
But, like the prince enchanted to the waist,
He sits in stone, and hardens by a charm
Into the marble of his throne high-placed.
Mild benediction waves his saintly arm -
So, good! But what we want's a perfect man,
Complete and all alive : half travertine
Half suits our need, and ill subserves our plan.
Feet, knees, nerves, sinews, energies divine,
Were never yet too much for men who ran
In such hard ways as must be this of thine,
[ 59 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Deliverer whom we seek, whoe'er thou art,
Pope, prince, or peasant If, indeed, the first,
The noblest, therefore since the heroic heart
Within thee must be great enough to burst
Those trammels buckling to the baser part
Thy saintly peers in Rome, who crossed and cursed
With the same finger.

Come, appear, be found,
If pope or peasant, come we hear the cock,
The courtier of the mountains when first crowned
With golden dawn; and orient glories flock
To meet the sun upon the highest ground.
Take voice, and work we wait to hear thee knock
At some one of our Florentine nine gates,
On each of which was imaged a sublime
Face of a Tuscan genius, which, for hate's
And love's sake both, our Florence in her prime
Turned boldly on all comers to her states,
As heroes turned their shields in antique time
Emblazoned with honorable acts. And though
The gates are blank now of such images,
And Petrarch looks no more from Niccol6
Toward dear Arezzo, twixtt the acacia-trees,
Nor Dante, from gate Gallo still we know,
Despite the razing of the blazonries,
Remains the consecration of the shield:
The dead heroic faces will start out
On all these gates, if foes should take the field,
[ 60 ]




THE Piazzale del Re, in the Cascine;
between the Arno and the Mug-
none, west of Florence.


Our Cascine,
Where the people on the feast-days walk and drive."
The Dance, p. 99.






IOTTO'S Portrait of Dante in
Chapel of the Bargello. Dis-
closed in 1850 by removal of
whitewash which had covered it
for centuries.


We salute thee who art come
Back to the old stone with a softer brow
Than Giotto drew upon the wall."
Casa Guidi Windows, p. 45.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


And blend sublimely, at the earliest shout,
With living heroes who will scorn to yield
A hair's-breadth even, when, gazing round about,
They find in what a glorious company,
They fight the foes of Florence. Who will grudge
His one poor life, when that great man we see
Has given five hundred years, the world being judge,
To help the glory of his Italy ?
Who, born the fair side of the Alps, will budge,
When Dante stays, when Ariosto stays,
When Petrarch stays for ever ? Ye bring swords,
My Tuscans ? Ay, if wanted in this haze,
Bring swords, but first bring souls, bring thoughts and
words,
Unrusted by a tear of yesterday's,
Yet awful by its wrong, and cut these cords,
And mow this green, lush falseness to the roots,
And shut the mouth of hell below the swathe !
And, if ye can bring songs too, let the lute's
Recoverable music softly bathe
Some poet's hand, that, through all bursts and bruits
Of popular passion, all unripe and rathe
Convictions of the popular intellect,
Ye may not lack a finger up the air,
Annunciative, reproving, pure, erect,
To show which way your first ideal bare
The whiteness of its wings when (sorely pecked
By falcons on your wrists) it unaware
Arose up overhead and out of sight.
[ 61 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Meanwhile, let all the far ends of the world
Breathe back the deep breath of their old delight,
To swell the Italian banner just unfurled.
Help, lands of Europe for, if Austria fight,
The drums will bar your slumber. Had ye curled
The laurel for your thousand artists' brows,
If these Italian hands had planted none ?
Can any sit down idle in the house,
Nor hear appeals from Buonarroti's stone
And Raffael's canvas, rousing and to rouse ?
Where's Poussin's master ? Gallic Avignon
Bred Laura, and Vaucluse's fount has stirred
The heart of France too strongly, as it lets
Its little stream out (like a wizard's bird
Which bounds upon its emerald wing, and wets
The rocks on each side), that she should not gird
Her loins with Charlemagne's sword when foes beset
The country of her Petrarch. Spain may well
Be minded how from Italy she caught,
To mingle with her tinkling Moorish bell,
A fuller cadence and a subtler thought.
And even the New World, the receptacle
Of freemen, may send glad men, as it ought,
To greet Vespucci Amerigo's door.
While England claims, by trump of poetry,
Verona, Venice, the Ravenna-shore,
And dearer holds John Milton's Fiesole
Than Langlande's Malvern with the stars in flower.


[ 6 ]





VIEW of Florence
from San Miniato.


" Washed by the morning water-gold,
Florence lay out on the mountain-side."
Old Pictures in Florence, p. 105.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


And Vallombrosa, we two went to see
Last June, beloved companion, where sublime
The mountains live in holy families,
And the slow pine-woods ever climb and climb
Half up their breasts, just stagger as they seize
Some gray crag, drop back with it many a time,
And straggle blindly down the precipice.
The Vallombrosan brooks were strewn as thick
That June day, knee-deep with dead beechen leaves,
As Milton saw them ere his heart grew sick,
And his eyes blind. I think the monks and beeves
Are all the same too: scarce have they changed the wick
On good St. Gualbert's altar which receives
The convent's pilgrims; and the pool in front
(Wherein the hill-stream trout are cast, to wait
The beatific vision and the grunt
Used at refectory) keeps its weedy state,
To baffle saintly abbots who would count
The fish across their breviary, nor 'bate
The measure of their steps. O waterfalls
And forests! sound and silence! mountains bare,
That leap up peak by peak, and catch the palls
Of purple and silver mist to rend and share
With one another, at electric calls
Of life in the sunbeams, till we cannot dare
Fix your shapes, count your number! we must think
Your beauty and your glory helped to fill
The cup of Milton's soul so to the brink,
He nevermore was thirsty when God's will
[ 63 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Had shattered to his sense the last chain-link
By which he had drawn from Nature's visible
The fresh well-water. Satisfied by this,
He sang of Adam's paradise, and smiled,
Remembering Yallombrosa. Therefore is
The place divine to English man and child,
And pilgrims leave their souls here in a kiss.

For Italy's the whole earth's treasury, piled
With reveries of gentle ladies, flung
Aside, like ravelled silk, from life's worn stuff;
With coins of scholars' fancy, which, being rung
On workday counter, still sound silver-proof:
In short, with all the dreams of dreamers young,
Before their heads have time for slipping off
Hope's pillow to the ground. How oft, indeed,
We've sent our souls out from the rigid north,
On bare white feet which would not print nor bleed,
To climb the Alpine passes, and look forth,
Where booming low the Lombard rivers lead
To gardens, vineyards, all a dream is worth, -
Sights thou and I, love, have seen afterward
From Tuscan Bellosguardo, wide awake,1
When, standing on the actual blessed sward
Where Galileo stood at nights to take
The vision of the stars, we have found it hard,
Gazing upon the earth and heaven, to make
A choice of beauty.
1 Galileo's villa, close to Florence, is built on an eminence called
Bellosguardo.
[ 64 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Therefore let us all
Refreshed in England or in other land,
By visions, with their fountain rise and fall,
Of this earth's darling, we, who understand
A little how the Tuscan musical
Vowels do round themselves as if they planned
Eternities of separate sweetness, we,
Who loved Sorrento vines in picture-book,
Or ere in winecup we pledged faith or glee, -
Who loved Rome's wolf with demigods at suck,
Or ere we loved truth's own divinity, -
Who loved, in brief, the classic hill and brook,
And Ovid's dreaming tales and Petrarch's song,
Or ere we loved Love's self even,- let us give
The blessing of our souls (and wish them strong
To bear it to the height where prayers arrive,
When faithful spirits pray against a wrong,)
To this great cause of southern men who strive
In God's name for man's rights, and shall not fail!

Behold, they shall not fail. The shouts ascend
Above the shrieks, in Naples, and prevail.
Rows of shot corpses, waiting for the end
Of burial, seem to smile up straight and pale
Into the azure air, and apprehend
That final gun-flash from Palermo's coast
Which lightens their apocalypse of death.
So let them die! The world shows nothing lost;
Therefore not blood. Above or underneath,
6 [65 ]







CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


What matter, brothers, if ye keep your post
On duty's side? As sword returns to sheath,
So dust to grave; but souls fid place in heaven.
Heroic daring is the true success,
The eucharistic bread requires no leaven;
And, though your ends were hopeless, we should bless
Your cause as holy. Strive and, having striven,
Take for God's recompense that righteousness !


[ 66 ]






AMPANILE, with Cathedral
and Baptistry.


" The startling bell-tower Giotto raised."
Old Pictures in Florence, p. 105.
" Thy great campanile is still tofinish."
Old Pictures in Florence, p. 111.
"Here where Giotto planted
His campanile like an unperplext
Fine question heavenward."
Casa Guidi Windows, pp. 24, 25.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


part 9o

I WROTE a meditation and a dream,
Hearing a little child sing in the street:
I leant upon his music as a theme,
Till it gave way beneath my heart's full beat
Which tried at an exultant prophecy,
But dropped before the measure was complete -
Alas for songs and hearts O Tuscany,
O Dante's Florence, is the type too plain?
Didst thou, too, only sing of liberty,
As little children take up a high strain
With unintentioned voices, and break off
To sleep upon their mothers' knees again?
Couldst thou not watch one hour? then sleep enough,
That sleep may hasten manhood, and sustain
The faint, pale spirit with some muscular stuff.

But we who cannot slumber as thou dost;
We thinkers, who have thought for thee, and failed;
We hopers, who have hoped for thee, and lost;
We poets, wandered round by dreams,1 who hailed
From this Atrides' roof (with lintel-post
Which still drips blood, the worse part hath prevailed)
The fire-voice of the beacons to declare
1 See the opening passage of the Agamemnon of .Eschylus.
[ 67 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Troy taken, sorrow ended, cozened through
A crimson sunset in a misty air,
What now remains for such as we to do ?
God's judgments, peradventure, will he bare
To the roots of thunder, if we kneel and sue ?

From Casa Guidi windows I looked forth,
And saw ten thousand eyes of Florentines
Flash back the triumph of the Lombard north, -
Saw fifty banners, freighted with the signs
And exultations of the awakened earth,
Float on above the multitude in lines,
Straight to the Pitti. So, the vision went.
And so, between those populous rough hands
Raised in the sun, Duke Leopold outleant,
And took the patriot's oath which henceforth stands
Among the oaths of perjurers, eminent
To catch the lightning ripened for these lands.

Why swear at all, thou false Duke Leopold ?
What need to swear ? What need to boast thy blood
Unspoilt of Austria, and thy heart unsold
Away from Florence ? It was understood
God made thee not too vigorous or too bold;
And men had patience with thy quiet mood,
And women pity, as they saw thee pace
Their festive streets with premature gray hairs.
We turned the mild dejection of thy face
To princely meanings, took thy wrinkling cares
[ 68 ]






ORTRAIT of Michel Angelo
Buonarroti, painted by him-
self. Uffizi Gallery.


" They are safe in heaven ...
The Michaels and Rafaels, you hum and buzz
Round the works of, you of the little wit."
Old Pictures in Florence, p. 107.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


For ruffling hopes, and called thee weak, not base.
Nay, better light the torches for more prayers,
And smoke the pale Madonnas at the shrine, -
Being still our poor Grand-duke, our good Grand-duke,
Who cannot help the Austrian in his line," -
Than write an oath upon a nation's book
For men to spit at with scorn's blurring brine!
Who dares forgive what none can overlook?

For me, I do repent me in this dust
Of towns and temples which makes Italy;
I sigh amid the sighs which breathe a gust
Of dying century to century
Around us on the uneven crater-crust
Of these old worlds; I bow my soul and knee.
Absolve me, patriots, of my woman's fault
That ever I believed the man was true!
These sceptred strangers shun the common salt,
And therefore, when the general board's in view,
And they stand up to carve for blind and halt,
The wise suspect the viands which ensue.
I much repent, that in this time and place,
Where many corpse-lights of experience burn
From Cesar's and Lorenzo's festering race,
To enlighten groping reasoners, I could learn
No better counsel for a simple case
Than to put faith in princes, in my turn.
Had all the death-piles of the ancient years
Flared up in vain before me? knew I not
[69]



.i






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


What stench arises from some purple gears ?
And how the sceptres witness whence they got
Their brier-wood, crackling through the atmosphere's
Foul smoke, by princely perjuries kept hot?
Forgive me, ghosts of patriots,- Brutus, thou
Who trailest down hill into life again
Thy blood-weighed cloak, to indict me with thy slow,
Reproachful eyes for being taught in vain,
That, while the illegitimate Caesars show
Of meaner stature than the first full strain
(Confessed incompetent to conquer Gaul,)
They swoon as feebly, and cross Rubicons
As rashly, as any Julius of them all!
Forgive, that I forgot the mind which runs
Through absolute races, too unsceptical
I saw the man among his little sons,
His lips were warm with kisses while he swore;
And I, because I am a woman, I,
Who felt my own child's coming life before
The prescience of my soul, and held faith high, -
I could not bear to think, whoever bore,
That lips so warmed could shape so cold a lie.

From Casa Guidi windows I looked out,
Again looked, and beheld a different sight.
The Duke had fled before the people's shout
"Long live the Duke A people, to speak right,
Must speak as soft as courtiers, lest a doubt
Should curdle brows of gracious sovereigns white.
[70]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Moreover, that same dangerous shouting meant
Some gratitude for future favors which
Were only promised, the Constituent
Implied; the whole being subject to the hitch
In "motu proprios," very incident
To all these Czars, from Paul to Paulovitch.
Whereat the people rose up in the dust
Of the ruler's flying feet, and shouted still
And loudly; only, this time, as was just,
Not "Live the Duke! who had fled for good or ill,
But "Live the People! who remained and must,
The unrenounced and unrenounceable.

Long live the people! How they lived! and boiled
And bubbled in the caldron of the street!
How the young blustered, nor the old recoiled!
And what a thunderous stir of tongues and feet
Trod flat the palpitating bells, and foiled
The joy-guns of their echo, shattering it!
How down they pulled the Duke's arms everywhere!
How up they set new cafe-signs, to show
Where patriots might sip ices in pure air-
(The fresh paint smelling somewhat)! To and fro
How marched the civic guard, and stopped to stare
When boys broke windows in a civic glow !
How rebel songs were sung to loyal tunes,
And bishops cursed in ecclesiastic metres !
How all the Circoli grew large as moons,
And all the speakers, moonstruck, thankful greeters
[ 71 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Of prospects which struck poor the ducal boons,
A mere free Press and Chambers! frank repeaters
Of great Guerazzi's praises "There's a man,
The father of the land, who, truly great,
Takes off that national disgrace and ban,
The farthing-tax upon our Florence-gate,
And saves Italia as he only can!"
How all the nobles fled, and would not wait,
Because they were most noble! which being so,
How Liberals vowed to burn their palaces,
Because free Tuscans were not free to go !
How grown men raged at Austria's wickedness,
And smoked, while fifty striplings in a row
Marched straight to Piedmont for the wrong's redress !
You say we failed in duty, we who wore
Black velvet like Italian democrats,
Who slashed our sleeves like patriots, nor forswore
The true republic in the form of hats ?
We chased the archbishop from the Duomo door,
We chalked the walls with bloody caveats
Against all tyrants. If we did not fight
Exactly, we fired muskets up the air
To show that victory was ours of right.
We met, had free discussion everywhere
(Except, perhaps, i' the Chambers) day and night.
We proved the poor should be employed that's fair,-
And yet the rich not worked for anywise, -
Pay certified, yet payers abrogated,
Full work secured, yet liabilities
[ 72 ]







PORTRAIT of Raphael Sanzio,
painted by himself. In Uffizi
Gallery.


" Do their eyes contract to the earth's old scope,
Now that they see God face to face ? "
Old Pictures in Florence, p. 107.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


To overwork excluded, not one bated
Of all our holidays, that still, at twice
Or thrice a week, are moderately rated.
We proved that Austria was dislodged, or would
Or should be, and that Tuscany in arms
Should, would, dislodge her, ending the old feud;
And yet to leave our piazzas, shops, and farms,
For the simple sake of fighting, was not good -
We proved that also. "Did we carry charms
Against being killed ourselves, that we should rush
On killing others? what, desert herewith
Our wives and mothers?--was that duty? Tush!"
At which we shook the sword within the sheath
Like heroes, only louder; and the flush
Ran up the cheek to meet the future wreath.
Nay, what we proved, we shouted how we shouted !
(Especially the boys did), boldly planting
That tree of liberty, whose fruit is doubted,
Because the roots are not of Nature's granting.
A tree of good and evil: none, without it,
Grow gods; alas and, with it, men are wanting.

O holy knowledge, holy liberty !
O holy rights of nations! If I speak
These bitter things against the jugglery
Of days that in your names proved blind and weak,
It is that tears are bitter. When we see
The brown skulls grin at death in churchyards bleak,
We do not cry, "This Yorick is too light,"
[ 73 ]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


For death grows deathlier with that mouth he makes.
So with my mocking. Bitter things I write
Because my soul is bitter for your sakes,
O freedom! 0 my Florence!

Men who might
Do greatly in a universe that breaks
And burns, must ever know before they do.
Courage and patience are but sacrifice;
And sacrifice is offered for and to
Something conceived of. Each man pays a price
For what himself counts precious, whether true
Or false the appreciation it implies.
But here, no knowledge, no conception, nought!
Desire was absent, that provides great deeds
From out the greatness of prevenient thought;
And action, action, like a flame that needs
A steady breath and fuel, being caught
Up, like a burning reed from other reeds,
Flashed in the empty and uncertain air,
Then wavered, then went out. Behold, who blames
A crooked course, when not a goal is there
To round the fervid striving of the games ?
An ignorance of means may minister
To greatness; but an ignorance of aims
Makes it impossible to be great at all.
So with our Tuscans. Let none dare to say,
Here virtue never can be national;
Here fortitude can never cut a way
[ 74 ]









ORTRAIT of Leonardo da
Vinci, painted by himself.
In Uffizi Gallery.


" A younger succeeds to an elder brother,
Da Vincis derive in good time from Dellos."
Old Pictures in Florence, p. 108.






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


Between the Austrian muskets, out of thrall:
I tell you rather, that whoever may
Discern true ends here shall grow pure enough
To love them, brave enough to strive for them,
And strong to reach them, though the roads be rough;
That, having learnt by no mere apothegm-
Not just the draping of a graceful stuff
About a statue, broidered at the hem, -
Not just the trilling on an opera-stage,
Of libertyh" to bravos (a fair word,
Yet too allied to inarticulate rage
And breathless sobs, for singing, though the chord
Were deeper than they struck it) but the gauge
Of civil wants sustained, and wrongs abhorred,
The serious, sacred meaning and full use
Of freedom for a nation, then, indeed,
Our Tuscans, underneath the bloody dews
Of some new morning, rising up agreed
And bold, will want no Saxon souls or thews
To sweep their piazzas clear of Austria's breed.

Alas, alas! it was not so this time.
Conviction was not, courage failed, and truth
Was something to be doubted of. The mime
Changed masks, because a mime. The tide as smooth
In running in as out, no sense of crime
Because no sense of virtue. Sudden ruth
Seized on the people: they would have again
Their good Grand-duke, and leave Guerazzi, though
[75]






CASA GUIDI WINDOWS


He took that tax from Florence. Much in vain
He takes it from the market-carts, we trow,
While urgent that no market-men remain,
But all march off, and leave the spade and plough
To die among the Lombards. Was it thus
The dear paternal Duke did ? Live the Duke "
At which the joy-bells multitudinous,
Swept by an opposite wind, as loudly shook.
Call back the mild archbishop to his house,
To bless the people with his frightened look, -
He shall not yet be hanged, you comprehend !
Seize on Guerazzi; guard him in full view,
Or else we stab him in the back to end !
Rub out those chalked devices, set up new
The Duke's arms, doff your Phrygian caps, and mend
The pavement of the piazzas broke into
By barren poles of freedom: smooth the way
For the ducal carriage, lest his Highness sigh,
"Here trees of liberty grew yesterday !"
"Long live the Duke How roared the cannonry !
How rocked the bell-towers! and through thickening
spray
Of nosegays, wreaths, and kerchiefs tossed on high,
How marched the civic guard, the people still
Being good at shouts, especially the boys !
Alas, poor people, of an unfledged will
Most fitly expressed by such a callow voice !
Alas, still poorer Duke, incapable
Of being worthy even of so much noise !
[ 76 ]




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