Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lies chain'd to his lone rock by the sea-shore?
So be it: we can bear.-But thus all they
Whose intellect is an o'ermastering power
Which still recoils from its encumbering clay
Or lightens it to spirit, whatsoe'er

The form which their creations may essay,
Are bards; the kindled marble's bust may wear
More poesy upon its speaking brow

Than aught less than the Homeric

page may bear; One noble stroke with a whole life may glow, Or deify the canvass till it shine With beauty so surpassing all below,

That they who kneel to idols so divine

Break no commandment, for high heaven is there Transfused, transfigurated: and the line

Of poesy, which peoples but the air

With thought and beings of our thought reflected,
Can do no more: then let the artist share

The palm, he shares the peril, and dejected
Faints o'er the labour unapproved - Alas!
Despair and Genius are too oft connected.
Within the ages which before me pass

Art shall resume and equal even the sway
Which with Apelles and old Phidias
She held in Hellas' unforgotten day.

Ye shall be taught by Ruin to revive
The Grecian forms at least from their decay,
And Roman souls at last again shall live

In Roman works wrought by Italian hands,
And temples, loftier than the old temples, give
New wonders to the world; and while still stands
The austere Pantheon, into heaven shall soar

A dome (1), its image, while the base expands Into a fane surpassing all before,

Such as all flesh shall flock to kneel in: ne'er
Such sight hath been unfolded by a door
As this, to which all nations shall repair,

And lay their sins at this huge gate of heaven. And the bold Architect unto whose care The daring charge to raise it shall be given, Whom all arts shall acknowledge as their lord, (2) Whether into the marble chaos driven

His chisel bid the Hebrew (3), at whose word

(1) The cupola of St. Peter's.

(2) ["If," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, "the high admiration and esteem in which Michael Angelo has been held by all nations, and in all ages, should be put to the account of prejudice, it must still be granted that those prejudices could not have been entertained without a cause: the ground of our prejudice then becomes the source of our admiration. But from whatever it proceeds, or whatever it is called, it will not, I hope, be thought presumptuous in me to appear in the train, I cannot say of his imitators, but of his admirers. I have taken another course, one more suited to my abilities, and to the taste of the times in which I live. Yet, however unequal I feel myself to that attempt, were I now to begin the world again, I would tread in the steps of that great master. To kiss the hem of his garment, to catch the slightest of his perfections, would be glory and distinction enough for an ambitious man."- SIR JOSHUA ReyNOLDS' Discourses, vol. ii. p. 216.]

(3) The statue of Moses on the monument of Julius II.

SONETTO

Di Giovanni Battista Zappi.

Chi è costui, che in dura pietra scolto,
Siede gigante; e le più illustre, e conte
Opre dell' arte avvanza, e ha vive, e pronte
Le labbra sì, che le parole ascolto?
Quest' è Mosè; ben me 'l diceva il folto
Onor del mento, e 'l doppio raggio in fronte,
Quest' è Mosè, quando scendea del monte,
E gran parte del Nume avea nel volto.

Israel left Egypt, stop the waves in stone, Or hues of Hell be by his pencil pour'd Over the damn'd before the Judgment throne, (1) Such as I saw them, such as all shall see, Or fanes be built of grandeur yet unknown,

Tal era allor, che le sonanti, e vaste
Acque ei sospese a se d' intorno, e tale
Quando il mar chiuse, e ne fè tomba altrui.
E voi sue turbe un rio vitello alzaste ?
Alzata aveste imago a questa eguale!
Ch' era men fallo l' adorar costui.

"And who is he that, shaped in sculptured stone,
Sits giant-like? stern monument of art
Unparallel'd, while language seems to start
From his prompt lips, and we his precepts own?
-'Tis Moses; by his beard's thick honours known,
And the twin beams that from his temples dart;
'Tis Moses; seated on the mount apart,
Whilst yet the Godhead o'er his features shone.
Such once he look'd, when ocean's sounding wave
Suspended hung, and such amidst the storm,
When o'er his foes the refluent waters roar'd.
An idol calf his followers did engrave;

But had they raised this awe-commanding form,
Then had they with less guilt their work adored."-

- ROGERS.

(1) The Last Judgment, in the Sistine Chapel. — [" It is obvious, throughout Michael Angelo's works, that the poetical mind of Dante influenced his feelings. The demons in the Last Judgment, with all their mixed and various passions, may find a prototype in‘La Divina Commedia.' The figures rising from the grave mark his study of 'L'Inferno e il Purgatorio;' and the subject of the Brazen Serpent, in the Sistine Chapel, must remind every reader of canto xxv. dell' Inferno, where the flying serpents, the writhings and contortions of the human body from envenomed wounds, are described with pathos and horror; and the execution of Haman, in the opposite angle of the same ceiling, is doubtless designed from these lines,

[ocr errors]

'Poi piovre dentro all' alta fantasia

Un crocifisso dispettoso e fiero
Nella sua vista, e cotal si morìa.

Intorno ed esso era 'l grande Assuero

Ester sua sposa, e 'l giusto Mardocheo,

Che fu al dire ed al far così 'ntero.'"- DUPPA.]

The stream of his great thoughts shall spring from

me, (1)

The Ghibelline, who traversed the three realms
Which form the empire of eternity.

Amidst the clash of swords, and clang of helms,
The age which I anticipate, no less

Shall be the Age of Beauty, and while whelms Calamity the nations with distress,

The genius of my country shall arise, A Cedar towering o'er the Wilderness, Lovely in all its branches to all eyes,

Fragrant as fair, and recognised afar,

Wafting its native incense through the skies. Sovereigns shall pause amidst their sport of war, Wean'd for an hour from blood, to turn and gaze On canvass or on stone; and they who mar All beauty upon earth, compell'd to praise, Shall feel the power of that which they destroy; And Art's mistaken gratitude shall raise To tyrants who but take her for a toy

Emblems and monuments, and prostitute

(1) I have read somewhere (if I do not err, for I cannot recollect where,) that Dante was so great a favourite of Michael Angelo's, that he had designed the whole of the Divina Commedia; but that the volume containing these studies was lost by sea. -[" Michael Angelo's copy of Dante," says Duppa, "was a large folio, with Landino's commentary; and upon the broad margin of the leaves he designed, with a pen and ink, all the interesting subjects. This book was possessed by Antonio Montauti, a sculptor and architect of Florence, who, being appointed architect to St. Peter's, removed to Rome, and shipped his effects at Leghorn for Civita Vecchia, among which was this edition of Dante: in the voyage the vessel foundered at sea, and it was unfortunately lost in the wreck."]

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Her charms to pontiffs proud, (1) who but employ The man of genius as the meanest brute

To bear a burthen, and to serve a need, To sell his labours, and his soul to boot. Who toils for nations may be poor indeed,

But free; who sweats for monarchs is no more Than the gilt chamberlain, who, clothed and fee'd, Stands sleek and slavish, bowing at his door. Oh, Power that rulest and inspirest! how Is it that they on earth, whose earthly power Is likest thine in heaven in outward show,

(1) See the treatment of Michael Angelo by Julius II., and his neglect by Leo X.- [Julius II. was no sooner seated on the papal throne than he was surrounded by men of genius, and Michael Angelo was among the first invited to his court. The pope had a personal attachment to him, and conversed with him upon every subject, as well as sculpture, with familiarity and friendship; and, that he might visit him frequently, and with perfect convenience, caused a covered bridge to be made from the Vatican palace to his study, to enable him to pass at all times without being observed. On paying his visit one morning, Michael Angelo was rudely interrupted by the person in waiting, who said, "I have an order not to let you enter.” Michael felt with indignation this unmerited disgrace, and, in the warmth of resentment, desired him to tell the Pope, "from that time forward, if his Holiness should want him, he should have to seek him in another place." On his return home, he ordered his servants to sell the furniture in his house to the Jews, and to follow him to Florence. Himself, the same evening, took post, and arrived at Poggibonzi castle, in Tuscany, before he rested. The Pope despatched five couriers with orders to conduct him back: but he was not overtaken until he was in a foreign state. A reconciliation was, however, a few months after, effected at Bologna, through the mediation of the gonfaloniere. As Michael Angelo entered the presence chamber, the Pope gave him an askance look of displeasure, and after a short pause saluted him, "In the stead of your coming to us, you seem to have expected that we should wait upon you." Michael Angelo replied, with submission, that his error arose from too hastily feeling a disgrace that he was unconscious of meriting, and hoped his Holiness would pardon what was past. The Pope thereupon gave him his benediction, and restored him to his friendship. The whole reign of Leo X. was a blank in the life of Michael Angelo. - DUPPA.]

« PreviousContinue »