This celebrated Italian was essentially the painter of beauty. Of the devotion with which he sought its inspiration in its presence, a remarkable instance is recorded. He either could not or would not paint without the presence of his lovely mistress, La Fornarina.
[Ah! not for him the dull and measured eye,
Which colours nothing in the common sky,
Which sees but night upon the starry cope,
And animates with no mysterious hope.
Which looks upon a quiet face, nor dreams
If it be ever tranquil as it seems;
Which reads no histories in a passing look,
Nor on the cheek which is the heart's own book,
Whereon it writes in rosy characters
Whate'er emotion in its silence stirs.
Such are the common people of the soul,
Of whom the stars write not in their bright scroll.
These, when the sunshine at the noontide makes
Golden confusion in the forest brakes,
See no sweet shadows gliding o'er the grass,
Which seems to fill with wild flowers as they pass;
These, from the twilight music of the fount
Ask not its secret and its sweet account;
These never seek to read the chronicle
Which hides within the hyacinth's dim-lit bell:
They know not of the poetry which lies
Upon the summer rose's languid eyes;
They have no spiritual visitings elysian,
They dream no dreamings, and they see no vision.
The young Italian was not of the clay,
That doth to dust one long allegiance pay.
No; he was tempered with that finer flame,
Which ancient fables say from heaven came;
The sunshine of the soul, which fills the earth
With beauty borrowed from its place of birth.
Hence has the lute its song, the scroll its line;
Hence stands the statue glorious as its shrine;
Hence the fair picture, kings are fain to win,
The mind's creations from the world within.]
Not without me!—alone, thy hand
Forgot its art awhile;
Thy pencil lost its high command,
Uncherished by my smile.
It was too dull a task for thee
To paint remembered rays;
Thou, who were wont to gaze on me,
And colour from that gaze.
I know that I am very fair,
I would I were divine,
To realize the shapes that share
Those midnight hours of thine.
Thou sometimes tell'st me, how in sleep
What lovely phantoms seem;
I hear thee name them, and I weep,
Too jealous of a dream.
But thou didst pine for me, my love,
Aside thy colours thrown;
'Twas sad to raise thine eyes above,
Unanswered by mine own:
Thou who art wont to lift those eyes,
And gather from my face
The warmth of life's impassioned dyes,
Its colour and its grace.
Ah! let me linger at thy side,
And sing some sweet old song,
That tells of hearts as true and tried,
As to ourselves belong.
The love, whose light thy colours give,
Is kindled at the heart;
And who shall bid its influence live,
My Raphael, if we part?
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