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Ah, to build, to build ! That is the noblest art of all the arts, Painting and sculpture are but images, Are merely shadows cast by outward things On stone or canvas, having in themselves No separate existence. Architecture, Existing in itself, and not in seeming A something it is not, surpasses them As substance shadow. Long, long years ago, Standing one morning near the Baths of Titus, I saw the statue of Laocoon Rise from its grave of centuries, like a ghost Writhing in pain ; and as it tore away The knotted serpents from its limbs, I heard, Or seemed to hear, the cry of agony From its white, parted lips. And still I mar
vel At the three Rhodian artists, by whose hands This miracle was wrought. Yet he beholds Far nobler works who looks upon the ruins Of temples in the Forum here in Rome. If God should give me power in my old age To build for Him a temple half as grand As those were in their glory, I should count My age more excellent than youth itself, And all that I have hitherto accomplished As only vanity.
Let us now go to the old walls you spake of, Vossignoria —
What, again, Maestro?
Pardon me, Messer Claudio, if once more
I understand you.
Art is the gift of God, and must be used
art Which bears the consecration and the seal Of holiness upon it will prevail
I am bewildered. These Numidian slaves,
ing Of a disciple of that lowly Man Who had not where to lay his head? These
Young as the young Astyanax into goblets As old as Priam.
Oh, your Eminence Knows best what you should wear.
Are not of Saints; nor is this a Madonna,
friend, Sick, comfortless, distressed, unknown, uncared
Dear Messer Nardi, You are no stranger to me.
I have read Your excellent translation of the books Of Titus Livius, the historian Of Rome, and model of all historians That shall come after him. It does you honor; But greater honor still the love you bear To Florence, our dear country, and whose an
nals I hope your hand will write, in happier days . Than we now see.
Enter CARDINAL IPPOLITO, in Spanish cloak and
IPPOLITO. And worst of all his impious hand has broken The Martinella, — our great battle bell, That, sounding through three centuries, has
led The Florentines to victory, — lest its voice Should waken in their souls some memory Of far-off times of glory.
The Emperor is busy With this new war against the Algerines, And has no time to listen to complaints From our ambassadors; nor will I trust them, But go myself. All is in readiness For my departure, and to-morrow morning I shall go down to Itri, where I meet Dante da Castiglione and some others, Republicans and fugitives from Florence, And then take ship at Gaëta, and go To join the Emperor in his new crusade Against the Turk. I shall have time enough And opportunity to plead our cause.
What a change Ten little years have made! We all remem
ber Those better days, when Niccolà Capponi,