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Speak not of it! How damp and cold it was! How my bones
ached And my head reeled, when I was working
there! I am too old. I will stay here in Rome, Where all is old and crumbling, like myself, To hopeless ruin. All roads lead to Rome.
True, Maestro; But that was not in Florence. You should
And all lead out of it.
There is a charm, A certain something in the atmosphere, That all men feel, and no man can describe.
In my waking dreams I see the marvellous dome of Brunelleschi, Ghiberti's gates of bronze, and Giotto's tower; And Ghirlandajo's lovely Benci glides With folded hands amid my troubled thoughts, A splendid vision! Time rides with the old At a great pace. As travellers on swift steeds See the near landscape fly and flow behind
them, While the remoter fields and dim horizons Go with them, and seem wheeling round to
meet them, So in old age things near us slip away, And distant things go with us. Pleasantly Come back to me the days when, as a youth, I walked with Ghirlandajo in the gardens Of Medici, and saw the antique statues, The forms august of gods and godlike men, And the great world of art revealed itself To my young eyes. Then all that man hath
done Seemed possible to me. Alas! how little Of all I dreamed of has my hand achieved !
Yes, malaria of the mind, Out of this tomb of the majestic Past; The fever to accomplish some great work That will not let us sleep. I must go on Until I die.
Do you ne'er think of Florence ?
Yes; whenever I think of anything beside my work, I think of Florence. I remember, too, The bitter days I passed among the quar
Nay, let the Night and Morning, let Lorenzo And Julian in the Sacristy at Florence, Prophets and Sibyls in the Sistine Chapel, And the Last Judgment answer. Is it fin
The work is nearly done. But this Last
Judgment Has been the cause of more vexation to me Than it will be of honor. Ser Biagio, Master of ceremonies at the Papal court, A man punctilious and over nice, Calls it improper; says that those nude forms, Showing their nakedness in such shameless
fashion, Are better suited to a common bagnio, Or wayside wine-shop, than a Papal Chapel. To punish him I painted him as Minos And leave him there as master of ceremo
nies In the Infernal Regions. What would you Have done to such a man ?
I learned that lesson Under Pope Clement at the siege of Rome, Some twenty years ago. As I was standing Upon the ramparts of the Campo Santo With Alessandro Bene, I beheld A sea of fog, that covered all the plain, And hid from us the foe; when suddenly, A misty figure, like an apparition, Rose up above the fog, as if on horseback. At this I aimed my arquebus, and fired. The figure vanished; and there rose a cry Out of the darkness, long and fierce and loud, With imprecations in all languages. It was the Constable of France, the Bourbon, That I had slain.
Faith, a pretty artist To pass his days in stamping leaden seals On Papal bulls !
Were swallowed up in the delightful music
He has grown fat and lazy, As if the lead clung to him like a sinker. He paints no more, since he was sent to
Fondi By Cardinal Ippolito to paint The fair Gonzaga. Ah, you should have
seen him As I did, riding through the city gate,
Be at it late and early ; persevere,
His talent in a napkin, and consumes His life in vanities.
No man works harder Than I do. I am not a moment idle.
And what have you to show me ?
Michael Angelo May say what Benvenuto would not bear From any other man. He speaks the truth. I know my life is wasted and consumed In vanities; but I have better hours And higher aspirations than you think. Once, when a prisoner at St. Angelo, Fasting and praying in the midnight dark
ness, In a celestial vision I beheld A crucifix in the sun, of the same substance As is the sun itself. And since that hour There is a splendor round about my head, That may be seen at sunrise and at sunset Above my shadow on the grass. And now I know that I am in the grace of God, And none henceforth can harm me.
This gold ring, Made for his Holiness, - my latest work, And I am proud of it. A single diamond, Presented by the Emperor to the Pope. Targhetta of Venice set and tinted it ; I have reset it, and retinted it Divinely, as you see. The jewellers Say I've surpassed Targhetta.