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Perhaps not though in writing to a leech
'Tis well to keep back nothing of a case.)
This man so cured regards the curer, then,
As-God forgive me! who but God himself,
Creator and sustainer of the world,

That came and dwelt in flesh on it awhile!

'Sayeth that such an one was born and lived, Taught, healed the sick, broke bread at his own house, Then died, with Lazarus by, for aught I know, And yet was . . . what I said nor choose repeat, And must have so avouched himself, in fact,

In hearing of this very Lazarus

Who saith but why all this of what he saith?
Why write of trivial matters, things of price
Calling at every moment for remark?
I noticed on the margin of a pool
Blue-flowering borage, the Aleppo sort,
Aboundeth, very nitrous. It is strange!

Thy pardon for this long and tedious case,
Which, now that I review it, needs must seem
Unduly dwelt on, prolixly set forth!
Nor I myself discern in what is writ
Good cause for the peculiar interest

And awe indeed this man has touched me with.
Perhaps the journey's end, the weariness
Had wrought upon me first. I met him thus:
I crossed a ridge of short sharp broken hills
Like an old lion's cheek-teeth. Out there came
A moon made like a face with certain spots
Multiform, manifold, and menacing:
Then a wind rose behind me. So we met

In this old sleepy town at unaware,
The man and I. I send thee what is writ.
Regard it as a chance, a matter risked
To this ambiguous Syrian he may lose,
Or steal, or give it thee with equal good.
Jerusalem's repose shall make amends

For time this letter wastes, thy time and mine
Till when, once more thy pardon and farewell!

The very God! think, Abib; dost thou think?
So, the All-Great, were the All-Loving too—
So, through the thunder comes a human voice
Saying, "O heart I made, a heart beats here!
Face, my
hands fashioned, see it in myself!

Thou hast no power nor may'st conceive of mine,
But love I gave thee, with myself to love,
And thou must love me who have died for thee!"
The madman saith He said so it is strange.


THERE's heaven above, and night by night

I look right through its gorgeous roof;
No suns and moons though e'er so bright
Avail to stop me; splendor-proof

I keep the broods of stars aloof:
For I intend to get to God,

For 't is to God I speed so fast,
For in God's breast, my own abode,
Those shoals of dazzling glory, passed,
I lay my spirit down at last.

I lie where I have always lain,

God smiles as he has always smiled;
Ere suns and moons could wax and wane,
Ere stars were thundergirt, or piled

The heavens, God thought on me his child;
Ordained a life for me, arrayed

Its circumstances every one

To the minutest; ay, God said

This head this hand should rest upon

Thus, ere he fashioned star or sun.

And having thus created me,

Thus rooted me, he bade me grow,

Guiltless forever, like a tree

That buds and blooms, nor seeks to know
The law by which it prospers so:

But sure that thought and word and deed
All go to swell his love for me,

Me, made because that love had need
Of something irreversibly

Pledged solely its content to be.
Yes, yes, a tree which must ascend,
No poison-gourd foredoomed to stoop!
I have God's warrant, could I blend
All hideous sins, as in a cup,

To drink the mingled venoms up;
Secure my nature will convert

The draught to blossoming gladness fast: While sweet dews turn to the gourd's hurt,


And bloat, and while they bloat it, blast,
As from the first its lot was cast.


For as I lie, smiled on, full-fed
By unexhausted power to bless,
below on hell's fierce bed,
And those its waves of flame oppress,
Swarming in ghastly wretchedness;
Whose life on earth aspired to be
One altar-smoke, so pure! to win,
If not love like God's love for me,
At least to keep his anger in;
And all their striving turned to sin.
Priest, doctor, hermit, monk grown white
With prayer, the broken-hearted nun,
The martyr, the wan acolyte,

The incense-swinging child, — undone
Before God fashioned star or sun!
God, whom I praise; how could I praise,
If such as I might understand,
Make out and reckon on his ways,
And bargain for his love, and stand,
Paying a price, at his right hand?



I COULD have painted pictures like that youth's
Ye praise so. How my soul springs up! No bar
Stayed me ah, thought which saddens while it soothes
Never did fate forbid me, star by star,

To outburst on your night with all my gift

Of fires from God: nor would my flesh have shrunk From seconding my soul, with eyes uplift

And wide to heaven, or, straight like thunder, sunk

To the centre, of an instant; or around

Turned calmly and inquisitive, to scan
The license and the limit, space and bound,
Allowed to truth made visible in man.
And, like that youth ye praise so, all I saw,
Over the canvas could my hand have flung,

Each face obedient to its passion's law,

Each passion clear proclaimed without a tongue;
Whether Hope rose at once in all the blood,
A-tiptoe for the blessing of embrace,

Or Rapture drooped the eyes, as when her brood
Pull down the nesting dove's heart to its place;
Or Confidence lit swift the forehead up,

And locked the mouth fast, like a castle braved,
O human faces, hath it spilt, my cup?

What did ye give me that I have not saved? Nor will I say I have not dreamed (how well!) Of going-I, in each new picture forth, As, making new hearts beat and bosoms swell, To Pope or Kaiser, East, West, South, or North, Bound for the calmly satisfied great State,

Or glad aspiring little burgh, it went,

Flowers cast upon the car which bore the freight, Through old streets named afresh from the event, Till it reached home, where learned age should greet My face, and youth, the star not yet distinct Above his hair, lie learning at my feet!

Oh, thus to live, I and my picture, linked With love about, and praise, till life should end, And then not go to heaven, but linger here, Here on my earth, earth's every man my friend, The thought grew frightful, 't was so wildly dear! But a voice changed it. Glimpses of such sights Have scared me, like the revels through a door Of some strange house of idols at its rites!

This world seemed not the world it was before: Mixed with my loving trusting ones, there trooped Who summoned those cold faces that begun To press on me and judge me? Though I stooped Shrinking, as from the soldiery a nun,

They drew me forth, and spite of me


enough! These buy and sell our pictures, take and give,

Count them for garniture and household-stuff,
And where they live needs must our pictures live
And see their faces, listen to their prate,

Partakers of their daily pettiness,

Discussed of, "This I love, or this I hate,
This likes me more, and this affects me less!"
Wherefore I chose my portion. If at whiles
My heart sinks, as monotonous I paint
These endless cloisters and eternal aisles

With the same series, Virgin, Babe and Saint,
With the same cold calm beautiful regard,

At least no merchant traffics in my heart; The sanctuary's gloom at least shall ward

Vain tongues from where my pictures stand apart :

Only prayer breaks the silence of the shrine
While, blackening in the daily candle-smoke,
They moulder on the damp wall's travertine,
'Mid echoes the light footstep never woke.
So, die my pictures! surely, gently die!
O youth, men praise so, holds their praise its worth?
Blown harshly, keeps the trump its golden cry?
Tastes sweet the water with such specks of earth?

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I AM poor brother Lippo, by your leave!
You need not clap your torches to my face.

Zooks, what's to blame? you think you see a monk!
What, 't is past midnight, and you go the rounds,

And here you catch me at an alley's end
Where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar?
The Carmine's my cloister: hunt it up,

Do, harry out, if you must show your zeal,
Whatever rat, there, haps on his wrong hole,
And nip each softling of a wee white mouse,
Weke, weke, that 's crept to keep him company!

Aha, you know your betters? Then, you'll take

Your hand away that's fiddling on my throat,
And please to know me likewise. Who am I?
Why, one, sir, who is lodging with a friend

Three streets off-he's a certain . . . how d' ye call?
Cosimo of the Medici,

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I' the house that caps the corner. Boh! you were best!
Remember and tell me, the day you're hanged,
How you affected such a gullet's-gripe!

But you, sir, it concerns you that your knaves
Pick up a manner nor discredit you:

Zooks, are we pilchards, that they sweep the streets
And count fair prize what comes into their net?
He's Judas to a tittle, that man is!

Just such a face! Why, sir, you make amends.
Lord, I'm not angry! Bid your hangdogs go
Drink out this quarter-florin to the health
Of the munificent House that harbors me
(And many more beside, lads! more beside!)
And all's come square again.

I'd like his face

His, elbowing on his comrade in the door

With the pike and lantern, for the slave that holds
John Baptist's head a-dangle by the hair

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