« AnteriorContinua »
Character, Spiritual Love ; Painter for it, Raphael.
She was a woman in her freshest age,
Of wondrous beauty and of bounty rare,
With goodly grace and comely personage,
That was on earth not easy to compare ;
Full of great love ; but Cupid's wanton snare
As hell she hated, chaste in work and will;
Her neck and breasts were ever open bare,
That ay thereof her babes might suck their fill;
The rest was all in yellow robes arrayèd still.
A multitude of babes about her hung
Playing their sports, that joyed her to behold,
Whom still she fed, whilst they were weak and young,
But thrust them forth still as they waxed old ;
And on her head she wore a tire of gold
Adorn’d with gems and owches wondrous fair, *
Whose passing price uneatht was to be told;
And by her side there sate a gentle pair24
Of turtle doves, she sitting in an ivory chair.
24 “ And by her side,” &c. This last couplet brings at once before us all the dispassionate graces and unsuperfluous treatmen of Raphael's allegorical females.
* Oroches wondrous fair. Owches are carcanets or ranges of jewels. + Uneath. Scarcely, with difficulty.
Character, Sweetness without Devotedness ; Painter, Correggio.
With him went Hope in rank, a handsome maid,
Of cheerful look, and lovely to behold:
In silken samite she was light array'd,
And her fair locks were woven up in gold. 25
She alway smild ;-and in her hand did hold
An holy-water sprinkle dipp'd in dew,
With which she sprinkled favors manifold
On whom she list and did great liking shew;
Great liking unto many, but true love to few.
25 “ And her fair locks," &c. What a lovely line is that! and with a beauty how simple and sweet is the sentiment portrayed in the next three words,—“She alway smil'd !” But almost every line of the stanza is lovely, including the felicitous Catho. lic image of the
Holy-water sprinkle dipp'd in dew.
Correggio is in every color and expression of the picture.
CUPID USURPING THE THRONE OF JUPITER.
Character, Potency in Weakness ; Painter, the same.
In Satyr's shape, Antiope he snatch'd
And like a fire, when he Ægine essay'd;
A shepherd, when Mnemosyne he catch’d;
And like a serpent to the Thracian maid.
While thus on earth great Jove these pageants play'd,
The winged boy did thrust into his throne;
And scoffing, thus unto his mother said:
" Lo! now the heavens obey to me alone,
And take me for their Jove, whilst Jove to earth is gone."
MARRIAGE PROCESSION OF THE THAMES AND MEDWAY.
Character, Genial Strength, Grace, and Luxury, Painter,
First came great Neptune with his three-fork'd mace,
That rules the seas and makes them rise or fall ;
His dewy locks did drop with brine apace,
Under his diadem imperial ;
And by his side his queen, with coronal,
Fair Amphitrite, most divinely fair,
Whose ivory shoulders weren covered all,
As with a robe, with her own silver hair,
And deck'd with pearls which the Indian seas for her prepare.
These marched far afore the other crew,
And all the way before them as they went
Triton his trumpet shrill before him blew,
For goodly triumph and great jolliment,
That made the rocks to roar as they were rent.
Or take another part of the procession, with dolphins and seanymphs listening as they went, to
Then was there heard a most celestial sound
Of dainty music, which did next ensue
Before the spouse. That was Arion crown'd;
Who playing on his harp, unto him drew
The ears and hearts of all that goodly crew;
That even yet the dolphin which him bore
Through the Ægean seas from pirates view
Stood still by him, astonish'd at his lore,
And all the raging seas for joy forgot to roar.
So went he playing on the watery plain.26
26 « So went he," &c. This sweet, placid, and gently progressing
line is one of Spenser's happy samples of alliteration. And how emphatic is the information
Character, Superhuman Energy, and Rage; Painter, Michael Angelo
In his strong arms he stiffy him embrac'd,
Who, him gain-striving, naught at all prevail'd;
Then him to ground he cast and rudely haled,
And both his hands fast bound behind his back,
And both his feet in fetters to an iron rack.
With hundred iron chains he did him bind,
And hundred knots that him did sore constrain;
Yet his great iron teeth he still did grind
And grimly gnash, threatning revenge in vain.
His burning eyes, whom bloody streaks did stain,
Starèd full wide, and threw forth sparks of fire,
And more for rank despite, than for great pain,
Shak'd his long locks, color'd like copper wire, 27
And bit his tawny beard, to show his raging ire.
27 “ Color'd like copper wire." A felicity suggested perhaps by the rhyme. It has all the look, however, of a copy from some painting ; perhaps one of Julio Romano's.
UNA (OR FAITH IN DISTRESS).
Character, Loving and Sorrowful Purity glorified.
(May I say, that I think it would take Raphael and Correggio
united to paint this, on account of the exquisite chiaro-scuro ? Or might not the painter of the Magdalen have it all to himself?)
Yet she, most faithful lady, all this while, 28
Forsaken, woful, solitary maid,
Far from all people's press, as in exile,
In wilderness and wasteful deserts stray'd,
To seek her knight, who subtily betray'd
Through that late vision which the enchanter wrought,
Had her abandon'd. She, of naught afraid,
Through woods and wasteness wide him daily sought,
Yet wished tidings none of him unto her brought
One day nigh weary of the irksome way,
From her unhasty beast she did alight,
And on the grass her dainty limbs did lay
In secret shadow far from all men's sight:
From her fair head her fillet she undight
And laid her stole aside : her angel's face
As the great eye of heaven shined bright,
And made a sunshine in the shady place ;
Did never mortal eye behold such heavenly grace.
It fortunèd, out of the thickest wood
A ramping lion rushed suddenly,
Hunting full greedy after savage blood :
Soon as the royal virgin he did spy,
With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
To have at once devour'd her tender corse;
But to the prey when as he drew more nigh,
His bloody rage assuaged with remorse,
And with the sight amaz'd, forgot his furious force.
Instead thereof he kiss'd her weary feet,
And lick'd her lily hand with fawning tongue;
As he her wrongèd innocence did weet.
O how can beauty master the most strong,
And simple truth subdue avenging wrong!
Whose yielded pride and proud submission,
Still dreading death when she had marked long
Her heart 'gan melt in great compassion:
And drizzling tears did shed for pure affectiön.
“ The lion, lord of every beast in field,”
Quoth she, “his princely puissance doth abate,
And mighty proud to humble weak does yield,