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R enter, in your Florence wanderings,

Santa Maria Novella church. You pass
The left stair, where, at plague-time, Macchiavel

Saw one with set fair face as in a glass,
Dressed out against the fear of death and hell,

Rustling her silks in pauses of the mass,
To keep the thought off how her husband fell,

When she left home, stark dead across her feet, The stair leads up to what Orgagna gave

Of Dante's dæmons; but you, passing it, Ascend the right stair of the farther nave,

To muse in a small chapel scarcely lit By Cimabue's Virgin. Bright and brave,

That picture was accounted, mark, of old !
A king stood bare before its sovran grace ;

A reverent people shouted to behold
The picture, not the king; and even the place

Containing such a miracle, grew bold,
Named the Glad Borgo from that beauteous face,

Which thrilled the artist, after work, to think That his ideal Mary-smile should stand

So very near him-- he, within the brink Of all that glory, let in by his hand

With too divine a rashness! Yet none shrink Who gaze here now,

albeit the thing is planned Sublimely in the thought's simplicity. The Virgin, throned in empyreal state,

Minds only the young babe upon her knee;

Wbile, each side, angels bear the royal weight,

Prostrated meekly, smiling tenderly Oblivion of their wings! the Child thereat

Stretches its hand like God. If any should, Because of some stiff draperies and loose joints,

Gaze scorn down from the heights of Raffaelhood, On Cimabue's picture, Heaven anoints

The head of no such critic, and his blood The poet's curse strikes full on, and appoints

To ague and cold spasms forevermore. A noble picture ! worthy of the shout

Wherewith along the streets the people bore Its cherub faces, which the sun threw out Until they stooped and entered the church door !

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


ENCHASED with precious marbles, pure and rare,

, it From every polished stage to laugh and smile, Playing with sportive gleams of lucid air ! Fit resting-place methinks its summit were For a descended angel! happy isle, Mid life's rough sea of sorrow, force, and guile, For saint of royal race, or vestal fair, In this seclusion, - call it not a prison, Cloistering a bosom innocent and lonely. O Tuscan Priestess ! gladly would I watch All night one note of thy loud hymn to catch Sent forth to greet the sun, when first, new-risen, He shines on that aerial station only!

Aubrey de Vere.



W many lives, made beautiful and sweet

By self-devotion and by self-restraint, Whose pleasure is to run without complaint On unknown errands of the Paraclete, Wanting the reverence of unshodden feet, Fail of the nimbus which the artists paint Around the shining forehead of the saint, And are in their completeness incomplete ! In the old Tuscan town stands Giotto's tower, The lily of Florence blossoming in stone, A vision, a delight, and a desire, The builder's perfect and centennial flower, That in the night of ages bloomed alone, But wanting still the glory of the spire.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.



NADDEO GADDI built me. I am old,

Five centuries old. I plant my foot of stone Upon the Arno, as St. Michael's own Was planted on the dragon. Fold by fold Beneath me as it struggles, I behold Its glistening scales. Twice hath it overthrown My kindred and companions. Me alone It moveth not, but is by me controlled. I can remember when the Medici Were driven from Florence; longer still ago

The final wars of Ghibelline and Guelf.
Florence adorns me with her jewelry;
And when I think that Michael Angelo
Hath leaned on me, I glory in myself.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


WHILE slow on Miniato's height I roam,

And backward look to Brunelleschi's dome,
'T is strange to think that here on many a day
Old Michael Angelo has paced his way:
Ånd watching Florence, in his bosom found
A nobler world than that which lies around.
To him, perhaps, the ghost of Dante came
At sunset, with his pride of mournful fame.
By me the twain, the bard and sculptor stand,
With strong lip gazing and uplifted land:
The great, the sad, fighters in ages past,
With their full peace fill e’en the weak at last.

John Sterling.


HE came, whom Casa Guidi's chambers knew,

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The air without a star was shivered through
With the resistless radiance of her brow,
And glimmering landscapes from the darkness grew.
Thin, phantom-like; and yet she brought me rest,
Unspoken words, an understood coinmand

Sealed weary lids with sleep, together pressed
In clasping quiet wandering hand to hand,
And smoothed the folded cloth above the breast.

Now, looking through these windows, where the day
Shines on a terrace splendid with the gold
Of autumn shrubs, and green with glossy bay,
Once inore her face, re-made from dust, I hold
In light so clear it cannot pass away : –

The quiet brow; the face so frail and fair
For such a voice of song; the steady eye,
Where shone the spirit fated to outwear
Its fragile house ; — and on her features lie
The soft half-shadows of her drooping hair.

Who could forget those features, having known ?
Whose memory do his kindling reverence wrong
That heard the soft Ionian flute, whose tone
Changed with the silver trumpet of her song ?
No sweeter airs from woman's lips were blown.

Ah, in the silence she has left behind
How many a sorrowing voice of life is still!
Songless she left the land that cannot find
Song for its beroes ; and the Roman hill,
Once free, shall for her ghost the laurel wind.

The tablet tells you, “Here she wrote and died,”
And grateful Florence bids the record stand :
Here bend Italian love and English pride

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