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RUDEL TO THE LADY OF TRIPOLI.

I.

I KNOW a Mount, the gracious Sun perceives
First, when he visits, last, too, when he leaves
The world; and, vainly favored, it repays
The day-long glory of his steadfast gaze
By no change of its large calm front of snow.
And underneath the Mount, a Flower I know,
He cannot have perceived, that changes ever
At his approach; and, in the lost endeavor
To live his life, has parted, one by one,
With all a flower's true graces, for the grace
Of being but a foolish mimic sun,
With ray-like florets round a disk-like face.
Men nobly call by many a name the Mount
As over many a land of theirs its large
Calm front of snow like a triumphal targe
Is reared, and still with old names, fresh names vie,
Each to its proper praise and own account :
Men call the Flower, the Sunflower, sportively.

II.

Oh, Angel of the East, one, one gold look
Across the waters to this twilight nook,
- The far sad waters, Angel, to this nook!

III.

Dear Pilgrim, art thou for the East indeed?
Go! saying ever as thou dost proceed,
That I, French Rudel, choose for my device
A sunflower outspread like a sacrifice
Before its idol. See! These inexpert
And hurried fingers could not fail to hurt
The woven picture; 't is a woman's skill
Indeed; but nothing baffled me, so, ill
Or well, the work is finished. Say, men feed
On songs I sing, and therefore bask the bees
On my flower's breast as on a platform broad:
But, as the flower's concern is not for these
But solely for the sun, so men applaud
In vain this Rudel, he not looking here

But to the East- the East! Go, say this, Pilgrim dear!

ONE WORD MORE.*

TO E. B. B.

LONDON, September, 1855.

I.

THERE they are, my fifty men and women
Naming me the fifty poems finished!

Take them, love, the book and me together:
Where the heart lies, let the brain lie also.

II.

Rafael made a century of sonnets,

Made and wrote them in a certain volume
Dinted with the silver-pointed pencil

Else he only used to draw Madonnas:

These, the world might view

-

- but one, the volume.

Who that one, you ask? Your heart instructs you.
Did she live and love it all her lifetime?

Did she drop, his lady of the sonnets,
Die, and let it drop beside her pillow
Where it lay in place of Rafael's glory,
Rafael's cheek so duteous and so loving-
Cheek, the world was wont to hail a painter's,
Rafael's cheek, her love had turned a poet's?

III.

You and I would rather read that volume,
(Taken to his beating bosom by it,)
Lean and list the bosom-beats of Rafael,
Would we not? than wonder at Madonnas
Her, San Sisto names, and Her, Foligno,
Her, that visits Florence in a vision,
Her, that's left with lilies in the Louvre -
Seen by us and all the world in circle.

IV.

You and I will never read that volume.

Guido Reni, like his own eye's apple

Guarded long the treasure-book and loved it.

Guido Reni dying, all Bologna

*Originally appended to the collection of Poems called "Men and Women," the greater portion of which has now been, more correctly, distributed under the other titles of this edition.

Cried, and the world cried too, "Ours, the treasure! " Suddenly, as rare things will, it vanished.

V.

Dante once prepared to paint an angel:
Whom to please? You whisper "Beatrice."
While he mused and traced it and retraced it,
(Peradventure with a pen corroded

Still by drops of that hot ink he dipped for,
When, his left-hand i' the hair o' the wicked,
Back he held the brow and pricked its stigma,
Bit into the live man's flesh for parchment,
Loosed him, laughed to see the writing rankle,
Let the wretch go festering through Florence) —
Dante, who loved well because he hated,
Hated wickedness that hinders loving,
Dante standing, studying his angel,-
In there broke the folk of his Inferno.
Says he "Certain people of importance
(Such he gave his daily dreadful line to)
"Entered and would seize, forsooth, the poet."
Says the poet" Then I stopped my painting."

VI.

You and I would rather see that angel,

Painted by the tenderness of Dante,

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Would we not? - than read a fresh Inferno.

VII.

You and I will never see that picture.
While he mused on love and Beatrice,
While he softened o'er his outlined angel,
In they broke, those "people of importance :
We and Bice bear the loss forever.

VIII.

What of Rafael's sonnets, Dante's picture?
This no artist lives and loves, that longs not
Once, and only once, and for one only,
(Ah, the prize!) to find his love a language
Fit and fair and simple and sufficient
Using nature that's an art to others,

Not, this one time, art that 's turned his nature,
Ay, of all the artists living, loving,

None but would forego his proper dowry, -
Does he paint? he fain would write a poem,

Does he write? he fain would paint a picture,
Put to proof art alien to the artist's,

Once, and only once, and for one only,
So to be the man and leave the artist,

Gain the man's joy, miss the artist's sorrow.

IX.

Wherefore? Heaven's gift takes earth's abatement !
He who smites the rock and spreads the water,
Bidding drink and live a crowd beneath him,
Even he, the minute makes immortal,
Proves, perchance, but mortal in the minute,
Desecrates, belike, the deed in doing.
While he smites, how can he but remember,
So he smote before, in such a peril,
When they stood and mocked

"Shall smiting help us?" When they drank and sneered "A stroke is easy!" When they wiped their mouths and went their journey, Throwing him for thanks" But drought was pleasant." Thus old memories mar the actual triumph;

Thus the doing savors of disrelish ;

Thus achievement lacks a gracious somewhat;
O'er-importuned brows becloud the mandate,
Carelessness or consciousness the gesture.
For he bears an ancient wrong about him,
Sees and knows again those phalanxed faces,
Hears, yet one time more, the 'customed prelude-
"How shouldst thou, of all men, smite, and save us?
Guesses what is like to prove the sequel -
Egypt's flesh-pots-nay, the drought was better."

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X.

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Oh, the crowd must have emphatic warrant !
Theirs, the Sinai-forehead's cloven brilliance,
Right arm's rod-sweep, tongue's imperial fiat.
Never dares the man put off the prophet.

XI.

Did he love one face from out the thousands,
(Were she Jethro's daughter, white and wifely,
Were she but the Ethiopian bondslave,)

He would envy yon dumb patient camel,
Keeping a reserve of scanty water
Meant to save his own life in the desert;
Ready in the desert to deliver

(Kneeling down to let his breast be opened)
Hoard and life together for his mistress.

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XII.

I shall never, in the years remaining,
Paint you pictures, no, nor carve you statues,
Make you music that should all-express me;
So it seems I stand on my attainment.
This of verse alone, one life allows me;
Verse and nothing else have I to give you.
Other heights in other lives, God willing:
All the gifts from all the heights, your own, love!

XIII.

Yet a semblance of resource avails us

Shade so finely touched, love's sense must seize it.
Take these lines, look lovingly and nearly,
Lines I write the first time and the last time.
He who works in fresco, steals a hairbrush,
Curbs the liberal hand, subservient proudly,
Cramps his spirit, crowds its all in little,
Makes a strange art of an art familiar,
Fills his lady's missal-marge with flowerets.

He who blows through bronze, may breathe through silver,
Fitly serenade a slumbrous princess.

He who writes, may write for once as I do.

XIV.

Love, you saw me gather men and women,
Live or dead or fashioned by my fancy,
Enter each and all, and use their service,
Speak from every mouth, the speech, a poem.
Hardly shall I tell my joys and sorrows,
Hopes and fears, belief and disbelieving :
I am mine and yours the rest be all men's,
Karshish, Cleon, Norbert, and the fifty.
Let me speak this once in my true person,
Not as Lippo, Roland, or Andrea,

Though the fruit of speech be just this sentence
Pray you, look on these my men and women,
Take and keep my fifty poems finished;
Where my heart lies, let my brain lie also!
Poor the speech; be how I speak, for all things.

XV.

Not but that you know me! Lo, the moon's self!

Here in London, yonder late in Florence,

Still we find her face, the thrice-transfigured.

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