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NORTH

AMERICAN
NO.

REVIEW.

DCLIV.
1910.

MAY,

MICHELANGELO.
BY

RHYS

CARPENTER.

I.

and grim-visaged,
gaunt, and dark of gaze,
Time crouches in the outer-world of night
Amid the shifting and entangled maze
Stern

Of dusk and star-shine and half-lightless


light,
And with strong fingers moulds
the unformed
clay,
Ruling the refluence of night and day
With shape of sun and satellite.
All men

he fashions and all living things,


aspiration and all great desire,
The might
of conquerors, the strength of kings,
The universal forces, good or dire,
The star dust blown through windy heights of space,
All

The

from the utmost


glimmer
The thunderous comet flight

bounds

of place,

of fire.

forever in his eyes


to fashion with his hands,
strives
vainly
A wonder world of storm unclouded
skies
One dream he holds
And

And mystically
Spring encompassed
A vision of all men become as Gods,
Unbroken
Freed
vol.
Copyright,

lands,

with despair, unbowed by rods,


of all tyrants' subtle bands.

cxci.?no.

654.

1910, by Tub North

37

American Review

Publishing

Company.

All Rights Reserved.

THE NORTH AMERICAN

578
Ever

his hands

To mould

REVIEW.

are set within


the clay
some flawless masterpiece,

therein

Some

image strong and perfect for alway ;


ever, when creative fingers cease
Their toil at length and Time beholds the deed,
He knows it faulty, as a rotted reed
Yet

Whereon

no lips shall ever play.

all things are shattered by Time's will,


dust, made clay, crumbles again to dust,
And nought endures forever, good or ill,
Not joy nor pain, not love nor bitter lust,
Therefore
And

all things pass and are forgotten all,


Like brown and sear frost-stricken
leaves that fall

But

Before

the winter

wind's

first gust.

Yet is not all in vain, for oftenwhile


Beneath
the hands of Time some soul more
existence without
Fulfils
taint or guile

fair

And

sets his feet upon the upward Stair.


are the artists of the world, whose breath
Blows on the spark of shifting life and death
the beacon fires upflare.
Until
These

and fashioned One


among mankind
And gave him sight of star and moon and sun
And cognizance of passion strong and blind,
Of visions high and fearless, and of dreams
the hands of Time
So wrought
And bade him live and move

and fair than glimpse


Or phantom voices of the wind.

More

strange

of sunless

streams

Gazing upon this child of his dim brain


Time saw him toiling on the earth below
Through pain to splendid hope, through hope to pain,
Beheld
strange wonders from his dreaming grow,
at him when they saw,
Beheld men marvel
stain or flaw,
and naked, without
Fearless
The works

of Michelangelo.

MICHELANGELO.

579

IL
gaze on life as one who holds a glass
Across whose surface hasten restless gleams,
half hidden pass
Where dim processionals
no
full-flooded daylight
lands where
Through
We

streams.

know not what we see nor by what breath


The mirror's
face is clouded as with death;
All is but as a world of dreams.

We

our way
are engirt with mystery;
Is fraught with shadow: from amazed eyes
We watch life's ocean with its flux and sway
And of its hidden depths have no surmise.
We

All men

alike are brought forth frail and weak,


With
limbs that fail them, lips that cannot speak,
And strength that serves tut sorry wise,
each man moveth
into solitude
none
And
shall know what thoughts his hands obey,
Nor with what might his visions are imbued,
Nor on what height his feet tread out their way.
Yet

immortal will
Imperishable
thought,
Their unknown course foreorder and fulfil
And no man sees what path they stray.
shall we know, then, with what ardor's heat
Lived, grew and labored Michelangelo,
Upon what upward hills he set his feet,
How thought and dreamed ? Alas, how shall we know ?

How

For

he that

stoopeth at the deep stream's


from
the idle surface drink
May only
And knoweth not the hidden flow.

brink

And with what thoughts did he at table sit


the house of that de Medici
Within
Among whose praises foremost it is writ
That he foreknew the sculptor that should
How strove he with the visions that assailed
His

growing power, how triumphed


How prospered in his artistry ?

be;

and how failed,

TEE WORTH AMERICAN

580>

REVIEW.

places and great silence, barren hills,


Storm winds that rage through black chaotic deep,
Caverns unsunned,
and seas which no light fills,
where never creep
Gloom-darkened
mountain-tops

Waste

of fire,
the might
day's wan glimmerings,
and
unknown
of
dreams
desire,
conquest
Strange
Dark underworlds where Titans
sleep,

The

are the musings


of colossal minds,
The touchstones of a true and noblest worth;
No lesser men may know what vision binds
Art's brows nor with what thoughts she moves
These

on earth ;

only see the children of her hands


lands
know not in what dream-encircled
These were conceived and given birth.

Men
And

In such a world moved Michelangelo


forms
With
thoughts
enpeopled by gigantic
And ceaseless phantoms that must come and go,
hitherward
and thither by fierce storms;
Hurled
And nought too harsh or hard there was on earth
Of all things unto which the sun gives birth
Or with

conceptive

sunlight

warms.

III.
dead,
Ghiberti, Donatello
one who strove
There came to Florence
To hew his life where these had led;
(But lo, his eager spirit clove
A way that loosed all portal bars,
A path that brought him to the stars
And into heaven's fierce light updrove.)
With faultless eyes he viewed his fellows' task
hand
And with sure skill and strong, unwavering
Set fault aright if ever these might ask;
Men say that his own master's
labors, scanned
were
to
forced
his
stern
eye,
yield some flaw
By
Which his firm brush could better, since it saw
A

fairer

line at its command.

MICHELANGELO.
Florence,
gave him unto Borne
unwilling,
To rear and cherish.
There he strove and wrought
And with strong footsteps ever higher upclomb
Till from the sun unearthly flame he caught.
awe-struck face
There Borne approached with wondering,
His

fair Madonna

Above

with

the dead Christ

her virgin grace


sorrow fraught.

the might of manhood,


to him came
Art with her girdle, whereon hung the keys
Wherewith
his hands should open doors of Fame
And enter to those hidden mysteries
Whereof no man may tell save he whose soul
Before

Is set unwearied
Which

toward that far-off goal


on the utmost seas:

lightens

old a mass of marble stood,


and
Huge
unwieldy, which no hand might
no skill of art's full multitude
Wherefrom
In Florence

Could

fashion

This

Florentine

And

from this

And

beauty

tame,

ought of beauty, till there came


who held no task too high

shapeless stone wrought


and immortal fame.

symmetry

the Sistine Chapel, set apart,


all companionship,
he strove and wrought,
the utmost depths and heights of art
Searching
And seeking that which no man's hand had sought

Within

From

of man

Vast

created

into pain,
mysteries
The agony of evil, the world's bane,
that came to naught.
Man's happiness
the years had sunken and his life
downwards toward the waters of the West,
In that same chapel he wrought out the strife
Of good and evil, and the last behest,
The last stern judgment, which none might forfend,

And when
Turned

The

final outcome,

The

inexpressible

the Titanic
expressed.

End,

THE NORTH AMERICAN

582

REVIEW.

IV.
shall a poet play the subtle reed?
How shall a painter weave the web of song
With words for woof?
How shall the dreamer lead
Great armies into battle?
From what thong
How

Shall warrior
Yet

unto

Not
His

loose the shaft of wisdom's


praise of Michelangelo

one, but many

arts belong.

that cut new wonders

hands
Could

bow?

out of stone

the Sistine's
triumph and could
within
the
subtle tone
Thought's
imagery
Of rhyme and rhythms such as none forget;
And
Who

paint

set

he who built St. Peter's dome was he


guarded his loved city's liberty

And
Great

in war's

grimmest

visions were

council met.
of his mind,
transcend the years,

indwellers

Eternal

passions which
laughter and the grief of humankind,
The exaltation
and the bitter tears,
The love that strikes the stars beneath its feet,
for whom all utmost praise is sweet,
Delight,
The

Despair,

thorn-girdled,

and black fears.

lights beguiled him never, in the day


saw the sun and knew no lesser beam,
the stars alway
Within
the night glittered
False

He

With
What
Across
The

steadfast and unalterable


need to follow marsh-lights
the heaven's
vast

eternal

gleam.
of the earth?

immeasurable girth
stream.

starways

lanterns of the deep, unlighted


fen,
faithless lure across the floorless sedge
Led him within the kingdom of lost men
At the pool's black edge
Where rules the Marsh-king.
He stood unmoved and watched the shifting light
No

No

That

strove to draw him down to endless night


no man's net may dredge.

In depths where

MICHELANGELO.
passions held him not, nor stain of lust;
knew not envy and he kept unknown
The sight of them who ceaselessly upthrust
Hate's Gorgon head, turning the world to stone.
He lived in silence, seeking no man's praise,
False

He

none might
turn him from his changeless
He wrought
and alone.
unresting,

And

ways,

Italy was darkened when he died


And Florence was a city without
light;
All men laid from them jealousy and pride
To praise this man departed from their sight ;
And ever one unto another said,
"
The last great sculptor of the world is dead,
The last great soul hath taken flight."
All

V.
the thought of man,
sits before his ceaseless task and turns
The stars that, too, endure but for a span,
The light that but for some short cycle burns.

Beyond
Time

within

all worlds

destroy all things, his hands create


not in hate
things but to destruction:
But sorrow, each new toil he spurns.

His

hands

All

St. Peter's dome shall one day be no more,


The ceilings of the Sistine Chapel fade
And all its splendor with dim mould run o'er
And all its lights be darkened into shade,
The David shall be stricken and the tomb
Of San Lorenzo
Marble

visited

and dust

with gloom,
be equal made;

And men

of some strange other race than ours


Shall wander in the alien hills of Borne,
And where St. Peter's was shall blossom flowers
To hide the ruins of a shattered dome;
Then
As

of Michelangelo

fame

far-off

clamor

As whisper

of

an

shall be
unknown

of the wind-swept

sea,

foam.

THE NORTH AMERICAN

584

! peace

Peace

not

Strive

shiver

Shall

! against

immutable

REVIEW.

decree

in idle battle, for thy sword


into shards, and Destiny

plain with her phantom horde.


What knowledge hast thou of the Faultless
Plan,
What vision of the purposes of man,
That thou shouldst turn against thy lord?
O'errun

the world

canst not

say unto what final end,


triumph or what sorrowful despair,
and thy poor efforts tend,
Thine own life moves
thine own deeds are false or fair.
Or whether
toil no stone remain,
And if of this man's
Thou

What

Canst
With

thou yet say that he has wrought


visions woven out of air?

in vain

For genius is not as the lightless spheres


That move forever round one central sun
In changeless motion
years
through unchanging
And must alway return whence they begun,
star
But as some splendid flame-enveloped
Drawn
inward from dusk outer-worlds
afar,
Whose coming is foreseen of none :
And

if the sun grow cold and earths that move


in one steadfast orbit's reign
lost in shadow, shalt thou therefor prove

Forever
Be

to the shadowland's domain,


Or say there is no space transcending
space?
issue to thy race;
set no mournful
Nay;
Genius has never been in vain ;
No

limit

thronging pathways where dull planets turn


Through
It moves upon the fierce wings of its flight
Till full against the sun its passions burn,
Then wheels and thunders outward into night,
the furthest planetary
spheres,
the
cycles of the changing years,
Beyond
fields of light.
Into unfurrowed
Rhys

Beyond

Carpenter.

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