Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A TOMB IN TUSCANY, a poem

Presumably a poem about the monument of Archpriest Bartolomeo Aragazzi, secretary of Pope Martin V. "Twelve years before his death ... he commissioned Donatello and Michelozzo to make his monument for the parish church of Montepulciano (his native town) at an expense of twenty-four thousand scudi. Such a use of his money corroborates the general opinion that he was as eminent for his vanity as for his poetry and learning." (Tuscan Sculptors Volume I by Charles C. Perkins, 1864)

Tomb of Bartolomeo Aragazzi
Wikimedia Commons
IN Montepulciano fair,—
Long famous for that vintage rare,
Prized by the giver of the vine
       Above all wine,—
There dwelt a man whose years had taught him
To seek, beyond what wealth had brought him,
Something to give his transient name
       A lasting fame.

"For lordly palaces," he said,
"Shall crumble; ay, and bastions dread,
And temples grave and gardens gay
       Become as they;
Each vaunted image of my power
Shall perish like a wayside flower,
And like the hawk my hand hath fed
       Lie waste and dead.

"Wherefore, ere yet my days be spent,
I will uprear a monument
That 'gainst the envious floods of Time
       Shall stand sublime;
My treasures vast shall serve and cherish
An art too heavenly to perish:
A beauty, born of passion pure,
       That shall endure!"

So spake he. . . .  Now he lies asleep;
But near him forms angelic keep
Unwearied watch, and from decay
       Guard him alway:
Rare sculptured forms that blend his story
With Donatello's deathless glory,
And make mankind his debtors be
       Eternally.

For lordly castles, as he said,
Have crumbled; aye, and bastions dread,
And temples grave and gardens gay
       Are now as they:
Each vaunted image of his power
Has perished like a wayside flower,
But living in the art he fed,
       He is not dead!
"A Tomb in Tuscany" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

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