Sir Samuel Ferguson


Paul Veronese: (Three Sonnets)


I


Paul, let thy faces from the canvas look
Haply less clearly than Pietro's can,
Less lively than in tints of Titian,
Or him who both the bay-wreath-chaplets took:
Yet shalt thou therefore have no harsh rebuke
Of me whom, while with eager eye I scan
O'er painted pomps of Brera and Vatican,
The first delight thou gavest ne'er forsook.
For in thy own Verona, long ago,
Before one masterpiece of cool arcades,
I made a friend; and such a friend was rare.
For him, I love thy velvet's glorious show,
Thy sheens of silk 'twixt marble balustrades,
Thy breathing-space and full translucent air.


II


Loved for themselves, too. Oft as I behold,
Adown the curtain'd gallery's sumptuous gloom,
A separate daylight shining in the room,
There find I still thy groupings manifold
Of holy clerks, of nobles grave and bold,
Swart slaves, brave gallants, maidens in their bloom,
With what of Persian and Ligarian loom
May best consort with marble dome and gold:
There find thy dog, whose teeth Time's teeth defy
To raze the name from less enduring leaves
Of loved Canossa: there, in cynic ease,
Thy monkey: and beneath the pearly sky
See lovely ladies wave their handkerchiefs,
And lend sweet looks from airy balconies.


III


They err who say this long-withdrawing line
Of palace-fronts Palladian, this brocade
From looms of Genoa, this gold-inlaid
Resplendent plate of Milan, that combine
To spread soft lustre through the grand design,
Show but in fond factitious masquerade
The actual feast by leper Simon made
For that great Guest, of old, in Palestine.
Christ walks amongst us still; at liberal table
Scorns not to sit: no sorrowing Magdalene
But of these dear feet kindly gets her kiss
Now, even as then; and thou, be honorable,
Who, by the might of thy majestic scene,
Bringest down that age and minglest it with this.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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