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Cellini, Benvenuto – The Capitolo to Luca Martin

Identifier

028899

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini,  translated by John Addington Symonds

THIS CAPITOLO I WRITE TO LUCA MARTIN ADDRESSING HIM IN IT AS WILL APPEAR [1]

     WHOSO would know the power of God’s dominion,
        And how a man resembles that high good,
        Must lie in prison, is my firm opinion:

     On grievous thoughts and cares of home must brood, '
        ' Oppressed with carking pains in flesh and bone,
        Far from his native land full many a rood.

     If you would fain by worthy deeds be known,
        Seek to be prisoned without cause, lie long, '
        ' And find no friend to listen to your moan.

     See that men rob you of your all by wrong;
        Add perils to your life; be used with force,
        Hopeless of help, by brutal foes and strong. '

     'Be driven at length to some mad desperate course;
        Burst from your dungeon, leap the castle wall;
        Recaptured, find the prison ten times worse.

     '     'Now listen, Luca, to the best of all!
        Your leg’s been broken; you’ve been bought and sold;
        Your dungeon’s dripping; you’ve no cloak or shawl.

     Never one friendly word; your victuals cold '
        ' Are brought with sorry news by some base groom
        Of Prato-soldier now-druggist of old.

     Mark well how Glory steeps her sons in gloom!
        You have no seat to sit on, save the stool: '
        ' Yet were you active from your mother’s womb.

     The knave who serves hath orders strict and cool
        To list no word you utter, give you naught,
        Scarcely to ope the door; such is their rule. '

     'These toys hath Glory for her nursling wrought!
        No paper, pens, ink, fire, or tools of steel,
        To exercise the quick brain’s teeming thought.

     '     'Alack that I so little can reveal!
        Fancy one hundred for each separate ill:
        Full space and place I’ve left for prison weal!

     But now my former purpose to fulfil, '
        ' And sing the dungeon’s praise with honour due-
        For this angelic tongues were scant of skill.

     Here never languish honest men and true,
        Except by placemen’s fraud, misgovernment, '
        ' Jealousies, anger, or some spiteful crew.

     To tell the truth whereon my mind is bent,
        Here man knows God, nor ever stints to pray,
        Feeling his soul with hell’s fierce anguish rent. '

     'Let one be famed as bad as mortal may,
        Send him in jail two sorry years to pine,
        He’ll come forth holy, wise, beloved alway.'

     'Here soul, flesh, clothes their substance gross refine;
        Each bulky lout grows light like gossamere;
        Celestial thrones before purged eyeballs shine.

     I’ll tell thee a great marvel! Friend, give ear! '
        ' The fancy took me on one day to write:
        Learn now what shifts one may be put to here.

     My cell I search, prick brows and hair upright,
        Then turn me toward a cranny in the door, '
        ' And with my teeth a splinter disunite;

     Next find a piece of brick upon the floor,
        Crumble a part thereof to powder small,
        And form a paste by sprinkling water o’er. [2] '

     'Then, then came Poesy with fiery call
        Into my carcass, by the way methought
        Whence bread goes forth-there was none else at all……………….

     Whoso hath gotten the poor folk in ban,
        I’d make him learn those lessons of the jail;
        For then he’d know all a good ruler can:

     He’d act like men who weigh by reason’s scale,
        Nor dare to swerve from truth and right aside,
        Nor would confusion in the realm prevail.

     While I was bound in prison to abide,
        Foison of priests, friars, soldiers I could see;
        But those who best deserved it least I spied.

     Ah! could you know what rage came over me,
        When for such rogues the jail relaxed her hold!
        This makes one weep that one was born to be!

     I’ll add no more. Now I’m become fine gold,
       Such gold as none flings lightly to the wind,
        Fit for the best work eyes shall e’er behold.

 

The source of the experience

Cellini, Benvenuto

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References