The Accademia of Florence
VENUS is sad among the wanton powers,
That make delicious tempest in the hours
Of April or are reckless with their flowers :
Through umbrageous orange-trees
Sweeps, mid azure swirl, the Breeze,
That with clipping arms would seize
Eôs, wind-inspired and mad,
In wind-tightened muslin clad,
With one tress for stormy wreath
And a bine between her teeth.
Flora foots it near in frilled,
Vagrant skirt, with roses filled ;
Pinks and gentians spot her robe
And the curled acanthus-lobe
Edges intricate her sleeve ;
Rosy briars a girdle weave,
Blooms are brooches in her hair :
Though a vision debonair,
Thriftless, venturesome, a grace
Disingenuous lights her face ;
Curst she is, uncertain-lipped,
Riggishly her dress is whipped
By little gusts fantastic. Will she deign
To toss her double-roses, or refrain ?
These riot by the left side of the queen ;
Before her face another group is seen :
In ordered and harmonic nobleness,
Three maidens circle o'er the turf—each dress
Blown round the tiptoe shape in lovely folds
Of air-invaded white ; one comrade holds
Her fellow's hand on high, the foremost links
Their other hands in chain that lifts and sinks.
Their auburn tresses ripple, coil or sweep ;
Gems, amulets and fine ball-fringes keep
Their raiment from austereness. With reserve
The dancers in a garland slowly curve.
They are the Graces in their virgin youth ;
And does it touch their Deity with ruth
That they must fade when Eros speeds his dart ?
Is this the grief and forethought of her heart ?
For she is sad, although fresh myrtles near
Her figure chequer with their leaves the drear,
Grey chinks that through the orange-trees appear :
Clothed in spring-time's white and red,
She is tender with some dread,
As she turns a musing head
Sideways mid her veil demure ;
Her wide eyes have no allure,
Dark and heavy with their pain.
She would bless, and yet in vain
Is her troubled blessing : Love,
Blind and tyrannous above,
Shoots his childish flame to mar
Those without defect, who are
Yet unspent and cold with peace ;
While, her sorrow to increase,
Hermes, leader of her troop—
His short cutlass on the loop
Of a crimson cloak, his eye
Clear in its fatality—
Rather seems the guide of ghosts
To the dead, Plutonian coasts,
Than herald of Spring's immature, gay band :
He plucks a ripened orange with his hand.
The tumult and the mystery of earth,
When woods are bleak and flowers have sudden birth,
When love is cruel, follow to their end
The God that teaches Shadows to descend,
But pauses now awhile, with solemn lip
And left hand laid victorious on his hip.
The triumph of the year without avail
Is blown to Hades by blue Zephyr’s gale.
Across the seedling herbage coltsfoot grows
Between the tulip, heartsease, strawberry-rose,
Fringed pinks and dull grape-hyacinth. Alas,
At play together, through the speckled grass
Trip Youth and April : Venus, looking on,
Beholds the mead with all the dancers gone.