Spring

Image: Sandro Botticelli, La Primavera (ca. 1482). Tempera ‘grassa’ on poplar panel. 202 x 314 cm. © Uffizi Gallery, Florence, 1890. Room 10-14 http://www.uffizi.org/artworks/la-primavera-allegory-of-spring-by-sandro-botticelli/, 15 September 2015.

Sandro Botticelli

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. 

 

 

Sandro Botticelli

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.