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The Psyche
by [?]

A large star beams in the dawn of morning in the red sky–the
clearest star of the morning–its rays tremble upon the white wall, as
if they wished to write down and relate, the scenes which they had
witnessed during many centuries.

Listen to one of these stories!

A short time ago–(this not long ago is with us men–centuries)–my
rays followed a young artist; it was in the realm of the Pope, in the
city of the world, in Rome. Many changes have been made, but the
imperial palace, was, as it is to-day, a ruin; between the overthrown
marble columns and over the ruined bath-rooms, whose walls were still
decorated with gold, grew fig and laurel trees. The Colosseum was a
ruin; the church bells rang, the incense arose and processions passed
through the streets with tapers and gorgeous canopies. The Church was
holy, and art was lofty and holy also. In Rome dwelt Raphael, the
greatest painter of the world, here also dwelt Michael Angelo, the
greatest sculptor of the age; even the Pope did homage to them both,
and honoured them with his visits. Art was recognized, honoured and
rewarded. All greatness and excellence is not seen and recognized.

In a little narrow street, stood an old house, which had once been a
temple; here dwelt a young artist; he was poor, he was unknown; it is
true that he had young friends, artists also, young in feelings, in
hopes, and in thoughts. They told him, that he was rich in talents
and excellence but that he needed confidence in himself. He was never
satisfied with his work and either destroyed all that he modeled or
left it unfinished; this is not the proper course to adopt, if one
would be known, appreciated and live.

“You are a dreamer,” said they, “this is your misfortune! You have not
yet lived, you have not inhaled life in large healthy draughts, you
have not yet enjoyed it. One should do this in youth and become a man!
Look at the great master Raphael whom the Pope honours and the world
admires,–he takes wine and bread with him.”

“He dines with the baker’s wife, the pretty Fornarina!” said Angelo,
one of the merry young friends.

Yes, they all appealed to his good sense and to his youth.

They wished to have the young artist join them in their merry-makings,
in their extravagances and in their mad tricks; he would do so for a
short time, for his blood was warm, his imagination strong; he could
take his part in their merry conversation, and laugh as loudly as the
others; and yet “the merry life of Raphael,” as they named it,
vanished from him like the morning mist, when he saw the godlike
lustre which shone forth from the paintings of the great masters, or
when he stood in the Vatican and beheld the forms of beauty, which the
old sculptors had fashioned from blocks of marble, centuries ago. His
breast swelled, he felt something so lofty, so holy, so elevated
within him, yes, something so great and good, that he longed to create
and chisel like forms from marble blocks. He desired to give
expression to the feelings which agitated his heart; but how and in
what shape? The soft clay allowed itself to be modeled into beautiful
figures by his fingers, but on the following day, dissatisfied, he
destroyed all he had created.

One day he passed by one of the rich palaces, of which Rome has so
many; he stood a moment at the large open entrance, and gazed into a
little garden, full of the most beautiful roses, which was surrounded
by archways, decorated with paintings. Large, white callas, with their
green leaves, sprouted forth from marble shells, into which splashed
clear water; a form glided by, a young girl, the daughter of this
princely house, so elegant, so light, so charming! He had never seen
so lovely a woman. Hold! yes, once, one made by Raphael, a painting of
Psyche, in one of the palaces of Rome. There she was but painted,
here she breathed and moved.