**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Art Of Shakspere, As Revealed By Himself
by [?]

But if the artist proceed to speculate upon the nature or productions of another art than his own, we may then expect the principles upon which he operates in his own, to take outward and visible form–a form modified by the difference of the art to which he now applies them. In one of Shakspere’s poems, we have the description of an imagined production of a sister-art–that of Painting–a description so brilliant that the light reflected from the poet-picture illumines the art of the Poet himself, revealing the principles which he held with regard to representative art generally, and suggesting many thoughts with regard to detail and harmony, finish, pregnancy, and scope. This description is found in “The Rape of Lucrece.” Apology will hardly be necessary for making a long quotation, seeing that, besides the convenience it will afford of easy reference to the ground of my argument, one of the greatest helps which even the artist can give to us, is to isolate peculiar beauties, and so compel us to perceive them.

Lucrece has sent a messenger to beg the immediate presence of her husband. Awaiting his return, and worn out with weeping, she looks about for some variation of her misery.


At last she calls to mind where hangs a piece
Of skilful painting, made for Priam’s Troy;
Before the which is drawn the power of Greece,
For Helen’s rape the city to destroy,
Threatening cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy;
Which the conceited painter drew so proud,
As heaven, it seemed, to kiss the turrets, bowed.


A thousand lamentable objects there,
In scorn of Nature, Art gave lifeless life:
Many a dry drop seemed a weeping tear,
Shed for the slaughtered husband by the wife;
The red blood reeked, to show the painter’s strife.
And dying eyes gleamed forth their ashy lights,
Like dying coals burnt out in tedious nights.


There might you see the labouring pioneer
Begrimed with sweat, and smeared all with dust;
And, from the towers of Troy there would appear
The very eyes of men through loopholes thrust,
Gazing upon the Greeks with little lust:
Such sweet observance in this work was had,
That one might see those far-off eyes look sad.


In great commanders, grace and majesty
You might behold, triumphing in their faces;
In youth, quick bearing and dexterity;
And here and there the painter interlaces
Pale cowards, marching on with trembling paces,
Which heartless peasants did so well resemble,
That one would swear he saw them quake and tremble.


In Ajax and Ulysses, O what art
Of physiognomy might one behold!
The face of either ciphered either’s heart;
Their face their manners most expressly told:
In Ajax’ eyes blunt rage and rigour rolled;
But the mild glance that sly Ulysses lent
Showed deep regard, and smiling government.


There pleading might you see grave Nestor stand,
As ’twere encouraging the Greeks to fight;
Making such sober action with his hand,
That it beguiled attention, charmed the sight;
In speech, it seemed his beard, all silver-white,
Wagged up and down, and from his lips did fly
Thin winding breath, which purled up to the sky.


About him were a press of gaping faces,
Which seemed to swallow up his sound advice;
All jointly listening, but with several graces,
As if some mermaid did their ears entice;
Some high, some low, the painter was so nice.
The scalps of many, almost hid behind,
To jump up higher seemed, to mock the mind.


Here one man’s hand leaned on another’s head,
His nose being shadowed by his neighbour’s ear;
Here one, being thronged, bears back, all bollen and red;
Another, smothered, seems to pelt and swear;
And in their rage such signs of rage they bear,
As, but for loss of Nestor’s golden words,
It seemed they would debate with angry swords.