Most Serene Prince, My Lord:
You ask about
My art. Which does Your Most Illustrious Lordship
Mean? I work at many, all with love.
To speak of poetry would please us most.
But I have greater fame in sculpture. This,
I suppose, is where your letter seeks
To make an image is to be like God.
I have no sons, which is a way of not
Resembling Him. My figures still may catch
An instant glory, shine with beauties seen
As subject to His thought of man, but they,
Undowered with a soul, are only toys
To lighten life, which is, for Princes even,
A weight of heaviness that makes my stone
No more than feathers. I have painted for the Lord
Pope scenes of Adam’s fall. There you may read
The cause of our great want of happiness.
I think, too late now, that I should have shown
Our Saviour dying in another roundel.
For He is all my hope, and is, Great Prince,
Your own. In youth I did not think of Him,
But of myself as victor. Age is His
Most sovereign grace. May Your Serenity
As to my way of work, I pray
God and His Mother first to guide my hand,
Then look to nothing but proportion in
Each part. The rest is done by light. I know
My statues have some semblance to the Greek,
And yet they lack their calm. It is the war.
No, not, My Lord, the war which you have fought,
And won, they tell me, with increase of land.
It is the war that batters me between
This world and that which is to come. I see
Beauty around me everywhere, yet stop
At art and do not reach the Artist. Pray
For me, who have been given greatness to
Make others great. Like you, I am a Prince
Not for myself but to bestow God’s goodness
On those who see my work. Yet I have failed.
It troubles me at night and I write poems
To save my soul. The Cardinals laugh at me.
‘You will be canonized,’ they say, ‘one day.’
By artists, yes: not by Our Holy Lord
The Pope, and only he can make a saint.
He loves me - but not to distraction. ‘You
Are a sinner like Ourself,’ is how
He greets me when I come to him for money
To pay for marble which I have not carved.
We should be saints, Great Prince, yourself and I,
These laughing Cardinals and Our Holy Lord.
But no, we are like slaves in marble. I
Have carved some which your agent here could see.
But you have heard enough of these sad things.
It becomes Your Serenity to govern
With mercy and justice: they will bring you home.
Myself, I shall continue in my art.
Christ on the Cross is all I think of now.
Humbly, My Lord, I wish you peace. Farewell.