Macello de' Corvi. A room in MICHAEL ANGELO'S house. MICHAEL
ANGELO, standing before a model of St. Peter's.
Better than thou I cannot, Brunelleschi,
And less than thou I will not! If the thought
Could, like a windlass, lift the ponderous stones
And swing them to their places; if a breath
Could blow this rounded dome into the air,
As if it were a bubble, and these statues
Spring at a signal to their sacred stations,
As sentinels mount guard upon a wall.
Then were my task completed. Now, alas!
Naught am I but a Saint Sebaldus, holding
Upon his hand the model of a church,
As German artists paint him; and what years,
What weary years, must drag themselves along,
Ere this be turned to stone! What hindrances
Must block the way; what idle interferences
Of Cardinals and Canons of St. Peter's,
Who nothing know of art beyond the color
Of cloaks and stockings, nor of any building
Save that of their own fortunes! And what then?
I must then the short-coming of my means
Piece out by stepping forward, as the Spartan
Was told to add a step to his short sword.
And is Fra Bastian dead? Is all that light
Gone out, that sunshine darkened; all that music
And merriment, that used to make our lives
Less melancholy, swallowed up in silence
Like madrigals sung in the street at night
By passing revellers? It is strange indeed
That he should die before me. 'T is against
The laws of nature that the young should die,
And the old live; unless it be that some