Parnassus

Andrea Mantegna, Parnassus, circa 1496-1497 (Louvre)

Scarcely, I think; yet it indeed may be
The meaning reached him, when this music rang
Sharp through his brain, a distinct rapid pang,
And he beheld these rocks and that ridged sea.
But I believe he just leaned passively,
And felt their hair carried across his face
As each nymph passed him; nor gave ear to trace
How many feet; nor bent assuredly
His eyes from the vague fixedness of thought
To see the dancers. It is bitter glad
Even unto tears. Its meaning filleth it,
A portion of most secret life: to wit:—
Each human pulse shall keep the sense it had
For all, though the mind’s labour run to nought.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, A Trip to Paris and Belgium, 1849
On an allegorical Dance of Nymphs,
by Andrea Mantegna
; in the Louvre

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