Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

History as Decoration

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

History as Decoration

Article excerpt

Float over us, Florence, your banners

of assassination, your most expensive

reds: Brazil, Majorca lichen, cochineal.

Let the Neoplatonic Arno flow

crocus yellow. Let palazzo walls,

flaunt quattrocento dyes: "little

monk" and "lion skin." We pay for beauty; beautiful

are gorgeous crimes we cannot feel-

they shone so long ago. And those philosophies

too pretty in spirit ever to be real.

City of fashion. Leonardo chose

the hanged Pazzi conspirator for a theme:

"Tawny cap; black satin vest," he wrote,

"black sleeveleas coat, lined; turquoise

jacket lined with fox; Bernardo di

Bandino Baroncigli; black hose."

So dangled the elegant corpse, bella figura

though its tongue stuck out. The keen, gossipy

faces still peer from Ghirlandaio's walls

and from the streets we elbow through today.

History flashes in banknotes. …

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