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Daisies of Florence by Kathleen Raine 18/10/2011

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This poem by Kathleen Raine (obit 2003) was first published in 1965.

Bambini picking daisies in the new spring grass

Of the Boboli gardens

Now and now and now in rosy-petalled fingers hold

The multitude of time.

To the limits of the small and fine florets innumerable of white and gold

They know their daisies real.

 

Botticelli with daisies from the timeless fields of recollection scatters

That bright Elysium or Paradise

Whose flowers none can gather,

Where spirits immortal walk for ever

With her who walks through spring after spring in primavera robed,

Ripening the transient under her veil.

Florence: Bridges and Palazzo Pitti 05/02/2011

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c. 1800 based on late eighteenth-century visits.

Florence is unquestionably a very beautiful city. Independent of the churches and palaces, some of which are very magnificent, the architecture of the houses in general is in a good taste, the streets are remarkably clean, and paved with large broad stones, chiselled so as to prevent the horses from sliding.

This city is divided into two unequal parts by the river Arno, over which there are no less than four bridges in sight of each other. That called the Ponte Della Trinita is uncommonly elegant: it is built entirely of white marble, and ornamented with four beautiful statues, representing the four seasons. The quays, the buildings on each side, and the bridges, render that part of Florence through which the river runs, by far the finest.

The number of inhabitants in Florence is calculated by some at eighty thousand. The streets, squares, and fronts of the palaces are adorned with a great number of statues; some of whom by the best modern masters, Michael Angelo, Bandinelli, Donatello, Giovanni di Bologna, Benvenulo [sic], Cellini and others. A taste for the arts must be kept alive, independent almost of any other encouragement, in a city where so many specimens are continually before the eyes of the inhabitants.

Florence has been equally distinguished by a spirit for commerce and for the fine arts – two things which are not always united. Some of the Florentine merchants formerly were men of vast wealth, and lived in a most magnificent manner. One of them, about the middle of the fifteenth century, built that noble fabric, which, from the name of its founder, is still called the Palazzo Pitti. The man was ruined by the prodigious expence of this building, which was immediately purchased by the Medici family, and has continued ever since to be the residence of the sovereigns. The gardens belonging to this palace are on the declivity of an eminence. On the summit there is a kind of fort, called Belvedere. From this you have a complete view of Florence, and the beauteous vale of Arno, in the middle of which it stands. The prospect is bounded on every side by an ampitheatre of fertile hills, adorned with country houses and gardens.

Ass’s Milk and ‘at least some of the Browning Poems’ 30/01/2011

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c. 1890

In Florence the family was again held back from going on to Rome. In London the baby had been ill, in Florence she was very ill. The patience of Dr. Taylor and his wife was great and their faith strong; yet this was a most trying and anxious time for them. To be ill at home is bad, but to be ill in a foreign land, among strangers and hearing strange tongues, is far worse. The best English-speaking doctors of the city were called in, and they were kind and helpful. The child was put on ass’ milk, the ass coming around every day to be milked at the very front door of the hotel. God was merciful, and the child lived.

While some of the beauties of the city and some of her well-known historic spots were seen, still even the children in the pension as well as Dr. Taylor and his son had less heart and interest in picture galleries and other famous spots almost innumerable, because they were devoted to Susy and at least stayed around, anxious to help if in any way they could. Yet they did have a peep at least at some of the wonders and glories of Florence. There were the Uffizi and Pitti galleries, strung out in a strange way on a strange bridge that spanned the Arno. In these galleries are great pictures that once seen go with one through life, such for example as the Madonna della Seggiola, by Raphael, and La Bella by Titian. Of course each visitor has his favorites. The children loved the Boboli Gardens, while Dr. Taylor rejoiced in the Baptistery, in Giotto’s campanile, and in the Duomo.

In the one or two days after the baby was out of danger, and before they set out for Rome, Mrs. Taylor had some glimpses of the pictures and points of interest in the city. Dr. Taylor and his wife had many a chat as they waited and watched about their great and difficult task in this new and largely unknown land; yet they did not fail to think and talk about many of the great men, such as Dante, Savonarola, Giotto, the Medici, and others who had helped to make Florence beautiful and famous. They managed also to read at least some of the Browning poems.