Home  »  Autobiography  »  CXXIII

Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571). Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


THE PHYSICIANS gave the castellan no hope of his recovery, yet he remained with a clear intellect, and the humours which used to afflict him every year had passed away. He devoted himself entirely to the care of his soul, and his conscience seemed to smite him, because he felt that I had suffered and was suffering a grievous wrong. The Pope received information from him of the extraordinary things which I related; in answer to which his Holiness sent word—as one who had no faith either in God or aught beside—that I was mad, and that he must do his best to mend his health. When the castellan received this message, he sent to cheer me up, and furnished me with writing materials and wax, and certain little wooden instruments employed in working wax, adding many words of courtesy, which were reported by one of his servants who bore me good-will. This man was totally the opposite of that rascally gang who had wished to see me hanged. I took the paper and the wax, and began to work; and while I was working I wrote the following sonnet addressed to the castellan:—

  • “If I, my lord, could show to you the truth,
  • Of that Eternal Light to me by Heaven
  • In this low life revealed, you sure had given
  • More heed to mine than to a monarch’s sooth.
  • Ah! could the Pastor of Christ’s flock in ruth
  • Believe how God this soul with sight hath shriven
  • Of glory unto which no wight hath striven
  • Ere he escaped earth’s cave of care uncouth;
  • The gates of Justice, holy and austere,
  • Would roll asunder, and rude impious Rage
  • Fall chained with shrieks that should assail the skies.
  • Had I but light, ah me! my art should rear
  • A monument of Heaven’s high equipage!
  • Nor should my misery bear so grim a guise.”