Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.



By Sarah B. Clarke

  • Paolo Ucello, a Florentine painter at the end of the fourteenth century. His frescos can be seen in Santa Maria Novella. He was fond of introducing birds and animals into his pictures. He was among the first to introduce perspective lines.

  • THIS is the house where once Ucello lived,

    Through this same doorway passed his trembling feet,

    Beyond the gates of Florence took their way,—

    A quaint, sad figure in the busy street.

    Upon these walls, now dark and dim with age

    (Yet to all time some touches may endure),

    Live the dumb creatures that he loved so well,

    Each with its own poetic portraiture.

    A meek, most fanciful, and timid soul,

    Daily to loving birds he talked and read,

    While they, with tender warblings soft and low,

    Fluttered forever round his patient head.

    And often did these feathered songsters bring

    (As to St. Francis in the days of yore),

    When all the world looked dark and drear to him,

    Most heavenly solace from their bounteous store.

    With the celestial melody there grew

    Strange computations working in his brain;

    Dimensions visible of airy lines,

    Dreamed of, and thought, and dreamed of o’er again.

    He took from heaven immeasurable gifts,

    And gave them to the world, before untaught;

    He held his soul harmonious with the spheres,

    And problems solved, unknown to mortal thought.

    Yet for all this, gay Florence loved him not,

    Victorious, bright with laughter and with song;

    In him she only saw a meek, sad soul,

    Of little worth amid her brilliant throng.

    Yet now she crowns him proudly as her son,

    And gives to him at last immortal fame,

    And all can read who pass the crowded way

    Engraved upon this door Ucello’s name.