To the Apollo Belvedere
Of course I was pleased
to find the figure
has great intrinsic
merit, aside from
to recommend it.
ii. Preferring to it The Hermaphrodite
which is in an adjoining niche,
Her Highness called the statue the only
happy couple she ever saw.
iii. No less an arbiter than Canova
has indicated the seven points
from which the radiant god
may be readily studied
to best advantage
(for a trifling sum
a copy of this precious
diagram can be purchased
from any of the attendants
in the Belvedere courtyard).
iv. The evident high breeding of the god
has always been apparent;
as Hippolyte Taine himself remarked,
Apollo must have had servants.
v. Classical Simplicity demands a Static Port.
Indeed Count dOrsay,
who believed it impossible to approve statues in action
for longer than he himself could stand in the same attitude,
was once heard to say
he felt able to admire the Apollo for hours . . . even days!
To which with some spirit Lady Blessington offered
Her famous réplique:
The god with his arm outstretched and a heavy blanket on it
wearies me after five minutes! Of course my fatigue might be
relieved, dear Alfred,
were it you in that very costume who had taken that very pose.
vi. The Novelist and the Naturalist
Once he was holding something, George. Just look!
his fingers are still
curled round an invisible spearperhaps
to kill a dragon . . .
Far from trying to kill the serpent, Marian,
it is more likely
the god was merely stimulating it with a dart
so as to rouse it
from its hibernation. Dragons are boreal . . .
vii. Suggesting the god had been removed
from Greece by Nero,
Herr Winckelmann was never quite happy
with the piece, and his
unqualified enthusiasm was limited
to the legs and knees.
viii. Monsieur Beyle studied it
like something from China,
but it aroused, he said,
neither pain nor pleasure.