Constantine's Dream

  • In Arezzo I dreamed a dream
    Of Saint Francis who kneeled and prayed
    For the birds and the beasts and all humankind.
    All through the night I felt drawn in by him
    And I heard him call
    Like a distant hymn

    I retreated from the silence of my room
    Stepping down the ancient stones washed with dawn
    And entered the basilica that bore his name
    Seeing his effigy I bowed my head
    And my racing heart I gave to him I kneeled and prayed
    And the sleep that I could not find in the night
    I found through him
    I saw before me the world of his world
    The bright fields, the birds in abundance
    All of nature of which he sang
    Singing of him
    All the beauty that surrounded him as he walked
    His nature that was nature itself
    And I heard him - I heard him speak
    And the birds sang sweetly
    And the wolves licked his feet.

    (O Signore, fa' che sia strumento della tua Pace:
    Dove c’è odio, lascia che sia Amore.
    Dove c’è offesa, Perdono.
    Dove c’è dubbio, Fede.
    Dove c’è disperazione, Speranza.
    Dove c’è oscurità, Luce.
    Dove c’è tristezza, Gioia.
    Fa' ch'io non cerchi tanto
    Di essere consolato, quanto consolare.
    Di essere compreso, quanto comprendere.
    Di essere amato, quanto amare.)

    But I could not give myself to him
    I felt another call from the basilica itself
    The call of art - the call of man
    And the beauty of the material drew me away
    And I awoke, and beheld upon the wall
    The dream of Constantine
    The handiwork of Piero della Francesca
    Who had stood where I stood
    With his brush stroked The Legend of the True Cross
    He envisioned Constantine advancing to greet the enemy
    But as he was passing the river
    An unaccustomed fear gripped his bowels
    An anticipation so overwhelming that it manifested in waves

    All through the night a dream drew toward him
    As an advancing Crusade
    He slept in his tent on the battlefield
    While his men stood guard
    And an angel awoke him
    Constantine within his dream awoke
    And his men saw a light pass over the face of the King
    The troubled King
    And the angel came and showed to him
    The sign of the true cross in heaven
    And upon it was written

    In this sign shall thou conquer

    In the distance the tents of his army were lit by moonlight
    But another kind of radiance lit the face of Constantine
    And in the morning light
    The artist, seeing his work was done
    Saw that it was good

    In this sign shall thou conquer

    He let his brush drop and passed into a sleep of his own
    And he dreamed of Constantine carrying into battle in his right hand
    An immaculate, undefiled single white Cross
    Piero della Francesca, as his brush stroked the wall
    Was filled with a torpor
    And fell into a dream of his own

    From the geometry of his heart he mapped it out
    He saw the King rise, fitted with armor
    Set upon a white horse
    An immaculate cross in his right hand.
    He advanced toward the enemy
    And the symmetry, the perfection of his mathematics
    Caused the scattering of the enemy
    Agitated, broken, they fled

    And Piero della Francesca waking, cried out
    All is art - all is future!
    Oh Lord let me die on the back of adventure
    With a brush and an eye full of light
    But as he advanced in age
    The light was shorn from his eyes
    And blinded, he laid upon his bed
    On an October morning 1492, and whispered
    Oh Lord let me die on the back of adventure
    Oh Lord let me die on the back of adventure

    And a world away - a world away
    On three great ships
    Adventure itself as if to answer
    Pulling into the New World
    And as far as his eyes could see
    No longer blind
    All of nature unspoiled - beautiful - beautiful
    In such a manner that would have lifted the heart of St. Francis
    Into the realm of universal love

    Columbus stepped foot on the New World
    And witnessed beauty unspoiled
    All the delights given by God
    As if an Eden itself, as if Eden had opened her heart to him
    And opened her dress
    And all of her fruit gave to him
    And Columbus so overwhelmed
    Fell into a sleep of his own
    All the world in his sleep
    All of the beauty, all of the beauty entwined with the future
    The twenty-first century
    Advancing like the angel
    Advancing like the angel
    That had come
    To Constantine
    Constantine in his dream
    Oh this is your cross to bear
    Oh Lord Oh Lord let me deliver
    Hallowed adventure to all mankind
    In the future
    Oh art cried the painter
    Oh art - Oh art - cried the angel
    Art the great material gift of man
    Art that hath denied
    The humble pleas of St. Francis
    Oh thou Artist
    All shall crumble into dust
    Oh thou navigator
    The terrible end of man
    This is your gift to mankind
    This is your cross to bear
    And Columbus saw all of nature aflame
    The apocalyptic night
    And the dream of the troubled King
    Dissolved into lightWriter/s: LEONARD J KAYE, PATTI SMITH
    Publisher: BMG Rights Management
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
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