Constantine's Dream

Constantine's Dream

Patti Smith

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 light

Written by PATTI SMITH, LEONARD J KAYE
Published by BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Lyrics Provided By LyricFind Inc.

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