Sirocco, e outras aflições (II).

Por ser um porto, Veneza revelou-se muito vulnerável às pestes. Em 1348, 1575 e 1630 a cidade perdeu um terço da população. A última epidemia ceifou 50.000 vidas entre Julho de 1630 e Outubro de 1631. Os venezianos eram saudavelmente cépticos (desprezavam a Inquisição, e protegiam os judeus em troca de impostos asfixiantes), mas não totalmente incapazes de um sincero arrependimento, se avistassem na laguna a barca de Caronte. A igreja do Redentor, que observamos nesta imagem de Canaletto, foi desenhada por Palladio para celebrar o fim da mortandade de 1575; e a de Santa Maria della Salute por Baldassare Longhena, para cumprir uma promessa feita pelo Senado durante a peste de 1630. A primeira é um marco do neoclassicismo, a segunda do Barroco Romano, à Bernini. John Ruskin, para quem a arte veneziana começava no periodo Bizantino e acabava no Gótico, disse mal de ambas por uma questão de princípio.

O post, como os leitores já sabem, será colocado aqui.


Sirocco, e outras aflições.

Como é que os turistas de há cem anos suportavam passar tantas horas, sempre tão vestidos, sob o sol de Itália no pico do Verão? Não suportavam. A estação turística, até há pouco tempo, acabava em Maio. O escritor Aschenbach (ou compositor Aschenbach, para quem apenas viu o filme de Visconti) morreu no Lido antes da canícula. Em Junho, Julho e Agosto, Veneza era um matadouro. A cólera, os miasmas, o ar quente que provinha do deserto, tudo serviu aos escritores da época para explicar o interdito Verão italiano. Hoje sabemos que o mosquito Anopheles, transmissor da malária, era o mais copioso dos assassinos. Foi necessária a popularização dos desinfectantes e do quinino para que os elegantes turistas contemporâneos se pudessem arrastar de chanata e câmara de video, pela ponte de Rialto, dia 15 de Agosto às três da tarde.


A Toccata of Galuppi's, por Robert Browning.

O músico veneziano Baldassare Galuppi (1706-85), organista de San Marco e criador de óperas ligeiras, visitou a Inglaterra em 1741, alcançando um extraordinário reconhecimento. Browning, que possuia duas tocatas manuscritas do compositor, completou o poema seguinte em 1885.

Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find!
I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind;
But although I take your meaning, 'tis with such a heavy mind!

Here you come with your old music, and here's all the good it brings.
What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were the kings,
Where Saint Mark's is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings?

Ay, because the sea's the street there; and 'tis arched by . . . what you call
. . . Shylock's bridge with houses on it, where they kept the carnival:
I was never out of England--it's as if I saw it all.

Did young people take their pleasure when the sea was warm in May?
Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to mid-day,
When they made up fresh adventures for the morrow, do you say?

Was a lady such a lady, cheeks so round and lips so red,--
On her neck the small face buoyant, like a bell-flower on its bed,
Over the breast's superb abundance where a man might base his head?

Well, and it was graceful of them--they'd break talk off and afford
--She, to bite her mask's black velvet--he, to finger on his sword,
While you sat and played Toccatas, stately at the clavichord?

What? Those lesser thirds so plaintive, sixths diminished, sigh on sigh,
Told them something? Those suspensions, those solutions--"Must we die?"
Those commiserating sevenths--"Life might last! we can but try!

"Were you happy?" --"Yes."--"And are you still as happy?"--"Yes. And you?"
--"Then, more kisses!"--"Did I stop them, when a million seemed so few?"
Hark, the dominant's persistence till it must be answered to!

So, an octave struck the answer. Oh, they praised you, I dare say!
"Brave Galuppi! that was music! good alike at grave and gay!
"I can always leave off talking when I hear a master play!"

Then they left you for their pleasure: till in due time, one by one,
Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone,
Death stepped tacitly and took them where they never see the sun.

But when I sit down to reason, think to take my stand nor swerve,
While I triumph o'er a secret wrung from nature's close reserve,
In you come with your cold music till I creep thro' every nerve.

Yes, you, like a ghostly cricket, creaking where a house was burned:
"Dust and ashes, dead and done with, Venice spent what Venice earned.
"The soul, doubtless, is immortal--where a soul can be discerned.

"Yours for instance: you know physics, something of geology,
"Mathematics are your pastime; souls shall rise in their degree;
"Butterflies may dread extinction,--you'll not die, it cannot be!

"As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop,
"Here on earth they bore their fruitage, mirth and folly were the crop:
"What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?

"Dust and ashes!" So you creak it, and I want the heart to scold.
Dear dead women, with such hair, too--what's become of all the gold
Used to hang and brush their bosoms? I feel chilly and grown old.

Pouco depois desta meditação sombria, Browning viria a falecer em Veneza no Palazzo Rezzonico, propriedade da sua família, que vemos à esquerda nesta imagem de Michele Giovanni Marieschi, tal como era em 1742.


A imagem, de P.Salviati, foi captada cerca de 1890.


Nothing can be said here
(including this statement) that has not been said before. One often hears the Piazza described as an open-air drawing-room; the observation goes back to Napoleon, who called it "the best drawing room in Europe". A friend likens the ornamental coping of St Mark's to sea foam, but Ruskin thought of this first: "... at last, as if in ecstasy, the crests of the arches break into a marbly foam, and toss themselves far into the blue sky in flashes and wreaths of sculptured spray..." Another friend observes that the gondolas are like hearses; I was struck by the novelty of the fancy until I found it, two days later, in Shelley: "that funereal bark". Now I find it everywhere. A young man, boarding the vaporetto, sighs that "Venice is so urban", a remark which at least sounds original and doubtless did when Proust spoke of the "always urban impression" made by Venice in the midst of the sea. And the worst of if is that nearly all of those clichés are true. It is true, for example, that St Mark's at night looks like a painted stage flat; this is a fact which everybody notices and which everybody thinks he has discovered for himself. I blush to remember the sound of my own voice, clear in its own conceit, enunciating this proposition in the Piazza, nine years ago.
"I envy you, writing about Venice", says the newcomer. "I pity you", says the old hand. One thing is certain. Sophistication, that modern kind of sophistication that begs to differ, to be paradoxical, to invert, is not a possible attitude in Venice. In time, this becomes the beauty of the place. One gives up the struggle and submits to a classic experience.

Mary McCarthy, Venice Observed.

Na imagem vemos A ponte para a festa da Madonna della Salute, por Luca Carlevaris, de 1720.


Bibliografia 1: Ruskin.

Ninguém fez tanto para salvar Veneza como John Ruskin e a sua experiência religiosa da beleza. O século XIX elegante foi obcecado pelos seus escritos, como o século XX foi obcecado por Proust. Este, aliás, traduziu-o para francês, e suponho que alguma coisa de Ruskin deve existir no excessivo refinamento de Swann. Ao longo deste blog, irei citar recorrentemente The Stones of Venice, que talvez se recomende em edição abreviada (a editora é excelente), ou num trabalho posterior, com textos do autor acompanhando fotografias contemporâneas.


Minuto a minuto.