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This article is taken from PN Review 122, Volume 24 Number 6, July - August 1998.

Sculpture and Economics in Pound and Ruskin Clive Wilmer

I want to begin with a personal anecdote. In 1971 I was living in Padua and spending a good deal of my spare time in Venice. One brisk Sunday morning I went for a walk on the Zattere and, quite unexpectedly, came upon the Pensione Calcini, where Ruskin had stayed in 1877. On the wall of that building is a plaque recording his stay. It was erected just six days after his death in 1900. Moved by what it said - by the accuracy of its wording as much as by its warmth - I took out my notebook and copied down the words.

JOHN RUSKIN
ABITÒ QUESTA CASA (1877)


SACERDONTE DELL' ARTE
NELLE NOSTRE PIETRE NEL NOSTRO S. MARCO
QUASI IN OGNI MONUMENTO D'ITALIA
CERCÒ INSIEME
L'ANIMA DELL' ARTEFICE E L'ANIMA DEL POPOLO


OGNI MARMO OGNI BRONZO OGNI TELA
OGNI COSA GLI GRIDÒ
CHE BELLEZZA È RELIGIONE
SE VIRTÙ D'UOMO LA SUSCITI
E RIVERENZA DI POPOLO L'ACCOLGA


IL COMMUNE DI VENEZIA RICONOSCENTE
P.
XXVI GENNAIOI MDCCCC 1

That still seems to me to get to something essential about Ruskin: the intensity of his passion for beautiful work, his disproportionate giving of attention, his love of good materials, and the crucial recognition that the spirit, whether personal or communal, can only find expression ...


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