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Text of the H.P.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, written by Francesco Colonna and published in Venice in 1499, contains several gardens. There is a garden of glass, a garden of silk, and gardens of gemstones. There is also a maze with water passages. On pages 123-124 is the description of the glass garden.

When we had reached the area enclosed by the hedge of orange trees, Thelemia said to me affably: Besides the excellent and marvelous things that you have already seen, Poliphilo, there are four more sights for you to admire. Then she led me into a gorgeous orchard on the left side of the incomparable palace: a tremendous creation demanding vast expense, time, and ingenuity, and equal in ambitus and area to the place where the royal palace stood. All around it were flowerbeds, attached to the enclosure and protruding from it, in which instead of living plants, everything was made from clear glass, surpassing anything one could imagine or believe. There were topiary box trees molded of the same material with golden stems, alternating with cypresses no more than two paces tall, while the boxes were one pace high. The beds were filled with a marvelous imitation of various simples, elegantly trimmed as in nature, and with gaily varied forms of flowers in distinct and delightful colors. The flattened edges of these square open beds, or rather containers, were adorned with little cornice of gold, finished and decorated with subtle lineaments. Its beautiful fascia was of glass plaques gilded on the inside and curiously decorated with wonderful engraving, enclosed and gripped by golden frames; and these continued around, with the lower socle two inches high. This orchard was fenced by carefully spaced, swelling columns of the same material, clothed with convolvulus flowers; and on either side of them protruded square, fluted pilasters of gold, arching over from one to another, with the requisite beam, zophorus and cornice projecting the proper distance above glass capital of the round column. The body of the latter, beneath the vines, was an imitation of jasper with many bright colors, while the vines stood out a fair distance from the solid surface. The vaults of the arches were filled with transparent glass lozenges a third as long as they were wide, similarly enclosed in double-grooved frames and surrounded by various encaustic paintings, very gratifying to the senses.

The whole site was paved with small glass roundels and other appropriate and supremely graceful figures, fitted together and cohering firmly. It had gem-like radiance, without any addition of foliage. A remarkable fragrance emanated from the flowers, which had been rubbed with an ointment and watered.

Sweet-voiced Logistica now made an eloquent speech with penetrating remarks in praise of the splendid craft, the nobility of the material, the artistry and the invention (such as one would not find in Murano), but disparaging its nature and saying 'Poliphilo, let us go up to this fine tower near the garden.'

From the first complete English translation, published for the 500 year anniversary of the original.

Colonna, Francesco and Godwin, Joscelyn (translator) Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in A Dream Thames and Hudson New York, NY 1999     ISBN 0500019428