Painting And Sculpture
The sinful painter drapes his goddess warm,
Because she still is naked, being drest;
The godlike sculptor will not so deform
Beauty, which bones and flesh enough invest.
The Spider as an Artist
The Spider as an Artist
Has never been employed -
Though his surpassing Merit
Is freely certified
By every Broom and Bridget
Throughout a Christian Land -
Neglected Son of Genius
I take thee by the Hand -
by Emily Dickinson.
Epigram Addressed To An Artist
DEAR ———, I'll gie ye some advice,
You'll tak it no uncivil:
You shouldna paint at angels mair,
But try and paint the devil.
To paint an Angel's kittle wark,
Wi' Nick, there's little danger:
You'll easy draw a lang-kent face,
But no sae weel a stranger.—R. B.
by Robert Burns.
London Types: The Artist Muses At His Ease
The Artist muses at his ease,
Contented that his work is done,
And smiling-smiling!-as he sees
His crowd collecting, one by one.
Alas! his travail's but begun!
None, none can keep the years in line,
And what to Ninety-Eight is fun
May raise the gorge of Ninety-Nine!
Why do you subdue yourself in golds and purples?
Why do you dim yourself with folded silks?
Do you not see that I can buy brocades in any draper’s shop,
And that I am choked in the twilight of all these colours.
How pale you would be, and startling,
But your curves would spring upward
Like a clear jet of flung water,
You would quiver like a shot-up spray of water,
You would waver, and relapse, and tremble.
And I too should tremble,
Murex-dyes and tinsel—
And yet I think I could bear your beauty unshaded.
by Amy Lowell.
To A Poet, Painter And Musician
Three Muses one day
Had a serious fray,
Concerning a youth who had wandered astray,
And fast up Parnassus was taking his way.
They each urged a claim
Each gave him her name,
And each vowed to crown him with chaplets of fame.
Frown followed retort,
Till to cut it all short,
They decided to carry the case up to court.
That from all he had heard,
The claim of exclusiveness seemed quite absurd;
And he gave his decree
That this soul should be free
For the 'joint occupancy' of the whole three.
The Artist. (Sonnet I.)
Nothing the greatest artist can conceive
That every marble block doth not confine
Within itself; and only its design
The hand that follows intellect can achieve.
The ill I flee, the good that I believe,
In thee, fair lady, lofty and divine,
Thus hidden lie; and so that death be mine
Art, of desired success, doth me bereave.
Love is not guilty, then, nor thy fair face,
Nor fortune, cruelty, nor great disdain,
Of my disgrace, nor chance, nor destiny,
If in thy heart both death and love find place
At the same time, and if my humble brain,
Burning, can nothing draw but death from thee.
Before A Painting
I knew not who had wrought with skill so fine
What I beheld; nor by what laws of art
He had created life and love and heart
On canvas, from mere color, curve and line.
Silent I stood and made no move or sign;
Not with the crowd, but reverently apart;
Nor felt the power my rooted limbs to start,
But mutely gazed upon that face divine.
And over me the sense of beauty fell,
As music over a raptured listener to
The deep-voiced organ breathing out a hymn;
Or as on one who kneels, his beads to tell,
There falls the aureate glory filtered through
The windows in some old cathedral dim.
Sonnet 83: I Never Saw That You Did Painting Need
I never saw that you did painting need,
And therefore to your fair no painting set;
I found, or thought I found, you did exceed
That barren tender of a poet's debt;
And therefore have I slept in your report,
That you yourself being extant well might show
How far a modern quill doth come too short,
Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow.
This silence for my sin you did impute,
Which shall be most my glory, being dumb,
For I impair not beauty, being mute,
When others would give life and bring a tomb.
There lives more life in one of your fair eyes,
Than both your poets can in praise devise.
An Artist Of The Beautiful
Haunted of Beauty, like the marvellous youth
Who sang Saint Agnes' Eve! How passing fair
Her shapes took color in thy homestead air!
How on thy canvas even her dreams were truth!
Magician! who from commonest elements
Called up divine ideals, clothed upon
By mystic lights soft blending into one
Womanly grace and child-like innocence.
Teacher I thy lesson was not given in vain.
Beauty is goodness; ugliness is sin;
Art's place is sacred: nothing foul therein
May crawl or tread with bestial feet profane.
If rightly choosing is the painter's test,
Thy choice, O master, ever was the best.
Sonnet 24: “mine Eye Hath Played The Painter And Hath Stelled…”
Mine eye hath played the painter and hath stelled,
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart,
My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
And perspective it is best painter's art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies,
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes:
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done,
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art,
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.
The Painter On Silk
There was a man
Who made his living
By painting roses
He sat in an upper chamber
And the noises of the street
Meant nothing to him.
When he heard bugles, and fifes, and drums,
He thought of red, and yellow, and white roses
Bursting in the sunshine,
And smiled as he worked.
He thought only of roses,
When he could get no more silk
He stopped painting
And only thought
The day the conquerors
Entered the city,
The old man
He heard the bugles and drums,
And wished he could paint the roses
Bursting into sound.
by Amy Lowell.
Sonnet 24: Mine Eye Hath Played The Painter And Hath Stelled
Mine eye hath played the painter and hath stelled
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
And perspective it is best painter's art.
For through the painter must you see his skill
To find where your true image pictured lies,
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazèd with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee.
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art:
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.
The Moon Is A Painter
He coveted her portrait.
He toiled as she grew gay.
She loved to see him labor
In that devoted way.
And in the end it pleased her,
But bowed him more with care.
Her rose-smile showed so plainly,
Her soul-smile was not there.
That night he groped without a lamp
To find a cloak, a book,
And on the vexing portrait
By moonrise chanced to look.
The color-scheme was out of key,
The maiden rose-smile faint,
But through the blessed darkness
She gleamed, his friendly saint.
The comrade, white, immortal,
His bride, and more than bride—
The citizen, the sage of mind,
For whom he lived and died.
by Vachel Lindsay.
To Cole, The Painter, Departing For Europe
Thine eyes shall see the light of distant skies:
Yet, COLE! thy heart shall bear to Europe's strand
A living image of thy native land,
Such as on thine own glorious canvas lies;
Lone lakes--savannas where the bison roves--
Rocks rich with summer garlands--solemn streams--
Skies, where the desert eagle wheels and screams--
Spring bloom and autumn blaze of boundless groves.
Fair scenes shall greet thee where thou goest--fair,
But different--everywhere the trace of men,
Paths, homes, graves, ruins, from the lowest glen
To where life shrinks from the fierce Alpine air,
Gaze on them, till the tears shall dim thy sight,
But keep that earlier, wilder image bright.
A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man
Are you not weary of ardent ways,
Lure of the fallen seraphim?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
Your eyes have set man's heart ablaze
And you have had your will of him.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Above the flame the smoke of praise
Goes up from ocean rim to rim.
Tell no more of enchanted days.
Our broken cries and mournful lays
Rise in one eucharistic hymn.
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
While sacrificing hands upraise
The chalice flowing to the brim,
Tell no more of enchanted days.
And still you hold our longing gaze
With languorous look and lavish limb!
Are you not weary of ardent ways?
Tell no more of enchanted days.
by James Joyce.
William Keith, Artist
We read that under the far Indian skies,
The dusk magician with his magic wand
Calls from the arid and unseeded sand,
Whereon the shadowless sun’s hot fervor lies,
A perfect tree before our wondering eyes:
First a green shoot uplifts a tender hand,
Then trunk and spreading foliage expand
To flower and fruit-and then it drops and dies.
But he-our wizard of the tinted brush-
In God’s diviner necromancy skilled,
Gives to our vision Earth, in grandeur free!
Rose-gold of dawn, the evening’s purple hush,
The Druid-woods with Nature’s worship filled,
The mountains and the everlasting sea.
Upon the heights beyond my reach
You drink from Art’s immortal spring,
And vision dreams denied my speech,
And paint the songs I may not sing.
by Ina D. Coolbrith.
The Artist And The Alderman
'Give us gardens!' said the artist,
'Blatant brick and soulless stone,
Never built a noble city.
Man lives not by bread alone,
Beauty brings, for our enrichment,
Smiling lawn and spreading tree.'
'Bricks and mortar,' said the alderman,
'Bring in more £.s.d.'
As acid and alkali,
Water and fire,
The good and the evil,
As the cat and the dog,
And the axe and the tree,
So artists and aldermen
Said the artist: 'Give us gardens!
So to save the civic soul,
Draw aesthetic men about you
Ere base ideals take control.
Let artistic minds advise you,
Lest you pay a shameful price.'
'And who,' inquired the alderman,
'Needs any such advice?'
As the cop and the crook,
As the fool and the sage,
As light and the darkness,
Hot youth and old age
As the lamb and the lion,
The ant and the bee,
So artists and aldermen,
By The Fireside : Gaspar Becerra
By his evening fire the artist
Pondered o'er his secret shame;
Baffled, weary, and disheartened,
Still he mused, and dreamed of fame.
'T was an image of the Virgin
That had tasked his utmost skill;
But, alas! his fair ideal
Vanished and escaped him still.
From a distant Eastern island
Had the precious wood been brought
Day and night the anxious master
At his toil untiring wrought;
Till, discouraged and desponding,
Sat he now in shadows deep,
And the day's humiliation
Found oblivion in sleep.
Then a voice cried, 'Rise, O master!
From the burning brand of oak
Shape the thought that stirs within thee!'
And the startled artist woke,--
Woke, and from the smoking embers
Seized and quenched the glowing wood;
And therefrom he carved an image,
And he saw that it was good.
O thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy work of art.
One evening there came into his soul the desire to fashion an image of The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment. And he went forth into the world to look for bronze. For he could only think in bronze.
But all the bronze of the whole world had disappeared, nor anywhere in the whole world was there any bronze to be found, save only the bronze of the image of The Sorrow that endureth for Ever.
Now this image he had himself, and with his own hands, fashioned, and had set it on the tomb of the one thing he had loved in life. On the tomb of the dead thing he had most loved had he set this image of his own fashioning, that it might serve as a sign of the love of man that dieth not, and a symbol of the sorrow of man that endureth for ever. And in the whole world there was no other bronze save the bronze of this image.
And he took the image he had fashioned, and set it in a great furnace, and gave it to the fire.
And out of the bronze of the image of The Sorrow that endureth for Ever he fashioned an image of The Pleasure that abideth for a Moment.
by Oscar Wilde.
The Tears Of A Painter
Apelles, hearing that his boy
Had just expired--his only joy!
Although the sight with anguish tore him,
Bade place his dear remains before him.
He seized his brush, his colours spread;
And--'Oh! my child, accept,'--he said,
'('Tis all that I can now bestow,)
This tribute of a father's woe!'
Then, faithful to the twofold part,
Both of his feelings and his art,
He closed his eyes with tender care,
And form'd at once a fellow pair.
His brow with amber locks beset,
And lips he drew not livid yet;
And shaded all that he had done
To a just image of his son.
Thus far is well. But view again
The cause of thy paternal pain!
Thy melancholy task fulfil!
It needs the last, last touches still.
Again his pencil's powers he tries,
For on his lips a smile he spies:
And still his cheek unfaded shows
The deepest damask of the rose.
Then, heedful to the finish’d whole,
With fondest eagerness he stole,
Till scarce himself distinctly knew
The cherub copied from the true.
Now, painter, cease! Thy task is done.
Long lives this image of thy son;
Nor short-lived shall thy glory prove
Or of thy labour or thy love.
by William Cowper.
The Lady and the Painter
SHE: Yet womanhood you reverence,
So you profess!
HE: With heart and soul.
SHE: Of which fact this is evidence!
To help Art-study,- for some dole
Of certain wretched shillings,- you
Induce a woman- virgin too-
To strip and stand stark naked?
SHE: Nor feel you so degrade her?
- (Excuse the interruption)- clings
Half-savage-like around your hat?
SHE: Ah, do they please you? Wild-bird-wings
Next season,- Paris-prints assert,-
We must go feathered to the skirt:
My modiste keeps on the alert.
Owls, hawks, jays- swallows most approve ...
HE: Dare I speak plainly?
SHE: Oh, I trust!
HE: Then, Lady Blanche, it less would move
In heart and soul of me disgust
Did you strip off those spoils you wear,
And stand- for thanks, not shillings- bare,
To help Art like my Model there.
She well knew what absolved her- praise
In me for God's surpassing good,
Who granted to my reverent gaze
A type of purest womanhood.
You clothed with murder of His best
Of harmless beings- stand the test!
What is it you know?
SHE: That you jest!
by Robert Browning.
The National Paintings
Awake,ye forms of verse divine!
Painting! descend on canvas wing,-
And hover o'er my head, Design!
Your son, your glorious son, I sing;
At Trumbull's name I break my sloth,
To load him with poetic riches:
The Titian of a table-cloth!
The Guido of a pair of breeches!
Come, star-eyed maid, Equality!
In thine adorer's praise I revel;
Who brings, so fierce his love to thee,
All forms and faces to a level:
Old, young, great, small, the grave, the gay,
Each man might swear the next his brother,
And there they stand in dread array,
To fire their votes at one another.
How bright their buttons shine! how straight
Their coat-flaps fall in plaited grace!
How smooth the hair on every pate!
How vacant each immortal face!
And then the tints, the shade, the flush,
(I wrong them with a strain too humble),
Not mighty Sherred's strength of brush
Can match thy glowing hues, my Trumbull!
Go on, great painter! dare be dull-
No longer after Nature dangle;
Call rectilinear beautiful;
Find grace and freedom in an angle;
Pour on the red, the green, the yellow,
'Paint till a horse may mire upon it,'
And, while I 've strength to write or bellow,
I 'll sound your praises in a sonnet.
The God of the day has vanished,
The light from the hills has fled,
And the hand of an unseen artist
Is painting the west all red.
All threaded with gold and crimson,
And burnished with amber dye,
And tipped with purple shadows,
The glory flameth high.
Fair, beautiful world of ours!
Fair, beautiful world, but oh,
How darkened by pain and sorrow,
How blackened by sin and woe.
The splendour pales in the heavens
And dies in a golden gleam,
And alone in the hush of twilight,
I sit, in a chequered dream.
I think of the souls that are straying,
In the shadows as black as the night,
Of hands that are groping blindly
In search of a shining light;
Of hearts that are mutely crying,
And praying for just one ray,
To lead them out of the shadows
Into the better way.
And I think of the Father's children
Who are trying to walk alone,
Who have dropped the hand of the Parent,
And wander in ways unknown.
Oh, the paths are rough and thorny,
And I know they cannot stand.
They will faint and fall by the wayside,
Unguarded by God's right hand.
And I think of the souls that are yearning
To folow the good and true;
They are striving to live unsullied,
Yet I know not what to do.
And I wonder when God, the Master,
Shall end this weary strife,
And lead us out of the shadows
Into the deathless life.
To An Artist
YOU tell me these great lords have raised up Art?
I say they have degraded it. Look you,
When ever did they let the Poet sing,
The Painter paint, the Sculptor hew and cast,
The Music raise her heavenly voice, except
To praise them and their wretched rule o'er men?
Behold our English poets that were poor
Since these great lords were rich and held the state:
Behold the glories of the German land,
Poets, Musicians, driven, like them, to death
Unless they'd tune their spirits' harps to play
Drawing-room pieces for the chattering fools
Who aped the taste for Art or for a leer.
I say, no Art was ever noble yet,
Noble and high, the speech of godlike men,
When fetters bound it, be they gold or flowers.
All that is noblest, highest, greatest, best,
Comes from the Galilean peasant's hut, comes from
The Stratford village, the Ayrshire plough, the shop
That gave us Chaucer, the humble Milton's trade —
Bach's, Mozart's, great Beethoven's — and these are they
Who knew the People, being what they knew!
Wherefore, if in the future years no strain,
No picture of earth's glory like to what
Your Artists raised for that small clique or this
Of supercilious imbecilities —
O if no better demi-gods of Art
Can rise save those whose barbarous tinsel yet
Makes hideous all the beauty of old homes —
Then let us seek the comforts of despair
In democratic efforts dead and gone;
Weep with Pheideian Athens, sigh an hour
With Raffaelle's Florence, beat the head and breast
O'er Shakspere's England that from Milton's took
In lips the name that leaped from lead and flame
From out her heart against the Spanish guns!
A widow by her landlord was oppressed
To pay at once her backward coin of rent;
For he, cursed by the wealth that should have blessed,
Forgot that he, too, in a tenement
Dwelt, with unpaid arrear; and surely he,
More than a widow, lived in poverty.
For they alone are rich who have obtained
The love of God, for which no gold can pay.
Blind to the peaceful joy he might have gained,
The craven landlord, on a winter's day
That pierced with cold and wind-thrust snow and sleet,
Drove forth the widow to the roofless street.
Her clinging son, with elfin prattle, sought
To charm away her grief; yet, in his heart,
By the indignant pencil of his thought,
The shameful scene was drawn in every part.
There lived the widow's tears, and hard and base
Stood out the likeness of the landlord's face.
Like breaking waves, year after year rolled up,
And in their tide the widow's son became
A truthful painter, in whose life's bright cup
A thankful world dissolved the pearl of fame.
Then, with his brush, which spoke in every hue,
The picture in his heart he strongly drew.
Near to the landlord's home the painting hung,
As at his threshold, in a public place;
To view it came the townsfolk, old and young,
And said, 'This is our neighbor's ruthless face,
And this the cruel deed that he has done
To the poor widow and her artist son.'
The landlord brought temptations coined and vast,
And would have given half the wealthy town,
To lay the brush-raised specter of his past:
No gold availed; the specter would not down;
But haunted him thereafter till he died,
In looks and words and deeds, on every side.
by Henry Abbey.
To The Painter Preparing To Draw M.M.H.
Be not too forward, painter; 'tis
More for thy fame, and art, to miss
All other faces, than come near
The Lady, that expecteth here.
Be wise, and think it less disgrace
To draw an angel, than her face;
For in such forms, who is so wise
To tell thee where thy error lies?
But since all beauty (that is known)
Is in her virgin sweetness one,
How can it be, that painting her
But every look should make thee err?
But thou art resolute I see;
Yet let my fancy walk with thee:
Compose a ground more dark and sad,
Than that the early Chaos had,
And show, to the whole sex's shame,
Beauty was darkness till she came.
Then paint her eyes, whose active light
Shall make the former shadows bright,
And with their every beam supply
New day, to draw her picture by.
Now, if thou wilt complete the face,
A wonder paint in every place.
Beneath these, for her fair neck's sake,
White as the Paphian Turtles, make
A pillar, whose smooth base doth show
It self lost in a mount of snow;
Her breast, the house of chaste desire,
Cold, but increasing others' fire.
But how I lose (instructing thee)
Thy pencil, and my poetry!
For when thou hast expressed all art,
As high as truth, in every part,
She can resemble at the best,
One, in her beauty's silence dressed,
Where thou, like a dull looker-on,
Art lost, and all thy art undone;
For if she speak, new wonders rise
From her teeth, chin, lip, and eyes;
So far above that excellent
Did take thee first, thou should repent
To have begun, and lose i'th'end
Thy eyes with wonder how to mend.
At such a loss, here's all thy choice,
Leave off, or paint her with a voice.
by James Shirley.
The Strong Heroic Line
FRIENDS of the Muse, to you of right belong
The first staid footsteps of my square-toed song;
Full well I know the strong heroic line
Has lost its fashion since I made it mine;
But there are tricks old singers will not learn,
And this grave measure still must serve my turn.
So the old bird resumes the selfsame note
His first young summer wakened in his throat;
The selfsame tune the old canary sings,
And all unchanged the bobolink’s carol rings;
When the tired songsters of the day are still
The thrush repeats his long-remembered trill;
Age alters not the crow’s persistent caw,
The Yankee’s “Haow,” the stammering Briton’s “Haw;”
And so the hand that takes the lyre for you
Plays the old tune on strings that once were new.
Nor let the rhymester of the hour deride
The straight-backed measure with its stately stride:
It gave the mighty voice of Dryden scope;
It sheathed the steel-bright epigrams of Pope;
In Goldsmith’s verse it learned a sweeter strain;
Byron and Campbell wore its clanking chain;
I smile to listen while the critic’s scorn
Flouts the proud purple kings have nobly worn;
Bid each new rhymer try his dainty skill
And mould his frozen phrases as he will;
We thank the artist for his neat device;
The shape is pleasing, though the stuff is ice.
Fashions will change—the new costume allures,
Unfading still the better type endures;
While the slashed doublet of the cavalier
Gave the old knight the pomp of chanticleer,
Our last-hatched dandy with his glass and stick
Recalls the semblance of a new-born chick;
(To match the model he is aiming at
He ought to wear an eggshell for a hat).
He ought to wear an eggshell for a hat).
Which of these objects would a painter choose,
And which Velasquez or Van Dyck refuse?
The Man With The Hoe (Written After Seeing Millet's World-Famous Painting)
Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?
Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace the stars and search the heavens for power;
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Is this the Dream He dreamed who shaped the suns
And marked their ways upon the ancient deep?
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this --
More tongued with censure of the world's blind greed --
More filled with signs and portents for the soul --
More fraught with menace to the universe.
What gulfs between him and the seraphim!
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades?
What the long reaches of the peaks of song,
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look;
Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited,
Cries protest to the Judges of the World,
A protest that is also prophecy.
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
Is this the handiwork you give to God,
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape;
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes?
O masters, lords and rulers in all lands,
How will the Future reckon with this Man?
How answer his brute question in that hour
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake the world?
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings --
With those who shaped him to the thing he is --
When this dumb Terror shall reply to God,
After the silence of the centuries?
by Edwin Markham.
To The Painter Of An Ill-Drawn Picture Of Cleone
Sooner I'd praise a Cloud which Light beguiles,
Than thy rash Hand which robs this Face of Smiles;
And does that sweet and pleasing Air control,
Which to us paints the fair CLEONE's Soul.
'Tis vain to boast of Rules or labour'd Art;
I miss the Look that captivates my Heart,
Attracts my Love, and tender Thoughts inspires;
Nor can my Breast be warm'd by common Fires;
Nor can ARDELIA love but where she first admires.
Like Jupiter's, thy Head was sure in Pain
When this Virago struggl'd in thy Brain;
And strange it is, thou hast not made her wield
A mortal Dart, or penetrating Shield,
Giving that Hand of disproportion'd size
The Pow'r, of which thou hast disarm'd her Eyes:
As if, like Amazons, she must oppose,
And into Lovers force her vanquish'd Foes.
Had to THEANOR thus her Form been shown
To gain her Heart, he had not lost his own;
Nor, by the gentlest Bands of Human Life,
At once secur'd the Mistress and the Wife.
For still CLEONE's Beauties are the same,
And what first lighten'd, still upholds his Flame.
Fain his Compassion wou'd thy Works approve,
Were pitying thee consistent with his Love,
Or with the Taste which Italy has wrought
In his refin'd and daily heighten'd Thought,
Where Poetry, or Painting find no place,
Unless perform'd with a superior Grace.
Cou'd but my Wish some Influence infuse,
Ne'er shou'd the Pencil, or the Sister-Muse
Be try'd by those who easily excuse:
But strictest Censors shou'd of either judge,
Applaud the Artist, and despise the Drudge.
Then never wou'd thy Colours have debas'd
CLEONE's Features, and her Charms defac'd:
Nor had my Pen (more subject to their Laws)
Assay'd to vindicate her Beauty's Cause.
A rigid Fear had kept us both in Awe,
Nor I compos'd, nor thou presum'd to draw;
But in CLEONE viewing with Surprize
That Excellence, to which we ne'er cou'd rise,
By less Attempts we safely might have gain'd
That humble Praise which neither has obtain'd,
Since to thy Shadowings, or my ruder Verse,
It is not giv'n to shew, or to rehearse
What Nature in CLEONE's Face has writ,
A soft Endearment, and a chearful Wit,
That all-subduing, that enliv'ning Air
By which, a sympathizing Joy we share,
For who forbears to smile, when smil'd on by the Fair?
October And May
ADDRESSED TO SAMUEL JAMES ARNOLD, Esq.
: 'Behold, with mild and matron mien,
'With sober eye, and brow serene,
'October sweep along;
'Bright are her groves with vivid dyes,
'Refulgent beam her cloudless skies,
'And sweet her red-breast's song.
'Her temper bland, no passions sway,
'The same to-morrow as to-day,
'Her tints so soft, so warm,
'That Painting, with enraptur'd view,
'Hangs o'er each variegated hue,
'And copies every charm.
'Then let the Muse's thrilling lyre
'To Painting join its silver wire,
'And hail October's fame;
'Nor let that peevish vixen May,
'Whose frowns and tears deform the day,
'Her notes for ever claim.'
Why, faith! there's truth in what you say:
Yet poets love the young and gay;—
Though fickle May is teasing,
Though frowns and tears obscure her smiles,
In spite of all her pouting wiles
The little vixen's pleasing.
Then when she smiles, she smiles so sweet,
Such colours and such perfumes meet,
Such health is in her hue;
Such odours from her bosom breathe,
That poets give to her the wreath,
Who smell, as well as view.
Besides, you painters have the art,
Charms artificial to impart,
And make the wrinkle sleek.
Though red the blushing hawthorn shine,
To me it looks like deep carmine
Upon a faded cheek.
See how the hawthorn snowy blooms;
Its scent the passing gale perfumes:
Mark how the lilac blows—
Profuse while Flora o'er the meads,
Where'er the laughing goddess treads,
Her fragrant burden throws.
'But Spring's gay landscape shows too bright
'Masses of vegetable white,
'And light unvaried green;'—
Can then the artist's partial eye
No charm in Nature's works descry,
Unless he paint the scene?
The rugged brow, the form uncouth,
Will more than beauty or than youth
The painter's skill engage;
But will from youth and beauty's charms
The painter fly, and in his arms
Clasp ugliness and age?
Light ills, whence comic laughter flows,
And tragedy's severer woes,
Are favourites of the Muse;
But days replete with ease and joy,
Unting'd by aught of pain's alloy,
In real life we choose.
Say, can the robin's plaintive note
Mate Philomela's warbling throat
Which nightly charms the grove;
Or full and sweet, the feather'd throng,
Who loudly chant the matin song
Of ecstacy and love?
And bounding see in sportive dance,
Frolic the summer months advance,
Led on by youthful May;
While on October's solemn state
The hours of dreary winter wait,
The heralds of decay.
The frowning brow, the tearful eye
Of blooming May shall swiftly fly,
And every cloud be past;
While on October's richest hue
Doubtful we throw an anxious view,
And fear each smile her last.
But you, my friend, whose gifted mind,
In friendly union fondly join'd,
The sister arts inspire;
Who know alike with skilful hand
The glowing pencil to command,
And strike the sacred lyre,
Will now mild Autumn's various dyes,
His mellow tints, and purple skies,
With plastic hand pourtray;
Now taste the fragrant breath of Spring,
Her sylvan chorus join, and sing
The ambrosial sweets of May.
by Henry James Pye.
Since you remember Nimmo, and arrive
At such a false and florid and far drawn
Confusion of odd nonsense, I connive
No longer, though I may have led you on.
So much is told and heard and told again,
So many with his legend are engrossed,
That I, more sorry now than I was then,
May live on to be sorry for his ghost.
You knew him, and you must have known his eyes,—
How deep they were, and what a velvet light
Came out of them when anger or surprise,
Or laughter, or Francesca, made them bright.
No, you will not forget such eyes, I think,—
And you say nothing of them. Very well.
I wonder if all history’s worth a wink,
Sometimes, or if my tale be one to tell.
For they began to lose their velvet light;
Their fire grew dead without and small within;
And many of you deplored the needless fight
That somewhere in the dark there must have been.
All fights are needless, when they’re not our own,
But Nimmo and Francesca never fought.
Remember that; and when you are alone,
Remember me—and think what I have thought.
Now, mind you, I say nothing of what was,
Or never was, or could or could not be:
Bring not suspicion’s candle to the glass
That mirrors a friend’s face to memory.
Of what you see, see all,—but see no more;
For what I show you here will not be there.
The devil has had his way with paint before,
And he’s an artist,—and you needn’t stare.
There was a painter and he painted well:
He’d paint you Daniel in the lion’s den,
Beelzebub, Elaine, or William Tell.
I’m coming back to Nimmo’s eyes again.
The painter put the devil in those eyes,
Unless the devil did, and there he stayed;
And then the lady fled from paradise,
And there’s your fact. The lady was afraid.
She must have been afraid, or may have been,
Of evil in their velvet all the while;
But sure as I’m a sinner with a skin,
I’ll trust the man as long as he can smile.
I trust him who can smile and then may live
In my heart’s house, where Nimmo is today.
God knows if I have more than men forgive
To tell him; but I played, and I shall pay.
I knew him then, and if I know him yet,
I know in him, defeated and estranged,
The calm of men forbidden to forget
The calm of women who have loved and changed.
But there are ways that are beyond our ways,
Or he would not be calm and she be mute,
As one by one their lost and empty days
Pass without even the warmth of a dispute.
God help us all when women think they see;
God save us when they do. I’m fair; but though
I know him only as he looks to me,
I know him,—and I tell Francesca so.
And what of Nimmo? Little would you ask
Of him, could you but see him as I can,
At his bewildered and unfruitful task
Of being what he was born to be—a man.
Better forget that I said anything
Of what your tortured memory may disclose;
I know him, and your worst remembering
Would count as much as nothing, I suppose.
Meanwhile, I trust him; and I know his way
Of trusting me, and always in his youth.
I’m painting here a better man, you say,
Than I, the painter; and you say the truth.
In the valley of the Pegnitz, where across broad meadow-lands
Rise the blue Franconian mountains, Nuremberg, the ancient,
Quaint old town of toil and traffic, quaint old town of art and
Memories haunt thy pointed gables, like the rooks that round them
Memories of the Middle Ages, when the emperors, rough and bold,
Had their dwelling in thy castle, time-defying, centuries old;
And thy brave and thrifty burghers boasted, in their uncouth
That their great imperial city stretched its hand through every
In the court-yard of the castle, bound with many an iron hand,
Stands the mighty linden planted by Queen Cunigunde's hand;
On the square the oriel window, where in old heroic days
Sat the poet Melchior singing Kaiser Maximilian's praise.
Everywhere I see around me rise the wondrous world of Art:
Fountains wrought with richest sculpture standing in the common
And above cathedral doorways saints and bishops carved in stone,
By a former age commissioned as apostles to our own.
In the church of sainted Sebald sleeps enshrined his holy dust,
And in bronze the Twelve Apostles guard from age to age their
In the church of sainted Lawrence stands a pix of sculpture rare,
Like the foamy sheaf of fountains, rising through the painted
Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
Lived and labored Albrecht Durer, the Evangelist of Art;
Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land.
Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he lies;
Dead he is not, but departed,--for the artist never dies.
Fairer seems the ancient city, and the sunshine seems more fair,
That he once has trod its pavement, that he once has breathed its
Through these streets so broad and stately, these obscure and
Walked of yore the Mastersingers, chanting rude poetic strains.
From remote and sunless suburbs came they to the friendly guild,
Building nests in Fame's great temple, as in spouts the swallows
As the weaver plied the shuttle, wove he too the mystic rhyme,
And the smith his iron measures hammered to the anvil's chime;
Thanking God, whose boundless wisdom makes the flowers of poesy
In the forge's dust and cinders, in the tissues of the loom.
Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft,
Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and
But his house is now an ale-house, with a nicely sanded floor,
And a garland in the window, and his face above the door;
Painted by some humble artist, as in Adam Puschman's song,
As the old man gray and dove-like, with his great beard white and
And at night the swart mechanic comes to drown his cark and care,
Quaffing ale from pewter tankard; in the master's antique chair.
Vanished is the ancient splendor, and before my dreamy eye
Wave these mingled shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.
Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers, win for thee the world's
But thy painter, Albrecht Durer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler-bard.
Thus, O Nuremberg, a wanderer from a region far away,
As he paced thy streets and court-yards, sang in thought his
Gathering from the pavement's crevice, as a floweret of the soil,
The nobility of labor,--the long pedigree of toil.
THERE is a big artist named Val,
The roughs' and the prize—fighters' pal:
The mind of a groom
And the head of a broom
Were Nature's endowments to Val.
There is a Creator named God
Whose creations are sometimes quite odd:
I maintain—and I shall—
The creation of Val
Reflects little credit on God.
There is a dull Painter named Wells
Who is duller than any one else:
With the face of a horse
He sits by you and snorts—
Which is very offensive in Wells.
There's an infantine Artist named Hughes—
Him and his the R.A.'s did refuse:
At length, though, among
The lot, one was hung—
But it was himself in a noose.
There's a babyish party named Burges
Who from infancy hardly emerges:
If you had not been told
He's disgracefully old,
You would offer a bull's-eye to Burges.
There is a young person named Georgie
Who indulges each night in an orgy:
Soda—water and brandy
Are always kept handy
To efface the effects of that orgy.
There is a young Artist named Jones
Whose conduct no genius atones:
His behaviour in life
Is a pang to the wife
And a plague to the neighbours of Jones.
There is a young Painter called Jones
(A cheer here, and hisses, and groans):
The state of his mind
Is a shame to mankind,
But a matter of triumph to Jones.
There's a Painter of Portraits named Chapman
Who in vain would catch woman or trap man
To be painted life—size
More preposterous guys
Than they care to be painted by Chapman.
There's a combative Artist named Whistler
Who is, like his own hog—hairs, a bristler:
A tube of white lead
And a punch on the head
Offer varied attractions to Whistler.
There's a publishing party named Ellis
Who's addicted to poets with bellies:
He has at least two—
One in fact, one in view—
And God knows what will happen to Ellis.
There's a Portuguese person named Howell
Who lays—on his lies with a trowel:
Should he give—over lying,
'Twill be when he's dying,
For living is lying with Howell.
There is a mad Artist named Inchbold
With whom you must be at a pinch bold:
Or else you may score
The brass plate on your door
With the name of J. W. Inchbold.
A Historical Painter named Brown
Was in manners and language a clown:
At epochs of victual
Both pudden and kittle
Were expressions familiar to Brown
There was a young rascal called Nolly
Whose habits though dirty were jolly;
And when this book comes
To be marked with his thumbs
You may know that its owner is Nolly.
There are dealers in pictures named Agnew
Whose soft soap would make an old rag new:
The Father of Lies
With his tail to his eyes
Cries—“Go it, Tom Agnew, Bill Agnew!”
There's a solid fat German called Huffer
A hypochondriacal buffer:
To declaim Schopenhauer
From the top of a tower
Is the highest ambition of Huffer.
There's a Scotch correspondent named Scott
Thinks a penny for postage a lot:
Books, verses, and letters,
Too good for his betters,
Cannot screw out an answer from Scott.
There's a foolish old Scotchman called Scotus,
Most justly a Pictor Ignotus:
For what he best knew
He never would do,
This stubborn [old] donkey called Scotus.
There once was a painter named Scott
Who seemed to have hair, but had not.
He seemed too to have sense:
'Twas an equal pretence
On the part of the painter named Scott.
There's the Irishman Arthur O'Shaughnessy—
On the chessboard of poets a pawn is he:
Though a bishop or king
Would be rather the thing
To the fancy of Arthur O'Shaughnessy.
There is a young Artist named Knewstub,
Who for personal cleaning will use tub:
But in matters of paint
Not the holiest Saint
Was ever so dirty as Knewstub.
There is a poor sneak called Rossetti:
As a painter with many kicks met he—
With more as a man—
But sometimes he ran,
And that saved the rear of Rossetti.
As a critic, the Poet Buchanan
Thinks Pseudo much safer than Anon.
Into Maitland he shrunk,
But the smell of the skunk
Guides the shuddering nose to Buchanan.
To A Young Lady
In vain, fair Maid, you ask in vain,
My pen should try th' advent'rous strain,
And following truth's unalter'd law,
Attempt your character to draw.
I own indeed, that generous mind
That weeps the woes of human kind,
That heart by friendship's charms inspired,
That soul with sprightly fancy fired,
The air of life, the vivid eye,
The flowing wit, the keen reply--
To paint these beauties as they shine,
Might ask a nobler pen than mine.
Yet what sure strokes can draw the Fair,
Who vary, like the fleeting air,
Like willows bending to the force,
Where'er the gales direct their course,
Opposed to no misfortune's power,
And changing with the changing hour.
Now gaily sporting on the plain,
They charm the grove with pleasing strain;
Anon disturb'd, they know not why,
The sad tear trembles in their eye:
Led through vain life's uncertain dance,
The dupes of whim, the slaves of chance.
From me, not famed for much goodnature,
Expect not compliment, but satire;
To draw your picture quite unable,
Instead of fact accept a Fable.
One morn, in Æsop's noisy time,
When all things talk'd, and talk'd in rhyme,
A cloud exhaled by vernal beams
Rose curling o'er the glassy streams.
The dawn her orient blushes spread,
And tinged its lucid skirts with red,
Wide waved its folds with glitt'ring dies,
And gaily streak'd the eastern skies;
Beneath, illumed with rising day,
The sea's broad mirror floating lay.
Pleased, o'er the wave it hung in air,
Survey'd its glittering glories there,
And fancied, dress'd in gorgeous show,
Itself the brightest thing below:
For clouds could raise the vaunting strain,
And not the fair alone were vain.
Yet well it knew, howe'er array'd,
That beauty, e'en in clouds, might fade,
That nothing sure its charms could boast
Above the loveliest earthly toast;
And so, like them, in early dawn
Resolved its picture should be drawn,
That when old age with length'ning day
Should brush the vivid rose away,
The world should from the portrait own
Beyond all clouds how bright it shone.
Hard by, a painter raised his stage,
Far famed, the Copley of his age.
So just a form his colours drew,
Each eye the perfect semblance knew;
Yet still on every blooming face
He pour'd the pencil's flowing grace;
Each critic praised the artist rare,
Who drew so like, and yet so fair.
To him, high floating in the sky
Th' elated Cloud advanced t' apply.
The painter soon his colours brought,
The Cloud then sat, the artist wrought;
Survey'd her form, with flatt'ring strictures,
Just as when ladies sit for pictures,
Declared "whatever art can do,
My utmost skill shall try for you:
But sure those strong and golden dies
Dipp'd in the radiance of the skies,
Those folds of gay celestial dress,
No mortal colours can express.
Not spread triumphal o'er the plain,
The rainbow boasts so fair a train,
Nor e'en the morning sun so bright,
Who robes his face in heav'nly light.
To view that form of angel make,
Again Ixion would mistake,
And justly deem so fair a prize,
The sovereign Mistress of the skies,"
He said, and drew a mazy line,
With crimson touch his pencils shine,
The mingling colours sweetly fade,
And justly temper light and shade.
He look'd; the swelling Cloud on high
With wider circuit spread the sky,
Stretch'd to the sun an ampler train,
And pour'd new glories on the main.
As quick, effacing every ground,
His pencil swept the canvas round,
And o'er its field, with magic art,
Call'd forth new forms in every part.
But now the sun, with rising ray,
Advanced with speed his early way;
Each colour takes a differing die,
The orange glows, the purples fly.
The artist views the alter'd sight,
And varies with the varying light;
In vain! a sudden gust arose,
New folds ascend, new shades disclose,
And sailing on with swifter pace,
The Cloud displays another face.
In vain the painter, vex'd at heart,
Tried all the wonders of his art;
In vain he begg'd, her form to grace,
One moment she would keep her place:
For, "changing thus with every gale,
Now gay with light, with gloom now pale,
Now high in air with gorgeous train,
Now settling on the darken'd main,
With looks more various than the moon;
A French coquette were drawn as soon."
He spoke; again the air was mild,
The Cloud with opening radiance smiled;
With canvas new his art he tries,
Anew he joins the glitt'ring dies;
Th' admiring Cloud with pride beheld
Her image deck the pictured field,
And colours half-complete adorn
The splendor of the painted morn.
When lo, the stormy winds arise,
Deep gloom invests the changing skies;
The sounding tempest shakes the plain,
And lifts in billowy surge the main.
The Cloud's gay dies in darkness fade,
Its folds condense in thicker shade,
And borne by rushing blasts, its form
With lowering vapour joins the storm.
by John Trumbull.
Verses On Rome
O Rome, tremendous! who, beholding thee,
Shall not forget the bitterest private grief
That e'er made havoc of one single life?
O triple crowned, by glory, faith, and beauty!
Thine is the tiara which thy priest assumes,
By conquest of the nations of the earth,
By spiritual sovereignty o'er men's soul's,—
By universal homage of all memory.
When at thy Capitol's base I musing stand,
Thy ruined temple shafts rising all round me,
Masts of the goodliest wreck, 'neath Time's deep flood,
Whose tide shall ne'er rise high enough to cover them;
Thou comest in thy early strength before me,
Fair—stern—thy rapid footprints stamped in blood;
The iron sword clenched in thy hand resistless,
And helmeted like Pallas, whose great thoughts
Still made thy counsels as thy deeds victorious.
Beautiful—terrible—looking o'er the earth
With eyes like shafts of fire, and with a voice
That uttered doom, calling its ends thy border;
Resolute, absolute, steadfast, and most noble;
A mistress whom to love was to obey,
For whom to live was to be prompt to die.
Whose favour was the call to sterner duty,
Whose frown was everlasting ignominy.
So stand'st thou, virgin Rome, before mine eyes,
Type of all heathen national strength and virtue.
When through the Vatican's sounding halls I stray,
Thy second sovereignty comes sweeping towards me,
In gold and blood-red splendour borne aloft,
The colour of thy garments still kept fresh,
With blood of thy confessors and deniers,
Poured for and by thee over the whole earth;
So com'st thou, carried in thy insolent meekness
Upon the shoulders of obedient Emperors,
Shrouded in clouds of mystic incense, voices
Of adoration in a thousand tongues,
Like mingling waters rolling round thy feet;
The cross, the sword, the keys,—potent insignia
Of thy stupendous double majesty,
Shining amid the lightnings of those curses
Which gleam with ominous brightness round thy path;
So sweeps thy second empire, Rome, before me.
And even now the pageant vanishes
Out from the portals of the palaces
Where it hath dwelt so long; I see the last
Waving and glancing of its impotent splendour
And a dim twilight fills the place it filled.
Twilight of coming night or coming morning
Who shall decide, save Him who rules them both?
And in the doubtful gray, one man alone
Stands in the place of that great mummery,
The throne borne on the backs of emperors
Lies at his feet; and lo! a ghastly bed,
Where, 'mid diseases and corruptions loathsome,
Infirm, decrepit, crippled, impotent,
Yet bright-eyed with vitality unconquerable,
At its great heart the ancient faith lies gasping;
Beneath his hand a glorious shape springs up,
From whose bright veins a stream of healing youth
Is poured into the withered blood-conduits
Of the bed-ridden Church; and she arises—
And they two stand together, and uplift
That song of praise whose first unearthly sound
Was the loud death-cry sent from Calvary;
Whose sweetness yet shall sound through all the world,
And rise to heaven, whence it shall echo back
His praise whose service shall be perfect freedom.
Loveliest and dearest art thou to me, Rome,
When from the terrace of my sometime home,
At early morning I behold thee lying,
All bathed in sunshine far below my feet.
Upon the ancient, sacred Quirinal
Gleam the white palaces and orange gardens,
Towards which are turned all eyes, are stretched all hands,
Where, guarded round by Faith, and Hope, and Love,
The expectation of the people dwells.
On the pale azure of the tender sky
Thy mighty outline lies like the huge features
Of some divine colossal type of beauty;
Far to the left, beyond the Angel's tower,
Rises the temple of the world, and stretch
The Vatican's glorious arsenals of art,
Where still abide the immortal gods of Greece,
Where worship still the tribes of all the earth;
While from the blue and tufted Doria pines,
My eye delighted round the horizon wanders
To where the Falconieri cypress shafts
Pierce the transparent ether. Close at hand,
Over the nunnery wall, where, in sweet mockery,
The bridal flower its silver blossoms spreads,
Rises a chorus of clear virgin voices,
Chanting sweet salutations—greetings holy—
As once did Gabriel to the 'blest 'mong women.'
No other sound makes vibrate the still air,
Save the quick beating of the wings of doves,
That from the sanctuary come to drink
At the clear dropping fountain in our garden.
Upon its curving margin they alight,
And make alive the graceful image traced
In the stone painting of the antique artist.
To me they call a lovelier image up—
A fair young girl, with shining braided hair,
And graceful head divine, gently inclined
Towards her shoulder, where a dove has lighted,
That with quick glancing eye and beak familiar,
And soft round head, and swelling purple breast,
Stands friendly, while the child towards it turns
Eyes like two streams of liquid light, and lips
Parted in smiling rosy eagerness.
O Rome! I do not see thee any more;
This do I see—this loveliest, dearest vision
But for a moment, and my tears have blotted
Thy glory and its sweetness out together.
(after he has been extemporizing upon the musical instrument of his invention)
Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build,
Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work,
Claiming each slave of the sound, at a touch, as when Solomon willed
Armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk,
Man, brute, reptile, fly,---alien of end and of aim,
Adverse, each from the other heaven-high, hell-deep removed,---
Should rush into sight at once as he named the ineffable Name
And pile him a palace straight, to pleasure the princess he loved!
Would it might tarry like his, the beautiful building of mine,
This which my keys in a crowd pressed and importuned to raise!
Ah, one and all, how they helped, would dispart now and now combine,
Zealous to hasten the work, heighten their master his praise!
And one would bury his brow with a wild plunge down to hell,
Burrow awhile and build, broad on the roots of things,
Then up again swim into sight, having based me my palace well,
Founded it, fearless of flame, flat on the nether springs.
And another would mount and march, like the excellent minion he was,
Ay, another and yet another, one crowded but with many a crest,
Raising my rampired walls of gold as transparent as glass,
Eager to do and die, yield each his place to the rest:
For higher still and higher (as a runner tips with fire,
When a great illumination surprises a festal night ---
Outlined round and round Rome's dome from space to spire)
Up, the pinnacled glory reached, and the pride of my soul was in sight.
In sight? Not half! for it seemed, it was certain, to match man's birth,
Nature in turn conceived, obeying an impulse as I;
And the emulous heaven yearned down, made effort to reach the earth,
As the earth had done her best, in my passion, to scale the sky:
Novel splendours burst forth, grew familiar and dwelt with mine,
Not a point but found and fixed its wandering star;
Meteor-moons, balls of blaze: and they did not pale nor pine,
For earth had attained to heaven, there was no more near nor far.
Nay more; for there wanted not who walked in the glare and glow,
Presences plain in the place; or, fresh from the Protoplast,
Furnished for ages to come, when a kindlier wind should blow,
Lured now to begin and live, in a house to their liking at last;
Or else the wonderful Dead who have passed through the body and gone,
But were back once more to breathe in an old world worth their new:
What never had been, was now; what was, as it shall be anon;
And what is,--- shall I say, matched both? for I was made perfect too.
All through my keys that gave their sounds to a wish of my soul,
All through my soul that praised as its wish flowed visibly forth,
All through music and me! For think, had I painted the whole,
Why, there it had stood, to see, nor the process so wonder-worth:
Had I written the same, made verse---still, effect proceeds from cause,
Ye know why the forms are fair, ye hear how the tale is told;
It is all triumphant art, but art in obedience to laws,
Painter and poet are proud in the artist-list enrolled:---
But here is the finger of God, a flash of the will that can,
Existent behind all laws, that made them and, lo, they are!
And I know not if, save in this, such gift be allowed to man,
That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star.
Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is nought;
It is everywhere in the world---loud, soft, and all is said:
Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought:
And, there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head!
Well, it is gone at last, the palace of music I reared;
Gone! and the good tears start, the praises that come too slow;
For one is assured at first, one scarce can say that he feared,
That he even gave it a thought, the gone thing was to go.
Never to be again! But many more of the kind
As good, nay, better perchance: is this your comfort to me?
To me, who must be saved because I cling with my mind
To the same, same self, same God; ay, what was, shall be.
Therefore to whom turn I but to Thee, the ineffable Name?
Builder and maker, Thou, of houses not made with hands!
What, have fear of change from Thee who art ever the same?
Doubt that Thy power can fill the heart that Thy power expands?
There shall never be one lost good! What was, shall live as before;
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven, a perfect round.
All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist;
Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power
Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist
When eternity affirms the conception of an hour.
The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
Enough that He heard it once: we shall hear it by-and-by.
And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
For the fulness of the days? Have we withered or agonized?
Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence?
Why rushed the discords in but that harmony should be prized?
Sorrow is hard to bear, and doubt is slow to clear,
Each sufferer says his say, his scheme of the weal and woe:
But God has a few of us whom He whispers in the ear;
The rest may reason and welcome, 'tis we musicians know.
Well, it is earth with me; silence resumes her reign:
I will be patient and proud, and soberly acquiesce.
Give me the keys. I feel for the common chord again,
Sliding by semitones, till I sink to the minor,---yes,
And I blunt it into a ninth, and I stand on alien ground,
Surveying a while the heights I rolled from into the deep;
Which, hark, I have dared and done, for my resting-place is found,
The C major of this life: so, now I will try to sleep.
by Robert Browning.
To Sir Godfrey Kneller, Principal Painter To His Majesty
Once I beheld the fairest of her kind,
And still the sweet idea charms my mind:
True, she was dumb; for nature gazed so long,
Pleased with her work, that she forgot her tongue;
But, smiling, said—She still shall gain the prize;
I only have transferred it to her eyes.
Such are thy pictures, Kneller, such thy skill,
That nature seems obedient to thy will;
Comes out, and meets thy pencil in the draught,
Lives there, and wants but words to speak her thought.
At least thy pictures look a voice; and we
Imagine sounds, deceived to that degree,
We think 'tis somewhat more than just to see.
Shadows are but privations of the light;
Yet, when we walk, they shoot before the sight;
With us approach, retire, arise, and fall;
Nothing themselves, and yet expressing all.
Such are thy pieces, imitating life
So near, they almost conquer'd in the strife;
And from their animated canvas came,
Demanding souls, and loosened from the frame.
Prometheus, were he here, would cast away
His Adam, and refuse a soul to clay;
And either would thy noble work inspire,
Or think it warm enough, without his fire.
But vulgar hands may vulgar likeness raise;
This is the least attendant on thy praise:
From hence the rudiments of art began;
A coal, or chalk, first imitated man:
Perhaps the shadow, taken on a wall,
Gave outlines to the rude original;
Ere canvas yet was strained, before the grace
Of blended colours found their use and place,
Or cypress tablets first received a face.
By slow degrees the godlike art advanced;
As man grew polished, picture was enhanced:
Greece added posture, shade, and perspective,
And then the mimic piece began to live.
Yet perspective was lame, no distance true,
But all came forward in one common view:
No point of light was known, no bounds of art;
When light was there, it knew not to depart,
But glaring on remoter objects played;
Not languished and insensibly decayed.
Rome raised not art, but barely kept alive,
And with old Greece unequally did strive;
Till Goths and Vandals, a rude northern race,
Did all the matchless monuments deface.
Then all the Muses in one ruin lie,
And rhyme began to enervate poetry.
Thus, in a stupid military state,
The pen and pencil find an equal fate.
Flat faces, such as would disgrace a screen,
Such as in Bantam's embassy were seen,
Unraised, unrounded, were the rude delight
Of brutal nations, only born to fight.
Long time the sister arts, in iron sleep,
A heavy Sabbath did supinely keep;
At length, in Raphael's age, at once they rise,
Stretch all their limbs, and open all their eyes.
Thence rose the Roman, and the Lombard line;
One coloured best, and one did best design.
Raphael's, like Homer's, was the nobler part,
But Titian's painting looked like Virgil's art.
Thy genius gives thee both; where true design,
Postures unforced, and lively colours join,
Likeness is ever there; but still the best,
(Like proper thoughts in lofty language drest,)
Where light, to shades descending, plays, not strives,
Dies by degrees, and by degrees revives.
Of various parts a perfect whole is wrought;
Thy pictures think, and we divine their thought.
Shakespeare, thy gift, I place before my sight;
With awe, I ask his blessing ere I write;
With reverence look on his majestic face;
Proud to be less, but of his godlike race.
His soul inspires me, while thy praise I write,
And I, like Teucer, under Ajax fight;
Bids thee, through me, be bold; with dauntless breast
Contemn the bad, and emulate the best.
Like his, thy critics in the attempt are lost;
When most they rail, know then, they envy most.
In vain they snarl aloof; a noisy crowd,
Like women's anger, impotent and loud.
While they their barren industry deplore,
Pass on secure, and mind the goal before,
Old as she is, my muse shall march behind,
Bear off the blast, and intercept the wind.
Our arts are sisters, though not twins in birth,
For hymns were sung in Eden's happy earth:
For oh, the painter muse, though last in place,
Has seized the blessing first, like Jacob's race.
Apelles' art an Alexander found,
And Raphael did with Leo's gold abound;
But Homer was with barren laurel crowned.
Thou hadst thy Charles a while, and so had I;
But pass we that unpleasing image by.
Rich in thyself, and of thyself divine,
All pilgrims come and offer at thy shrine.
A graceful truth thy pencil can command;
The fair themselves go mended from thy hand.
Likeness appears in every lineament,
But likeness in thy work is eloquent.
Though nature there her true resemblance bears,
A nobler beauty in thy piece appears.
So warm thy work, so glows the generous frame,
Flesh looks less living in the lovely dame.
Thou paint'st as we describe, improving still,
When on wild nature we engraft our skill,
Yet not creating beauties at our will.
But poets are confined to narrower space,
To speak the language of their native place;
The painter widely stretches his command,
Thy pencil speaks the tongue of every land.
From hence, my friend, all climates are your own,
Nor can you forfeit, for you hold of none.
All nations all immunities will give
To make you theirs, where'er you please to live;
And not seven cities, but the world, would strive.
Sure some propitious planet then did smile,
When first you were conducted to this isle;
Our genius brought you here, to enlarge our fame,
For your good stars are everywhere the same.
Thy matchless hand, of every region free,
Adopts our climate, not our climate thee.
Great Rome and Venice early did impart
To thee the examples of their wondrous art.
Those masters, then but seen, not understood,
With generous emulation fired thy blood;
For what in nature's dawn the child admired,
The youth endeavoured, and the man acquired.
If yet thou hast not reached their high degree,
'Tis only wanting to this age, not thee.
Thy genius, bounded by the times, like mine,
Drudges on petty draughts, nor dare design
A more exalted work, and more divine.
For what a song, or senseless opera,
Is to the living labour of a play;
Or what a play to Virgil's work would be,
Such is a single piece to history.
But we, who life bestow, ourselves must live;
Kings cannot reign, unless their subjects give;
And they, who pay the taxes, bear the rule:
Thus thou, sometimes, art forced to draw a fool;
But so his follies in thy posture sink,
The senseless idiot seems at last to think.
Good heaven! that sots and knaves should be so vain,
To wish their vile resemblance may remain,
And stand recorded, at their own request,
To future days, a libel or a jest!
Else should we see your noble pencil trace
Our unities of action, time, and place;
A whole composed of parts, and those the best,
With every various character exprest;
Heroes at large, and at a nearer view;
Less, and at distance, an ignoble crew;
While all the figures in one action join,
As tending to complete the main design.
More cannot be by mortal art exprest,
But venerable age shall add the rest:
For time shall with his ready pencil stand,
Retouch your figures with his ripening hand,
Mellow your colours, and imbrown the teint,
Add every grace, which time alone can grant;
To future ages shall your fame convey,
And give more beauties than he takes away.
by John Dryden.
Epilogue To Lessing's Laocooen
One morn as through Hyde Park we walk'd,
My friend and I, by chance we talk'd
Of Lessing's famed Laocooen;
And after we awhile had gone
In Lessing's track, and tried to see
What painting is, what poetry--
Diverging to another thought,
'Ah,' cries my friend, 'but who hath taught
Why music and the other arts
Oftener perform aright their parts
Than poetry? why she, than they,
Fewer fine successes can display?
'For 'tis so, surely! Even in Greece,
Where best the poet framed his piece,
Even in that Phoebus-guarded ground
Pausanias on his travels found
Good poems, if he look'd, more rare
(Though many) than good statues were--
For these, in truth, were everywhere.
Of bards full many a stroke divine
In Dante's, Petrarch's, Tasso's line,
The land of Ariosto show'd;
And yet, e'en there, the canvas glow'd
With triumphs, a yet ampler brood,
Of Raphael and his brotherhood.
And nobly perfect, in our day
Of haste, half-work, and disarray,
Profound yet touching, sweet yet strong,
Hath risen Goethe's, Wordsworth's song;
Yet even I (and none will bow
Deeper to these) must needs allow,
They yield us not, to soothe our pains,
Such multitude of heavenly strains
As from the kings of sound are blown,
Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn. '
While thus my friend discoursed, we pass
Out of the path, and take the grass.
The grass had still the green of May,
And still the unblackan'd elms were gay;
The kine were resting in the shade,
The flies a summer-murmur made.
Bright was the morn and south the air;
The soft-couch'd cattle were as fair
As those which pastured by the sea,
That old-world morn, in Sicily,
When on the beach the Cyclops lay,
And Galatea from the bay
Mock'd her poor lovelorn giant's lay.
'Behold,' I said, 'the painter's sphere!
The limits of his art appear.
The passing group, the summer-morn,
The grass, the elms, that blossom'd thorn--
Those cattle couch'd, or, as they rise,
Their shining flanks, their liquid eyes--
These, or much greater things, but caught
Like these, and in one aspect brought!
In outward semblance he must give
A moment's life of things that live;
Then let him choose his moment well,
With power divine its story tell.'
Still we walk'd on, in thoughtful mood,
And now upon the bridge we stood.
Full of sweet breathings was the air,
Of sudden stirs and pauses fair.
Down o'er the stately bridge the breeze
Came rustling from the garden-trees
And on the sparkling waters play'd;
Light-plashing waves an answer made,
And mimic boats their haven near'd.
Beyond, the Abbey-towers appear'd,
By mist and chimneys unconfined,
Free to the sweep of light and wind;
While through their earth-moor'd nave below
Another breath of wind doth blow,
Sound as of wandering breeze--but sound
In laws by human artists bound.
'The world of music !' I exclaimed:--
'This breeze that rustles by, that famed
Abbey recall it! what a sphere
Large and profound, hath genius here!
The inspired musician what a range,
What power of passion, wealth of change
Some source of feeling he must choose
And its lock'd fount of beauty use,
And through the stream of music tell
Its else unutterable spell;
To choose it rightly is his part,
And press into its inmost heart.
'_Miserere Domine !_
The words are utter'd, and they flee.
Deep is their penitential moan,
Mighty their pathos, but 'tis gone.
They have declared the spirit's sore
Sore load, and words can do no more.
Beethoven takes them then--those two
Poor, bounded words--and makes them new;
Infinite makes them, makes them young;
Transplants them to another tongue,
Where they can now, without constraint,
Pour all the soul of their complaint,
And roll adown a channel large
The wealth divine they have in charge.
Page after page of music turn,
And still they live and still they burn,
Eternal, passion-fraught, and free--
_Miserere Domine !'_
Onward we moved, and reach'd the Ride
Where gaily flows the human tide.
Afar, in rest the cattle lay;
We heard, afar, faint music play;
But agitated, brisk, and near,
Men, with their stream of life, were here.
Some hang upon the rails, and some
On foot behind them go and come.
This through the Ride upon his steed
Goes slowly by, and this at speed.
The young, the happy, and the fair,
The old, the sad, the worn, were there;
Some vacant, and some musing went,
And some in talk and merriment.
Nods, smiles, and greetings, and farewells!
And now and then, perhaps, there swells
A sigh, a tear--but in the throng
All changes fast, and hies along.
Hies, ah, from whence, what native ground?
And to what goal, what ending, bound?
'Behold, at last the poet's sphere!
But who,' I said, 'suffices here?
'For, ah! so much he has to do;
Be painter and musician too !
The aspect of the moment show,
The feeling of the moment know!
The aspect not, I grant, express
Clear as the painter's art can dress;
The feeling not, I grant, explore
So deep as the musician's lore--
But clear as words can make revealing,
And deep as words can follow feeling.
But, ah! then comes his sorest spell
Of toil--he must life's _movement_ tell!
The thread which binds it all in one,
And not its separate parts alone.
The _movement_ he must tell of life,
Its pain and pleasure, rest and strife;
His eye must travel down, at full,
The long, unpausing spectacle;
With faithful unrelaxing force
Attend it from its primal source,
From change to change and year to year
Attend it of its mid career,
Attend it to the last repose
And solemn silence of its close.
'The cattle rising from the grass
His thought must follow where they pass;
The penitent with anguish bow'd
His thought must follow through the crowd.
Yes! all this eddying, motley throng
That sparkles in the sun along,
Girl, statesman, merchant, soldier bold,
Master and servant, young and old,
Grave, gay, child, parent, husband, wife,
He follows home, and lives their life.
'And many, many are the souls
Life's movement fascinates, controls;
It draws them on, they cannot save
Their feet from its alluring wave;
They cannot leave it, they must go
With its unconquerable flow.
But ah! how few, of all that try
This mighty march, do aught but die!
For ill-endow'd for such a way,
Ill-stored in strength, in wits, are they.
They faint, they stagger to and fro,
And wandering from the stream they go;
In pain, in terror, in distress,
They see, all round, a wilderness.
Sometimes a momentary gleam
They catch of the mysterious stream;
Sometimes, a second's space, their ear
The murmur of its waves doth hear.
That transient glimpse in song they say,
But not of painter can pourtray--
That transient sound in song they tell,
But not, as the musician, well.
And when at last their snatches cease,
And they are silent and at peace,
The stream of life's majestic whole
Hath ne'er been mirror'd on their soul.
'Only a few the life-stream's shore
With safe unwandering feet explore;
Untired its movement bright attend,
Follow its windings to the end.
Then from its brimming waves their eye
Drinks up delighted ecstasy,
And its deep-toned, melodious voice
For ever makes their ear rejoice.
They speak! the happiness divine
They feel, runs o'er in every line;
Its spell is round them like a shower--
It gives them pathos, gives them power.
No painter yet hath such a way,
Nor no musician made, as they,
And gather'd on immortal knolls
Such lovely flowers for cheering souls.
Beethoven, Raphael, cannot reach
The charm which Homer, Shakespeare, teach.
To these, to these, their thankful race
Gives, then, the first, the fairest place;
And brightest is their glory's sheen,
For greatest hath their labour been. '
by Matthew Arnold.
Meditations In Time Of Civil War
SURELY among a rich man s flowering lawns,
Amid the rustle of his planted hills,
Life overflows without ambitious pains;
And rains down life until the basin spills,
And mounts more dizzy high the more it rains
As though to choose whatever shape it wills
And never stoop to a mechanical
Or servile shape, at others' beck and call.
Mere dreams, mere dreams! Yet Homer had not Sung
Had he not found it certain beyond dreams
That out of life's own self-delight had sprung
The abounding glittering jet; though now it seems
As if some marvellous empty sea-shell flung
Out of the obscure dark of the rich streams,
And not a fountain, were the symbol which
Shadows the inherited glory of the rich.
Some violent bitter man, some powerful man
Called architect and artist in, that they,
Bitter and violent men, might rear in stone
The sweetness that all longed for night and day,
The gentleness none there had ever known;
But when the master's buried mice can play.
And maybe the great-grandson of that house,
For all its bronze and marble, 's but a mouse.
O what if gardens where the peacock strays
With delicate feet upon old terraces,
Or else all Juno from an urn displays
Before the indifferent garden deities;
O what if levelled lawns and gravelled ways
Where slippered Contemplation finds his ease
And Childhood a delight for every sense,
But take our greatness with our violence?
What if the glory of escutcheoned doors,
And buildings that a haughtier age designed,
The pacing to and fro on polished floors
Amid great chambers and long galleries, lined
With famous portraits of our ancestors;
What if those things the greatest of mankind
Consider most to magnify, or to bless,
But take our greatness with our bitterness?
An ancient bridge, and a more ancient tower,
A farmhouse that is sheltered by its wall,
An acre of stony ground,
Where the symbolic rose can break in flower,
Old ragged elms, old thorns innumerable,
The sound of the rain or sound
Of every wind that blows;
The stilted water-hen
Crossing Stream again
Scared by the splashing of a dozen cows;
A winding stair, a chamber arched with stone,
A grey stone fireplace with an open hearth,
A candle and written page.
Il Penseroso's Platonist toiled on
In some like chamber, shadowing forth
How the daemonic rage
From markets and from fairs
Have seen his midnight candle glimmering.
Two men have founded here. A man-at-arms
Gathered a score of horse and spent his days
In this tumultuous spot,
Where through long wars and sudden night alarms
His dwinding score and he seemed castaways
Forgetting and forgot;
And I, that after me
My bodily heirs may find,
To exalt a lonely mind,
Befitting emblems of adversity.
Two heavy trestles, and a board
Where Sato's gift, a changeless sword,
By pen and paper lies,
That it may moralise
My days out of their aimlessness.
A bit of an embroidered dress
Covers its wooden sheath.
Chaucer had not drawn breath
When it was forged. In Sato's house,
Curved like new moon, moon-luminous
It lay five hundred years.
Yet if no change appears
No moon; only an aching heart
Conceives a changeless work of art.
Our learned men have urged
That when and where 'twas forged
A marvellous accomplishment,
In painting or in pottery, went
From father unto son
And through the centuries ran
And seemed unchanging like the sword.
Soul's beauty being most adored,
Men and their business took
Me soul's unchanging look;
For the most rich inheritor,
Knowing that none could pass Heaven's door,
That loved inferior art,
Had such an aching heart
That he, although a country's talk
For silken clothes and stately walk.
Had waking wits; it seemed
Juno's peacock screamed.
Having inherited a vigorous mind
From my old fathers, I must nourish dreams
And leave a woman and a man behind
As vigorous of mind, and yet it seems
Life scarce can cast a fragrance on the wind,
Scarce spread a glory to the morning beams,
But the torn petals strew the garden plot;
And there's but common greenness after that.
And what if my descendants lose the flower
Through natural declension of the soul,
Through too much business with the passing hour,
Through too much play, or marriage with a fool?
May this laborious stair and this stark tower
Become a roofless min that the owl
May build in the cracked masonry and cry
Her desolation to the desolate sky.
The primum Mobile that fashioned us
Has made the very owls in circles move;
And I, that count myself most prosperous,
Seeing that love and friendship are enough,
For an old neighbour's friendship chose the house
And decked and altered it for a girl's love,
And know whatever flourish and decline
These stones remain their monument and mine.
The Road at My Door
An affable Irregular,
A heavily-built Falstaffian man,
Comes cracking jokes of civil war
As though to die by gunshot were
The finest play under the sun.
A brown Lieutenant and his men,
Half dressed in national uniform,
Stand at my door, and I complain
Of the foul weather, hail and rain,
A pear-tree broken by the storm.
I count those feathered balls of soot
The moor-hen guides upon the stream.
To silence the envy in my thought;
And turn towards my chamber, caught
In the cold snows of a dream.
The Stare's Nest by My Window
The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the state.
We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned,
Yet no cleat fact to be discerned:
Come build in he empty house of the stare.
A barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war;
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.
We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart's grown brutal from the fare;
More Substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.
I see Phantoms of Hatred and of the Heart's
Fullness and of the Coming Emptiness
I climb to the tower-top and lean upon broken stone,
A mist that is like blown snow is sweeping over all,
Valley, river, and elms, under the light of a moon
That seems unlike itself, that seems unchangeable,
A glittering sword out of the east. A puff of wind
And those white glimmering fragments of the mist sweep by.
Frenzies bewilder, reveries perturb the mind;
Monstrous familiar images swim to the mind's eye.
'Vengeance upon the murderers,' the cry goes up,
'Vengeance for Jacques Molay.' In cloud-pale rags, or in lace,
The rage-driven, rage-tormented, and rage-hungry troop,
Trooper belabouring trooper, biting at arm or at face,
Plunges towards nothing, arms and fingers spreading wide
For the embrace of nothing; and I, my wits astray
Because of all that senseless tumult, all but cried
For vengeance on the murderers of Jacques Molay.
Their legs long, delicate and slender, aquamarine their eyes,
Magical unicorns bear ladies on their backs.
The ladies close their musing eyes. No prophecies,
Remembered out of Babylonian almanacs,
Have closed the ladies' eyes, their minds are but a pool
Where even longing drowns under its own excess;
Nothing but stillness can remain when hearts are full
Of their own sweetness, bodies of their loveliness.
The cloud-pale unicorns, the eyes of aquamarine,
The quivering half-closed eyelids, the rags of cloud or of lace,
Or eyes that rage has brightened, arms it has made lean,
Give place to an indifferent multitude, give place
To brazen hawks. Nor self-delighting reverie,
Nor hate of what's to come, nor pity for what's gone,
Nothing but grip of claw, and the eye's complacency,
The innumerable clanging wings that have put out the moon.
I turn away and shut the door, and on the stair
Wonder how many times I could have proved my worth
In something that all others understand or share;
But O! ambitious heart, had such a proof drawn forth
A company of friends, a conscience set at ease,
It had but made us pine the more. The abstract joy,
The half-read wisdom of daemonic images,
Suffice the ageing man as once the growing boy.