Lines Printed Under The Engraved Portrait Of Milton, In Tonson's Folio Edition Of The Paradise Lost, 1688

Three poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England, did adorn.
The first, in loftiness of thought surpassed;
The next, in majesty; in both, the last.
The force of nature could no further go;
To make a third, she joined the former two.

by John Dryden.

Lines Inscribed Under Fergusson's Portrait

CURSE on ungrateful man, that can be pleased,
And yet can starve the author of the pleasure.
O thou, my elder brother in misfortune,
By far my elder brother in the Muses,
With tears I pity thy unhappy fate!
Why is the Bard unpitied by the world,
Yet has so keen a relish of its pleasures?

by Robert Burns.

Lines Inscribed Under Fergusson's Portrait

CURSE on ungrateful man, that can be pleased,
And yet can starve the author of the pleasure.
O thou, my elder brother in misfortune,
By far my elder brother in the Muses,
With tears I pity thy unhappy fate!
Why is the Bard unpitied by the world,
Yet has so keen a relish of its pleasures?

by Robert Burns.

In A Portrait Gallery

In vain, Bright Girl! you bid us mark
Each charm of portrait round us thrown,
When sight and soul alike are dark
To every face—except your own.
And while yon connoisseurs eschew
All 'Perfect'—save in the 'Ideal;'
To prove them false we turn to you,
And find our 'Perfect'—in the 'Real.'

by John Kenyon.

LIKE the sway of the silver birch in the breeze of dawn
Is her dainty way;
Like the gray of a twilight sky or a starlit lawn
Are her eyes of gray;
Like the clouds in their moving white
Is her breast's soft stir;
And white as the moon and bright
Is the soul of her.

Like murmur of woods in spring ere the leaves be green,
Like the voice of a bird
That sings by a stream that sings through the night unseen,
So her voice is heard.
And the secret her eyes withhold
In my soul abides,
For white as the moon and cold
Is the heart she hides.

by Edith Nesbit.

On A Portrait Of Wordsworth

WORDSWORTH upon Helvellyn ! Let the cloud
Ebb audibly along the mountain-wind,
Then break against the rock, and show behind
The lowland valleys floating up to crowd
The sense with beauty. He with forehead bowed
And humble-lidded eyes, as one inclined
Before the sovran thought of his own mind,
And very meek with inspirations proud,
Takes here his rightful place as poet-priest
By the high altar, singing prayer and prayer

To the higher Heavens. A noble vision free
Our Haydon's hand has flung out from the mist:
No portrait this, with Academic air !
This is the poet and his poetry.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

When friends grown faithless, or the fickle throng,
Withdrawing from my life the love they lent,
Breed in my heart disdainful discontent,
And sadden sunshine with a sense of wrong,
Then I, forgetting to be wise and strong,
And on my own endearment too intent,
Unto myself make musical lament,
And lullaby my pain with plaintive song.
But, when I gaze upon this face august,
Her gift, who, seated on earth's loftiest throne,
For others' weal holds half the world in trust,
Pondering on cares of Empire all alone,
I, then rebuked, remember to be just,
Think of her griefs, and quite forget my own.

by Alfred Austin.

The little world span round and round,
Singing along her sunny ways,
And all the glory she unwound
She gave to him for joy and praise.

And he, whom lavish morning met
With new-blown flowers and minstrelsy,
Looked on the gift through eyelids wet
For sorrow of satiety.

And he, whom noon put to the proof,
With trumpet-call and weapon blessed,
Fought the brave fight with soul aloof
Harkening for some remote behest.

Not homeward could the winged feet fare,
The lyric laughter choked a sigh—
A wanderer from he knew not where,
Dreamer of dreams, he knew not why.

by Harriet Monroe.

Portrait And Reality

If on the closed curtain of my sight
My fancy paints thy portrait far away,
I see thee still the same, by night or day;
Crossing the crowded street, or moving bright
'Mid festal throngs, or reading by the light
Of shaded lamp some friendly poet's lay,
Or shepherding the children at their play,--
The same sweet self, and my unchanged delight.

But when I see thee near, I recognize
In every dear familiar way some strange
Perfection, and behold in April guise
The magic of thy beauty that doth range
Through many moods with infinite surprise,--
Never the same, and sweeter with each change.

by Henry Van Dyke.

Sonnet X: The Portrait

O Lord of all compassionate control,
O Love! let this my lady's picture glow
Under my hand to praise her name, and show
Even of her inner self the perfect whole:
That he who seeks her beauty's furthest goal,
Beyond the light that the sweet glances throw
And refluent wave of the sweet smile, may know
The very sky and sea-line of her soul.
Lo! it is done. Above the enthroning throat
The mouth's mould testifies of voice and kiss,
The shadowed eyes remember and foresee.
Her face is made her shrine. Let all men note
That in all years (O Love, thy gift is this!)
They that would look on her must come to me.

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Thoughtful in youth, but not austere in age;
Calm, but not cold, and cheerful though a sage;
Too true to flatter and too kind to sneer,
And only just when seemingly severe;
So gently blending courtesy and art
That wisdom’s lips seemed borrowing friendship’s heart.

Taught by the sorrows that his age had known
In others’ trials to forget his own,
As hour by hour his lengthened day declined,
A sweeter radiance lingered o’er his mind.
Cold were the lips that spoke his early praise,
And hushed the voices of his morning days,
Yet the same accents dwelt on every tongue,
And love renewing kept him ever young.

by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

A little child, she stood that far-off day,
When Love, the master-painter, took the brush
And on the wall of mem'ry dull and grey
Traced tender eyes, wide brow, and changing blush,
The gladness and the youth, the bending head
All covered over with its curls of gold,
The dimpled arms, the two hands filled with bread
To feed the little sparrows brown and bold
That flutter to her feet. It hangs there still,
Just as 'twas painted on that far-off day,
Nor faded is the blush upon the cheek,
The sweet lips hold their smiling and can thrill,
And still the eyes-so tender, and so meek-
Light up the walls of mem'ry dull and grey.

by Jean Blewett.

You Know That Portrait In The Moon


You know that Portrait in the Moon—
So tell me who 'tis like—
The very Brow—the stooping eyes—
A fog for—Say—Whose Sake?

The very Pattern of the Cheek—
It varies—in the Chin—
But—Ishmael—since we met—'tis long—
And fashions—intervene—

When Moon's at full—'Tis Thou—I say—
My lips just hold the name—
When crescent—Thou art worn—I note—
But—there—the Golden Same—

And when—Some Night—Bold—slashing Clouds
Cut Thee away from Me—
That's easier—than the other film
That glazes Holiday—

by Emily Dickinson.

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.

Sargent's Portrait Of Edwin Booth

That face which no man ever saw
And from his memory banished quite,
With eyes in which are Hamlet's awe
And Cardinal Richelieu's subtle light,
Looks from this frame. A master's hand
Has set the master player here,
In the fair temple that he planned
Not for himself. To us most dear
This image of him! "It was thus
He looked; such pallor touched his cheek;
With that same grace he greeted us--
Nay, 't is the man, could it but speak!"
Sad words that shall be said some day--
Far fall the day! O cruel Time,
Whose breath sweeps mortal things away,
Spare long this image of his prime,
That others standing in the place
Where, save as ghosts, we come no more,
May know what sweet majestic face
The gentle Prince of Players wore!

by Thomas Bailey Aldrich.

On Seeing A Portrait Of Sir Robert Walpole

Such were the lively eyes and rosy hue
Of Robin's face, when Robin first I knew;
The gay companion and the fav'rite guest;
Lov'd without awe, and without views caress'd;
His cheerful smile, and open honest look,
Added new graces to the truth he spoke.
Then ev'ry man found something to commend,
The pleasant neighbour and the worthy friend;
The gen'rous master of a private house,
The tender father and indulgent spouse.
The hardest censors at the worst believ'd,
His temper was too easily deceiv'd
(A consequential ill good-nature draws,
A bad effect, but from a noble cause).
Whence, then, these clamours of a judging crowd?
Suspicious, griping, insolent, and proud --
Rapacious, cruel, violent, unjust;
False to his friend, and traitor to his trust?

by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

Were I an artist, Lydia, I
Would paint you as you merit,
Not as my eyes, but dreams, descry;
Not in the flesh, but spirit.

The canvas I would paint you on
Should be a bit of heaven;
My brush, a sunbeam; pigments, dawn
And night and starry even.

Your form and features to express,
Likewise your soul's chaste whiteness,
I'd take the primal essences
Of darkness and of brightness.

I'd take pure night to paint your hair;
Stars for your eyes; and morning
To paint your skin-the rosy air
That is your limbs' adorning.

To paint the love-bows of your lips,
I'd mix, for colors, kisses;
And for your breasts and finger-tips,
Sweet odors and soft blisses.

And to complete the picture well,
I'd temper all with woman,
Some tears, some laughter; heaven and hell,
To show you still are human.

by Madison Julius Cawein.

Zoë A Portrait

When Zoë turns to look or speak,
We feel a spell the heart beguile.
Dwells it in pure transparent cheek;
In laughing eye, or frolic smile?
Dwells it in frank, yet well-bred, air;
Dwells it in habit, choice, but simple;
Lurks it in ringlet of her hair;
Or shifts it with the shifting dimple?
No!—These are not her spells from Love;
Only the lesser charms he uses;
Slight witcheries the sense to move;
His baits—his pitfalls—and his nooses.

Yet these have oft betrayed the wise—
But she hath deeper spells than these:
A temper, gay as summer skies,
Yet gentle as the vernal breeze.
And blushes, quick that come—and go,
As feeling wakens or reposes,
When neck and cheek and forehead glow,
Like one wide bed of open'd roses.
And ready wit, of playful dealing;
Or—if some tale of grief betide—
As ready tear; which, while outstealing,
She—shyly still—attempts to hide.

by John Kenyon.

Blest art! What magic powers with thine may vie,
That brings (too seldom seen) a Brother nigh?
That gives, by colours into canvass wrought,
The hue of sentiment, and tinge of thought?
The lips, with soft affection's smile that glow,
And the mild wisdom of the studious brow?
I look, again I look, and still 'tis there;
I catch, with varying lights, a happier air;
Approach, step back, the favouring distance choose,
And, line by line, the well known face peruse:
Almost expect the opening lips to pour
With usual flow the treasured mental store,
And fondly dream our meeting glances prove
The' accustomed beamings of fraternal love.
But O! should fate in some disastrous day,—
Avert it Heaven!—the living form decay;
Hide, hide, ye pitying friends, the mimic light,
Veil, veil the image from my tortured sight;
The shadow of past joys I could not bear,
Nor would it speak of comfort, but despair.

by Anna Laetitia Barbauld.

Portrait Of A Lady. By Sir Thomas Lawrence

LADY , thy lofty brow is fair,
Beauty's sign and seal are there;
And thy lip is like the rose
Closing round the bee's repose;
And thine eye is like a star,
But blue as the sapphires' are.
Beautiful patrician! thou
Wearest on thy stately brow
All that suits a noble race,
All of high-born maiden's grace,--
Who is there could look on thee
And doubt thy nobility?

Round thee satin robe is flung,
Pearls upon thy neck are hung,
And upon thy arm of snow
Rubies like red sun-gifts glow;
Yet thou wearest pearl and gem
As thou hadst forgotten them.--
'Tis a step, but made to tread
O'er Persian web, or flower's head,--
Soft hand that might only move
In the broider'd silken glove,--
Cheek unused to ruder air
Than what hot-house rose might bear,--
One whom nature only meant
To be queen of the tournament,--
Courtly fete, and lighted hall,--
Grace and ornament of all!

by Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

To The Portrait Of

Well, Miss, I wonder where you live,
I wonder what’s your name,
I wonder how you came to be
In such a stylish frame;
Perhaps you were a favorite child,
Perhaps an only one;
Perhaps your friends were not aware
You had your portrait done.

Yet you must be a harmless soul;
I cannot think that Sin
Would care to throw his loaded dice,
With such a stake to win;
I cannot think you would provoke
The poet’s wicked pen,
Or make young women bite their lips,
Or ruin fine young men.

Pray, did you ever hear, my love,
Of boys that go about,
Who, for a very trifling sum,
Will snip one’s picture out?
I’m not averse to red and white,
But all things have their place,
I think a profile cut in black
Would suit your style of face!

I love sweet features; I will own
That I should like myself
To see my portrait on a wall,
Or bust upon a shelf;
But nature sometimes makes one up
Of such sad odds and ends,
It really might be quite as well
Hushed up among one’s friends!

by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

To The Committee Of The Cayley Portrait Fund

O wretched race of men, to space confined!
What honour can ye pay to him, whose mind
To that which lies beyond hath penetrated?
The symbols he bath formed shall sound his praise,
And lead him on through unimagined ways
To conquests new, in worlds not yet created.

First, ye Determinants! in ordered row
And massive column ranged, before him go,
To form a phalanx for his safe protection.
Ye powers of the nth roots of — 1!
Around his head in ceaseless cycles run,
As unembodied spirits of direction.

And you, ye undevelopable scrolls!
Above the host wave your emblazoned rolls,
Ruled for the record of his bright inventions.
Ye Cubic surfaces! by threes and nines
Draw round his camp your seven-and-twenty lines—
The seal of Solomon in three dimensions.

March on, symbolic host! with step sublime,
Up to the flaming bounds of Space and Time!
There pause, until by Dickenson depicted,
In two dimensions, we the form may trace
Of him whose soul, too large for vulgar space,
In n dimensions flourished unrestricted.

by James Clerk Maxwell.

Portrait Of A Boy

After the whipping he crawled into bed,
Accepting the harsh fact with no great weeping.
How funny uncle's hat had looked striped red!
He chuckled silently. The moon came, sweeping
A black, frayed rag of tattered cloud before
In scorning; very pure and pale she seemed,
Flooding his bed with radiance. On the floor
Fat motes danced. He sobbed, closed his eyes and dreamed.

Warm sand flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
Splashed the white grains like blood. Past the cave's mouth
Shone with a large, fierce splendor, wildly bright,
The crooked constellations of the South;
Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
Within, great casks, like wattled aldermen,
Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
Beside webbed purples from some galleon's hold,
A black chest bore the skull and bones in white
Above a scrawled "Gunpowder!" By the flames,
Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
Hailing their fellows with outrageous names,
The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons.
"Doubloons!" they said. The words crashed gold. "Doubloons!"

by Stephen Vincent Benet.

A Portrait Of 1783

Your hair and chin are like the hair
And chin Burne-Jones's ladies wear;
You were unfashionably fair
In '83;
And sad you were when girls are gay,
You read a book about Le vrai
Merite de l'homme, alone in May.
What CAN it be,
Le vrai merite de l'homme? Not gold,
Not titles that are bought and sold,
Not wit that flashes and is cold,
But Virtue merely!
Instructed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(And Jean-Jacques, surely, ought to know),
You bade the crowd of foplings go,
You glanced severely,
Dreaming beneath the spreading shade
Of 'that vast hat the Graces made;'
So Rouget sang--while yet he played
With courtly rhyme,
And hymned great Doisi's red perruque,
And Nice's eyes, and Zulme's look,
And dead canaries, ere he shook
The sultry time
With strains like thunder. Loud and low
Methinks I hear the murmur grow,
The tramp of men that come and go
With fire and sword.
They war against the quick and dead,
Their flying feet are dashed with red,
As theirs the vintaging that tread
Before the Lord.
O head unfashionably fair,
What end was thine, for all thy care?
We only see thee dreaming there:
We cannot see
The breaking of thy vision, when
The Rights of Man were lords of men,
When virtue won her own again
In '93.

by Andrew Lang.


She gave up beauty in her tender youth,
Gave all her hope and joy and pleasant ways;
She covered up her eyes lest they should gaze
On vanity, and chose the bitter truth.
Harsh towards herself, towards others full of ruth,
Servant of servants, little known to praise,
Long prayers and fasts trenched on her nights and days:
She schooled herself to sights and sounds uncouth
That with the poor and stricken she might make
A home, until the least of all sufficed
Her wants; her own self learned she to forsake,
Counting all earthly gain but hurt and loss.
So with calm will she chose and bore the cross
And hated all for love of Jesus Christ.


They knelt in silent anguish by her bed,
And could not weep; but calmly there she lay.
All pain had left her; and the sun's last ray
Shone through upon her, warming into red
The shady curtains. In her heart she said:
'Heaven opens; I leave these and go away;
The Bridegroom calls,—shall the Bride seek to stay?'
Then low upon her breast she bowed her head.
O lily flower, O gem of priceless worth,
O dove with patient voice and patient eyes,
O fruitful vine amid a land of dearth,
O maid replete with loving purities,
Thou bowedst down thy head with friends on earth
To raise it with the saints in Paradise.

by Christina Georgina Rossetti.

HER glance is equable, serene;
She looks at life with level brow;
She strides through circumstance—a queen!
To compromise she cannot bow—
Even to love she will not lean!
Not hers the head that, like a flower,
Trembles upon a swaying stem;
Her neck is firm-curved as a tower,
And on her brow for diadem
Shine steadfastness and peace and power.
She wills no limits to her scope;
Her head imperiously borne
Above her gradual bosom's slope;
Her chin a dainty-moulded scorn,
Her eyes a deep, untarnished hope.
By gusts of passion undistressed,
She spurs not on a panting pulse;
Throned in her womanhood, at rest,
No ripples of her moods convulse
The tidal swayings of her breast.
She is no fevered Sex to flush—
A woman-weakness that should yield,
A fruit for love to clench and crush,
A fragile warmth that arms should shield,
A whisper that a kiss should hush!

Yet with the tears her soul has shed
Her innocence is seared within;
Her heart is not a white thing dead:
She lifted dauntless eyes to Sin,
And from her splendid frown he fled!
But when love breathless to her trips
And joy within her laughs elate,
Her soul to no surrender slips—
She meets the kiss that crowns her mate
With vivid eyes and virile lips!

by Arthur Henry Adams.

My Cousin's Portrait

Just where the early sunbeams fall,
And waken me at dawn,
To hear the lark sing praise because
Another day is born,
There hangs a little portrait, and none know how 'tis stored,
I simply tell my guests it is 'my cousin, gone abroad.'

He lived upon the breezy hills,
And I in London town;
My face was fair, and thin and pale,
And his was fresh and brown,
But oh! what happy times we had, when we were girl and boy,
And had not got a ghost of care to haunt us in our joy!

My earliest thoughts of him are linked
With pleasant flowers and trees,
With gloveless hands, and locks unbound
And freshened in the breeze.
And often since in country towns, I've felt mine eyes grow dim,
Because each homely sight and sound brought memories of him.

When last I saw his country home,
Its hearth was desolate;
And the last country walk we took
Led through the churchyard gate:
And as we faced the sunset there—the new-made grave was nigh
I knew in all the wide green earth his nearest friend was I.

When next we met, we met to part,
Upon the crowded pier;
And through the drizzling mist I saw
The gaunt, black shipping near:
And as he kissed my tear-stained cheek in all the wind and rain,
I could not—did not—dare to hope I'd see his face again.

Yet keenest sorrows very soon
To happiest memories turn;
As sweetest smiles break calmly forth
From lips we fancy stern;
For then how bitterly I wept, to think that he must roam,
And now I'm almost glad he went, for now he's coming home!

by Isabella Fyvie Mayo.

Lines To A Portrait, By A Superior Person

When I bought you for a song,
Years ago--Lord knows how long!--
I was struck--I may be wrong--
By your features,
And--a something in your air
That I couldn't quite compare
To my other plain or fair
Fellow creatures.

In your simple, oval frame
You were not well known to fame,
But to me--'twas all the same--
Whoe'er drew you;
For your face I can't forget,
Though I oftentimes regret
That, somehow, I never yet
Saw quite through you.

Yet each morning, when I rise,
I go first to greet your eyes;
And, in turn, YOU scrutinize
My presentment.
And when shades of evening fall,
As you hang upon my wall,
You're the last thing I recall
With contentment.

It is weakness, yet I know
That I never turned to go
Anywhere, for weal or woe,
But I lingered
For one parting, thrilling flash
From your eyes, to give that dash
To the curl of my mustache,
That I fingered.

If to some you may seem plain,
And when people glance again
Where you hang, their lips refrain.
From confession;
Yet they turn in stealth aside,
And I note, they try to hide
How much they are satisfied
In expression.

Other faces I have seen;
Other forms have come between;
Other things I have, I ween,
Done and dared for!
But OUR ties they cannot sever,
And, though I should say it never,
You're the only one I ever
Really cared for!

And you'll still be hanging there
When we're both the worse for wear,
And the silver's on my hair
And off your backing;
Yet my faith shall never pass
In my dear old shaving-glass,
Till my face and yours, alas!
Both are lacking!

by Francis Bret Harte.

To A Portrait Of


IT may be so,--perhaps thou hast
A warm and loving heart;
I will not blame thee for thy face,
Poor devil as thou art.

That thing thou fondly deem'st a nose,
Unsightly though it be,--
In spite of all the cold world's scorn,
It may be much to thee.

Those eyes,--among thine elder friends
Perhaps they pass for blue,--
No matter,--if a man can see,
What more have eyes to do?

Thy mouth,--that fissure in thy face,
By something like a chin,--
May be a very useful place
To put thy victual in.

I know thou hast a wife at home,
I know thou hast a child,
By that subdued, domestic smile
Upon thy features mild.

That wife sits fearless by thy side,
That cherub on thy knee;
They do not shudder at thy looks,
They do not shrink from thee.

Above thy mantel is a hook,--
A portrait once was there;
It was thine only ornament,--
Alas! that hook is bare.

She begged thee not to let it go,
She begged thee all in vain;
She wept,--and breathed a trembling prayer
To meet it safe again.

It was a bitter sight to see
That picture torn away;
It was a solemn thought to think
What all her friends would say!

And often in her calmer hours,
And in her happy dreams,
Upon its long-deserted hook
The absent portrait seems.

Thy wretched infant turns his head
In melancholy wise,
And looks to meet the placid stare
Of those unbending eyes.

I never saw thee, lovely one,--
Perchance I never may;
It is not often that we cross
Such people in our way;

But if we meet in distant years,
Or on some foreign shore,
Sure I can take my Bible oath,
I've seen that face before.

by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

A. M. M.
BEHOLD her sitting in the sun
This lovely April morn,
As eager with the breath of life
As daffodils new-born!
A priestess of the toiling earth,
Yet kindred to the spheres,
A touch of the eternal spring
Is over all her years.
No fashion frets her dignity,
Untrammeled, debonair;
A fold of lace about her throat
Falls from her whitening hair.
A seraph visiting the earth
Might wear that fearless guise,
The heartening regard of such
All-comprehending eyes.
How comes she by preëminence,
Desired, beloved, revered?
Heroic living gained those heights
Through ills she never feared.
A spirit kindly as the dew
And daring as a flame,
With a distinguished, reckless wit
No eighty years could tame.
A mother of the Spartan strain,
She held self-rule and sway,
And single-handed braved the world
And bore the prize away.
No task too humble for her skill,
No worthy way too long;
She filled her work with ecstasy
And crowned it with a song.
The treasures she most dearly prized
Were of the rarest kind —
A gentle fortitude of soul
And honesty of mind.
To feed, to clothe, to teach, to cheer,
To guard and guide and save —
These were her fine accomplishments,
To these her best she gave.
With ringing word and instant cure
She draws from far and near
The gay, the witty, the forlorn,
Priest, artist, beggar, seer.
Unhesitant and sure they come,
Hearing the human call,
As of a mighty motherhood
That understands them all.
Ungrudging, without grief, she lives
Each charged potential hour,
Holding her loftiness of aim
With agelessness of power.
Immortal friendship, great with years!
She shames the faltering,
And heartens every struggling hope,
Like hyacinths in spring!

by Bliss William Carman.

On The Portrait Of Two Beautiful Young People

A Brother and Sister

O I admire and sorrow! The heart’s eye grieves
Discovering you, dark tramplers, tyrant years.
A juice rides rich through bluebells, in vine leaves,
And beauty’s dearest veriest vein is tears.

Happy the father, mother of these! Too fast:
Not that, but thus far, all with frailty, blest
In one fair fall; but, for time’s aftercast,
Creatures all heft, hope, hazard, interest.

And are they thus? The fine, the fingering beams
Their young delightful hour do feature down
That fleeted else like day-dissolvèd dreams
Or ringlet-race on burling Barrow brown.

She leans on him with such contentment fond
As well the sister sits, would well the wife;
His looks, the soul’s own letters, see beyond,
Gaze on, and fall directly forth on life.

But ah, bright forelock, cluster that you are
Of favoured make and mind and health and youth,
Where lies your landmark, seamark, or soul’s star?
There’s none but truth can stead you. Christ is truth.

There ’s none but good can bé good, both for you
And what sways with you, maybe this sweet maid;
None good but God—a warning wavèd to
One once that was found wanting when Good weighed.

Man lives that list, that leaning in the will
No wisdom can forecast by gauge or guess,
The selfless self of self, most strange, most still,
Fast furled and all foredrawn to No or Yes.

Your feast of; that most in you earnest eye
May but call on your banes to more carouse.
Worst will the best. What worm was here, we cry,
To have havoc-pocked so, see, the hung-heavenward boughs?

Enough: corruption was the world’s first woe.
What need I strain my heart beyond my ken?
O but I bear my burning witness though
Against the wild and wanton work of men.
. . . . . . .

by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Lines Upon My Sister’s Portrait

The castle towers of Bareacres are fair upon the lea,
Where the cliffs of bonny Diddlesex rise up from out the sea:
I stood upon the donjon keep and view'd the country o'er,
I saw the lands of Bareacres for fifty miles or more.
I stood upon the donjon keep—it is a sacred place,—
Where floated for eight hundred years the banner of my race;
Argent, a dexter sinople, and gules an azure field:
There ne'er was nobler cognizance on knightly warrior's shield.

The first time England saw the shield 'twas round a Norman neck,
On board a ship from Valery, King William was on deck.
A Norman lance the colors wore, in Hastings' fatal fray—
St. Willibald for Bareacres! 'twas double gules that day!
O Heaven and sweet St. Willibald! in many a battle since
A loyal-hearted Bareacres has ridden by his Prince!
At Acre with Plantagenet, with Edward at Poictiers,
The pennon of the Bareacres was foremost on the spears!

'Twas pleasant in the battle-shock to hear our war-cry ringing:
Oh grant me, sweet St. Willibald, to listen to such singing!
Three hundred steel-clad gentlemen, we drove the foe before us,
And thirty score of British bows kept twanging to the chorus!
O knights, my noble ancestors! and shall I never hear
St. Willibald for Bareacres through battle ringing clear?
I'd cut me off this strong right hand a single hour to ride,
And strike a blow for Bareacres, my fathers, at your side!

Dash down, dash down, yon Mandolin, beloved sister mine!
Those blushing lips may never sing the glories of our line:
Our ancient castles echo to the clumsy feet of churls,
The spinning-jenny houses in the mansion of our Earls.
Sing not, sing not, my Angeline! in days so base and vile,
'Twere sinful to be happy, 'twere sacrilege to smile.
I'll hie me to my lonely hall, and by its cheerless hob
I'll muse on other days, and wish—and wish I were—A SNOB.

by William Makepeace Thackeray.

Lines On The Portrait Of A Celebrated Publisher

A MOONY breadth of virgin face,
By thought unviolated;
A patient mouth, to take from scorn
The hook with bank-notes baited!
Its self-complacent sleekness shows
How thrift goes with the fawner;
An unctuous unconcern of all
Which nice folks call dishonor!
A pleasant print to peddle out
In lands of rice and cotton;
The model of that face in dough
Would make the artist's fortune.
For Fame to thee has come unsought,
While others vainly woo her,
In proof how mean a thing can make
A great man of its doer.
To whom shall men thyself compare,
Since common models fail 'em,
Save classic goose of ancient Rome,
Or sacred ass of Balaam?
The gabble of that wakeful goose
Saved Rome from sack of Brennus;
The braying of the prophet's ass
Betrayed the angel's menace!
So when Guy Fawkes, in petticoats,
And azure-tinted hose on,
Was twisting from thy love-lorn sheets
The slow-match of explosion —
An earthquake blast that would have tossed
The Union as a feather,
Thy instinct saved a perilled land
And perilled purse together.
Just think of Carolina's sage
Sent whirling like a Dervis,
Of Quattlebum in middle air
Performing strange drill-service!
Doomed like Assyria's lord of old,
Who fell before the Jewess,
Or sad Abimelech, to sigh,
'Alas! a woman slew us!'
Thou saw'st beneath a fair disguise
The danger darkly lurking,
And maiden bodice dreaded more
Than warrior's steel-wrought jerkin.
How keen to scent the hidden plot!
How prompt wert thou to balk it,
With patriot zeal and pedler thrift,
For country and for pocket!
Thy likeness here is doubtless well,
But higher honor's due it;
On auction-block and negro-jail
Admiring eyes should view it.
Or, hung aloft, it well might grace
The nation's senate-chamber —
A greedy Northern bottle-fly
Preserved in Slavery's amber!

by John Greenleaf Whittier.

Before Her Portrait In Youth

As lovers, banished from their lady's face
And hopeless of her grace,
Fashion a ghostly sweetness in its place,
Fondly adore
Some stealth-won cast attire she wore,
A kerchief or a glove:
And at the lover's beck
Into the glove there fleets the hand,
Or at impetuous command
Up from the kerchief floats the virgin neck:
So I, in very lowlihead of love, -
Too shyly reverencing
To let one thought's light footfall smooth
Tread near the living, consecrated thing, -
Treasure me thy cast youth.
This outworn vesture, tenantless of thee,
Hath yet my knee,
For that, with show and semblance fair
Of the past Her
Who once the beautiful, discarded raiment bare,
It cheateth me.
As gale to gale drifts breath
Of blossoms' death,
So dropping down the years from hour to hour
This dead youth's scent is wafted me to-day:
I sit, and from the fragrance dream the flower.
So, then, she looked (I say);
And so her front sunk down
Heavy beneath the poet's iron crown:
On her mouth museful sweet -
(Even as the twin lips meet)
Did thought and sadness greet:
In those mournful eyes
So put on visibilities;
As viewless ether turns, in deep on deep, to dyes.
Thus, long ago,
She kept her meditative paces slow
Through maiden meads, with waved shadow and gleam
Of locks half-lifted on the winds of dream,
Till love up-caught her to his chariot's glow.
Yet, voluntary, happier Proserpine!
This drooping flower of youth thou lettest fall
I, faring in the cockshut-light, astray,
Find on my 'lated way,
And stoop, and gather for memorial,
And lay it on my bosom, and make it mine.
To this, the all of love the stars allow me,
I dedicate and vow me.
I reach back through the days
A trothed hand to the dead the last trump shall not raise.
The water-wraith that cries
From those eternal sorrows of thy pictured eyes
Entwines and draws me down their soundless intricacies!

by Francis Thompson.

The Visionary Portrait


As by his lonely hearth he sate,
The shadow of a welcome dream
Pass'd o'er his heart,--disconsolate
His home did seem;
Comfort in vain was spread around,
For something still was wanting found.

Therefore he thought of one who might
For ever in his presence stay;
Whose dream should be of him by night,
Whose smile should be for him by day;
And the sweet vision, vague and far,
Rose on his fancy like a star.


'Let her be young, yet not a child,
Whose light and inexperienced mirth
Is all too wingéd and too wild
For sober earth,--
Too rainbow-like such mirth appears,
And fades away in misty tears.

'Let youth's fresh rose still gently bloom
Upon her smooth and downy cheek,
Yet let a shadow, not of gloom,
But soft and meek,
Tell that some sorrow she hath known,
Tho' not a sorrow of her own.

'And let her eyes be of the grey,
The soft grey of the brooding dove,
Full of the sweet and tender ray
Of modest love;
For fonder shows that dreamy hue
Than lustrous black or heavenly blue.

'Let her be full of quiet grace,
No sparkling wit with sudden glow
Bright'ning her purely chisell'd face
And placid brow;
Not radiant to the stranger's eye,--
A creature easily pass'd by;

'But who, once seen, with untold power
For ever haunts the yearning heart,
Raised from the crowd that self-same hour
To dwell apart,
All sainted and enshrined to be
The idol of our memory!

'And oh! let Mary be her name
It hath a sweet and gentle sound
At which no glories dear to fame
Come crowding round,
But which the dreaming heart beguiles
With holy thoughts and household smiles

'With peaceful meetings, welcomes kind,
And love, the same in joy and tears,
And gushing intercourse of mind
Thro' faithful years;
Oh! dream of something half divine,
Be real--be mortal--and be mine!'

by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton.

Portrait Of A Baby

He lay within a warm, soft world
Of motion. Colors bloomed and fled,
Maroon and turquoise, saffron, red,
Wave upon wave that broke and whirled
To vanish in the grey-green gloom,
Perspectiveless and shadowy.
A bulging world that had no walls,
A flowing world, most like the sea,
Compassing all infinity
Within a shapeless, ebbing room,
An endless tide that swells and falls . . .
He slept and woke and slept again.
As a veil drops Time dropped away;
Space grew a toy for children's play,
Sleep bolted fast the gates of Sense --
He lay in naked impotence;
Like a drenched moth that creeps and crawls
Heavily up brown, light-baked walls,
To fall in wreck, her task undone,
Yet somehow striving toward the sun.
So, as he slept, his hands clenched tighter,
Shut in the old way of the fighter,
His feet curled up to grip the ground,
His muscles tautened for a bound;
And though he felt, and felt alone,
Strange brightness stirred him to the bone,
Cravings to rise -- till deeper sleep
Buried the hope, the call, the leap;
A wind puffed out his mind's faint spark.
He was absorbed into the dark.
He woke again and felt a surge
Within him, a mysterious urge
That grew one hungry flame of passion;
The whole world altered shape and fashion.
Deceived, befooled, bereft and torn,
He scourged the heavens with his scorn,
Lifting a bitter voice to cry
Against the eternal treachery --
Till, suddenly, he found the breast,
And ceased, and all things were at rest,
The earth grew one warm languid sea
And he a wave. Joy, tingling, crept
Throughout him. He was quenched and slept.

So, while the moon made broad her ring,
He slept and cried and was a king.
So, worthily, he acted o'er
The endless miracle once more.
Facing immense adventures daily,
He strove still onward, weeping, gaily,
Conquered or fled from them, but grew
As soil-starved, rough pine-saplings do.
Till, one day, crawling seemed suspect.
He gripped the air and stood erect
And splendid. With immortal rage
He entered on man's heritage!

by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Love’s Portrait

Out of the day--glare, out of all uproar,
Hurrying in ways disquieted, bring me
To silence, and earth's ancient peace restore,
That with profounder vision I may see.
In dew--baptizing dimness let me lose
Tired thoughts; dispeople the world--haunted mind,
With burning of interior fire refined;
Cleanse all my sense: then, Love, mine eyes unclose.

Let it be dawn, and such low light increase,
As when from darkness pure the hills emerge;
And solemn foliage trembles through its peace
As with an ecstasy; and round the verge
Of solitary coppices cold flowers
Freshen upon their clustered stalks; and where
Wafts of wild odour sweeten the blue air,
Drenched mosses dimly sparkle on old towers.

So, for my spirit, let the light be slow
And tender as among those dawning trees,
That on this vision of my heart may grow
The beloved form by delicate degrees,
The desired form that Earth was waiting for,
Her last completion and felicity,
Who through the dewy hush comes, and for me
Sings a new meaning into all Time's lore.

Just--dinted temples, cheek and brow and hair--
Ah, never curve that wind breathed over snow
Could match what the divine hand moulded there,
Or in her lips, where life's own colours glow,
Or in the throat, the sweet well of her speech;
Yet all forgotten, when those eyelids raise
The beam of eyes that hold me in their gaze
Clear with a tenderness no words can reach.

Some silken shred, whose fair embroidery throbbed
Once on a queen's young breast; a mirror dimmed
That has held how much beauty, and all robbed!
One bright tress from a head that poets hymned;
A rent flag that warm blood was spent for: sighs,
Faith, love, have made these fragrant, and sweet pain
Quickens its pangs upon our pulse again,
Charmed at a touch out of old histories.

But thou, whence com'st thou, bringing in thy face
More than all these are charged with? Not faint myrrh
Of embalmed bliss, dead passion's written trace,
Half--faded; but triumphant and astir
Life tinges the cheek's change and the lips' red.
Thy deep compassions, thy long hopes and fears,
Thy joys, thine indignations, and thy tears,
To enrich these, what stormy hearts have bled!

For thine unknown sake, how has life's dear breath
Been cherished past despair: how, lifted fierce
In exultation, has love smiled at death,
For one hope hazarding the universe!
What wisdom has been spelled from sorrow's book,
What anguish in the patient will immured,
What bliss made perfect, what delight abjured,
That in these eyes thine eyes at last might look!

O mystery! out of ravin, strife, and wrong,
Thou comest, Time's last sweetness in the flower,
Life's hope and want, my never--ended song!
Futurity is folded in this hour
With all fruition; joy, and loss and smart;
And death, and birth; the wooed, the feared, the unknown;
And there our lives, mid earth's vast undertone,
Are beatings of one deep and mighty heart.

by Robert Laurence Binyon.

In some quaint Nurnberg

Uprummaged. When and where was never clear
Nor yet how he obtained it. When, by whom
'Twas painted-who shall say? itself a gloom
Resisting inquisition. I opine
It is a Duerer. Mark that touch, this line;
Are they deniable?-Distinguished grace
Of the pure oval of the noble face
Tarnished in color badly. Half in light
Extend it so. Incline. The exquisite
Expression leaps abruptly: piercing scorn;
Imperial beauty; each, an icy thorn
Of light, disdainful eyes and… well! no use!
Effaced and but beheld! a sad abuse
Of patience.-Often, vaguely visible,
The portrait fills each feature, making swell
The heart with hope: avoiding face and hair
Start out in living hues; astonished, 'There!-
The picture lives!' your soul exults, when, lo!
You hold a blur; an undetermined glow
Dislimns a daub.-'Restore?'-Ah, I have tried
Our best restorers, and it has defied.

Storied, mysterious, say, perhaps a ghost
Lives in the canvas; hers, some artist lost;
A duchess', haply. Her he worshiped; dared
Not tell he worshiped. From his window stared
Of Nuremberg one sunny morn when she
Passed paged to court. Her cold nobility
Loved, lived for like a purpose. Seized and plied
A feverish brush-her face!-Despaired and died.

The narrow Judengasse: gables frown
Around a humpbacked usurer's, where brown,
Neglected in a corner, long it lay,
Heaped in a pile of riff-raff, such as-say,
Retables done in tempera and old
Panels by Wohlgemuth; stiff paintings cold
Of martyrs and apostles,-names forgot,-
Holbeins and Duerers, say; a haloed lot
Of praying saints, madonnas: these, perchance,
'Mid wine-stained purples, mothed; an old romance;
A crucifix and rosary; inlaid
Arms, Saracen-elaborate; a strayed
Niello of Byzantium; rich work,
In bronze, of Florence: here a murderous dirk,
There holy patens.
So.-My ancestor,
The first De Herancour, esteemed by far
This piece most precious, most desirable;

Purchased and brought to Paris. It looked well
In the dark paneling above the old
Hearth of the room. The head's religious gold,
The soft severity of the nun face,
Made of the room an apostolic place
Revered and feared.-
Like some lived scene I see
That Gothic room: its Flemish tapestry;
Embossed within the marble hearth a shield,
Carved 'round with thistles; in its argent field
Three sable mallets-arms of Herancour-
Topped with the crest, a helm and hands that bore,
Outstretched, two mallets. On a lectern laid,-
Between two casements, lozenge-paned, embayed,-
A vellum volume of black-lettered text.
Near by a taper, winking as if vexed
With silken gusts a nervous curtain sends,
Behind which, haply, daggered Murder bends.

And then I seem to see again the hall;
The stairway leading to that room.-Then all
The terror of that night of blood and crime
Passes before me.-
It is Catherine's time:
The house De Herancour's. On floors, splashed red,
Torchlight of Medicean wrath is shed.
Down carven corridors and rooms,-where couch
And chairs lie shattered and black shadows crouch
Torch-pierced with fear,-a sound of swords draws near-
The stir of searching steel.
What find they here,
Torch-bearer, swordsman, and fierce halberdier,
On St. Bartholomew's?-A Huguenot!
Dead in his chair! Eyes, violently shot
With horror, glaring at the portrait there:
Coiling his neck a blood line, like a hair
Of finest fire. The portrait, like a fiend,-
Looking exalted visitation,-leaned
From its black panel; in its eyes a hate
Satanic; hair-a glowing auburn; late
A dull, enduring golden.
'Just one thread
Of the fierce hair around his throat,' they said,
'Twisting a burning ray; he-staring dead.'

by Madison Julius Cawein.

Everyday Characters V - Portrait Of A Lady


What are you, Lady ? — nought is here
To tell us of your name or story,
To claim the gazer's smile or fear.
To dub you Whig, or damn you Tory ;
It is beyond a poet's skill
To form the slightest notion, whether
We e'er shall walk through one quadrille.
Or look upon one moon together.

You're very pretty! — all the world
Are talking of your bright brow's splendour,
And of your locks, so softly curled.
And of your hands, so white and slender ;
Some think you 're blooming in Bengal ;
Some say you're blowing in the city;
Some know you 're nobody at all :
I only feel — you're very pretty.

But bless my heart ! it 's very wrong ;
You 're making all our belles ferocious ;
Anne 'never saw a chin so long; '
And Laura thinks your dress 'atrocious;'
And Lady Jane, who now and then
Is taken for the village steeple,
Is sure you can't be four feet ten.
And 'wonders at the taste of people.'

Soon pass the praises of a face ;
Swift fades the very best vermillion ;
Fame rides a most prodigious pace ;
Oblivion follows on the pillion;
And all who in these sultry rooms
To-day have stared, and pushed, and fainted,
Will soon forget your pearls and plumes,
As if they never had been painted.

You'll be forgotten — as old debts
By persons who are used to borrow ;
Forgotten — as the sun that sets,
When shines a new one on the morrow ;
Forgotten — like the luscious peach
That blessed the schoolboy last September ;
Forgotten — like a maiden speech,
Which all men praise, but none remember.

Yet, ere you sink into the stream
That whelms alike sage, saint, and martyr,
And soldier's sword, and minstrel's theme.
And Canning's wit, and Gatton's charter.
Here, of the fortunes of your youth.
My fancy weaves her dim conjectures.
Which have, perhaps, as much of truth
As passion's vows, or Cobbett's lectures.

Was 't in the north or in the south
That summer breezes rocked your cradle ?
And had you in your baby mouth
A wooden or a silver ladle ?
And was your first unconscious sleep
By Brownie banned, or blessed by Fairy ?
And did you wake to laugh or weep ?
And were you christened Maud or Mary ?

And was your father called 'your grace' ?
And did he bet at Ascot races ?
And did he chat at commonplace ?
And did he fill a score of places ?
And did your lady-mother's charms
Consist in picklings, broilings, bastings ?
Or did she prate about the arms
Her brave forefathers wore at Hastings ?

Where were you finished ? tell me where !
Was it at Chelsea, or at Chiswick ?
Had you the ordinary share
Of books and backboard, harp and physic?
And did they bid you banish pride,
And mind your Oriental tinting ?
And did you learn how Dido died,
And who found out the art of printing?

And are you fond of lanes and brooks —
A votary of the sylvan Muses ?
Or do you con the little books
Which Baron Brougham and Vaux diffuses ?
Or do you love to knit and sew —
The fashionable world's Arachne ?
Or do you canter down the Row
Upon a very long-tailed hackney ?

And do you love your brother James ?
And do you pet his mares and setters ?
And have your friends romantic names ?
And do you write them long long letters ?
And are you — since the world began
All women are — a little spiteful ?
And don't you dote on Malibran ?
And don't you think Tom Moore delightful ?

I see they've brought you flowers to-day;
Delicious food for eyes and noses ;
But carelessly you turn away
From all the pinks, and all the roses ;
Say, is that fond look sent in search
Of one whose look as fondly answers ?
And is he, fairest, in the Church ?
Or is he — ain't he — in the Lancers ?

And is your love a motley page
Of black and white, half joy, half sorrow ?
Are you to wait till you 're of age ?
Or are you to be his to-morrow ?
Or do they bid you, in their scorn,
Your pure and sinless flame to smother ?
Is he so very meanly born ?
Or are you married to another ?

Whate'er you are, at last, adieu !
I think it is your bounden duty
To let the rhymes I coin for you
Be prized by all who prize your beauty.
From you I seek nor gold nor fame ;
From you I fear no cruel strictures ;
I wish some girls that I could name
Were half as silent as their pictures !

by Winthrop Mackworth Praed.

This is her picture as she was:
It seems a thing to wonder on,
As though mine image in the glass
Should tarry when myself am gone.
I gaze until she seems to stir,--
Until mine eyes almost aver
That now, even now, the sweet lips part
To breathe the words of the sweet heart:--
And yet the earth is over her.

Alas! even such the thin-drawn ray
That makes the prison-depths more rude,--
The drip of water night and day
Giving a tongue to solitude.
Yet only this, of love's whole prize,
Remains; save what in mournful guise
Takes counsel with my soul alone,--
Save what is secret and unknown,
Below the earth, above the skies.

In painting her I shrin'd her face
Mid mystic trees, where light falls in
Hardly at all; a covert place
Where you might think to find a din
Of doubtful talk, and a live flame
Wandering, and many a shape whose name
Not itself knoweth, and old dew,
And your own footsteps meeting you,
And all things going as they came.

A deep dim wood; and there she stands
As in that wood that day: for so
Was the still movement of her hands
And such the pure line's gracious flow.
And passing fair the type must seem,
Unknown the presence and the dream.
'Tis she: though of herself, alas!
Less than her shadow on the grass
Or than her image in the stream.

That day we met there, I and she
One with the other all alone;
And we were blithe; yet memory
Saddens those hours, as when the moon
Looks upon daylight. And with her
I stoop'd to drink the spring-water,
Athirst where other waters sprang;
And where the echo is, she sang,--
My soul another echo there.

But when that hour my soul won strength
For words whose silence wastes and kills,
Dull raindrops smote us, and at length
Thunder'd the heat within the hills.
That eve I spoke those words again
Beside the pelted window-pane;
And there she hearken'd what I said,
With under-glances that survey'd
The empty pastures blind with rain.

Next day the memories of these things,
Like leaves through which a bird has flown,
Still vibrated with Love's warm wings;
Till I must make them all my own
And paint this picture. So, 'twixt ease
Of talk and sweet long silences,
She stood among the plants in bloom
At windows of a summer room,
To feign the shadow of the trees.

And as I wrought, while all above
And all around was fragrant air,
In the sick burthen of my love
It seem'd each sun-thrill'd blossom there
Beat like a heart among the leaves.
O heart that never beats nor heaves,
In that one darkness lying still,
What now to thee my love's great will
Or the fine web the sunshine weaves?

For now doth daylight disavow
Those days,--nought left to see or hear.
Only in solemn whispers now
At night-time these things reach mine ear;
When the leaf-shadows at a breath
Shrink in the road, and all the heath,
Forest and water, far and wide,
In limpid starlight glorified,
Lie like the mystery of death.

Last night at last I could have slept,
And yet delay'd my sleep till dawn,
Still wandering. Then it was I wept:
For unawares I came upon
Those glades where once she walk'd with me:
And as I stood there suddenly,
All wan with traversing the night,
Upon the desolate verge of light
Yearn'd loud the iron-bosom'd sea.

Even so, where Heaven holds breath and hears
The beating heart of Love's own breast,--
Where round the secret of all spheres
All angels lay their wings to rest,--
How shall my soul stand rapt and aw'd,
When, by the new birth borne abroad
Throughout the music of the suns,
It enters in her soul at once
And knows the silence there for God!

Here with her face doth memory sit
Meanwhile, and wait the day's decline,
Till other eyes shall look from it,
Eyes of the spirit's Palestine,
Even than the old gaze tenderer:
While hopes and aims long lost with her
Stand round her image side by side,
Like tombs of pilgrims that have died
About the Holy Sepulchre.

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.