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.
More verses by William Cowper
- The Moralizer Corrected. A Tale
- The Love Of The World Reproved: Or, Hypocrisy Detected
- The Valediction
- There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood
- To The Nightingale, Which The Author Heard Sing On New Year's Day