Edmund Clarence Stedman

1833-1908

 

Portrait D'Une Dame Espagnole

by Edmund Clarence Stedman

(Fortuny)

The hand that drew thee lies in Roman soil,
Whilst on the canvas thou hast deathless grown,
Endued by him who deemed it meaner toil
To give the world a portrait save thine own.

Yet had he found thy peer, and Rome forborne
Such envy of his conquest over Time,
Beauty had waked, and Art another morn
Had gained, and ceased to sorrow for her prime.

What spirit was it -- where the masters are --
Brooding the gloom and glory that were Spain,
Through centuries waited in its orb afar
Until our age Fortuny's brush should gain?

What stroke but his who pictured in their state
Queen, beggar, noble, Philip's princely brood,
Could thus the boast of Seville recreate,
Even when one like thee before him stood?

Like thee, own child of Spain, whose beauteous pride,
Desire, disdain, all sins thy mien express,
Should need no absolution -- hadst thou died
Unhouselled, in their imaged loveliness.

All this had Fate decreed, -- the antique skill,
The halt, the poise, the long auspicious day, --
Yielding this once, thy triumph to fulfil,
Velasquez' sceptre to Fortuny's sway.

Shine from thy cloud of night, fair star, nor fear
Oblivion, though men thy dust inurn,
For who may bid thy counterpart appear
Until the hand that drew thee shall return!

1889

Source:

Poems now first collected:
Copyright 1897
Houghton, Mifflin And Company
Boston And New York
 
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