Artist Sketching The Dead
by Lydia Howard Sigourney
How still and fair!
'Tis beautiful to trace
Those chisel'd features. Blessed gift is thine
Oh Artist! thus to foil the grave, and keep
A copy of our jewels, when it steals
And locks them from us.
Blessed gift is thine!
And yet how solemn is the privilege
To hold such vigil o'er their brows, who know
Such mysteries as none may learn and live.
-- Dost falter. Artist? happy skill is thine!
Give fullness to that lip, which Pain's long kiss,
Hath wasted. And for that pale. Parian cheek
Throw colors on thy pallet, like the rose;
Not the deep damask, but the maiden-blush
Tender, yet frail and tremulous, as love,
Or pity touch'd the heart.
For the soft eyes,
Mix the fresh violet hue. Alas! alas!
There was a shadow o er them, when they bent
Thro' their long fringes, o'er some hallowed page,
--A light. when on the face of friend they gaz'd,
A merry sparkle at the touch of mirth. --
Thy pencil fails in all. Dip it once more,
I know not in what dies. Yet try once more.
-- Dost ask me of her smile?
It came from Heaven.
And thou art blameless, if thy mortal hand
Fail to interpret what hath homeward soar'd,
To its own sphere again.
Be patient, friends!
Ask not too much of man. Ye have within
Her finish'd picture. In your heart of hearts
It glows unchanged. And ye shall know it well
When at Heaven's gate ye see it, fill'd with life
That cannot die.
Source:The Weeping Willow
Henry S. Parsons, Hartford.