To Her Picture

As one who on a lonely bed of pain
Feels the soft hand he felt when he was young;
Or, who at eve, on some far Eastern plain,
Hears the old songs once by his mother sung:
So to me, looking on thy portrait, dear,
Thou and my youth and love are ever near.

It may be that the painter failed to show,
How should he not? the soul within thine eyes,-
Their blue unruffled depths, thy cheeks aglow
With virgin blushes that unbidden rise;
Thy coral lips, thy white neck, round, and fair,
Or the sweet prodigal auburn of thy hair.

How should he? Not for him thou wast, but me;
Love shot no sudden splendour in his eyes;
Love guided not his hand, content to see
Mere beauty, as of sunset-hills or skies;
Nor soothed his dull ear with the mystic strain,
Heard once a life, and nevermore again.

Only the lovely shell he saw; the cloak,
The perfect vesture of the hidden soul.
Not for his eyes thy slumbering angel woke,
Stretched in deep sleep, where love's broad waters roll:
Had he but seen her wings of silver move,
He had forgot to paint, and learned to love.

Yet is his skill to me for ever blest,
For that which it has left of grace and truth;
Those sweet eyes shine, yet need no time of rest,
Still thy fair cheek retains its rounded youth.
In wakeful nights I light my lamp, and know
The same dear face I knew long years ago.

Yet worn am I, too old for love, and gray.
Too faithful heart, thou shouldst not still abide
With such as I, nor longer deign to stay:
These are the follies wiser worldlings chide.
Thou wouldst transfer those glances, wert thou wise,
To younger lives and more responsive eyes.

Ah! no, remain; not thus you looked of yore;
Another, perhaps more worthy, bore the prize;
I could not tell you then the love I bore,
Or read the soft requital in your eyes;
Now no change comes, now thou art always kind,
Then thou wast cold and changeful as the wind.

by Sir Lewis Morris

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