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On an Intaglio Head of Minerva
Minerva? No! 'tis some sly minx
In cousin's helmet masquerading;
For sonnets and for serenading!
Not made for love's despairs and blisses:
Was Wisdom's mouth so shaped for kisses? The Nightingale should be her bird,
And not the Owl, big-eyed and solemn: How very fresh she looks, and yet
She's older far than Trajan's Column! The magic hand that carved this face,
And set this vine-work round it running, Perhaps ere mighty Phidias wrought,
Had lost its subtle skill and cunning. Who was he? Was he glad or sad,
Who knew to carve in such a fashion? Perchance he graved the dainty head
For some brown girl that scorned his passion. Perchance, in some still garden-place,
Where neither fount nor tree to-day is, He flung the jewel at the feet
Of Phryne, or perhaps 'twas Laïs. But he is dust; we may not know
His happy or unhappy story: Nameless, and dead these centuries,
His work outlives him,--there's his glory!
Beneath a lava-buried city;
With neither haste, nor hate, nor pity.
The jewel fresh as any blossom, Till some Visconti dug it up,
To rise and fall on Mabel's bosom!
O nameless brother! see how Time
Your gracious handiwork has guarded:
Has come, at last, to be rewarded.
Who would not suffer slights of men,
And pangs of hopeless passion also,
Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1837-1907)
A MIDDLE-AGED LYRICAL POET IS SUPPOSED TO BE TAKING
FINAL LEAVE OF THE MUSE OF COMEDY. SHE HAS BROUGHT HIM HIS HAT AND GLOVES, AND IS ABSTRACTEDLY PICKING A THREAD OF GOLD HAIR FROM HIS COAT SLEEVE AS HE
BEGINS TO SPEAK:
I say it under the rose
oh, thanks!-yes, under the laurel, We part lovers, not foes;
we are not going to quarrel.
We have too long been friends
on foot and in gilded coaches, Now that the whole thing ends,
to spoil our kiss with reproaches.
I leave you; my soul is wrung;
I pause, look back from the portal -
and you, child, you are immortal!
yours is the blossom's weatherWhen were December and May
known to be happy together?
Before my kisses grow tame,
before my moodiness grieve you, While yet my heart is flame,
and I all lover, I leave you.
Pan in Wall Street
So, in the coming time,
when you count the rich years over, Think of me in my prime,
and not as a white-haired lover, Fretful, pierced with regret,
the wraith of a dead Desire Thrumming a cracked spinet
by a slowly dying fire. When, at last, I am cold
years hence, if the gods so will itSay, "He was true as gold,” and wear
rose in your fillet! Others, tender as I,
will come and sue for caresses, Woo you, win you, and die
mind you, a rose in your tresses! Some Melpomene woo,
some hold Clio the nearest; You, sweet Comedy—you
were ever sweetest and dearest!
Nay, it is time to go.
When writing your tragic sister Say to that child of woe how sorry
I missed her. Really, I cannot stay,
though “parting is such sweet sorrow" Perhaps I will, on my way down-town, look in to-morrow!
Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1837–1907]
PAN IN WALL STREET
A. D. 1867
Looks over Wall Street's mingled nations;
To throng for trade and last quotations;
Where, hour by hour, the rates of gold
Outrival, in the ears of people, The quarter-chimes, serenely tolled
From Trinity's undaunted steeple,
Even there I heard a strange, wild strain
Sound high above the modern clamor, Above the cries of greed and gain,
The curbstone war, the auction's hammer; And swift, on Music's misty ways,
It led, from all this strife for millions, To ancient, sweet-to-nothing days
Among the kirtle-robed Sicilians.
And as it stilled the multitude,
And yet more joyous rose, and shriller, I saw the minstrel, where he stood
At ease against a Doric pillar: One hand a droning organ played,
The other held a Pan’s-pipe (fashioned Like those of old) to lips that made
The reeds give out that strain impassioned.
'Twas Pan himself had wandered here
A-strolling through this sordid city, And piping to the civic ear
The prelude of some pastoral ditty! The demigod had crossed the seas,
From haunts of shepherd, nymph, and satyr, And Syracusan times,-to these
Far shores and twenty centuries later.
A ragged cap was on his head;
But-hidden thus there was no doubting That, all with crispy locks o'erspread,
His gnarlèd horns were somewhere sprouting; His club-feet, cased in rusty shoes,
Were crossed, as on some frieze you see them, And trousers, patched of divers hues,
Concealed his crooked shanks beneath them.
Pan in Wall Street
He filled the quivering reeds with sound,
And o'er his mouth their changes shifted, And with his goat's-eyes looked around
Where'er the passing current drifted; And soon, as on Trinacrian hills
The nymphs and herdsmen ran to hear him, Even now the tradesmen from their tills,
With clerks and porters, crowded near him.
The bulls and bears together drew
From Jauncey Court and New Street Alley, As erst, if pastorals be true,
Came beasts from every wooded valley; The random passers stayed to list, –
A boxer Ægon, rough and merry, A Broadway Daphnis, on his tryst
With Nais at the Brooklyn Ferry.
A one-eyed Cyclops halted long
In tattered cloak of army pattern, And Galatea joined the throng, -
A blowsy, apple-vending slattern; While old Silenus staggered out
From some new-fangled lunch-house handy, And bade the piper, with a shout,
To strike up Yankee Doodle Dandy!
A newsboy and a peanut-girl
Like little Fauns began to caper: His hair was all in tangled curl,
Her tawny legs were bare and taper; And still the gathering larger grew,
And gave its pence and crowded nigher, While aye the shepherd-minstrel blew
His pipe, and struck the gamut higher.
O heart of Nature, beating still
With throbs her vernal passion taught her, Even here, as on the vine-clad hill,
Or by the Arethusan water!