Painting. A Personification


One bright sunshiny autumn day,
When the leaves were just beginning to fade,
I saw a gay and laughing maid
Stand by the side of a public way.

There she stood erect and tall;
Her flowery cheek had caught the dyes
Of the earliest dawn, and oh! her eyes,
Not a star that shoots or flies,
But those dark eyes outshine them all.

She stood with a long and slender wand,
With a tassel of hair at its pointed tip;
And fast as the dews from a forest drip,
When a summer shower has bathed the land,
So quick a thousand colors came,
Darting along like shapes of flame,
At every turn of her gliding hand.
She gave a form to the bodiless air,
And clear as a mirrored sheet it lay;
And phantoms would come and pass away,
As her magical rod was pointed there.

First the shape of a budding rose,
Just unfolding its tender leaf;
Then, all unbound its virgin zone,
Full in its pride and beauty blown,
It heavily hangs like a nodding sheaf;
And a cloud of perfume around it flows.

Then a mingling of vale and hill,
Hung around with a woody screen, —
O, how alive its quivering green!
And there a babbling brook is seen
To turn the wheel of a moss-grown mill:
There is a clear and glassy pool,
And a boy lies idly along its brink,
And he drops a pebble to see it sink
Down in that depth, so calm and cool;
And out from behind a bowering tree
There peeps a maiden crowned with flowers;
The two are innocent paramours; —
At her delicate laugh he turns to see,
And then she darts like a frighted fawn
That springs away from the turfy lawn,
And far in the tangled thicket cowers:
So she flies in her haste to hide
The blush that mantles her cheek and brow;
Then he languidly turns his eye aside
To the quiet brook's eternal flow.

There you may see a warrior horse,
All his trappings are dropped with gold;
How his eye sparkles! and oh! how bold,
As he springs away in his pride and force.
There a dark and keen-eyed Moor
Hangs and pulls at his bridle-rein,
But all his skill and might are vain;
He prances and tosses, — and, hark! away,
Bright as the flashing steeds of day,
He has broke from his keeper, and flings his mane,
Like a streaming meteor, over the plain.
Can you not see the creature neigh,
In his vapory nostrils panting wide,
In his tossing head and his arch of pride,
And his rapid glance from side to side,
As he stands and beats the echoing ground
With a quivering tramp, and sudden bound?
Then with a tremble in every limb,
And an angry snort, he darts away,
And round in a circle he seems to swim,
Or bends and turns like a lamb at play.

What is that comes from a golden cloud,
Floating along in thinnest air?
Was there ever a shape so fine and fair?
And oh! what wealth of sunny hair
Clings around like a glittering shroud.
See! she raises a snowy arm,
Pure as a flake, ere it leaves the sky.
She waves it around with a grace and a charm,
And, putting her glossy ringlets by,
Shows to the sight a lip and eye.
Is it a shape of light and air,
A vermeil cloud, and a midnight star,
That meet and mingle in glory there,
Or one of the winged spirits that fly
Like the prophet who rose in his fiery car?
No, 't is a being of human mould,
Changing with blush, and tear, and smile,
Such as the bard in his lonely isle
Close to his heart would love to fold.
Back she throws her tossing curls,
Cheek and brow and neck are bare,
Tenderly crimson and purely fair,
Like a damask-rose when it first unfurls
Its feathery bosom to light and air.
Now that world of grace is calm,
Sweeter and dearer, but not so bright, —
Like a flower when it sends the dew of night
Back from its breast in a cloud of balm.
See on her lids the gathering tear,
Clear as a star in the midnight main,
Such she might drop on her mother's bier,
Or shed for the youth who has long been dear,
When she parts and never may meet again.
O, what flashes of glory break
From that crystalline fount of love and joy!
All her smiles and glances wake,
And those opening lips such music make,
As rings from the heart of the hunter boy,
When he springs through the forest, fleet and proud,
And the startled echoes are many and loud,
Loud as the burst of a nation's joy,
In the rocks that girdle the mountain lake.

Now for the touch of a master-hand!
See! how she poises and waves her wand,
As if in a dream of busy thought
She sought for visions and found them not.
Now it rises, — and look, — what power
Springs to life, as she lifts her rod!
Is it a hero, or visible god,
Or bard in his rapt and gifted hour?
What a lofty and glorious brow,
Bent like a temple's towering arch,
As if that a wondering world might march
To the altar of mind, and kneel and bow;
And then what a deep and spirited eye,
Quick as a quivering orb of fire,
Changing and shifting from love to ire,
Like the lights in a summer-evening sky;
Then the living and breathing grace
Sent from the whole of that magic face,
The eloquent play of his lips, the smile
Sporting in sunbeams there awhile,
Then with the throb of passion pressed
Like a shivering leaf that cannot rest, —
And still as a lake when it waits a storm,
That wraps the mountain's giant form,
When they lie in the shade of his awful frown,
And his gathered brows are wrinkled down.

Such the visions that breathe and live,
The playful touch of her wand can give.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.