The Painter (Dedicated to Hiram N.)
He labored long, each hour an age.
No careless stroke profaned his page.
Her eyes like emeralds rendered he.
Her lips he fashioned tenderly
‘Til blushed they warmly as the breast
Of robin singing in her nest.
He meekly marked her bosom’s swell,
The bashful pose he knew so well,
Her hair like starlight on the sea,
And glance like moonbeams through the tree.
All features of his lady fair
He painted with affection there:
How sweetly then the likeness beamed.
It’s beauty Shakespeare never dreamed.
No artist ever rendered grace
As pure as shown upon her face.
To him, however, one who knew
The actual beauty of his muse,
His painting seemed unclean, unblessed.
It mattered not he’d tried his best.
He gazed with sadness at his hands.
“How God’s,” he cried, “surpasseth man’s!
My hands have sinned, because I strove
To limit such a thing as love.”
His eyes beheld the hateful page.
“Repent! Repent!” he fumed and raged
And tore the canvas ‘pon its stilt.
It burned. He freed himself from guilt.
He went to her and let his gaze
Behold her beauty all his days.
And still he paints, but never of her.
No other reason, save he loves her.