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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). An American Anthology, 1787–1900. 1900.

By William AllenButler

513 Incognita of Raphael

LONG has the summer sunlight shone

On the fair form, the quaint costume;

Yet, nameless still, she sits, unknown,

A lady in her youthful bloom.

Fairer for this! no shadows cast

Their blight upon her perfect lot,

Whate’er her future or her past

In this bright moment matters not.

No record of her high descent

There needs, nor memory of her name;

Enough that Raphael’s colors blent

To give her features deathless fame!

’T was his anointing hand that set

The crown of beauty on her brow;

Still lives its early radiance yet,

As at the earliest, even now.

’T is not the ecstasy that glows

In all the rapt Cecilia’s grace;

Nor yet the holy, calm repose

He painted on the Virgin’s face.

Less of the heavens, and more of earth,

There lurk within these earnest eyes,

The passions that have had their birth

And grown beneath Italian skies.

What mortal thoughts, and cares, and dreams,

What hopes, and fears, and longings rest

Where falls the folded veil, or gleams

The golden necklace on her breast!

What mockery of the painted glow

May shade the secret soul within;

What griefs from passion’s overflow,

What shame that follows after sin!

Yet calm as heaven’s serenest deeps

Are those pure eyes, those glances pure;

And queenly is the state she keeps,

In beauty’s lofty trust secure.

And who has strayed, by happy chance,

Through all those grand and pictured halls,

Nor felt the magic of her glance,

As when a voice of music calls?

Not soon shall I forget the day,—

Sweet day, in spring’s unclouded time,

While on the glowing canvas lay

The light of that delicious clime,—

I marked the matchless colors wreathed

On the fair brow, the peerless cheek;

The lips, I fancied, almost breathed

The blessings that they could not speak.

Fair were the eyes with mine that bent

Upon the picture their mild gaze,

And dear the voice that gave consent

To all the utterance of my praise.

O fit companionship of thought;

O happy memories, shrined apart;

The rapture that the painter wrought,

The kindred rapture of the heart!