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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Alfred de Musset (1810–1857)

From the ‘Ode to Malibran’

Translation of Frances Anne (Fanny) Kemble

O MARIA FELICIA! the painter and bard,

Behind them, in dying, leave undying heirs:

The night of oblivion their memory spares;

And their great, eager souls, other action debarred,

Against death, against time, having valiantly warred,

Though struck down in the strife, claim its trophies as theirs.

In the iron engraved, one his name leaves enshrined;

With a golden-sweet cadence another’s entwined

Makes forever all those who shall hear it his friends.

Though he died, on the canvas lives Raphael’s mind;

And from death’s darkest doom till this world of ours ends,

The mother-clasped infant his glory defends.

As the lamp guards the flame, so the bare marble halls

Of the Parthenon hold, in their desolate space,

The memory of Phidias enshrined in their walls.

And Praxiteles’s child, the young Venus, yet calls

From the altar, where smiling she still holds her place,

The centuries conquered, to worship her grace.

Thus, from age after age while new light we receive,

To rest at God’s feet the old glories are gone;

And the accents of genius their echoes still weave

With the great human voice, till their thoughts are but one:

And of thee, dead but yesterday, all thy fame leaves

But a cross in the dim chapel’s darkness—alone.

A cross, and oblivion, silence, and death!

Hark! the wind’s softest sob; hark! the ocean’s deep breath;

Hark! the fisher-boy singing his way o’er the plains:

Of thy glory, thy hope, thy young beauty’s bright wreath,

Not a trace, not a sigh, not an echo remains.