Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
William Wetmore Story. 1819–1895
 
120. Praxiteles and Phryne
 
A THOUSAND silent years ago, 
  The twilight faint and pale 
Was drawing o'er the sunset glow 
  Its soft and shadowy veil; 
  
When from his work the Sculptor stayed         5
  His hand, and turned to one 
Who stood beside him, half in shade, 
  Said, with a sigh, "'T is done. 
  
"Thus much is saved from chance and change, 
  That waits for me and thee;  10
Thus much—how little!—from the range 
  Of Death and Destiny. 
  
"Phryne, thy human lips shall pale, 
  Thy rounded limbs decay,— 
Nor love nor prayers can aught avail  15
  To bid thy beauty stay; 
  
"But there thy smile for centuries 
  On marble lips shall live,— 
For Art can grant what Love denies, 
  And fix the fugitive.  20
  
"Sad thought! nor age nor death shall fade 
  The youth of this cold bust; 
When this quick brain and hand that made, 
  And thou and I art dust! 
  
"When all our hopes and fears are dead,  25
  And both our hearts are cold, 
And love is like a tune that 's played, 
  And life a tale that 's told, 
  
"This senseless stone, so coldly fair, 
  That love nor life can warm,  30
The same enchanting look shall wear, 
  The same enchanting form. 
  
"Its peace no sorrow shall destroy; 
  Its beauty age shall spare 
The bitterness of vanished joy,  35
  The wearing waste of care. 
  
"And there upon that silent face 
  Shall unborn ages see 
Perennial youth, perennial grace, 
  And sealed serenity.  40
  
"And strangers, when we sleep in peace, 
  Shall say, not quite unmoved, 
'So smiled upon Praxiteles 
  The Phryne whom he loved!'" 
 
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