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 Allen Butler. 1825–1902
 
156. 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         5
  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;  10
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,  15
  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.  20
  
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,  25
  What hopes, and fears, and longings rest 
Where falls the folded veil, or gleams 
  The golden necklace on her breast! 
  
What mockery of painted glow 
  May shade the secret soul within;  30
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,  35
  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?  40
  
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  45
  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,  50
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,  55
  The kindred rapture of the heart! 
 
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