Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
513. Incognita of Raphael
 
By William Allen Butler
 
 
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 the 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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