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.
 
69. The National Paintings
 
Col. Trumbull’s “The Declaration of Independence”
 
By Joseph Rodman Drake
 
 
AWAKE, ye forms of verse divine!
  Painting! descend on canvas wing,—
And hover o’er my head, Design!
  Your son, your glorious son, I sing;
At Trumbull’s name I break my sloth,        5
  To load him with poetic riches:
The Titian of a table-cloth!
  The Guido of a pair of breeches!
 
Come, star-eyed maid, Equality!
  In thine adorer’s praise I revel;        10
Who brings, so fierce his love to thee,
  All forms and faces to a level:
Old, young, great, small, the grave, the gay,
  Each man might swear the next his brother,
And there they stand in dread array,        15
  To fire their votes at one another.
 
How bright their buttons shine! how straight
  Their coat-flaps fall in plaited grace!
How smooth the hair on every pate!
  How vacant each immortal face!        20
And then the tints, the shade, the flush,
  (I wrong them with a strain too humble),
Not mighty Sherred’s strength of brush
  Can match thy glowing hues, my Trumbull!
 
Go on, great painter! dare be dull—        25
  No longer after Nature dangle;
Call rectilinear beautiful;
  Find grace and freedom in an angle;
Pour on the red, the green, the yellow,
  “Paint till a horse may mire upon it,”        30
And, while I ’ve strength to write or bellow,
  I ’ll sound your praises in a sonnet.
 

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