Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
A Picture Song
By Edward Coate Pinkney (1802–1828)
 
HOW may this little tablet feign the features of a face,
Which o’er-informs with loveliness its proper share of space;
Or human hands on ivory enable us to see
The charms, that all must wonder at, thou work of gods, in thee!
 
But yet, methinks, that sunny smile familiar stories tells,        5
And I should know those placid eyes, two shaded crystal wells;
Nor can my soul, the limner’s art attesting with a sigh,
Forget the blood that deck’d thy cheek, as rosy clouds the sky.
 
They could not semble what thou art, more excellent than fair,
As soft as sleep or pity is, and pure as mountain air;        10
But here are common, earthly hues, to such an aspect wrought,
That none, save thine, can seem so like the beautiful of thought.
 
The song I sing, thy likeness like, is painful mimicry
Of something better, which is now a memory to me,
Who have upon life’s frozen sea arrived the icy spot,        15
Where men’s magnetic feelings show their guiding task forgot.
 
The sportive hopes that used to chase their shifting shadows on,
Like children playing in the sun, are gone—for ever gone;
And on a careless, sullen peace, my double-fronted mind,
Like Janus, when his gates are shut, looks forward and behind.        20
 
Apollo placed his harp, of old, awhile upon a stone,
Which has resounded since, when struck, a breaking harp string’s tone;
And thus my heart, though wholly now from early softness free,
If touch’d, will yield the music yet, it first received of thee.
 
 
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