Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON AN INTAGLIO HEAD OF MINERVA (2), by THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ON AN INTAGLIO HEAD OF MINERVA (2), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The cunning hand that carved this face
Last Line: On such a bosom rise and fall so!
Subject(s): Art & Artists; Minerva; Sculpture & Sculptors

THE cunning hand that carved this face,
A little helmeted Minerva—
The hand, I say, ere Phidias wrought,
Had lost its subtle skill and fervour.

Who was he? Was he glad or sad?
Who knew to carve in such a fashion?
Perchance he shaped this dainty head
For some brown girl that scorned his passion.

But he is dust: we may not know
His happy or unhappy story:
Nameless and dead these thousand years,
His work outlives him—there's his glory!

Both man and jewel lay in earth
Beneath a lava-buried city;
The thousand summers came and went,
With neither haste, nor hate, nor pity.

The years wiped out the man, but left
The jewel fresh as any blossom.
Till some Visconti dug it up,
To rise and fall on Mabel's bosom.

O Roman brother! see how Time
Your gracious handiwork has guarded;
See how your loving, patient art
Has come, at last, to be rewarded.

Who would not suffer slights of men
And pangs of hopeless passion also,
To have his carven agate-stone
On such a bosom rise and fall so!

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