|May Prinsep (1866) Julia Margaret Cameron|
On a Portrait
Oh, mystery of Beauty! Who can tell
Thy mighty influence? Who can best descry
How secret, swift, and subtle is the spell
Wherein the music of thy voice doth lie?
Here we have eyes so full of fervent love,
That but for lids behind which sorrow’s touch
Doth press and linger, one could almost prove
That Earth had loved her favourite over much.
A mouth where silence seems to gather strength
From lips so gently closed, that almost say,
“Ask not my story, lest you hear at length
Of sorrows where sweet hope has lost its way.”
And yet the head is borne so proudly high,
The soft round cheek so splendidly in its bloom,
True courage rises thro’ the brilliant eye,
And great resolve comes flashing thro’ the gloom.
Oh, noble painter! More than genius goes
To search the key-note of those melodies,
To find the depths of all those tragic woes,
Tune thy song right and paint rare harmonies.
Genius and love have each fulfilled their part,
And both unite with force and equal grace,
Whilst all that we love best in classic art
Is stamped for ever on the immortal face.