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Edmund Clarence Stedman (Эдмунд Кларенс Стедман)

The Old Picture-Dealer

THE second landing-place. Above,
⁠⁠	Sun-pictures for a shilling each.
Below, a haunt that Teutons love,—
⁠	Beer, smoke and pretzels all in reach.
Between the two, a mouldy nook
⁠	Where loungers hunt for things of worth—
Engraving, curio, or book—
⁠	Here drifted from all over Earth. 

Be the day's traffic more or less,
⁠	Old Brian seeks his Leyden chair
Placed in the ante-room's recess,
⁠	Our connoisseur's securest lair:
Here, turning full the burner's rays,
	⁠Holds long his treasure-trove in sight,—
Upon a painting sets his gaze
	⁠Like some devoted eremite. 

The book-worms rummage as they will,
	⁠Loud roars the wonted Broadway din,
Life runs its hackneyed round,—but still
	⁠One tireless boon can Brian win,—
Can picture in this modern time
	⁠A life no more the world shall know,
And dream of Beauty at her prime
	⁠In Parma, with Correggio. 

Withered the dealer's face, and old,
	⁠But wearing yet the first surprise
Of him whose eyes the light behold
⁠	Of Italy and Paradise:
Forever blest, forever young,
	⁠The rapt Madonna poises there,
Her praise by hovering cherubs sung,
⁠	Her robes by ether buoyed, not air. 

See from the graybeard's meerschaum float
⁠	A cloud of incense! Day or night,
He needs must steal apart to note
	⁠Her grace, her consecrating light.
With less ecstatic worship lay,
⁠	Before his marble goddess prone,
The crippled poet, that last day
⁠	When in the Louvre he made his moan. 

Warm grows the radiant masterpiece,
⁠	The sweetness of Correggio!
The visionary hues increase,
	⁠Angelic lustres come and go;
And still, as still in Parma too,—
	⁠In Rome, Bologna, Florence, all,—
Goes on the outer world's ado,
	⁠Life's transitory, harsh recall. 

A real Correggio? And here!
	⁠Yes, to the one impassioned heart,
Transfiguring all, the strokes appear
	⁠That mark the perfect master's art.
You question of the proof? You owe
	⁠More faith to fact than fancy? Hush!
Look with expectant eyes, and know,
	⁠With him, the hand that held the brush! 

The same wild thought that warmed from stone
	⁠The Venus of the monkish Gest,
The image of Pygmalion,
	⁠Here finds Correggio confest.
And Art requires its votary:
	⁠The Queen of Heaven herself may pine
When these quaint rooms no longer see
	⁠The one that knew her all divine. 

Ah, me! ah me, for centuries veiled!
	⁠(The desolate Virgin then may say,)
Once more my rainbow tints are paled
	⁠With that unquestioning soul away—
Whose faith compelled the sun, the stars,
	⁠To yield their halos for my sake,
And saw through Time's obscuring bars
	⁠The Parmese master's glory break!

Edmund Clarence Stedman's other poems:
  1. How Old Brown Took Harper's Ferry
  2. Sumter
  3. Kearny at Seven Pines
  4. Wanted—A Man
  5. Treason's Last Device

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