PRAXITELES AND PHRYNE
by: William Wetmore Story
silent years ago,
- The twilight faint and pale
- Was drawing o'er the sunset glow
- Its soft and shadowy veil;
- When from his work the Sculptor stayed
- His hand, and, turned to one
- Who stood beside him, half in shade,
- Said, with a sigh, "'T is done.
- "Thus much is saved from chance and change,
- That waits for me and thee;
- Thus much -- how little! -- from the range
- Of Death and Destiny.
- "Phryne, thy human lips shall pale,
- Thy rounded limbs decay,--
- Nor love nor prayers can aught avail
- To bid thy beauty stay;
- "But there thy smile for centuries
- On marble lips shall live,--
- For Art can grant what Love denies,
- And fix the fugitive.
- "Sad thought! nor age nor death shall fade
- The youth of this cold bust;
- When this quick brain and hand that made,
- And thou and I are dust!
- "When all our hopes and fears are dead,
- And both our hearts are cold,
- And love is like a tune that's played,
- And life a tale that's told,
- "This senseless stone, so coldly fair,
- That love nor life can warm,
- The same enchanting look shall wear,
- The same enchanting form.
- "Its peace no sorrow shall destroy;
- Its beauty age shall spare
- The bitterness of vanished joy,
- The wearing waste of care.
- "And there upon that silent face
- Shall unborn ages see
- Perennial youth, perennial grace,
- And sealed serenity.
- "And strangers, when we sleep in peace,
- Shall say, not quite unmoved,
- 'So smiled upon Praxiteles
- The Phryne whom he loved!'"
MORE POEMS BY WILLIAM WETMORE STORY
"Praxiteles and Phryne"
is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900.
Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.