BETA

A cityscape of the Place de Jeanne D’Arc in Rouen, France. The dark street at the front of the illustration opens to a square with the cloaked statue of Joan of Arc at its centre. The sky is full of dark clouds, but the statue and the small area that surrounds it are illuminated by the sun. A crowd of figures, mostly women, scatter throughout the street and around the statue. Many figures carry or sit on baskets. Multiple market stalls line the square. A rope extends from buildings on either side the street and a single lantern hangs from the rope. Full-page illustration.

Lines on the Place de Jeanne
D’Arc, at Rouen.

Addressed to Samuel Prout, Esq.

O thou brave Art of Painting !— With what skill1
Dost thou force back from out the depths of death,2
And clothe with human grace and almost human breath3
Creatures departed !— Thou, by thy sweet will,4
(Annihilating space—like Love of yore),5
Dost bring us here how many a pleasant scene,6
Bright slope, or Alpine height, or meadow green,7
Vine-cover’d land, or sunny Indian shore8
Perhaps some valley we have sigh’d to see,9
(Some gentle, shaded, fairy-peopled spot,10
Where we in dreaming boyhood wander’d free,)11
Or some sea-sever’d city half forgot.12
Look, where the Maiden Hero, struck to stone,13
Now ponders o’er her griefs aloft, alone,14
Or asks requital for her soiled fame,15
The bigot’s folly and historian’s shame.—16
In vain the sculptor chains her ; there she stands17
Unfetter’d by that cunning painter’s hands,—18
By thine, Enchanter, who hast left thy den19
To turn all shapes to beauty with thy pen !20
And well it is so. If the painter saw21
Nought but the prose of things, and dared but draw22
The literal aged uninspiring truth,23
And saw not Nature in her winged youth,24
Her rainbow aspect, when she stands array’d25
In floods of sunshine and in nights of shade,26
What would he gain, save what the high-soul’d scorn ?27
Friend, Art is still Imagination-born ;28
And her most bright creations none disdain29
Save they who strive to catch her hues—in vain !30
The painter, as the poet, did he drink31
Nought but the stagnant ditch, would droop and sink ;32
But buoyant waters bubble for his lip33
Castalian waters !— let him laugh and sip.34
Methinks the tame dull landscape stripp’d of grace,35
The map which marks mere outlines of the face,36
Measuring the bounds and petty curves—but blind37
To that bright sun within—the immortal mind38
Such things mean hands may do, by line and rule ;39
But thou art master in a nobler school.—40
Oh ! a brave painter art thou, Samuel Prout :41
By Jupiter ! I would not live without42
A drawing from thy pen, though I should feed43
To-morrow with chameleons !  Thou’st indeed44
The power, the master-touch ; and wheresoever45
Thy rare pen falls—look ! beauty lives for ever.46
There runs the rainbow !— through that peerless blue47
What clouds are wandering !— there the tempest flew !—48
There sleep cathedrals vast !— there rivers shine,49
Towers rise, and ocean spreads, and all is still divine !50
—Let us go wander !  Whither shall we go ?51
Through all those scenes which thou so well dost know ?52
Why, all are here—made perfect*.—See, what hue53
Deep dyes the Italian heavens ! Mark, what green54
Is in the crown’d Venetian waters seen !55
Look at her liquid streets, like paved glass56
That dim and storied street doth seem to pass57
Straight to a dungeon’s heart†—and that, more gay,58
Laughs out in sunshine, like the flowery May.59
On that close-cover’d bridge‡ did Pierre once walk,60
And, with his proselyte, midnight treasons talk.61
In that rich palace by the water’s side62
Did scores of doges dwell. But all have died !63
Though the wing’d lion, like the ghost of Fame,64
Still broods o’er power, which now is but a name.65
Behold, what marble towers and princely domes66
Were once the senatorial nobles’ homes,67
Palladian deserts now, which Jews may hire,68
And light on princes’ hearths a usurer’s fire !—69
Peace !— see those bronzed faces, dark, yet clear ;70
And hark ! from that lone street, the gondolier71
Pours, like a summer bird at close of day,72
In rich, sad voice, the soft, romantic lay :73
Love, love,” he sings—the theme which all engage,74
From flaming boyhood up to icy age,75
Forgetting Venice lost—Grimani dead76
And Faliero gone—and valour fled !77
* See the different drawings of the artist.
† Bridge of Sighs.
‡ Rialto.
—Oh ! were I you, friend artist, I would roam,78
And make the rivers, seas, and shores, my home,79
And take my tribute wheresoe’er I went,80
From every isle and curving continent ;81
No star should glitter—not a sky should shine82
In its blue beauty but I’d make them mine,83
And so-go gathering gold for after-times,84
Which poets (like myself) might coin to rhymes,85
Methinks ’t must be a task pleasant as great,86
Thus to save all things from the human fate87
Oblivion ; to revive the faded past ;88
To bid the dying live—the transient last :89
But better still to be (as thou art)—one90
Beloved by all who know thee ’neath the sun.91