BETA

Half-length and full face portrait of a young woman. She wears a mantilla veil, a pearl necklace, a ring, and a draped gown. With her right hand, she holds a hand fan in front of her body. A purse hangs from her right wrist. Full page illustration.

ON THE
PORTRAIT OF A SPANISH PRINCESS

How great the limner’s triumph! for he writes1
A universal language, which the clown2
And schoolman read alike. Behold a face3
Array’d in beauty, which we dare to scan,4
Nor fear its frown, nor yet more dangerous smile.5
And this is one whose destiny it was6
To sit in the high places of the world,7
A mark for Envy’s shaft! Look on that brow!8
It is the throne of Genius, bathed in light !9
How high and queenly too! though yet untouch’d10
By queenly crown; for never diadem11
Did sit on mortal temples but it left12
The furrow’d impress of its cares behind.13
And yet that face, all beaming though it be14
With youth and health and beauty, hath a touch15
Of pensiveness withal; and that dark eye,16
Though sparkling with a radiance that might win17
The Gheber from his idol, hath a chaste,18
Subdued expression, as if once its light19
Was dimm’d by many tears;—tears shed o’er scenes20
’Tis bitterness to think on, when the sword21
Did reap her country’s corn-fields, and the hoof22
Of the proud war-horse press’d her grapes; and when23
The blood of patriot martyrs was pour’d forth24
* See the Frontispiece,
Upon the earth like water—not like it25
To sink into the ground: its reek arose26
A cloud between the slayer and his God,27
To burst in lightnings in the day of wrath28
And retribution.29
Let us gaze again30
Upon the picture, and admire the power31
Of woman’s beauty. O it hath a charm32
With which the Great Artificer endues33
Nought else of his creation! I have stood34
Oft by the margin of the deep, and mark’d35
The ripple of its waters with an ear36
That deem’d it music. I have wander’d too, 37
By moonlight, through the woodlands, and have heard38
Mysterious whisperings of many tongues,39
As though the fabled genii of the trees40
Held converse in their branches: and the while,41
Albeit, not of Genius’ favour’d sons,42
Have felt the inspiration of the scene,43
And wept for ecstasy: but there is still44
In beauty, when enshrining woman’s form,45
An all-surpassing magic, which hath work’d46
For evil and for good, in every age47
From Adam’s to our own. Let no man look48
With eyes unholy on her loveliness!49
She is a temple which th’ Eternal One50
Hath built Him to inhabit. Who will dare51
To desecrate the dwelling of his God?52