TO HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
(Dedication of Calderon’s “Chrysanthus and Daria.”)
Pensive within the Coliseum’s walls
I stood with thee, O Poet of the West!—
The day when each had been a welcome guest
In San Clemente’s venerable halls:—
With what delight my memory now recalls
That hour of hours, that flower of all the rest,
When, with thy white beard falling on thy breast,
That noble head, that well might serve as Paul’s
In some divinest vision of the saint
By Raffael dreamed—I heard thee mourn the dead—
The martyred host who fearless there, though faint,
Walked the rough road that up to heaven’s gate led:
These were the pictures Calderon loved to paint
In golden hues that here perchance have fled.
Yet take the colder copy from my hand,
Not for its own but for the Master’s sake;
Take it, as thou, returning home, wilt take
From that divinest soft Italian land
Fixed shadows of the beautiful and grand
In sunless pictures that the sun doth make—
Reflections that may pleasant memories wake
Of all that Raffael touched, or Angelo planned:—
As these may keep what memory else might lose,
So may this photograph of verse impart
An image, though without the native hues
Of Calderon’s fire, and yet with Calderon’s art,
Of what thou lovest through a kindred muse
That sings in heaven, yet nestles in the heart.
Dublin, August 24th, 1869.
To Kenelm Henry Digby,
author of “Mores CATHOLICI,” “The Broadstone of honour,”
(On being presented by him with a copy, painted by
himself, of a rare
Portrait of Calderon.)
How can I thank thee for this gift of thine,
Digby, the dawn and day-star of our age,
Forerunner thou of many a saint and sage
Who since have fought and conquer’d ’neath the Sign?
Thou hast left, as in a sacred shrine—
What shrine more pure than thy unspotted page?—
The priceless relics, as a heritage,
Of loftiest thoughts and lessons most divine.
Poet and teacher of sublimest lore,
Thou scornest not the painter’s mimic skill,
And thus hath come, obedient to thy will
The outward form that Calderon’s spirit wore.
Ah! happy canvas that two glories fill,
Where Calderon lives ’neath Digby’s hand once more.
October 15th, 1878.