The old dragon’s imps as they fled
through the air,
At seeing it paused on the wing,
For he had a likeness so just to a hair,
That they came as Apollyon himself had been there,
To pay their respects to their king.
Every child on beholding it, shivered
And screamed, as he turned away quick;
Not an old woman saw it, but raising her head,
Dropp’d a bead, made a cross on her wrinkles, and said,
“God help me from ugly old Nick!”
What the Painter so earnestly thought
on by day,
He sometimes would dream of by night;
But once he was started as sleeping he lay,
’Twas no fancy, no dream—he could plainly survey
That the devil himself was in sight.
“You rascally dauber,” old
“Take heed how you wrong me, again!
Though your caricatures for myself I despise,
Make me handsomer now in the multitude’s eyes,
Or see if I threaten in vain.”
Now the painter was bold and religious
And on faith he had certain reliance,
So earnestly he all his countenance eyed,
And thanked him for sitting with Catholic pride,
And sturdily bid him defiance.
Betimes in the morning, the Painter arose,
He is ready as soon as ’tis light;
Every look, every line, every feature he knows,
’Twas fresh to his eye, to his labor he goes,
And he has the wicked old one quite.
Happy man, he is sure the resemblance
The tip of his nose is red hot,
There’s his grin and his fangs, his skin cover’d with scales
And that—the identical curl of the tail,
Not a mark—not a claw is forgot.
He looks and retouches again with delight;
’Tis a portrait complete to his mind!
He touches again, and again feeds his sight,
He looks around for applause, and he sees with affright,
The original standing behind.
“Fool! idiot!” old Beelzebub
grinned as he spoke,
And stamp’d on the scaffold in ire;
The painter grew pale, for he knew it no joke,
’Twas a terrible height, and the scaffolding broke;
And the devil could wish it no higher.
“Help! help me, O Mary,” he
cried in alarm,
As the scaffold sank under his feet,
From the canvas the Virgin extended her arm,
She caught the good painter, she saved him from harm,
There were thousands who saw in the street.
The old dragon fled when the wonder he
And curs’d his own fruitless endeavor:
While the Painter called after, his rage to deride,
Shook his palette and brushes in triumph, and cried,
“Now I’ll paint thee more ugly than ever!”