The marble waits, immaculate
Beside it stands the sculptor, lost in dreams.
With vague, chaotic forms his vision teems.
Fair shapes pursue him, only to elude
And mock his eager fancy. Lines of grace
And heavenly beauty vanish, and, behold!
Out through the Parian luster, pure and cold,
Glares the wild horror of a devil’s face.
The clay is ready for the
The marble waits: how beautiful, how pure,
That gleaming substance, and it shall endure,
When dynasty and empire, throne and king
Have crumbled back to dust. Well may you pause,
Oh, sculptor-artist! and, before that mute,
Unshapen surface, stand irresolute!
Awful, indeed, are art’s unchanging laws.
The thing you fashion out
of senseless clay,
Transformed to marble, shall outlive your fame;
And, when no more is known your race, or name,
Men shall be moved by what you mold to-day.
We all are sculptors. By each act and thought,
We form the model. Time, the artisan,
Stands, with his chisel, fashioning the Man,
And stroke by stroke the masterpiece is wrought.
Angel or demon? Choose,
and do not err!
For time but follows as you shape the mold,
And finishes in marble, stern and cold,
That statue of the soul, the character.
By wordless blessing, or by silent curse,
By act and motive,—so do you define
The image which time copies, line by line,
For the great gallery of the Universe.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
At the gateway of a new year, emerging from the gay carelessness of childhood, stand troops of buoyant, eager-eyed youths and maidens, gazing down the vista of the future with glad expectancy.
Fancy spreads upon her canvas radiant pictures of the joys and triumphs which await them in the unborn years. In their unclouded springtime there is no place for the specters of doubt and fear which too often overshadow the autumn of life.
In this formative period, the soul is unsoiled by warfare with the world. It lies, like a block of pure, uncut Parian marble, ready to be fashioned into—what?
Its possibilities are limitless. You are the sculptor. An unseen hand places in yours the mallet and the chisel, and a voice whispers: “The marble waiteth. What will you do with it?”
In this same block the angel and the demon lie sleeping. Which will you call into life? Blows of some sort you must strike. The marble cannot be left uncut. From its crudity some shape must be evolved. Shall it be one of beauty, or of deformity; an angel, or a devil? Will you shape it into a statue of beauty which will enchant the world, or will you call out a hideous image which will demoralize every beholder?
What are your ideals, as you stand facing the dawn of this new year with the promise and responsibility of the new life on which you have entered, awaiting you? Upon them depends the form which the rough block shall take. Every stroke of the chisel is guided by the ideal behind the blow.