Art

Original Text: 

William John Robertson, ed. and trans., A Century of French Verse: Brief Biographical and Critical Notices of Thirty-three French Poets of of the Nineteenth Century with Experimental Translations from their Poems (London: A. D. Innes, 1895): 122-23.

1Art's noblest work from things
2Rebellious to the trammel
3     She wrings:
4Rhyme, marble, gem, enamel.
5No false constrainments use!
6But so thy tread be stately,
7     O Muse,
8Bind on the buskin straitly!
9A rhythm too easy spurn;
10Sandals so wide of measure,
11     In turn,
12Each doffs or dons at pleasure!
13Sculptor, since clay is vile,
14Moulded with careless finger,
15     The while
16Thy spirit elsewhere doth linger.
17Bend thou on marbles hard
18And rare thy soul's endeavour;
19     They guard
20Their beauty pure for ever!
21Seek Syracusan bronze
22That, firmly graven thorough.
23     Disowns
24No proud and graceful furrow;
25Or, with a delicate hand,
26In veins of agate follow
27     The grand
28Grave profile of Apollo.
29Limner, lest mildew shame
30Thy tints too evanescent,
31     Let flame
32Fast fix them incandescent.
33Make sirens blue that comb
34Gold tresses trailing under
35     The foam;
36Emblazon beasts of wonder: --
37Jesus, with cross and globe,
38The triple-haloed Virgin
39     Whose robe
40Bears lily-bloom and burgeon.
41Time brings all things to dust: --
42Art is Time's only rival.
43     A bust
44The city's sole survival.
45The rigid disk some hind
46Earthed in its urn funereal
47     Doth find
48Reveals a form imperial.
49The gods themselves must pass: --
50But sovran rhyme rings louder
51     When brass
52And iron are ground to powder.
53Against the hard stone set
54Thy hand; hew, chisel, planish.
55     Ere yet
56The dream dissolve and vanish!
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2012