Felicia Hemans in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine Volume 31 1832/The Painter's Last Work
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 31, Pages 220-221
THE PAINTER'S LAST WORK.—A SCENE.*
BY MRS HEMANS.
Clasp me a little longer on the brink
Of life, while I can feel thy dear caress;
And when this heart hath ceased to beat, oh! think,
And let it mitigate thy woe's excess,
That thou hast been to me all tenderness,
And friend to more than human friendship just.
Gertrude of Wyoming.
Scene—A Room in an Italian Cottage. The Lattice opening upon a
Landscape at sunset.
The fever's hue hath left thy cheek, beloved!
Thine eyes, that make the day-spring in my heart,
Are clear and still once more. Wilt thou look forth?
Now, while the sunset with low-streaming light—
The light thou lov'st—hath made the chestnut-stems
All burning bronze, the lake one sea of gold!
Wilt thou be raised upon thy couch, to meet
The rich air fill'd with wandering scents and sounds?
Or shall I lay thy dear, dear head once more
On this true bosom, lulling thee to rest
With vesper hymns?
No, gentlest love! not now:
My soul is wakeful—lingering to look forth,
Not on the sun, but thee! Doth the light sleep
So gently on the lake? and are the stems
Of our own chestnuts by that alchymy
So richly changed?—and is the orange-scent
Floating around?—But I have said farewell,
Farewell to earth, Teresa! not to thee,
Nor yet to our deep love, nor yet awhile
Unto the spirit of mine art, which flows
Back on my soul in mastery!—one last work!
And I will shrine my wealth of glowing thoughts,
Clinging affection and undying hope,
All that is in me for eternity,
All, all, in that memorial.
Oh! what dream
Is this, mine own Francesco? Waste thou not
Thy scarce-returning strength; keep thy rich thoughts
For happier days! they will not melt away
Like passing music from the lute;—dear friend!
Dearest of friends! thou canst win back at will
The glorious visions.
Yes! The unseen land
Of glorious visions hath sent forth a voice
To call me hence. Oh! Be thou not deceived!
Bind to thy heart no earthly hope, Teresa!
I must, must leave thee! Yet be strong, my love,
As thou hast still been gentle!
What will this dim world be to me, Francesco,
When wanting thy bright soul, the life of all—
My only sunshine!—How can I bear on?
How can we part? We that have loved so well,
With clasping spirits link'd so long by grief—
By tears—by prayer?
Ev’n therefore we can part,
With an immortal trust, that such high love
Is not of things to perish.
Let me leave
One record still, to prove it strong as death,
Ev’n in Death's hour of triumph. Once again,
Stand with thy meek hands folded on thy breast,
And eyes half veil'd, in thine own soul absorb'd,
As in thy watchings, ere I sink to sleep;
And I will give the bending flower-like grace
Of that soft form, and the still sweetness throned
On that pale brow, and in that quivering smile
Of voiceless love, a life that shall outlast
Their delicate earthly being. There—thy head
Bow'd down with beauty, and with tenderness,
And lowly thought—even thus—my own Teresa!
Oh! the quick glancing radiance, and bright bloom
That once around thee hung, have melted now
Into more solemn light—but holier far,
And dearer, and yet lovelier in mine eyes,
Than all that summer flush! For by my couch,
In patient and serene devotedness,
Thou hast made those rich hues and sunny smiles,
Thine offering unto me. Oh! I may give
Those pensive lips, that clear Madonna brow,
And the sweet earnestness of that dark eye,
Unto the canvass—I may catch the flow
Of all those drooping locks, and glorify
With a soft halo what is imaged thus—
But how much rests unbreathed! My faithful one!
What thou hast been to me! This bitter world,
This cold unanswering world, that hath no voice
To greet the heavenly spirit—that drives back
All Birds of Eden, which would sojourn here
A little while—how have I turn'd away
From its keen soulless air, and in thy heart,
Found ever the sweet fountain of response,
To quench my thirst for home!
The dear work grows
Beneath my hand—the last! Each faintest line
With treasured memories fraught. Oh! weep thou not
Too long, too bitterly, when I depart!
Surely a bright home waits us both—for I,
In all my dreams, have turn'd me not from God;
And Thou—oh! best and purest! stand thou there—
There, in thy hallow'd beauty, shadowing forth
The loveliness of love!
* Suggested by the closing scene in the life of the painter Blake; as beautifully related by Allan Cunningham.