Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 5/The three statues of Ægina


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Chiron, the sculptor, night and day,
Toils o’er his heaps of Samian clay.
The years of anxious care are past—
A masterpiece is wrought at last.
He breaks the mould, and, lo! appears
A rustic God, with wild goat’s ears.

The judge condemns—and Chiron yet
Over the clay must sigh and sweat;
“Not strength alone but beauty gives
The prize for which the sculptor lives.”
A second trial—Venus he
Has shown us rising from the sea.

Again he fails—for sages say,
“In art that wisdom must have sway.
That beauty, true, is flower and root,
Wisdom alone the ripened fruit.”
Again his lamp burns, day and night,
And, lo! Minerva, mailed in light.
The judges meet—the Archon stands,
The oak-crown in his wrinkled hands.
“All hail to Chiron!” is the cry
That scares the white doves in the sky.
“Why sits he, then, with upturn’d face,
Nor moveth from his resting-place?”
Pluto has call’d him. He is gone.
A shade that victor crown has on.
They bear hale Chiron to the pile,
Where the blue waves unceasing smile;
And there, in sunshine and in gloom,
Those triple statues guard his tomb.

Walter Thornbury.