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GIFFORD

I


THE CLOSED STUDIO

This was a magician's cell:
Beauty's self obeyed his spell!
When the air was gloom without,
Grace and Color played about
Yonder easel. Many a sprite,
Golden-winged with heaven's light,
Let the upper skies go drear,
Spreading his rare plumage here.


Skyward now,—alas the day!—
See the truant Ariels play!
Cloud and air with light they fill,
Wandering at idle will,
Nor (with half their tasks undone)
Stay to mourn the master gone.
Only in this hollow room.
Now, the stillness and the gloom.


II


OF WINTER NIGHTS

When the long nights return, and find us met
Where he was wont to meet us, and the flame
On the deep hearth-stone gladdens as of old,
And there is cheer, as ever in that place,
How shall our utmost nearing close the gap
Known, but till then scarce measured? Or what light
Of cheer for us, his gracious presence gone,
His speech delayed, till none shall fail to miss
That halting voice, yet sure, speaking, it seemed
The one apt word? For well the painter knew
Art's alchemy and law; her nobleness
Was in his soul, her wisdom in his speech,
And loyalty was housed in that true heart,
Gentle yet strong, and yielding not one whit
Of right or purpose. Now, not more afar
The light of last year's Yule fire than the smile
Of Gifford, nor more irreclaimable
Its vapor mingled with the wintry air.

1880