The Sculptor's Funeral (Parsons)

For works with similar titles, see The Sculptor's Funeral.
The Sculptor's Funeral
by Thomas William Parsons

The Sculptor's Funeral (Parsons)

Amid the aisle, apart, there stood
  A mourner like the rest;
  And while the solemn rites were said,
  He fashioned into verse his mood,
  That would not be repressed.

  Why did they bring him home,
  Bright jewel set in lead?
  Oh, bear the sculptor back to Rome,
  And lay him with the mighty dead,--
  With Adonais, and the rest
  Of all the young and good and fair,
  That drew the milk of English breast,
  And their last sigh in Latian air!

  Lay him with Raphael, unto whom
  Was granted Rome's most lasting tomb;
  For many a lustre, many an aeon,
  He might sleep well in the Panthéon,
  Deep in the sacred city's womb,
  The smoke and splendor and the stir of Rome.

  Lay him 'neath Diocletian's dome,
  Blessed Saint Mary of the Angels,
  Near to that house in which he dwelt,--
  House that to many seemed a home,
  So much with him they loved and felt.
  We were his guests a hundred times;
  We loved him for his genial ways;
  He gave me credit for my rhymes,
  And made me blush with praise.

  Ah! there be many histories
  That no historian writes,
  And friendship hath its mysteries
  And consecrated nights;
  Amid the busy days of pain,
  Wear of hand, and tear of brain,
  Weary midnight, weary morn,
  Years of struggle paid with scorn;--
  Yet oft amid all this despair,
  Long rambles in the Autumn days
  O'er Appian or Flaminian Ways,
  Bright moments snatched from care,

    When loose as buffaloes on the wild Campagna
      We roved and dined on crust and curds,
      Olives, thin wine, and thinner birds,
    And woke the echoes of divine Romagna;
      And then returning late,
      After long knocking at the Lateran gate,
      Suppers and nights of gods; and then
      Mornings that made us new-born men;
      Rare nights at the Minerva tavern,
      With Orvieto from the Cardinal's cavern;
      Free nights, but fearless and without reproof,--
      For Bayard's word ruled Beppo's roof.

    O Rome! what memories awake,
      When Crawford's name is said,
    Of days and friends for whose dear sake
    That path of Hades unto me
      Will have no more of dread
    Than his own Orpheus felt, seeking Eurydice!
      O Crawford! husband, father, brother
    Are in that name, that little word!
      Let me no more my sorrow smother;
    Grief stirs me, and I must be stirred.

    O Death, thou teacher true and rough!
      Full oft I fear that we have erred,
    And have not loved enough;
    But oh, ye friends, this side of Acheron,
      Who cling to me to-day,
    I shall not know my love till ye are gone
      And I am gray!
      Fair women with your loving eyes,
    Old men that once my footsteps led,
      Sweet children,--much as all I prize,
    Until the sacred dust of death be shed
      Upon each dear and venerable head,
    I cannot love you as I love the dead!

    But now, the natural man being sown,
    We can more lucidly behold
      The spiritual one;
      For we, till time shall end,
      Full visibly shall see our friend
    In all his hand did mould,--
    That worn and patient hand that lies so cold!

    When on some blessed studious day
    To my loved Library I wend my way,
    Amid the forms that give the Gallery grace
    His thought in that pale poet I shall trace,--
      Keen Orpheus with his eyes
        Fixed deep in ruddy hell,

  Seeking amid those lurid skies
  The wife he loved so well,--
  And feel that still therein I see
  All that was in my Master's thought,
  And, in that constant hand wherewith he wrought,
  The eternal type of constancy.
  Thou marble husband! might there be
  More of flesh and blood like thee!

  Or if, in Music's festive hall,
  I come to cheat me of my care,
  Amid the swell, the dying fall,
  His genius greets me there.
  O man of bronze! thy solemn air--
  Best soother of a troubled brain--
  Floods me with memories, and again
  As thou stand'st visibly to men,
  Beloved musician! so once more
  Crawford comes back that did thy form restore.

       * * * * *

  Well,--requiescat! let him pass!

  Good mourners, go your several ways!
  He needs no further rite, nor mass,
  Nor eulogy, who best could praise
  Himself in marble and in brass;
  Yet his best monument did raise,
  Not in those perishable things
  That men eternal deem,--
  The pride of palaces and kings,--
  But in such works as must avail him there,
  With Him who, from the extreme
  Love that was in his breast,
  Said, "Come, all ye that heavy burdens bear,
  And I will give you rest!"

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.