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FATHER MATHEW.

ODE TO A PAINTER, ABOUT TO COMMENCE A PICTURE TO
ILLUSTRATE THE LABOURS OF FATHER MATHEW.

I.

Seize thy pencil, child of art!
Fame and fortune brighten o'er thee;
Great thy hand, and great thy heart,
If well thou do'st the work before thee!
'Tis not thine to round the shield,
Or point the sabre, black or gory;
'Tis not thine to spread the field,
Where crime is crown'd—where guilt is glory.


II.

Child of art! to thee be given
To paint in colours all unclouded,
Breakings of a radiant heaven
O'er an isle in darkness shrouded!
But to paint them true and well,
Every ray we see them shedding
In its very light must tell
What a gloom before was spreading.


III.

Canst thou picture dried-up tears—
Eyes that wept no longer weeping—
Faithful woman's wrongs and fears,
Lonely, nightly, vigils keeping—
Listening ev'ry footfall nigh—
Hoping him she loves returning?
Canst thou, then, depict her joy,
That we may know the change from mourning?


IV.

Paint in colours strong but mild,
Our Isle's Redeemer, and Director—
Canst thou paint the man a child,
Yet shadow forth the mighty victor?
Let his path a rainbow span,
Every hue and colour blending—
Beaming "peace and love" to man,
And alike o'er all extending!


V.

Canst thou paint a land made free—
From its sleep of bondage, woken—
Yet, withal, that we may see
What 'twas before the chain was broken?
Seize the pencil, child of art!
Fame and fortune brighten o'er thee!
Great thy hand, and great thy heart,
If well thou do'st the work before thee!