Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
Leonardo’s “Monna Lisa”
Edward Dowden (1843–1913)
MAKE thyself known, Sibyl, or let despair
Of knowing thee be absolute: I wait
Hour-long and waste a soul. What word of fate
Hides ’twixt the lips which smile and still forbear?
Secret perfection! Mystery too fair!        5
Tangle the sense no more, lest I should hate
The delicate tyranny, the inviolate
Poise of thy folded hands, the fallen hair.
Nay, nay,—I wrong thee with rough words; still be
Serene, victorious, inaccessible;        10
Still smile but speak not; lightest irony
Lurk ever’ neath thy eyelids’ shadow; still
O’ertop our knowledge; Sphinx of Italy,
Allure us and reject us at thy will!


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