Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Praxiteles and Phryne
By William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)
 
[From Graffiti d’Italia. 1868.]

A THOUSAND silent years ago,
  The twilight faint and pale
Was drawing o’er the sunset glow
  Its soft and shadowy veil;
 
When from his work the Sculptor stayed        5
  His hand, and, turned to one
Who stood beside him, half in shade,
  Said, with a sigh, “’Tis done.
 
“Thus much is saved from chance and change,
  That waits for me and thee;        10
Thus much—how little!—from the range
  Of Death and Destiny.
 
“Phryne, thy human lips shall pale,
  Thy rounded limbs decay,—
Nor love nor prayers can aught avail        15
  To bid thy beauty stay;
 
“But there thy smile for centuries
  On marble lips shall live,—
For Art can grant what love denies,
  And fix the fugitive.        20
 
“Sad thought! nor age nor death shall fade
  The youth of this cold bust;
When this quick brain and hand that made
  And thou and I are dust!
 
“When all our hopes and fears are dead,        25
  And both our hearts are cold,
And love is like a tune that’s played,
  And life a tale that’s told,
 
“This senseless stone, so coldly fair,
  That love nor life can warm,        30
The same enchanting look shall wear,
  The same enchanting form.
 
“Its peace no sorrow shall destroy;
  Its beauty age shall spare
The bitterness of vanished joy,        35
  The wearing waste of care.
 
“And there upon that silent face
  Shall unborn ages see
Perennial youth, perennial grace,
  And sealed serenity.        40
 
“And strangers, when we sleep in peace,
  Shall say, not quite unmoved,
So smiled upon Praxiteles
  The Phryne whom he loved.”
 
 
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