Verse > Anthologies > Hunt and Lee, eds. > The Book of the Sonnet
Hunt and Lee, comps.  The Book of the Sonnet.  1867.
V. “Is this a painting?”
By Park Benjamin (1809–1864)
(Written in view of the harbor of New York from the banks of the North River, on the loveliest and calmest of the last days of autumn)

IS this a painting? Are those pictured clouds
  Which on the sky so movelessly repose?
Has some rare artist fashioned forth the shrouds
  Of yonder vessel? Are these imaged shows
Of outline, figure, form, or is there life—        5
  Life with a thousand pulses—in the scene
  We gaze upon? Those towering banks between,
E’er tossed these billows in tumultuous strife?
  Billows! there ’s not a wave! the waters spread
One broad, unbroken mirror! all around        10
Is hushed to silence—silence so profound
  That a bird’s carol, or an arrow sped
Into the distance, would, like larum bell,
Jar the deep stillness and dissolve the spell!

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