Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
The Seaside and the Fireside
By the Fireside.
Gaspar Becerra
          This poem appears to have been suggested by a passage in Sterling’s Spanish Painters, which Mr. Longfellow was reading at the time with great pleasure. He had some thought of writing a drama based on Sterling’s account of Murillo’s life in Seville.

BY his evening fire the artist
  Pondered o’er his secret shame;
Baffled, weary, and disheartened,
  Still he mused, and dreamed of fame.
’T was an image of the Virgin        5
  That had tasked his utmost skill;
But, alas! his fair ideal
  Vanished and escaped him still.
From a distant Eastern island
  Had the precious wood been brought;        10
Day and night the anxious master
  At his toil untiring wrought;
Till, discouraged and desponding,
  Sat he now in shadows deep,
And the day’s humiliation        15
  Found oblivion in sleep.
Then a voice cried, “Rise, O master!
  From the burning brand of oak
Shape the thought that stirs within thee!”—
  And the startled artist woke,—        20
Woke, and from the smoking embers
  Seized and quenched the glowing wood;
And therefrom he carved an image,
  And he saw that it was good.
O thou sculptor, painter, poet!        25
  Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
  Shape from that thy work of art.

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