To Alexander Galt, The Sculptor.

A poem by James Barron Hope

Alas! he's cold!
Cold as the marble which his fingers wrought -
Cold, but not dead; for each embodied thought
Of his, which he from the Ideal brought
To live in stone,
Assures him immortality of fame.

Galt is not dead!
Only too soon
We saw him climb
Up to his pedestal, where equal Time
And coming generations, in the noon
Of his full reputation, yet shall stand
To pay just homage to his noble name.

Our Poet of the Quarries only sleeps,
He cleft his pathway up the future's steeps,
And now rests from his labors.

Hence 'tis I say;
For him there is no death,
Only the stopping of the pulse and breath -
But simple breath is not the all in all;
Man hath it but in common with the brutes -
Life is in action and in brave pursuits!
By what we dream, and having dreamt, dare do,
We hold our places in the world's large view,
And still have part in the affairs of men
When the long sleep is on us.

He dreamt and made his dreams perpetual things
Fit for the rugged cell of penitential saints,
Or sumptuous halls of Kings,
And showed himself a Poet in the Art:
He chiselled Lyrics with a touch so fine,
With such a tender beauty of their own,
That rarest songs broke out from every line
And verse was audible in voiceless stone!
His Psyche, soft in beauty and in grace,
Waits for her lover in the Western breeze,
And a swift smile irradiates her face,
As though she heard him whisper in the trees.

His passion-stricken Sappho seems alive -
Before her none can ever feel alone,
For on her face emotions so do strive
That we forget she is but pallid stone;
And all her tragedy of love and woe
Is told us in the chilly marble's snow.

Bacchante, with her vine-crowned hair,
Leaps to the cymbal-measured dance
With such a passion in her air -
Upon her brow - upon her lips -
As thrills you to the finger-tips,
And fascinates your glance.

These are, as 'twere, three of his Songs in stone -
The first full of the tenderness of love,
Speaking of moon-rise, and the low wind's call:
The second of love's tragedy and fall;
The third of shrill, mad laughter, and the tone
Of festal music, on whose rise and fall
Swift-footed dancers follow.

Nobler than these sweet lyric dreams,
Dreamt out beside Italia's streams,
He'd worked some Epic studies out, in part -
To leave them incomplete his chiefest pain
When the low pulses of his failing heart
Admonished him of death.

Ay! he had soared upon a lofty wing,
Wet with the purple and encrimsoned rain
Of dreams, whose clouds had floated o'er his brain
Until it ached with glories.

If you would see his Epic studies, go -
Go with the student from his dim arcade -
Halt where the Statesman standeth in the hall,
And mark how careless voices hush and fall,
And all light talk to sudden pause is brought
In presence of the noble type of thought -
Embodied Independence which he wrought
From stone of far Carrara.

View his Columbus: Hero grand and meek,
Scarred 'mid the battle's long-protracted brunt -
Palos and Salvador stamped on his front,
With not a line about it, poor or weak -
A second Atlas, bearing on his brow
A New World, just discovered.

Go see Virginia's wise, majestic face
With some faint shadow of her coming woe
Writ on the broad, expansive, virgin snow
Of her imperial forehead, just as though
Some disembodied Prophet-hand of eld
The Sculptor's chisel in its touch had held,
Foreshadowing her coming crown of thorns -
Her crown and her great glory!
These of the many; but they are enough -
Enough to show that I have rightly said
The marble's snow bids back from him decay,
He sleepeth long; but sleeps not with the dead
Who die, and are forgotten ere the clay
Heaped over them hath hardened in the sun.

This much of Galt, the Artist:
Of the man
Fain would I speak, but in sad sooth I can
Ne'er find the words wherein to tell
How he was loved, or yet how well
He did deserve it.
All things of beauty were to him delight -
The sunset's clouds - the turret rent apart -
The stars which glitter in the noon of night -
Spoke in one voice unto his mind and heart,
His love of Nature made his love of Art,
And had his span
Of life been longer
He had surely done
Such noble things that he
Like to a soaring eagle would have been
At last - lost in the sun!

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