A painter, high in worldy fame,
Was sought to reproduce by art
A likeness of the man whose name
Sent darts of anguish through the heart
Of mighty monarchs in his day;
For he by arms subdued the world.
Kingdoms and empires owned his sway
And bowed beneath his flag unfurled.
But Alexander bore a scar,
Deep marked upon his royal brow;
To paint him thus would greatly mar
The monarch's beauty; as a slough
Would mar the beauty of a lawn,
Where queenly feet are wont to tread;
Or like the cloud at early dawn,
Which hides some glory 'neath its spread.
To leave it out would not be true,
For Alexander bore the scar;
The painter this resolved to do,
Which would be true, yet would not mar:
To paint the monarch's head reclined,
With his fore-finger on his brow;
And thus much grace with art combined,
Like ornament on vessel's prow.
The finger rested on the scar,
As if mere chance had placed it there;
And hid from sight this fruit of war,
And left a likeness true and fair.
So let us try, as best we can,
To cover o'er each ugly scar
Upon the brow of mortal man,
So none may see it, near nor far.