”La Notte.” of Thorwaldsen.
Beneath the summer moonlight slumbering soft,
While summer breezes whispered in thine ear,
And all the odors of the dewy eve
Were round thee breathing: when thy happy soul
Hovered half way between the world of dreams,
And that of outward sense, – then was it that before
Thine eye the dream – like beauty of this poem came?
Or in a waking [hone] to thy rapt soul
Did music softly utter it for strains
Then are that lift the spirit heaven ward, whence
It often bringeth down a beautious thought.
Or even unaided by the outward sense,
Swelled of its germ within thy poet mind,
And grew, and outward urged its way. When forms
Unbeautiful, disturbed thy reaching soul,
And vexed thine artist eye, came it to soothe?
But whether to thy sleeping eye it came,
Or to thy waking thought, or whether ‘mid
External beauty ’twas conceived and born,
Or ’mid deformity, in Heaven first
It had its beautious being: angels brought
The vision down from Heaven unto thee:
From Heaven, through thee, it came to us; thy mind
Was but the soil in which the angels loved
To plant the seed of outward beauty: This,
To plant these heavenly seeds within our minds,
That thence they may strive forth, and thus attain
The last, the earthly form, and bear on earth
Their fruit, is one among the many joys
Of Heaven; – But this, and each of thy so rare
And beautious conceptions, are no more
Those faintest glimmerings of what those yet
Shalt do: thy genius has but just begun
Its never ending course – it is a babe,
That has but newly opened to the light
Its feeble eyes; a flower that here on earth,
Hath budded forth, to blossom in the Heavens.
To Thorwaldsen, on hearing that he was observed to be depressed by the fear that his genius had failed him.
Great Poet! art thou sad because at length
Thou has produced a work in which thine eye
Can find no fault; – for which thy soul can ask
No greater beauty. Aye, because thine hand
Hath made the outward form of thine idea
So perfect that thine eye rests satisfied,
Thou thinkst thy genius faints and droops its wing.
That its bright course is done, because no more
It asketh from thine hands. – Fear not – the path
Of true poetic genius runneth through
Eternity. Thy genius even now is like a babe
That’s just begun to tottle on the floor;
Think not its course is stopped even in the outset;
Poet! thou art as yet but learning how to breathe.
All earthly beauty is but Heaven’s shadow;
And thou as yet art in the morning dusk,
Of thy bright day, which is to beam in Heaven.
To bring Heaven’s beauty down into its last,
Its outward form, has been thy life’s prime joy;
Exciting thus thy glorious powers; and thus
Thy life’s delight shall be thy joy in Heaven,
Thou shalt not idly sit in Paradise,
Nor idly wonder, gazing on its pomp,
But ever shalt produce the beautiful. Yes, thou
Shalt act, and serve thy God as thou lov’st best.