No. 10305 of 10318
Sender Date Recipient
Edmund Gosse [+]

Sender’s Location


Juni 1872 [+]

Dating based on

Dateringen fremgår af digtsamlingen, jf. Gosse, op. cit., p. 136.


Poem to Thorvaldsen’s relief The Genii of Music Playing, A587.





SEE, there is silence now! The harmony,
Drawn out into a long delicious close,
Falls gently, as the petals of a rose
Drop silently at night into the sea;
The moon that climbs behind the poplar-three,
And therein like a ghostly blossom glows,
Has waited patiently until she knows
That the rest is brooding round the god-like three.
Ah! little trinity of light and song,
What earth, what heaven can claim you? O delay!
Still let your curved fingers wind along
The trembling strings that quiver while you play!
Let not my earthly presence do you wrong!
I move not, speak not, lest you fade away!


But ah! one sweet child, turning, waves his wings,
And lifts his magian harp into the air;
Can those be tears that glimmer in his hair,
Fast fallen from his eyes’ pure water-springs?
His fingers falters soft atwarth the strings;
The melody is more than heart can bear,
It ravels all the threads of pain and care,
And, to dissolve the rhythmic bond, he sings.
It seems as though a bird, too sad to mourn,
When all its happier mates are fled and flown,
Should sing old spring-songs to a winter grove!
Eldest and saddest of the three, forlorn
Of dreams and fancies, he has slowly grown
The soul and Image of the antique Love.


But, see, his brother laughing, folds his plumes,
And strikes a chord upon his viol-wires;
No anthem this of faded hearts’ desires,
Or life’s wan ghost, that walks among the tombs;
And he who holds the golden pipe resumes
His mellow music, and a song aspires
From both in unison as when the choirs
Of Venus’ maidens sing above their loomes.
For these are Hope, that pipes our lifes away,
And Pleasure, with his plectrum, sweet desire;
Love stands apart, and sadder far than they,
For he has tasted deeper life and higher,
And seen the eyes of Pleasure lose their fire,
And Hope, delayed past hoping for, decay.

COPENHAGEN, June, 1872.

* [Forklaring til indsat stjernemarkering ovenfor:] Three winged children playing on musical instruments.

General Comment

Digtet blev udgivet i Edmund Gosse’s: On viol and flute, London 1873, p. 134-136.

I første strofe beskrives relieffet som et sart still-billede fra en anden verden, som betragteren fortaber sig i. Omgivelser og stemninger, der ikke er fysisk eksisterende på relieffet, beskrives, og man fornemmer muligheden af, at det forjættede motiv kan komme til live, hvis blot det ikke forstyrres.

I anden strofe sker miraklet – den lille genius længst til venstre i relieffet (ham, der spiller på en harpe) bevæger sig og levendegør dermed relieffets motiv. Denne genius identificeres af Gosse som en Eros, den antikke kærlighedsgud (jf. The soul and Image of the antique Love).

I tredje strofe begynder Eros’ to “brødre” også at spille – de identificeres som hhv. Håbet (fløjtespillende) og Fornøjelsen/Lysten (guitarspillende) (jf. Hope, that pipes our lifes away,
And Pleasure, with his plectrum, sweet desire
). Disse to genier er ikke plaget af den gammel-/verdenskloge tristhed, som Eros tynges af.

Læs evt. mere om relieffets forskellige udlægninger i referenceartiklerne Thorvaldsens værker på Hams Hall og Fra genier til engle og tilbage igen.

Tak til lektor ved Københavns Universitet Lene Østermark-Johansen for at gøre opmærksom på digtet.

Ikke omtalt hos Thiele.
Other references

  • A Guide to Thorvaldsen’s Museum, København 1871, p. 7.
  • Edmund Gosse: On viol and flute, London 1873, p. 134-136.
Poems on Works of Thorvaldsen · Reliefs, Allegories
Last updated 14.06.2016 Print