Crowned and Discrowned

“ HERE is the place,” speaks a fresh, strong voice,
“ Thrown open yesterday. Now, Ceeile,
Come and be critical of high art;
I’d have rubbed up my Ruskin, but I feel
“ The cares this change of condition brings.”
The little bride’s cheek has a sudden flush,
And her hand forsakes her husband’s arm
Because of appearances: “ Leonard, hush! —
“ The door-keeper heard you.” “ What if he did ?
I am willing. Just for the sake of art,
I take a catalogue; but, my dear,
Down in the very heart of my heart
“ I feel that I care not for picture, bust,
Statue, or carving; I came away
For a week with my wife.” A sweet, low laugh:
“ What a pair of heathens we are to-day!
“ I am tired of sight-seeing too; but still
We must do our duty.” A comical groan
From the blithe young bridegroom. “ Surely we might—
For the honey-moon only — let duty alone.”
“No,” from the sweet, firm, rose-bud mouth;
“ We should be sorry.” “ How? where? and when ? ”
“ When it could not be helped.” “ For the matter of that,
It is worse to be sorry now than then! ”
They start on their pilgrimage through the rooms,
Armed with a catalogue; everywhere
Stand knots of the dilettante set
Who patronize sunsets: “ Very fair! ”
Seeing or not seeing, on they go
To the gallery’s end, where a sudden thrill
Of tremulous silence holds the crowd,
And the chattering tongues for the nonce are still
At the beauty before them. Broad, low brows,
Dark eyes half-veiled by the lashes’ fall,
Quivering nostrils, and scarlet lips,
And the kingly stature of kingly Saul
Win beholders’ hearts, as of old they won
The heart of the Seer. Samuel stands,
His welcoming eyes on the noble face,
Reaching forth gracious, anointing hands
To the chosen monarch. All the tale
Is there. “ On whom is the whole desire
Of Israel’s house? is it not on thee?
Thou art the king that their prayers require ! ”
But another canvas the painter filled
Ere his pencil rested. Saul the King
Cometh to Samuel, long at rest;
His coming an evil, unholy thing.
The stately figure all prostrate lies;
The beautiful, spirited, gracious face
Is seamed with the lines that a crooked will
And a haughty temper know how to trace.
He crouches in fear at the gloomy shade
Darkling above him. Well may he,
The Seer whose word has blessed and banned,
Full sternly ask, “ Wherefore call’st thou me?
“ The kingdom out of thy hand is rent,
And given to David; Jehovah’s word
Thou heard’st nor heeded st ; to-morrow thou
And thy sons come to me: thus saith the Lord! ”
The first — the beginning by God’s good grace;
The second— the ending by man’s wrong will:
So the painter interpreted Holy Writ;
Read he the meaning well or ill?
The blithe young couple have lingered long
Before the crowned and the discrowned Saul;
Departing they pray, “ Where the Lord begins,
May he too finish, for us — for all! ”
B. W.