An Artist's Model

TURN buck the picture to the wall
That gazes from the easel thus!
The hand that drew is dead, and all
Is ended, now, for all of us.
Oh, not his life alone, but mine
Goes down into his grave to-day,
As, failing of the touch divine,
My very portrait fades away.
You look askance — My portrait? Yes.
True, I have lent to many a one
His canvas saints’ and sinners’ dress,
But this was just myself begun.
You would not think that fresh, pure face
The same that every studio knows —
That girlish form’s unconscious grace
Your model’s well-considered pose?
Oh, never any one like him .
Had brain and heart to feel and know!
The others painted turn of limb,
And flesh and blood’s mere surface glow;
But he, with vision swift and strong.
Pierced deep to what they could not see,
And through the web of chance and wrong,
Discerned the hidden soul of me.
I tell you, with his kind, keen eyes,
He looked straight through this accident
That men call Me, and saw me rise,
The very woman Nature meant!
And in my inmost self, the while,
I felt it grow, the sweet, strange dream,
And stood, beneath his quickening smile,
The marvel that he made me seem!
Oh, might I once have seen complete
This miracle I measured by,
Prostrate before the spotless feet.
Of this that was and was not I,
I could have wept such tears as wear
The stained soul white and leave it free,
And risen a new creature there,
And been — what I shall never be!
Turn back the picture to the wall,
And bury the dead painter now,
And let me walk behind them all
That mourner chief of all should bow;
For who can see, like such a one,
The self-same coffin shut within,
Beside the life untimely done
The life that never shall begin?
And yet if any truth there be
In worlds that make amends for this,
Then Heaven perhaps will pity me
For all that Earth has let me miss;
And I shall find his face again,
And know the rest. Farewell, my Fate,
Until we meet! If never — then —
Farewell to all I learn too late!
Kate Putnam Osgood.