The Artist's Muse

Said the artist to his muse:
"Please wear your fairest face,
And I shall paint your deep green woods
With bowers full of lace

Your tangled brambles, sharp with thorns
Your flowers, fresh and sweet
The leaves that fall, at autumn's call,
In festoons round your feet

Your meadows filled with fragrant grass,
Bejewelled with drops of dew
Your starry gaze, your summer blaze,
Your eyes of sky-soft blue

Your pallid morning glimmer,
Your fiery sunset blush
Your languid midday swagger,
Your raging storm-cloud rush

Your sunbeam rays in thick, bright swathes
My palette box provides
My brush defines, in wavy lines,
The steps danced by your tides

Your stately-striding rivers,
Your ponds in still repose
Your flailing salt-spray torrents
Which pull the shores in close

Your cliffs and bluffs and mountain crags
Your soil and stone and silt,
Your broad brown land, your winding strand
Your sands of golden gilt

Your valleys, full of fern brocades
Your glades of mottled leaf
Floral cascades, in rosy shades
Your wild blooms on the heath

Your bountiful benevolence
Your fields of fresh-ploughed lines
Your stalks of fruiting nourishment
Your laden boughs and vines

Your precious orchards, harvested
For delicacies rare
The plum, the lime, the clementine,
The chestnut and the pear

Your pet familiars, one and all
Of foot, of fur, of wing
Of fin or skin, of scale or tail,
That runs, or swims, or sings

Shall have their place, in gilded frames
Hung up on hallowed walls
My brush remembers everything;
Your wonders, great and small –

The dream spun in a cobweb,
The hopes hung on a tree,
Your joyous sunlight dazzle,
The sorrows in your sea

There is naught about you
That I would fail to show
There is such beauty in your form;
That, every man should know

I shall record your image
For everyone to see
Each picture shall immortalize
That which will cease to be."

Said the artist to the world:
"Please show me all your charms,
And people will remark upon 't,
Whence strength has left my arms

Though my eyes, long dimmed by age,
May yet not see you hence,
Your portraiture shall still endure,
And speak in your defence

When all your trees have turned to stumps
Rooted in barren ground,
When not a single bird is left
To make a single sound,

When not a scrap of nature's trace
Is left to speak of you,
The crowds shall gasp in galleries,
Staring at my picture's view.

Then every man shall understand
Your fragile brand of grace;
Consumed by shame, he shall proclaim
The beauty of your face

At winter wakes, 'neath snowy flakes,
We all shall mourn your fate
Unless somehow, we preserve you now,
Before it's much too late."