Littell's Living Age/Volume 129/Issue 1664/Michael Angelo
His spirit haunts the olive-laden banks,
The cypressed village-belfry in decay,
The marble hills whose silvery whiteness flanks
The vale he loved: all seems the former day
When he began in art's warm hand to thaw
The frosted rock, and petrify the beam
That round his chisel swerved until he saw
The spirit's beauty o'er the features gleam.
And yon old sunset, that with rosy dyes
Fades in the marble hollows, tells anew
Of Twilight's nodding brows and closing eyes, -
As when the statue from their depths he drew
Which now in drowsy marble seems to wait,
Ere it go down, the waking of the dead, -
That simmers in half-sleep, as there it sate
When lifted dozing from its ancient bed.
There he first listened to the ringing note
That seemed in harmony with art to breathe
Out of the marble which the mallet smote,
As though a siren quickened underneath.
There he first dreamed how all forms fair below
In yonder virgin cemetery lay,
Their beauty crusted over, like the snow
Eternal with the snow of yesterday.
He sees the wrestlers, the last gasping throe,
The pent-up strength, the all-resisting strain;
Yet, ere the victor strike that vengeful blow,
The rigid arm he grasps must snap in twain.
He sees Laocoon climb the serpent-wave
That plunges o'er him with a tempest's might,
Hurrying his sons to the engulphing grave
That whirls them helpless from his suffering sight.