She stood a vision vestureless and fair,
Glowing the canvas with her orient grace:
A goddess grave she stood, with such a face
As in Elysium the immortals wear.
But some, unworthy, as they pondered there,
Cold to the marvel of her look divine—
Saw but a form undraped, in Beauty's shrine.
Then she, it seemed, rebuked them: "Old and young
Have worshiped at the temple where I breathe,
And deathless laurels, for my sake, enwreathe
The brows of him from whose pure thought I sprung:
Lips consecrate as yours his praise have sung,—
Who neither sued for praise nor courted ease,
But reverently wrought, as from his knees.
"No raiment can the base or mean reclaim,
And that which sacred is must sacred be,
Clothed but in rags or robed in modesty.
In the endeavor still is felt the aim:
The workman may by skill exalt his name,
But, toiling fault and failure to redeem,
Cannot create what's loftier than his dream!
"For chaste must be the soul that chastely sees,
The thought enlightened, and the insight sure
That separates the pure from the impure;
And who Earth's humblest faith from error frees,
Awakening ideal sympathies,
Uplifts the savage from his kindred sod;
Who shows him beauty speaks to him of God!"