The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 4/On the Bust of Helen by Canova

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ON THE BUST OF HELEN BY CANOVA.[1]

In this belovéd marble view
Above the works and thoughts of Man,
What Nature could but would not do,
And Beauty and Canova can!
Beyond Imagination's power,
Beyond the Bard's defeated art,
With Immortality her dower,
Behold the Helen of the heart.

November 25, 1816.
[First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 61.]

  1. ["The Helen of Canova (a bust which is in the house of Madame the Countess d'Albrizzi, whom I know) is without exception, to my mind, the most perfectly beautiful of human conceptions, and far beyond my ideas of human execution."—Letter to Murray, November 25, 1816. In the works of Antonio Canova, engraved in outline by Henry Moses (London, 1873), the bust of Helen is figured (to face p. 58), and it is stated that it was executed in 1814, and presented to the Countess Albrizzi. (See Letters, 1900, iv. 14, 15, note.)]