The King’s Picture
In the last post I mentioned that my mother would give recitations. I never actually heard her give one, but she kept several pieces, and I found them. Today I’d like to share one of the selections. It was really hard to choose, but I went with the one copied out in her own handwriting.
The King’s Picture
By Helen. L.B. Bostwick
The king from the council chamber came weary and sore of heart.
He called to Cliff, the painter, and spoke to him thus apart.
“I’m sickened of faces ignoble, hypocrites, cowards and knaves.
I shall shrink to their shrunken measure, chief slave in a realm of slaves.
Paint me a true man’s picture, gracious and wise and good,
Dowered with the strength of heroes, and the beauty of womanhood.
It shall hang in my inmost chamber, that, thither when I retire,
It may fill my soul with its grandeur, and warm it with sacred fire.”
So the artist painted the picture, and it hung in the palace hall;
Never a thing so lovely had garnished the stately wall.
The King, with head uncovered, gazed on it with rapt delight,
Till it suddenly wore strange meaning- baffled his questioning sight.
For the form was the supplest courtier’s, perfect in every limb;
But the bearing was that of the henchman who filled the flagons for him.
The brow was a priest’s who pondered his parchment early and late.
The eye was the wandering minstrel’s who sang at the palace gate.
The lips, half sad and half mirthful, with a fitful trembling grace,
Were the very lips of a woman he had kissed in the market place.
But the smiles which curves transfigured, as a rose with its shimmer of dew,
Was the smile of the wife who loved him, Queen Ethelyn, good and true.
Then, “Learn, O King,” said the artist, “This truth that the picture tells-
That is every form of the human some hint of the highest dwells;
That, scanning each living temple for the place that the veil is thin,
We may gather by beautiful glimpses the form of the God within.
Next Post: Monday, Sept. 17 © Dorothy C. Judd