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The Angel of Thought and Other Poems - Impressions from Old Masters
by Ethel Allen Murphy
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THE ANGEL OF THOUGHT



THE ANGEL OF THOUGHT and Other Poems

Impressions from Old Masters

ETHEL ALLEN MURPHY

BOSTON RICHARD G. BADGER The Gorham Press 1909



Copyright 1908, by Ethel Allen Murphy All Rights Reserved The Gorham Press, Boston, U.S.A.



TO MY FRIEND AND TEACHER ANNA J. HAMILTON



The writer wishes to express her gratitude to the Art Department of the Indiana University, whose kindness in lending the pictures which suggested the verses, and whose mission in opening some of their meanings to her spirit, have helped to make possible this little book.



CONTENTS

The Angel of Thought 13 (Suggested by a Fra Angelico Angel.)

Annunciation—Sonnet I 15

Annunciation—Sonnet II 17 (From the picture by Botticelli.)

The Visitation 19 (From the picture in Duerer's series on "The Life of the Virgin")

A Botticelli Madonna.

I. The Wondering Angels 21 (From the Madonna of the Magnificat.)

II. The Mournful Mother 23 (From the Madonna of the Pomegranate.)

III. The Loving Christ 25 (From the Madonna of the Rose Garden.)

The Angel of the Jasmine Wreath 27 (From Botticelli's painting, in the Borghese Gallery, of the Madonna and Child with Angels.)

A Prayer for the Followers of Ideal Beauty 29 (With a pencil sketch of an angel, by Botticelli.)



ILLUSTRATIONS

1. Angel—"Te Deum Laudamus," by Fra Angelico. 12

2. "The Annunciation"—by Botticelli. 14

3. "The Visitation" (From the picture in the series on "The Life of the Virgin,") by Duerer. 18

4. "The Madonna of the Magnificat"—by Botticelli. 20

5. "The Madonna of the Pomegranate"—by Botticelli. 22

6. "The Madonna of the Rose Garden"—by Botticelli. 24

7. The Angel Crowned with a Jasmine Wreath—by Botticelli. 26

8. Pencil Sketch of an Angel—by Botticelli. 28



THE ANGEL OF THOUGHT

(Suggested by a Fra Angelico Angel)

Angel of Thought, meseems God winged thee so, And crowned thine head with passion fine as flame, And made thy lifted face too pure for shame, With eyes and brow a mirror to His glow;— And gave thy lips a golden trump, that, though Long years have passed since other angels came To work the mighty wonders of His name,— In God's own name and man's, thyself shalt go Forever on strong pinions to and fro, And round the earth reverberating blow The mute, world-shaking music of the mind; That thou might'st make as naught all space and time, And thrill in mystic oneness through mankind, Yet dwell in each, inviolate, sublime.



ANNUNCIATION

(From the picture by Botticelli)

I

Kneeling in prayer, her spirit rapt above, She meets with God, Who bendeth, brooding low, In vast compassion humanward, and so, There comes upon her life the power of Love: Rising—behold! with pinions like a dove, An angel with a rod where row on row Of chaliced lilies spill supernal glow,— Which all her thought to wonder mute doth move. Then falls upon the rapture of her soul, Dimly some vision of Gethsemane, Athwart the Resurrection's shining goal, And with uplifted hand she pleads as One Shall pray in night of darkest agony, "This cup remove,—yet, Lord, Thy Will be done."



ANNUNCIATION

(From a picture by Botticelli)

II

Immortal eloquence of mystic Art! How strangely o'er oblivion and gray time, That hand doth speak, as in the painter's prime It uttered thus his own and Mary's heart, At sight of it, what rich conjectures start, Adown the years, what wistful Aves chime, That wake the soul to rapture how sublime, Wherewith we, too, must bear in Him our part! For unto each to bring redemption's share, Whereby adown the ages Christ is borne, There comes the angel of the lilied rod; And though our souls with anguish sore are torn, We pray once more the world-o'ercoming prayer, And then is born in us the Word of God.



THE VISITATION

(From the picture in Duerer's series on "The Life of the Virgin")

The mountains wonder from their cloudy height, The skies look on and grow more deep with awe; From these two women, earthly loves withdraw, And leave them shrined in some ensphering light,— More fine than that which greets the earthly sight, More glorious than that Creation saw, When, from abeyance to primeval law, There burst the dawn from out the womb of night; Yet are all things unchanged around them,—these, The ancient hills, the town, the quiet trees, The household presences through which they grope Blind to all else but to each other's eyes, Wherein, transforming heaven and earth, there lies Sublime effulgence of immortal Hope.



A BOTTICELLI MADONNA

I

THE WONDERING ANGELS

Behold! the Tabernacle of God's Will This woman's form enshrineth. What is this, More glorious than all our age-long bliss, Which shines within the shadow of her sill? How shall we lift this strangeness which doth fill Her human heart to breaking,—we who miss In our immortal joy, the enlight'ning kiss Of sorrow's bitter lips whence comforts thrill? How shall we sing to her of joys to come, To her who bears upon her breast the sum Of death's dread gloom and heaven's undying light? Lean close, ah, close, about her from above,— Behold upon the mildness of her love Enthroned the terrors of His Holy Might!



A BOTTICELLI MADONNA

II

THE MOURNFUL MOTHER

O child of mine, my little Son, alas! Beneath the sunlight of Thy gentle eyes, Too soon, too soon, what fateful shadows rise, Like night foretold in some sweet woodland glass? On tender feet that scarcely bow the grass, What stains are those of ripe pomegranate dyes?— When on my breast Thy head in slumber lies, What thorns are those that through my heart do pass? And round about these crowds of haunting forms That burn their splendor through my dimmest dreams! O little Child, Thou Wonder too divine, Thy precious body all my bosom warms With mine own blood, but oftentimes it seems, Too dearly loved,—that yet Thou art not mine.



A BOTTICELLI MADONNA

III

THE LOVING CHRIST

The little hands returning wistfully From birdlike wand'rings, ever come to rest, On fostering hand on tender cheek or breast; The upturned eyes, with loving certainty Seek ever the grave face where broodingly, The mother-soul by yearning love opprest, With wings down-drooped, seems folded o'er the nest Where lies the Hope of all humanity. And she His World, and He her Calvary,— He wraps her round with all the mystery Of love predestined for earth's needy ones; "Be comforted," it seems He fain would say, "O mother mine, there dawns an Easter day, And thou in me hast mothered many sons."



THE ANGEL OF THE JASMINE WREATH

(From a picture by Botticelli, of the Madonna and Child with Angels,—in the Borghese Gallery)

Ineffable angel, with the jasmine wreathed, Wherefrom the sweetness over brow and lips, And luminous white eyelids tremulously slips, A visible essence from thy beauty breathed,— The pure and pensive marvel of thy face is sheathed In tresses softer than the bloom of night, Wherefrom the dampness on thy forehead drips With dews from out God's meadows infinite,— Thy face, itself, a lily filled with light:— Thyself the youngest of God's angels and most fair, Bearing His latest breath and blessing on thine hair, Thou comest fresh from looking on thy Lord; And all is well, and all is filled for thee With eloquent, mute wonder of His Word. Oh, lean a little forth thy lips to me, For I am fain of peace amid this earthly strife, And I would drink, a spent soul, thirstily, From out thy never-failing cup of life.



A PRAYER FOR THE FOLLOWERS OF IDEAL BEAUTY

(With a pencil sketch of an Angel by Botticelli)

Thou in whose All no work imperfect stands, Thou who dost gaze on Beauty's unveiled face, Grant to Thy children Thy sustaining grace, When low at length have run the daylight sands,— When, though their day was set to Thy commands, They bow contritely in prayer's holy place, Because through strivings beauty-wards they trace The sad misshapings of their earthly hands: Grant them at eve a soul devoutly still, Grant them in dreams a vision of Thy light, Grant them at morn a sorrow purged away Into the peace of all-absolving night, Star in the dawnlight of a fairer day, Nearer the blossom of Thy perfect Will.

THE END

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