The Progress of British Sculpture
Suggested by Professor Flaxman’s Lectures
Ere Music spoke, or Painting glow’d,
I sought my rude and lonely road
Thro’ giant groves or mountain-caves,
To lurk in huts or shelter graves.
In dark Religion’s dome I slept,
Or Glory’s fading trophies kept,
Till in the plunder’d cloister’s gloom
I shar’d relentless Tudor’s doom.
Yet in a Tudor’s tomb* I rest,
A silent not ungrateful quest,
From dim Oblivion’s grasp to save
The wise, the beauteous, and the brave!
My cheek no living roses dye,
No lustre fills my sightless eye,
Yet Manhood’s strength, and Beauty’d grace,
Give perfect form in my form and face.
The world is old, but I am young!—
Without a soul, without a tongue,
The eloquence of thought I reach,
Lend life to looks; to gesture speech.
Tho’ silent as the clay I guard,
As cold, as senseless, and as hard.
I mock the mould’ring touch of Death,
I rival Life in all but breath:
And he whose magic hands sustain
The glories of my rising reign,
Shall aid relenting Heaven’s decree,
And give to man Eternity!
- * Westminster Abbey ↩