Cupid as Landscape Painter

Mr Vignoles

Versified and Paraphrased from the German of Góethe

 At early morn I climb’d the steep,
 That overhangs the valley deep,
And set intent the gloomy fog to view;
 Like a grey canvas spread around,
 That hid from sight the fertile ground,
 And deaden’d ev’ry distant sound,
And gave to ev’ry sense sensations new.

 Sudden appear’d a blooming boy,
 Whose dimpled cheeks spoke infant joy,
His golden locks around his shoulders play’d;
 His presence struck me with surprise,
 But the soft glances from his eyes,
 Proclaim’d him Cupid in disguise,
Who gently leaning o’er my shoulder say’d,

 “Why sit you idly gazing there,
 Your pencil blunt, the canvas bare,
Have you for drawing lost your wonted taste?
 Have you for ever lost your skill
 To paint the clear pellucid rill,
 To show the boldly rising hill,
The skies, the woods, the fields, or sandy waste?”

 Will that child play the master’s part,
 And teach me painting’s pleasing art,
I whisper’d gazing on his blooming face;
 Will he my ready pencil guide,
 To sketch the rapid rolling tide,
 The banks that form its channel wide,
Where sits th’ Entrapper of the finny race?

 “To form the landscape well I know,”
 Reply’d the boy, “When rob’d in snow,
Or deck’d in nature’s gayest, brightest dress;
 The flying pencil in my hand
 Soon shapes the woods, the streams, the land,
 Hills rise and sink at my command,
My varied tints, the deep’ning vales express.”

 Then stretch’d he out his rosy hand,
 That spurn’d the formal school’s command,
With finger tip upon the canvas drew
 A sun, that from the Empyrium play’d,
 And gave the trees a soften’d shade,
 And glittering golden fringes made
The airy clouds that skimm’d th’ ethereal blue.

 The waving wood he then portray’d,
 And various hue and various shade,
And misty mountains in the distance sketch’d;
 That gently o’er each other rose,
 Now high, now low, now far, now close,
 Embrown’d with heath or grey with moss,
And round th’ horizon in long chain they stretch’d.

 Below there flow’d a crystal stream,
 That spark’d in the sun’s bright beam,
And ’gainst the grassy borders seem’d to beat;
 White flow’rs mix the waves among,
 With tendons ever fresh and long,
 Not carried by the tide along,
But fix’d and blooming ever gay and meet.

 The bullrush grac’d the river’s shore,
 With flow’rs the meads were sprinkl’d o’er,
With cowslips, daisies, and sweet violets blew;
 The feather’s songsters from the wood,
 The wild teal swimming in the flood,
 Seem’d to adorn their maker good,
Who pour’d his blessings ever great and new.

 Then heaven’s blue expanse he form’d,
 With airy clouds so well adorn’d,
They seem’d the work of nature’s skilful hand;
 No rising storm did they foretell,
 To drench with rain the daisied dell;
 Or drive the coney to her cell,
But gently floated o’er the smiling land.

 Lost in an ecstasy of joy,
 I now beheld the painter boy,
And now the painting with enraptur’d gaze;
 “Have I not prov’d,” exclaimed the child,
 “That I can paint the woodland wild,
 Or draw the heavens serene and mild,
Or form the shadows of the sun’s bright blaze?”

 “And yet I’ve not shewn half my art,
 The paintings but complete in part,
The test of skill as yet remains untried;”
 Then were the wood its branches wav’d,
 And cast around a pleasing shade,
 And shelter’d ev’ry grassy glade,
And darken’d half the rolling river’s tide,

 There with his skillful hand, he forms
 A maiden, bright in youthful charms,
So lovely she to Venus might compare;
 Her modest look, her sparkling eyes,
 Her well-turn’d shape, her simple guise,
 Struck me with wonder and surprise,
And o’er her bosom fell her auburn hair.

 Her blushing cheeks outvied the rose,
 That in the shady valley grows,
She seem’d a goddess from the Olympic hill.
 Say boy, I cried, what master’s hand
 Gives thee of nature such command,
 That thus so soft, so sweet, so grand,
You form your picture with unequall’d skill.

 Lo! as I spoke, a gentle breeze
 Shakes in the wood the ancient trees,
And softly agitates their spreading boughs;
 And now the maiden’s silken veil
 Sports in the idle whispering gale,
 That took it for a galley’s sail,
That through the liquid waves a passage ploughs.

 The maid herself now moves along,
 Responsive to the bird’s wild song,
Approach’d me sitting with the charming boy;
 Her measur’d steps are drawing near,
 The fog around began to clear,
 Dismiss’d is ev’ry idle fear;
I felt elate with more than mortal joy.

 Now that all nature seem’d alive,
 And while with new-born pleasure strive,
The maiden tripping o’er the flow’ry plain;
 Her floating veil, the flowers, the wood,
 The river’s rapid rolling flood,
 Think you I, now in gloomy mood,
Like rock itself upon the rock remain.