A PORTRAIT by Nathaniel Parker Willis
She was not very beautiful, if it be beauty’s test
To match a classic model when perfectly at rest;
And she did not look bewitchingly, if witchery it be,
To have a forehead and a lip transparent as the sea.
The fashion of her gracefulness was not a follow’d rule,
And her effervescent sprightliness was never learnt at school;
And her words were all peculiar, like the fairy’s who ‘spoke pearls;’
And her tone was ever sweetest midst the cadences of girls.
Said I she was not beautiful? Her eyes upon your sight
Broke with the lambent purity of planetary light,
And an intellectual beauty, like a light within a vase,
Touched every line with glory of her animated face.
Her mind with sweets was laden, like a morning breath in June,
And her thoughts awoke in harmony, like dreamings of a tune,
And you heard her words like voices that o’er the waters creep,
Or like a serenader’s lute that mingles with your sleep.
She had an earnest intellect?a perfect thirst of mind,
And a heart by elevated thoughts and poetry refin’d,
And she saw a subtle tint or shade with every careless look,
And the hidden links of nature were familiar as a book.
She’s made of those rare elements that now and then appear,
As if remov’d by accident unto a lesser sphere,
Forever reaching up, and on, to life’s sublimer things,
As if they had been used to track the universe with wings.