To A Lady
With a Head of Diana
Words: Thomas William Parsons
Vocal Recording: MP3 / OGG
Source: Bartleby.com: To a Lady, http://www.bartleby.com/248/398.html
Accessed November 16, 2006
MY Christmas gifts were few: to one
A fan, to keep love’s flame alive,
Since even to the constant sun
Twilight and setting must arrive;
And to another—she who sent
That splendid toy, an empty purse—
I gave, though not for satire meant,
An emptier thing—a scrap of verse;
For thee I chose Diana’s head,
Graved by a cunning hand in Rome,
To whose dim shop my feet were led
By sweet remembrances of home.
’T was with a kind of pagan feeling
That I my little treasure bought,—
My mood I care not for concealing,—
“Great is Diana!” was my thought.
Methought, howe’er we change our creeds,
Whether to Jove or God we bend,
By various paths religion leads
All spirits to a single end.
The goddess of the woods and fields,
The healthful huntress, undefiled,
Now with her fabled brother yields
To sinless Mary and her Child.
But chastity and truth remain
Still the same virtues as of yore,
Whether we kneel in Christian fane
Or old mythologies adore.
What though the symbol were a lie,—
Since the ripe world hath wiser grown,—
If any goodness grew thereby,
I will not scorn it for mine own.
So I selected Dian’s head
From out the artist’s glittering show;
And this shall be my gift, I said,
To one that bears the silver bow;
To her whose quiet life has been
The mirror of as calm a heart,
Above temptation from the din
Of cities, and the pomp of art;
Who still hath spent her active days
Cloistered amid her happy hills,
Not ignorant of worldly ways,
But loving more the woods and rills.
And thou art she to whom I give
This image of the virgin queen,
Praying that thou, like her, mayst live
Thrice blest! in being seldom seen.