Thursday,September 22, 2011
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TheTheatre represents a Statuary's working-room. On one side appear blocksof marble, and
unfinished groups and statues. In thecentre of thescene, another statueconcealed under a
pavilion of light transparent silk, ornamented with festoons and fringe. Pigmalion is discovered
leaning on his elbow, in a pensive, contemplative, yet unsettled posture. Soon after he rises
hastily, takeshis tools from the table, and begins to give, at certain intervals, a few strokesof the
chissel on one of his unfinished statues. Then steps backward to review his work, with a look of
discontent and disappointment.
1 It will not be. No gleam of life, or soul,
2 Dawns at my stroke. 'Tis still a breathless stone.
3 Away with art like this! it is not art,
4 'Tis mere abortive labour. Ah my Genius!
5 Where art thou fled? My fancy where retir'd?
6 And why, Imagination! dost thou feel
7 This frost of dullness chilling all thy fires?
8 The marble feels thee not, it quits my hand
9 Cold as it left its quarry. Where, Pigmalion ,
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10 Where is thy power which once could rival Jove's,
11 Creating gods. 'Tis gone: the veriest wretch
12 That toils for vulgar gain is now thy equal.
13 Hence, ye vile instruments! my glory once,
14 But now my shame, dishonour not my hands.
[Hethrowsaway his tools with disdain, and walksabout meditating with his arms folded over
15 Whence comes this change, this new unheard of change,
16 This atrophy of soul.---Imperial Tyre!
17 Thou richest, proudest theatre of taste,
18 In vain display'st thou to my sickly sense,
19 The grace that sparkles on thy sculptur'd walls;
20 I cannot taste thy glories, Queen of Asia!
21 Thy artists, thy philosophers, thy painters,
22 Thy bards, the heralds of posterity,
23 Who antedate the praises she shall pay
24 To each true heir of fame, they touch not me;
25 Ev'n friendship's self has lost its power to charm.
26 Ev'n you, ye young, ye lovely; ye sweet proofs
27 Of all that Nature, in her happiest hour,
28 Could e'er attain of perfect, and of fair;
29 Ev'n you, ye blooming models of my art, 29 Ev'n you, ye blooming models of my art,
30 Who crown'd my toil with rapture, who inspir'd
31 My soul at once with genius, and with love,
32 Yes, since that art has far surpast your charms,
33 Ev'n you are grown indifferent to my sight.
[Hesits down and contemplatesthe objectsaround him.
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34 Wretch that I am! chain'd, as by magic spell,
35 To this peculiar spot, listless I sit,
36 Unable or to work, or to retire.
37 Wand'ring from group to group, from form to form,
38 My feeble chissel seems to scorn the power
39 Of its fallacious guide, and each rude feature,
40 (Rude as when first design'd) heeds not the hand
41 Which once could bid it breathe---
[Rising with impetuosity.
41 'Tis done, 'tis past;
42 My genius is expir'd; young as I am,
43 I have outliv'd my art.---But is it thus?
44 Why then these inward ardours that consume me?
45 And why this secret something in my breast
46 That wraps me from myself? Are these the signs,
47 The languid signs, of an exhausted fancy?
48 Feel we, in that dull state, these warm emotions?
49 This flush of passions? this impetuous burst
50 Of fierce desires? this strange inquietude
51 That agitates, torments, distracts the soul?
52 What is the cause? alas! I vainly thought
53 The miracle of grace I lately form'd
54 Made my fond eye a truant to my art,
55 And therefore did I veil it from my sight.
56 Yes, though 'twas profanation, these rash hands
57 Have dar'd to hide the trophy of their fame.
58 'Tis hid, and what's my gain? more pensiveness,
59 Not more attention. O immortal work!
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60 Well may'st thou be thus dear, thus precious to me;
61 For when my genius fails, when age and ills
62 Take from me all the plastic powers I boast,
63 When now no more of beauteous and sublime
64 Lives in my labours; then, my Galatea!
65 Then will I show thee to a wond'ring world,
66 And tell that world Pigmalion made thee thus.
67 Yes, when I've lost my all, thou shalt remain,
68 And I shall be consol'd.
[Hecomes nearer the pavilion, then retires, approaches again, retreats, and stops at intervals to [Hecomes nearer the pavilion, then retires, approaches again, retreats, and stops at intervals to
gazeupon it, sighing.
68 But why conceal her?
69 Inactive, dull, desponding as I sit,
70 Why rob myself of that peculiar bliss
71 The sight of her inspires? she is my art's
72 Dear masterpiece; and yet, perhaps, remains
73 Some slight defect that has escap'd my eye,
74 Perhaps I still may to her vestment add
75 Some fold more graceful; 'twere a crime to spare
76 One possible addition that might deck
77 A form so lovely. Haply too the sight
78 Will call to life again the slumb'ring powers
79 Of my invention; better lift the veil,
80 Better review my work---review my work!
81 Alas! till now I only have admir'd it.
[Heattemptsto undraw the Curtain, and lets it fall again as affrighted.
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82 Unspeakable emotion! how the touch
83 Of this slight veil affects me. How I tremble!
84 Surely my rash and sacrilegious hand
85 Invades the shrine of some divinity.
86 Fool! 'tis a stone, and thou its sculptor. True---
87 But what of that? are not our temples crowded
88 By gods that claim the worship of the people
89 On no superior charter?
[Heundraws theCurtain trembling, prostrateshimself before thestatueof Galatea, which
appears placed on a very small pedestal, and that raised on a flight of marble steps, ranged
90 Take, Galatea! take thy maker's homage;
91 I was deceiv'd, I carv'd thee for a nymph,
92 But O thou art a goddess. Venus self
93 Is less divinely fair.---What vanity,
94 What childish weakness this! 'tis my own work,
95 Yet madly I admire it. Vile self-love,
96 These are thy goodly triumphs. Mock'd by thee,
97 I worship in the image I have made
98 My worthless self. Yet surely truth must own
99 Nothing, no nothing e'er appear'd in nature
100 Ev'n half so lovely; I have here surpast
101 The workmanship of Heav'n---and could it be,
102 Could these same hands form such transcendant beauty?
103 These hands that touch'd---this mouth that---Hold, Pigmalion ,
104 I spy a fault. This drapery spreads too far,
[Page 370 ] 105 It hides too much, let me relieve the fold,
106 The charms that it conceals should be display'd.
[Hetakeshis mallet and chissel and advancing slowly mountswith hesitation the steps before
thestatue, as if he seemed hardly to dare touch it, at last raising his chissel and preparing to
strike, he stops, and cries out---
107 Heav'ns! what a tremulous convulsion shakes me;
108 My quivering nerves attempt in vain to guide
109 Th' uncertain tool. I cannot, dare not strike,
110 I shall do harm, incorrigible harm.
[Hesummonsresolution, and raising his chissel gives a stroke, then seized with fear lets it fall.
111 Gods! if the heaving, the elastic flesh
112 Does not resist my chissel!
[Hedescends thesteps trembling and confused.
112 Idle fear!
113 Absurdest terror!---No!I will not touch her,
114 The gods inspire this panic; she is theirs,
115 Already theirs, an inmate of their heaven.
[Here-examines the figure.
116 What would'st thou change, Pigmalion , what correct,
117 What novel charm supply? She is already
118 Perfection's self; perfection is her fault,
119 Her only fault. Yes, heav'nly Galatea!
120 Wert thou less perfect, nothing would'st thou want---
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121 But yet thou want'st a soul; all, all save that,
122 Thou hast in rich profusion.
[With still greater tenderness.
122 Yet, if Heaven
123 Inspir'd that body with a kindred soul,
124 How very lovely ought that soul to be.
[Hepauses for some time, then returning to his seat, he proceeds in a slow and different tone.
125 What are the wild desires I dare to form?
126 Whither does passion drive me? righteous Heav'n!
127 Th' illusive veil that hid me from myself
128 Falls off. Yet let me not behold my heart,
129 I fear me it contains what, once beheld,
130 Would make me hate it.
[A long pause in deep disorder.
130 'Twill not be