James Lionel Michael

(October 1824 – 26 April 1868 / London, England)

The Eye of the Beholder


IF, as they tell in stories old,
The waters of Pactolus roll’d
Over a sand of shifting gold;

If ever there were fairies, such
As those that charm the child so much,
With jewels growing ’neath their touch;

If, in the wine-cup’s sweet deceit,
There lies a secret pleasant cheat,
That turns to beauty all we meet;

The stream, the fairy, and the wine,
In the first love of youth combine
To make its object seem divine.

No golden sand of fabl’d river,
No jewel glittering for ever,
No wine-born vision’s melting quiver,

In vivid glory can compare
With that which we ourselves prepare
To throw round that we fancy fair.

Never such beauty glittered yet,
In golden beams of suns that set
On cupola and minaret.

Never such beauty met men’s eyes
In silver light of moons that rise
O’er lonely lakes ’neath tropic skies.

The world holds nothing of such worth,
There ’s nothing half so fair on earth,
As that to which the heart gives birth:

External beauties pall and fade;
But that which my own soul hath made,
To my conception, knows no shade.

To every ark there comes a dove,
To every heart from heaven above
Is sent a beauty born of love.

The moonlit lake, the waving trees,
It is the eye which looks on these
That makes the loveliness it sees.

Out of myself the beauty grows,
Out of myself the beauty flows
That decks the petals of the rose.

So, when at Ada’s feet I lay,
And saw her glorious as the day,
’Twas my own heart that lent the ray.


Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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