Felicia Dorothea Hemans

(25 September 1793 – 16 May 1835 / Liverpool, England)

The Statue Of The Dying Gladiator


COMMANDING pow'r! whose hand with plastic art
Bids the rude stone to grace and being start;
Swell to the waving line the polish'd form,
And only want Promethean fire to warm ;—
Sculpture, exult! thy triumph proudly see,
The Roman slave immortalized by thee!
No suppliant sighs, no terrors round him wait,
But vanquish'd valor soars above his fate!
In that fix'd eye still proud defiance low'rs,
In that stern look indignant grandeur tow'rs!
He sees e'en death, with javelin barb'd in pain,
A foe but worthy of sublime disdain!
Too firm, too lofty, for one parting tear,
A quiv'ring pulse, a struggle, or a fear!

Oh! fire of soul! by servitude disgrac'd,
Perverted courage! energy debas'd!
Lost Rome! thy slave, expiring in the dust,
Tow'rs far above Patrician rank, august!
While that proud rank, insatiate, could survey
Pageants that stain'd with blood each festal day!

Oh! had that arm, which grac'd thy deathful show,
With many a daring feat and nervous blow,
Wav'd the keen sword and rear'd the patriot-shield,
Firm in thy cause, on Glory's laureate field;
Then, like the marble form, from age to age,
His name had liv'd in history's brightest page;
While death had but secur'd the victor's crown,
And seal'd the suffrage of deserv'd renown!
That gen'rous pride, that spirit unsubdu'd,
That soul, with honor's high-wrought sense imbu'd,
Had shone, recorded in the song of fame,
A beam, as now, a blemish, on thy name!

Yet here, so well has art majestic wrought,
Sublimed expression, and ennobled thought;
A dying Hero we behold, alone,
And Mind's bright grandeur animates the stone!
'Tis not th' Arena's venal champion bleeds,
No! 'tis some warrior, fam'd for matchless deeds!
Admiring rapture kindles into flame,
Nature and art the palm divided claim!
Nature (exulting in her spirit's pow'r,
To rise victorious in the dreaded hour,)
Triumphs, that death and all his shadowy train,
Assail a mortal's constancy—in vain!
And Art, rejoicing in the work sublime,
Unhurt by all the sacrilege of time,
Smiles o'er the marble, her divine control
Moulded to symmetry, and fir'd with soul!

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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