Frances Anne Kemble

(27 November 1809 - 15 January 1893 / London, England)

A Picture - Poem by Frances Anne Kemble

Through the half-open'd casement stream'd the light
Of the departing sun. The golden haze
Of the red western sky fell warm and bright
Into that chamber large and lone: the blaze
Touch'd slantingly curtain and couch, and threw
A glory over many an antique gem,
Won from the entombed cities that once grew
At the volcano's foot. Mingled with them
Stood crystal bowls, through which the broken ray
Fell like a shower of precious stones, and lay
Reflected upon marble; these were crown'd
With blushing flowers, fresh and glittering yet
With diamond rain drops. On the crimson ground
A shining volume, clasp'd with gold and jet,
And broken petals of a passion flow'r
Lay by the lady of this silent bow'r.
Her rippling hair fell from the pearly round
That strove to clasp its billowy curls: the light
Hung like a glory on their waves of gold.
Her velvet robe, in many a violet fold,
Like the dark pansy's downy leaf, was bound
With a gold zone, and clasp'd with jewels bright,
That glow'd and danced as with a magic flame
Whene'er her measured breathing stirr'd her frame.
Upon her breast and shoulders lay a veil
Of curious needle-work, as pure and pale
As a fine web of ivory, wrought with care,
Through which her snowy skin show'd smooth and fair.
Upon the hand that propp'd her drooping head,
A precious emerald, like a fairy well,
Gleam'd with dark solemn lustre; a rich thread
Of rare round pearls—such as old legends tell
Th' Egyptian queen pledged to her Roman lord,
When in her cup a kingdom's price she pour'd,—
Circled each soft white arm. A painter well
Might have been glad to look upon her face,
For it was full of beauty, truth, and grace;
And from her lustrous eyes her spirit shone
Serene, and strong, and still, as from a throne.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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