Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

(1844-1911 / Andover, Massachusetts)

Vittoria - Poem by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

Wise was the word the wise man spake, who said,
'Angelo was the only man to whom God gave
Four souls,'-the soul of sculpture and of song,
Of architecture and of art; these all.
For so God lovèd him, as if he were
His only child, and grouped about those brows
Ideals of Himself-not angels mild
As those that flit and beckon other lives,
But cherubim and seraphim; tall, strong,
Unsleeping, terrible; with wings across
Their mighty feet; and eyes-if we would look
Upon their blazing eyes, these too are hid-
Some angels are all wings! Oh, shine and fly!
Were ye not angels, ye would strike us blind.

And yet they did not, could not dazzle her-
That one sweet woman unto whom he bent
As pliant as the quarried marble turned
To life immortal in his own great hand.
Steadfast, Vittoria looked on Angelo.
She lifted lonely eyes. The years trod slow.
Fourfold the reverence which he gave to her,
Fourfold the awful tenderness, fourfold
The loyalty, the trust. And oh, fourfold
The comfort, beyond all power of comforting,
Whereby a lesser man may heal the hurt
Of widowhood!

Pescara had one soul-
A little one; and it was stained. And he-
It too, perhaps (God knows!)-was dead.
The dead are God's.

Vittoria had one heart.
The woman gave it, and the woman gives
Once. Angelo was too late. And one who dared
To shed a tear for him, has dropped it here.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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