My Lattice and Other Poems

by Frederick George Scott


 

ON AN OLD VENETIAN PORTRAIT


 

THE features loom out of the darkness
    As brown as an ancient scroll,
But the eyes gleam on with the fire that shone
    In the dead man’s living soul.

He is clad in a cardinal’s mantle,

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    And he wears the cap of state,
But his lip is curled in a sneer at the world,
    And his glance is full of hate.

Old age has just touched with its winter
    The hair on his lip and chin,

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He stooped, no doubt, as he walked about,
    And the blood in his veins was thin.

His date and his title I know not,
    But I know that the man is there,
As cruel and cold as in days of old,

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    When he schemed for the Pontiff’s chair.

He never could get into Heaven,
    Though his lands were all given to pay
For prayers to be said on behalf of the dead
    From now till the judgement day.

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His palace, his statues, and pictures
    Were Heaven, at least for a time,
And now he is “Where?”—why an ornament there
    On my wall, and I think him sublime.

For the gold of another sunset

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    Falls over him even now,
And it deepens the red of the cap on his head,
    And it brings out the lines on his brow.

The ages have died into silence,
    And men have forgotten his tomb,

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But he still sits there in his cardinal’s chair,
    And he watches me now in the gloom.