"tho' on his injur'd breast / Impending death his signet had imprest,

— Hayley, William (1745-1820)

Place of Publication
Printed by and for J. Seagrave; And Sold by T. Payne
"tho' on his injur'd breast / Impending death his signet had imprest,
Metaphor in Context
Near to the mansion, in a winding vale,
Whose fragrant flowers enrich'd the passing gale,
Of Grecian form a simple temple stood,
Gracefully skirted by a circling wood.
Pure in its front a placid river ran:
The fane its founder had inscrib'd to Pan:
Here once, in freakish pride, his statue smil'd.
A guardian form more delicately mild
Now grac'd the spot--now deck'd with charms divine,
The temple bore the name of Pity's Shrine;
Not undeserv'd!--The kind Manfredi here
Plac'd a pure form, that heavenly charms endear;
The finest relic of his sculptur'd store!
Long hid, tho' such as love and taste adore!
So touching is the legend, they relate,
Of the young sculptor's merit, and his fate:
He work'd a stripling, and a stripling died;
But his last labour is Italia's pride:
From love and death the dying artist caught
Powers, that surpast, whatever health had wrought.
This youth, too fond of a disdainful fair,
Grew by degrees enamour'd of despair;
And wish'd to perish by his hapless flame!
The nymph relenting view'd his alter'd frame;
His worth, his talents, and his tender heart
Made her adore the artist, and his art:
Repentant she implor'd to be his bride:
With grief and triumph mixt, the youth replied:
"My blest Cecilia! precious, tho' too late,
Thy love, which cannot now prolong my date,
Shall yet ennoble, and endear my fate.
Thy husband!--No!--there never shall be made
Of this poor mould'ring frame an infant shade;
But I will leave a copy of thy form!
All eyes to fascinate, all hearts to warm!
Thou know'st how often I have watch'd unseen
To seize the matchless graces of thy mien:
I saw thee when thy grief from friends withdrawn
Had sought to mourn alone thy favourite fawn:
I saw thee kneel beside that favourite, dead;
And o'er it tears of sweet compassion shed;
Then I saw beauty in perfection's light;
My ready pencil trac'd the touching sight.
In marble now half wrought this image stands;
Let me compleat it with my dying hands!
Cecilia, grant me now this pure desire,
Achieving this, contented I expire."
The soften'd fair one bade him hope and live;
Long life was his, if she had life to give.
With modest duty, as his real bride,
Her heart with his impassion'd wish complied;
She hop'd, that as her marble image grew,
Her happy artist would his life renew;
And strange to tell! tho' on his injur'd breast
Impending death his signet had imprest,

Yet when the nymph, his mandate to fulfill,
Kneels as the model of his plastic skill,
His hand, his eye, his soul, at once acquire
A wond'rous portion of new vital fire;
Of his recover'd life fresh hopes arise,
Hopes that add lustre to Cecilia's eyes!
His darling work to finish and adorn,
He gave his earliest hour of every morn;
It was an altar of pure Parian stone,
On this, in high relief, Cecilia shone;
A tree by light'ning split, its wound display'd;
And by its side her heaven-struck fawn was laid;
O'er it she bent--in her unfinish'd face
Such pensive beauty, such pathetic grace
Th'impassion'd artist from his model caught,
He work'd, and wonder'd at the work he wrought:
And as he gave the lip its lovely swell,
Where feeling's most expressive fibres dwell,
With care intense exerting all his skill
The face with pity's perfect charms to fill,
He saw the point attain'd, his soul desir'd,
He shouted--kiss'd the marble, and expir'd.
Griev'd, that she felt his worth too late to save,
The nymph soon join'd her lover in the grave:
Crown'd with one dead, and one half dying dove,
A monument of pity, and of love!
This signal sculpture, of unrivall'd grace,
It pleas'd Manfredi in that fane to place,
To which fond fancy led him to repair,
And breathe, at morn and eve, his lonely prayer.
Here oft, in tender reveries alone,
He gaz'd entranc'd upon the graceful stone,
For here, the sculptor's magic charms to aid,
Invisibly a mournful organ play'd;
Behind the temple, an apartment spread,
Where, nicely parted from their parent bed,
The waters of the river taught to flow
Soft plaintive music, as they pass, bestow.
Here lingering, double services they pay;
With secret power the latent organ play,
Or pouring in wide cells their lucid wealth,
Form a transparent bath, a friend to health!
Searching "breast" and "signet" in HDIS (Poetry)
Text from The Triumph of Music; a Poem: in Six Cantos (Printed by and for J. Seagrave; And Sold by T. Payne, 1804). <Link to Google Books>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.