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Plain Roland still was placidly "inspecting,"
Not now Camille had stirred the Café Foy;
Marat was young, and Guillotin dissecting,
Corday unborn, and Lamballe in Savoie ;
No faubourg yet had heard the Tocsin ring:—
This was the summer-when Grasshoppers sing.
And far afield were sun-baked savage creatures,
Female and male, that tilled the earth, and wrung
Want from the soil;-lean things with livid features,
Shape of bent man, and voice that never sung:
These were the Ants, for yet to Jacques Bonhomme
Tumbrils were not, nor any sound of drum.
But Boucher was a Grasshopper, and painted,—
-en couleur de rose,
The crowned Caprice, whose sceptre, nowise sainted,
Swayed the light realm of ballets and bon-mots;—
Ruled the dim boudoir's demi-jour, or drove
Pink-ribboned flocks through some pink-flowered grove.
A laughing Dame, who sailed a laughing cargo
Of flippant loves along the Fleuve du Tendre;
Whose greatest grace was jupes à la Camargo,
Whose gentlest merit gentiment se rendre;-
Queen of the rouge-cheeked Hours, whose footsteps fell
To Rameau's notes, in dances by Gardel;-
Her Boucher served, till Nature's self betraying,
As Wordsworth sings, the heart that loved her not,
Made of his work a land of languid Maying,
Filled with false gods and muses misbegot ;—
A Versailles Eden of cosmetic youth,
Wherein most things went naked, save the Truth.
Once, only once,-perhaps the last night's revels
Palled in the after-taste,- —our Boucher sighed
For that first beauty, falsely named the Devil's,
Young-lipped, unlessoned, joyous, and clear-eyed;
Flung down his palette like a weary man,
And sauntered slowly through the Rue Sainte-Anne.
Wherefore, we know not; but, at times, far nearer
Things common come, and lineaments half-seen
Grow in a moment magically clearer ;-
Perhaps, as he walked, the grass he called "too green"
Rose and rebuked him, or the earth "ill-lighted"
Silently smote him with the charms he slighted.
But, as he walked, he tired of god and goddess,
Nymphs that deny, and shepherds that appeal; Stale seemed the trick of kerchief and of bodice,
Folds that confess, and flutters that reveal; Then as he grew more sad and disenchanted, Forthwith he spied the very thing he wanted.
So, in the Louvre, the passer-by might spy some
Arch-looking head, with half-evasive air,
Start from behind the fruitage of Van Huysum,
Grape-bunch and melon, nectarine and pear :— Here 'twas no Venus of Batavian city, But a French girl, young, piquante, bright, and pretty.
Graceful she was, as some slim marsh-flower shaken
Among the sallows, in the breezy Spring;
Blithe as the first blithe song of birds that waken,
Fresh as a fresh young pear-tree blossoming;
Black was her hair as any blackbird's feather;
Just for her mouth, two rose-buds grew together.
Sloes were her eyes; but her soft cheeks were peaches, Hued like an Autumn pippin, where the red
Seems to have burned right through the skin, and reaches
E'en to the core; and if you spoke, it spread
Up till the blush had vanquished all the brown,
And, like two birds, the sudden lids dropped down.
As Boucher smiled, the bright black eyes ceased dancing,
As Boucher spoke, the dainty red eclipse
Filled all the face from cheek to brow, enhancing
Half a shy smile that dawned around the lips.
Then a shrill mother rose upon the view;
“Cerises, M'sieu? Rosine, dépêchez-vous !"
Deep in the fruit her hands Rosina buries,
Soon in the scale the ruby bunches lay.
The painter, watching the suspended cherries,
Never had seen such little fingers play ;—
As for the arm, no Hebè's could be rounder;
Low in his heart a whisper said "I've found her."
"Woo first the mother, if you'd win the daughter!" Boucher was charmed, and turned to Madame Mère, Almost with tears of suppliance besought her
Leave to immortalize a face so fair;
Praised and cajoled so craftily that straightway
Voici Rosina,-standing at his gateway.
Shy at the first, in time Rosina's laughter
Rang through the studio as the girlish face Peeped from some painter's travesty, or after Showed like an Omphale in lion's case; Gay as a thrush, that from the morning dew Pipes to the light its clear "Réveillez-vous."
Just a mere child with sudden ebullitions,
Flashes of fun, and little bursts of song,
Petulant pains, and fleeting pale contritions,
Mute little moods of misery and wrong;
Only a child, of Nature's rarest making,
Wistful and sweet,—and with a heart for breaking!
Day after day the little loving creature
Came and returned; and still the Painter felt, Day after day, the old theatric Nature
Fade from his sight, and like a shadow melt Paniers and Powder, Pastoral and Scene, Killed by the simple beauty of Rosine.
As for the girl, she turned to her new being,—
Came, as a bird that hears its fellow call;
Blessed, as the blind that blesses God for seeing;
Grew, as a flower on which the sun-rays fall;
Loved if you will; she never named it so:
Love comes unseen,—we only see it go.
There is a figure among Boucher's sketches,
Slim,-a child-face, the eyes as black as beads, Head set askance, and hand that shyly stretches
Flowers to the passer, with a look that pleads. This was no other than Rosina surely ;
None Boucher knew could else have looked so purely.
But forth her Story, for I will not tarry,
Whether he loved the little "nut-brown maid";
If, of a truth, he counted this to carry
Straight to the end, or just the whim obeyed,
Nothing we know, but only that before
More had been done, a finger tapped the door.