William Wetmore Story (1819-1895)
"One of the most eminent of American sculptors. Has been described as more of an Anglo-Italian than an American; and is the author of Roba di Roma and other popular books, besides his Poems (Collective Edition in two vols., 1885; published in this country by Messrs. Blackwood & Son)." (Sharp)
Story's self-portrait is shown above.
After Long Days of Dull Perpetual Rain
After long days of dull perpetual rain,
And from gray skies, the sun at last shines bright,
And all the sparkling trees are glad with light,
And all the happy world laughs out again;
The sorrow is forgotten, past the pain;
For Nature has no memory, feels the blight
Of no regret, nor mars the day's delight
With idle fears and hopes and longings vain.
Ah me! it is not so with us; the ghost
Of vanished joys pursues us everywhere;
We live as much in all that we have lost
As what we own; no present is so fair
That the best moment's sunlight is not crossed
By shadowy shapes of hope, and fear, and care.
We are pursued by Fate; nothing on earth
Flowers into satisfaction; on the skirt
Of all temptation, hidden yet alert,
Hangs disappointment ready to spring forth
And jar with discord the clear song of mirth;
Even our best pleasure has the sting of hurt,
And prayers and tears are futile to avert
The Nemesis that haunts us from our birth.
Oh! what avail our struggles, who are caught
In Fate's inextricable web! In vain
Through the dark future our exhausted thought
Seeks for a resting-place secure from pain;
Our Present crumbles 'neath us while we laugh,
Our Past has but a sigh for epitaph.
Little We Know What Secret Influence
Little we know what secret influence
A word, a glance, a casual tone may bring,
That, like the wind's breath on a chorded string,
May thrill the memory, touch the inner sense,
And waken dreams that come we know not whence;
Or like the light touch of a bird's swift wing,
The lake's still face a moment visiting,
Leave pulsing rings, when he has vanished thence.
You looked into my eyes an instant's space,
And all the boundaries of time and place
Broke down, and far into a world beyond
Of buried hopes and dreams my soul had sight,
Where dim desires long lost, and memories fond
Rose in a soft mirage of tender light.