Henrik Johan Ibsen

In the Picture Gallery

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With palette laden
She sat, as I passed her,
A dainty maiden
Before an Old Master.

What mountain-top is
She bent upon? Ah,
She neatly copies
Murillo's Madonna.

But rapt and brimming
The eyes' full chalice says
The heart builds dreaming
Its fairy-palaces.

*

The eighteenth year rolled
By, ere returning,
I greeted the dear old
Scenes with yearning.

With palette laden
She sat, as I passed her,
A faded maiden
Before an Old Master.

But what is she doing?
The same thing still--lo,
Hotly pursuing
That very Murillo!

Her wrist never falters;
It keeps her, that poor wrist,
With panels for altars
And daubs for the tourist.

And so she has painted
Through years unbrightened,
Till hopes have fainted
And hair has whitened.

But rapt and brimming
The eyes' full chalice says
The heart builds dreaming
Its fairy-palaces.

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Henrik Johan Ibsen