Two Pictures



Profound poem. Author unknown


Two Pictures


Two Pictures hung on the dingy wall

Of a grand old Florentine hall —


One of a child of beauty rare,

With a cherub face and golden hair,

The lovely look of whose radiant eyes

Filled the soul with thoughts of Paradise.


The other was a visage vile

Marked with the lines of lust and guile,

A loathsome being, whose features fell

Brought to the soul weird thoughts of hell.


Side by side in their frames of gold,

Dingy and dusty and cracked and old,

This is the solemn tale they told:


A youthful painter found one day,

In the streets of Rome, a child at play,

And, moved by the beauty it bore,

The heavenly look that its features wore,

On a canvas, radiant and grand,

He painted its face with a master hand.


Year after year on his wall it hung;

‘Twas ever joyful and always young-

Driving away all thoughts of gloom

While the painter toiled in his dingy room.


Like an angel of light it met his gaze,

Bringing him dreams of his boyhood days,

Filling his soul with a sense of praise.


His raven ringlets grew thin and gray,

His young ambition all passed away;

Yet he looked for years in many a place,

To find a contrast to that sweet face.


Through haunts of vice in the night he stayed

To find some ruin that crime had made.

At last in a prison cell he caught

A glimpse of the hideous fiend he sought.


On a canvas weird and wild but grand,

He painted the face with a master hand.

His task was done; ’twas a work sublime —

An angel of joy and a fiend of crime —

A lesson of life from the wrecks of time.


O Crime: with ruin thy road is strewn;

The brightest beauty the world has known

Thy power has wasted, till in the mind

No trace of its presence is left behind.


The loathsome wretch in the dungeon low,

With a face of a fiend and a look of woe,

Ruined by revels of crime and sin,

A pitiful wreck of what might have been,

Hated and shunned, and without a home,

Was the child that played in the streets of Rome.