Normale Version: On a Picture of Jephthah and his Daughter (2)
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On a Picture of Jephthah and his Daughter


'T is true the painter's hand can but arrest
The moment hat in Nature never stays,
But fleets impatient of the baffled gaze.
Yet if that single moment be the best

Of many years, commission'd to attest
The excellence, who beauty ne'er decays,
Let not the mute art lack a rightful praise,
That shows the lovely ever loveliest:

And thou, sweet maid! for ever keep that look:
Thou never hadst so sweet a look till now.
Read in thy father's face, as in a book,

Thy virgin doom, the irrevocable vow.
Well were it if thy father ne'er had shook
Away the doubt that hangs upon his brow.


What if the angry God hath made thy arm
Dread as the thunderbolt or solid fire,
Or pest obedient to his vengeful ire,
Think'st thou thy oath was like a wizard's charm,

Or hadst thou need, with proffer'd blood, to farm
Jehovah's might? It proves thy faith unsure,
Thy creed idolatrous, thy heart impure;
Thy god a greedy trafficker in harm,

Not Israel's hope. But she, thy daughter, mild,
Whose eager love and over-hasty greeting,
Has made thee murderer of thy blameless child,

Loves not the less for that unhappy meeting; -
Guiltless she dies, to save thee from the guilt
Which must be thine, though her pure blood be spilt.