The Carver by Conrad Aiken
The Carver by Conrad Aiken conrad aiken stories
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classicpoet Poetry from the Masters
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See, as the carver carves a rose, A wing, a toad, a serpent's eye,

The Carver by Conrad Aiken

See, as the carver carves a rose,

A wing, a toad, a serpent's eye,

In cruel granite, to disclose

The soft things that in hardness lie,

So this one, taking up his heart,

Which time and change had made a stone,

Carved out of it with dolorous art,

Laboring yearlong and alone,

The thing there hidden--rose, toad, wing?

A frog's hand on a lily pad?

Bees in a cobweb?--no such thing!

A girl's head was the thing he had,

Small, shapely, richly crowned with hair,

Drowsy, with eyes half closed, as they

Looked through you and beyond you, clear

To something farther than Cathay:

Saw you, yet counted you not worth

The seeing, thinking all the while

How, flower-like, beauty comes to birth;

And thinking this, began to smile.

Medusa! For she could not see

The world she turned to stone and ash.

Only herself she saw, a tree

That flowered beneath a lightning-flash.

Thus dreamed her face--a lovely thing

To worship, weep for, or to break . . .

Better to carve a claw, a wing,

Or, if the heart provide, a snake.

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