Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  A Proem

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Proem

By Samuel Ward (1814–1884)

[Born in New York, N. Y. Died at Pegli, Italy, 1884. From Lyrical Recreations. 1871.]

WHEN in my walks I meet some ruddy lad—

Or swarthy man—with tray-beladen head,

Whose smile entreats me, or his visage sad,

To buy the images he moulds for bread.

I think that,—though his poor Greek Slave in chains,

His Venus and her Boy with plaster dart,

Be, like the Organ-Grinder’s quavering strains,

But farthings in the currency of art,—

Such coins a kingly effigy still wear,

Let metals base or precious in them mix:

The painted vellum hallows not the Prayer,

Nor ivory nor gold the Crucifix.