Friday, May 17, 2013


"The Story of the Picture" is a poem that was written concern­
l'ng the picture "Breaking Home Ties" by Hovenden. The picture was one of the most popular in the art exhibit at the World's
Columbian Exposition in 1893. I enclose a copy as I have never seen this poem except the one copy cut from a newspaper and preserved.
It hangs'mong a hundred others
   And many grander far,
Yet it catches the eye from a distance
   Like a luminous guiding star.
And I feel as I pause before it
   A something stir in my heart,
Then I know, while the tears are starting,
   That this is the truest art.
To show the world how lovelight
   Transfigures the human face
The artist chose no goddess
   With a form of perfect grace,
But only a work-worn mother
   Whose boy is going away,
And written on her features
   Are the words she cannot say.
Her lot has not been as she wished it.
   Just a changeless round of care,
With none of life's refinements,
   With hardly time for prayer.
She is anxious he should escape it,
   Yet it seems that her very heart
Is tom by the bitter trial,
   Now the time has come to part.
The boy stands in awkward silence,
   Ashamed that he wants to cry,
Nor knows the depth of the mother-love
   From whose shelter he would fly.
   . know that he has in the pockets
   Of his clothes that .fit so ill,
Money she's saved and hoarded
     As only a mother will.
The boy will find in his future
     Many hard and homesick days,
Ere he's fitted to new surroundings,
     To city men and ways.
    But I feel that mother's anguish
     When at last the time shall come
  That the lad in the far-off city
     Ceases to sigh for home.
  When, his horizon broadened,
      He feels he h~a no part
  In the narrow life of the farmhouse
       Which used to fill his heart.
   Then many times the mother
      Will watch from that door, I trow,
   Hoping to see her absent boy,
       Who comes so seldom now.
   'Tonight as the twilight deepens
      They will sit in that darkened room,
Each thinking of the future
   Of him who has gone from home.
But at sunrise on the morrow
   The farm work must be done,
And there's more for those remaining,
   Now that. this one is gone.
So then with a sigh the mother
   Will turn to her work again,
And forget in the long day's labor
   A part of her bitter pain,
And the thrush will sing in the elm tree
   Beside the kitchen door
Nor miss the cheery whistle
   Which answered her before.
Ah, yes, the ties now broken
   When he starts on an untried way,
No power can ever mend them
   They are severed now for aye.
0 wizard of the paint brush,
   In your strangely potent spell,
You have woven more than fancy
   Or it were not done so. well!

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