Unpacking books after our move, I was putting all the old, leather-bound ones up onto one shelf. We’ve inherited a few of these from basements (ah, to be back in the land of basements) on both sides of the family.
I came across two volumes written by the said Elizabeth.
Flipping open a small green and gold one rocked my world, when I came across this:
An artist, judge so ?”
“I, an artist — yes :
Because, precisely, I’m an artist, sir,
And woman, if another sat in sight,
I’d whisper, — Soft, my sister ! not a word !
By speaking we prove only we can speak,
Which he, the man here, never doubted. What
He doubts is, whether we can do the thing
With decent grace we’ve not yet done at all.
Now, do it; bring your statue, — you have room !
He’ll see it even by the starlight here;
And if ’tis e’er so little like a god
Who looks out from the marble silently
Along the track of his own shining dart
Through the dusk of ages, there’s no need to speak;
The universe shall henceforth speak for you,
And witness, ‘She who did this thing was born
To do it — claims her license in her work.’
(from Aurora Leigh, Eighth Book)
Was that ever powerful — made me cry and have goosebumps at the same time.
How she describes the effects of a humbly but courageously made piece of art. How the creation has a life of its own. The proof that the artist is meant to do that, because of what she has made. Oh my goodness. And the inherent encouragement, person to person.
The book’s dedication to her father is also A-MAZING. Again, tears and goosebumps. We can sustain and comfort one another:
Finally, another wondrous and shining example of the wordsmith’s work in this description of “the church” ~
That none may take the measure of the place…