by William Cowper
In this mimic form of a matron in years,
How plainly the pencil of Denner appears!
The matron herself, in whose old age we see
Not a trace of decline, what a wonder is she!
No dimness of eye, and no cheek hanging low,
No wrinkle, or deep-furrow'd frown on the brow!
Her forehead indeed is here circled around
With locks like the ribbon with which they are bound;
While glossy and smooth, and as soft as the skin
Of a delicate peach, is the down of her chin;
But nothing unpleasant, or sad, or severe,
Or that indicates life in its winter-is here.
Yet all is express'd with fidelity due,
Nor a pimple or freckle conceal'd from the view.
Many fond of new sights, or who cherish a taste
For the labours of art, to the spectacle haste.
The youths all agree, that, could old age inspire
The passion of love, hers would kindle the fire,
And the matrons with pleasure confess that they see
Ridiculous nothing or hideous in thee.
The nymphs for themselves scarcely hope a decline,
O wonderful woman! as placid as thine.
Strange magic of art! which the youth can engage
To peruse, half enamour'd, the features of age;
And force from the virgin a sigh of despair,
That she when as old shall be equally fair!
How great is the glory that Denner has gain'd,
Since Apelles not more for his Venus obtain'd.
Last updated January 14, 2019