The Statue

If it did, it happened like this:
The crowd assembled, filled up the entire palace.
And line after line stood, joined together,
In the broad space of the porch and the court,
In rows and rows of erect figures,
Between the carved pillars of red marble,
On the expanded marble stairs —
Built over hewn stones — and on the slope
Of the hill, adorned with olive trees.

Among them were the fastidious sons of Hellada,
Earthly corn-dealers from Malta
And from the other remote islands of the sea which
Were a part of Asia; from Cyprus,
And spear-loving men from Sparta,
And goat-shepherds from Arcadia,
And hard, sturdy Macedonians,
All gathered and came from the ends of Greece,
And from Magna Graecia in Italy: All came
As one man to the inauguration of the monument —
Of the statue of Zeus — for long
The rumor was spread, nowhere in the world
Was the likeness of that wondrous statue.

And it seemed, under the beams of the sunlight,
That the silent, erect pillars stood
Alive, in the warmth of flesh and blood,
And softly, secretly, the garlands caressed them
Like tiaras: dark-green ivy,
And roses: orange, blood red,
Pale-white and blushing-pink.

And majestically festive, impatient, the crowd
Was waiting — all the people. And the cloud of incense
Was rising, and lo! It floated upward.
And light-blue clouds, on hazy wings,
Lightly rose, and expanded, and rose,
And united — and the curtain stirred.

Suddenly, from within the incense, it was disclosed —
Within the curling, mounting cloud —
An unearthly, splendorous vision appeared,
The marvel of Greece, the shield-holder's face.
The ivory body was alive in immortal, eternal beauty,
In immeasurable valor, in the harmony and blossoming prime
Of a man-god's power. Over his face a halo,
He boasted his wondrous strength, the abundant
Presence of eternal joy and grace.

The greatest grace of the world's creator, the maker of all,
Was reflected in his eyes and lighted
The face of the father of the gods and man.
His locks overflowed from his magnificent head,
A Southern storm resided in his entangled eyebrows,
Terrible in their might. His whole being was serene majesty,
Generous spirit and tranquil nobility.
All the people froze in mute joy,
They stood dumbfounded, silent and thrilled.
Suddenly they stirred, and line after line,
Man after man bowed and fell
To his knees, and like the roaring sea,
The sound of the astounded people rose, their joy,
Their ecstasy: "Kalos! Kalos! Kalos!"

But among all the kneeling people,
Crying out in fervor and wonder,
There was only one who did not kneel before the god,
And did not bend his proud, noble head.
Silent, pale, he stood among the crowd,
And something bitter seemed to curve his lips.
Only one remained standing erect,
And that one was — the statue's creator.

The wondrous statue's creator alone, he alone, did not kneel,
And did not bend his noble, proud head,
And remained standing, only he — because:
Seeing the god's face, its enchanting glory,
Seeing its pure, godly beauty —
Suddenly God's face appeared before his eyes,
Exceeding it in beauty,
Still purer, still godlier than it —
Like the phantom that hovered before his eyes,
Like the image that haunted him,
The mysterious vision of his creation,
When his dream was devised and inspired
His imagination, in the pain of the creator's pangs,
In the bitter tears of impotent despair,
And in the intoxicated victory of the conqueror of matter —
Till God was created and still was an ideal...