An artist’s trick by which the Nude’s
Protected from the eyes of prudes,
Which else with their peculiar flame
Might scorch the canvas in its frame,
Or melt the bronze, or burn to lime

The marble, to efface his crime.
For sparks are sometimes seen to dance
Where falls a dame’s offended glance,
And little curls of smoke to rise
From fingers veiling virgin eyes.

O prudes I know ye, — once ye made
In Frisco here a fool’s tirade
Against some casts from the antique,
Great, naked, natural and Greek,
Whereto ye flocked, a prurient crush,

And diligently tried to blush,
Half strangled in the vain attempt
Till some one (may the wretch be hemped!)
Depressed his lordly length of ear
Your loud lubricity to hear,
Then took his chisel up and dealt
At Art a blow below the belt.
Insulted, crimson with the shame,
Her cheeks aglow, her eyes aflame,
The goddess spread her pinions bright,
The goddess spread her pinions bright,

Since then in vain the painter toils:
His canvas still denies the oils.
In vain with melancholy sighs
His burin the engraver plies;
Lines multiply beneath his hand,

But what they mean none understand.
With stubborn clay and unsubdued,
The sculptor shapes his fancies crude,
Unable to refine the work,
And makes a god look like a Turk.
To marble grown, or metal, still
The monstrous image makes him ill,
Till, crazed with rage, the damaged lot
He breaks, or sells to Irving Scott.