Know ye what etching is? It is to ramble
On copper; in a summer twilight’s hour
To let sweet Fancy fiddle tunefully.
It is the whispering from Nature’s heart,
Heard when we wander on the moor, or gaze
On the sea, on fleecy clouds of heaven, or at
The rushy lake when playful ducks are splashing:
It is the down of doves, the eagle’s claw;
‘Tis Homer in a nutshell, ten commandments
Writ on a penny’s surface; ‘tis a wish,
A sigh, comprised in finely-chiseled odes,
A little image in its bird’s-flight caught.
It is to paint on the soft gold-hued copper
With sting of wasp and velvet of the wings
Of butterfly, by sparkling sunbeams glowed.
Even so the etcher’s needle, on its point,
Doth catch what in the artist-poet’s mind
Reality and fancy did create.
1826 – 1888
Dutch poet and art critic.