"Make me a statue," said the King,
"Of marble white as snow;
It must be pure enough to stand
Before my throne, at my right hand,
The niche is waiting, go!"
The sculptor heard the King's command,
And went upon his way;
He had no marble, but he went
With willing hands and high intent,
To mould his thoughts in clay.
Day after day he wrought the clay,
But knew not what he wrought;
He sought the help of heart and brain,
But could not make the riddle plain;
It lay beyond his thought.
Today the statue seemed to grow,
Tomorrow it stood still;
The third day all was well again;
Thus, year by year, in joy and pain,
He wrought his Master's will.
At last his life-long work was done -
It was a happy day;
He took the statue to the King,
But trembled like a guilty thing,
Because it was but clay!
"Where is my statue?" asked the King.
"Here, Lord," the sculptor said.
"But I commanded marble." "True,"
But lacking that, what could I do
But mould in clay instead?"
"Thou shalt not unrewarded go,
Since thou hast done thy best;
Thy statue shall acceptance win,
It shall be as it should have been,
For I will do the rest."
He touched the statue and it changed;
The clay falls off, and lo!
A marble shape before Him stands,
The perfect work of heavenly hands,
An angel pure as snow!
-- Richard Henry Stoddard
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