A Miltonic Sonnet for Mr. Johnson, on the Occasion of His Refusal of Peter Hurd’s Official Portrait

Heir to the office of a man not dead
Who drew our Declaration up, who planned
Range and Rotunda with his drawing-hand
And harbored Palestrina in his head,
Who would have wept to see small nations dread
The imposition of our cattle-brand,
With public truth at home mistold or banned,
And in whose term no army’s blood was shed;

Rightly you say the picture is too large
Which Peter Hurd by your appointment drew,
And justly call that Capitol too bright
Which signifies our people in your charge:
Wait, Sir, and see how time will render you,
Who talk of vision but are weak of sight.


Is It Miltonic? May 18, 1967